Tag Archives: increased warehouse productivity

Latitude Tips and Tricks: A System Audit

Welcome back to “Tips and Tricks for Latitude,” our series of blog posts to make you a Latitude power user. Let’s take a look at what a Latitude System Audit is, and why you should be taking advantage of it.

As you can see from our past four blogs, Latitude has plenty of useful tweaks and features. On top of that, our engineers are always adding new features to Latitude in response to customer requests, so it can be hard to stay up to date on everything that our WMS can do. We understand that, when a warehouse is operating well, most people won’t bother to re-check their processes and see if they could be doing better. But even if you don’t perceive any problems in the warehouse, you still might not be using Latitude WMS to its full capabilities.

That’s why we offer a System Audit to our customers. When you schedule an audit, PathGuide employees will visit your warehouse, check on how you’re using the Latitude WMS, and suggest ways that you can be more efficient. Our experts are up to date on all Latitude features and almost always find ways that companies can improve their work processes. There is a cost for the System Audit, but it’s often included in the general system purchase – you may have already paid for it (check with our Support Team to see if this is true for you).

So if you want to get even better at using Latitude WMS, give us a call. The logistics of scheduling the visit are definitely worth the improvements on the warehouse floor.

Be sure to keep an eye on this blog and our Content Marketing Hub for things to read, watch and share. And, as always, if you have a suggestion for a new Latitude feature or a specific problem you’re trying to solve, please contact our Support Team at 1-888-627-9797.

PathGuide Technologies Offers Inbound Transportation Management Module

ITM’s Advanced Features Expand Latitude’s Receiving Capabilities, Allowing Users to Schedule Incoming Freight and Track Carrier Performance

PathGuide Technologies just announced the availability of a new inbound transportation and dock scheduling module that integrates seamlessly with the company’s Latitude WMS. Developed in conjunction with several Latitude users, the Inbound Transportation Management module provides dashboards and other tools that make it easy to automate inbound delivery scheduling and record-keeping for external carriers, while helping to better assign staff and equipment when and where they are needed.

“Inbound transportation management is not something that is often requested,” said Andrew Weith, founder of ASW Global Consulting, a software consulting business that specializes in ERP and WMS technologies. “Most folks don’t yet have an understanding of the gains to be found by managing this part of the warehouse process.”

After receiving requests from existing customers to integrate delivery management capabilities into Latitude, PathGuide discovered that most small and medium-sized warehouses currently use old-school whiteboards, basic spreadsheets or calendars to track and manage incoming deliveries.

“This Inbound Transportation Management module for Latitude isn’t just an electronic whiteboard to assign a dock door for a truck,” said Greg Laycock, vice-president of research and development at PathGuide. “What makes this module so valuable is the powerful metrics that give managers the ability to plan staffing levels, evaluate inbound carriers and reduce errors in receiving. Latitude already handles receiving extremely well, so extending this expertise into inbound transportation allows our customers to manage time, space, people and vendors much more effectively.”

End users can access and update the delivery schedule through an RF terminal or Latitude’s web interface using the new module. They can easily see which trucks have arrived, which are being unloaded, and which deliveries have been completed. The system stores data on all deliveries, giving management documentation and evidence of any issues. For example, if an inbound carrier consistently arrives late or delivers damaged shipments, the distributor now has an accurate record of those incidents and can use the information to bring it to the carrier’s attention, negotiate a better price or find another carrier.

The Inbound Transportation Management module has completed beta testing and is now in general availability. It’s just the latest of several advanced features for Latitude WMS, such as voice picking and vendor managed inventory. All of these modules are designed specifically for Latitude WMS. For more information about this module or any of PathGuide’s products, please contact PathGuide at clientservices@pathguide.com or call +1-888-627-9797.

 

Latitude Tips & Tricks for Manufacturing and Production Tools

Welcome back to “Tips and Tricks for Latitude,” our series of blog posts to help make you a Latitude power user. This week we’re highlighting new tools for our manufacturing and production customers.

One Screen For Everything

Latitude now offers a production order web management screen that gives a one-page view of all information on a particular production order and its status. Many of our customers have production lines or manufacture chemicals; before they ship product to customers, it goes to their internal DC first. They told us that they need a way to track the status of orders across multiple shifts, since most of them run manufacturing facilities 24 hours a day. We had some functionality here before, but now we’ve expanded it to a one-page view that gives the status of the order and all the details the new crew needs to know when they come in to work.

Bonus: Print Item-Specific Documents While Shipping

Here’s a bonus feature that didn’t fit into any of our other blog posts. Latitude can automatically print item-specific documents at shipping. Manufacturer lot information, MSDS, hazmat labels or certification information are common uses. To set this up, follow these steps:

  1. Create a directory in Latitude where electronic copies of your item documents can be stored
  2. Go to Application Setup in Latitude Management Console, click the Other tab, check the box marked Print Item Documents? and enter the path to the documents
  3. Go into System Settings and enable the Print Items Documents at Ship and/or Print Linked Lot Documents at Ship options
  4. Edit the Item master record in Latitude under Documents to specify the document that will print.

That’s all for this week! Be sure to check back soon to learn how a Latitude System Audit can improve your warehouse efficiency. As always, if you have a suggestion for a new Latitude feature or a specific problem you’re trying to solve, please let us know. You can reach our Support Team at 1-888-627-9797.

 

Latitude Tips & Tricks for Shadowing an RF Terminal

This week we’re continuing our “Tips and Tricks for Latitude” series of posts by highlighting an important feature that can help with troubleshooting and employee communication – RF terminal shadowing.

Shadow RF Terminals

The ability to shadow RF terminals is a feature that Latitude WMS has enabled for a while, but it was previously only accessible through the Latitude Management Console and on a limited basis. But, since shadowing a terminal has a lot of beneficial applications for employee training, management and troubleshooting, we’ve made it easier for everyone to use. You can now access this function from Latitude Web.

Here are the steps required:

  1. Click on the Shadow RF Terminals icon on the welcome screen, and log into the Shadow console.
  2. Scroll down to the user you want to shadow, and select Shadow Terminal. This will give you access to a list of the last 50 transactions by that user and let you watch all of their activity in real time.
  3. If you need to reach a specific employee or all employees at once, you can hit the Send Message button to send a message to one specific RF terminal, or to all active terminals. This function comes in handy when calling a group meeting or asking questions to other team members.
  4. Finally, you can restrict access to the Shadow RF feature by editing permissions in the Access Rights Profile.

Why do it?

If someone has questions about a specific pick or order, sometimes checking this record can solve it. You can also shadow a terminal to see exactly what an employee is doing during the workday, which is especially useful if you have concerns about productivity.

Shadowing also makes it possible to troubleshoot remotely. For example, if you have an employee at a separate location, and there are consistent problems with a specific task, shadowing that terminal and walking through the process can help a manager or experienced staff member isolate and resolve the problem.

We’re confident you’ll find the new Shadow RF feature in Latitude very helpful. If you have a suggestion for a new Latitude feature, or a specific problem you’re trying to solve, please let us know. You can reach our support team at 1-888-627-9797.

Latitude Tips & Tricks for Inventory Management

Being able to instantly access information about your inventory is powerful. Do you know what product you have, how much of it is available and where it’s located? More importantly, can you count on this information to be accurate? Latitude WMS has every function you need for complete visibility. Here are some tips you might not know about, but are huge warehouse time-savers.

New Latitude WMS Search Tools

Save time by checking inventory and sales orders in Latitude Web.

  • To find a specific sales order, go to Activities – Order Processing – Find a Sales Order, enter some of the identifying information and hit “Find
  • To find inventory, go to Activities – Order Processing – Find Inventory and enter the bin number for a list of the inventory contained in that bin.
  • You can also filter the list of inventory items by column to help you track down that one specific order you’re looking for. Right-click on any web column header and left-click “Filter” from the drop-down menu. You can also left-click any web column heading and enter the value that you want to filter.

Inventory Contents Label

Latitude WMS can print a label that displays the contents of any load or bin location on demand. This is similar to a Carton Contents Label, but isn’t tied to an order. It’s especially useful for printing the contents of a mixed pallet location for a quick info lookup. To do this from an RF terminal, hit F3 – Tools – Labels – Inventory Content Label, scan the source Load or Bin, and enter the number of labels that you need. These labels can be customized or set to automatically print during the receiving process if you want hard copies of documentation for incoming shipments.

Replace the Annual Physical Inventory with Cycle Counting

Many of our customers want to get rid of this warehouse tradition entirely because it’s disruptive to normal warehouse processes and dreaded by every warehouse employee.

In fact, many customers report a mysterious flu epidemic when the time comes for the annual inventory. With Latitude’s Cycle Count Planning Module, you can set items that you want to count on a weekly, monthly or yearly basis. The module will assign workers to do a few counts per day and keep you on track. A number of our customers have eliminated the annual physical inventory entirely with no loss in inventory accuracy, and a definite improvement in worker moral.

I hope that some of this information can help improve productivity in your warehouse. For more tips, tricks and Latitude hacks, come see us in person at the Latitude User Conference next week, May 22-24! It’s not too late to register!

If you have a suggestion for a new Latitude WMS feature, or a specific problem you’re trying to solve, please let us know. You can reach our Support Team at 1-888-627-9797.

 

Latitude Tips and Tricks for Picking

Latitude WMS is full of useful features designed to make warehouse tasks or functions easier and more efficient, and we’re constantly adding new functionality based on customer feedback. We want you, our customers, to get the most out of Latitude, so over the next several weeks we’ll explain some of the many tips, tricks, and little-known capabilities in Latitude to help anyone become a power-user. Let’s start with picking.

Inventory Control Cones

Many warehouses need to store materials in a temporary location, whether it’s for a few hours or a few weeks during busy periods. Putting labels on pallets sometimes helps, but they can often be hard to locate physically and in the system – load labels can be easily damaged and you’ll be lucky if anyone can remember which pallet is number “09657.” Instead, buy some brightly colored cones and set them up as temporary bin locations or “Loads” in Latitude (loads do not have to be scanned during a physical inventory, and some customers find it simpler to use them for short-term use). You can set the bin numbers to something specific, for example: G + a number for green cones, R + number for red cones, etc.). Print labels for them (the 4” x 6” format works best) and train your employees to use the cones instead of bins. Most customers find that the cones are much easier to locate than pallets because they’re simple to set up and remove.

Multiple Label Printers

Did you know that Latitude WMS allows you to set a secondary printer for certain types of labels, or set a dedicated label printer for a specific label format? This prevents cross-functional Latitude users from needing to switch label printers as they do different tasks.

Here’s how:

  • To set up a secondary printer from an RF terminal, press F3 – Setup – Printers, choose Label-Secondary and select your secondary printer. Carton Contents and Inventory Contents are the only formats currently supported.
  • To set Label Printer assignment, go to Administration – System Configuration – Label Printer Assignment in Latitude Web and add the Label Format and the Label Printer name. That type of label will now always print from the selected printer.

Toggling the Pickable Inventory Flag

Latitude allows users to toggle inventory’s pickable status via the RF terminal. This lets you easily update inventory status on the fly, such as when you need to pick from an overstock bin that is usually not pickable.

  • To do this, press F3 – Inventory – Adjustments – Toggle Pickable on your RF terminal. You’ll be prompted for the bin, the item and the lot/serials, if applicable. Enter them and the item will now be pickable. If it was already pickable, you’ll get an error.
  • You can also set up a prompt to toggle this automatically when you perform a Move, Unload or Putaway transaction. Go into “Prompt for Pickable Override upon Unload and Putaway” in Latitude Web and set to “Y”.

If you like what you just read, be sure and stay tuned for more Latitude WMS tips and tricks, as this is just one article of a five-part series.

For more tips, tricks and Latitude hacks, come see us in person at the Latitude User Conference on May 22-24.

If you have questions about any of these tips, please contact our Support Team at 888-627-9797. We’re here to help!

 

Competing With Giants

This feature article from the latest issue of Inbound Logistics profiles several small and medium-sized businesses that are using information technology to stay competitive with industry giants. It’s a good read and highlights an important fact about the modern warehouse industry. These days, every distributor is competing with worldwide e-commerce giants like Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Alibaba and Snapdeal. How can small and medium-sized businesses remain competitive without the resources of these huge companies? Customer service is one big differentiator, but there are also many ways that even small companies can use information technology strategically to achieve similar levels of speed, efficiency and flexibility as their bigger peers.

Here are some PathGuide customers who implemented Latitude WMS to solve specific problems and put themselves on even footing with larger industry competitors.

HUB Industrial Supply keeps up with e-retailers like Amazon and Fastenal by focusing on exceptional customer service and just-in-time delivery. After several years of strong growth, executives were concerned that HUB couldn’t keep using small-company processes as it grew into a medium-sized company. HUB chose Latitude to “future-proof” its warehouse, knowing that the WMS would easily scale with them.

Fisheries Supply, located in Seattle, Washington, relies on the local maritime industry for much of its business. They used some of the features in Latitude WMS to build its own will-call system that can have orders ready in as little as 15 minutes. Latitude WMS automatically prioritizes these orders for picking and sends the customer a text message when the order is ready. Fisheries Supply has built a loyal following among local mechanics and boat owners who depend upon this system for its quick turnaround.

One of the specific goals that Jensen Distribution Services had for implementing a WMS was to reduce training time for new employees. By replacing an outdated paper-based receiving process with a paperless one and implementing hands-free voice picking, Jensen was able to reduce weeks of training down to a matter of days, and decreased picking errors by 95%.

C-A-L Ranch, a chain of farm and ranch supply stores, had seasonal spikes in product demand that turned the distribution center floor into a bottleneck. Hiring seasonal labor was not a feasible solution, so Latitude WMS helped C-A-L Ranch be more productive with the same number of workers and get through busy periods without product piling up in the distribution center.

Phased Rollout Helps Smooth the Transition to Latitude WMS for Jensen Distribution Services

Jensen Distribution Services, a full-line wholesale hardware distributor operating in 11 western states, came to PathGuide in 2008 with a very specific set of goals. The company was strong in areas like picking, but needed to improve warehouse processes in receiving, order accuracy and training time for new employees. They needed a WMS that would improve trouble spots without interfering with productivity in other areas of the facility. The PathGuide implementation team, always ready for a challenge, got to work.

Latitude WMS was rolled out in stages, starting with receiving. This approach is common for new WMS deployments, and it allowed Jensen to adjust to each change without affecting other workflows. Implementation went forward on schedule and Jensen quickly began to see positive results in receiving speeds, organization and accuracy. Employee productivity increased and could now be tracked paper-free, using Latitude’s built-in employee metrics. As Jensen switched on Latitude’s functionality in other areas of its warehouse, it started seeing even more benefits.

Errors Dropped 95%

Jensen doesn’t offer unique products, so they compete for customers by offering exceptional customer service. Latitude helped Jensen go from a one percent error rate to 0.05 percent, which had a tremendous positive impact on customer relations. Regular updates to Latitude provide incremental improvements in accuracy each year.

Less Time Wasted on Training

Latitude also reduced the time required to train new employees and decreased their reliance on tribal knowledge. Under the old paper-based receiving system, it took new employees three to six weeks to become proficient and productive. With Latitude, it takes just days, prompting Jensen’s distribution center manager, Dennis Schutz, to say that he “never wanted to go back to paper.”

The phased rollout worked. Jensen saw great improvements in all of the areas where it wanted to improve, without significant disruption to the rest of the warehouse. In the words of Landon Horton, director of operations, “Latitude has really let us refine our business through major productivity and accuracy gains over the years. The exceptional customer service and engineering support offered by PathGuide made them an ideal technology partner, and we have total faith in their commitment to the long-term success of our business.”

Click here to see a short video highlighting the transformation to virtually error-free operations at Jensen Distribution Services.

New in Latitude WMS: Inbound Transportation Management

At PathGuide, we’re constantly talking with our customers and working on new ways to help them get the most out of their Latitude WMS deployments. One big request is to have more control over scheduling inbound freight. How long does it take to unload deliveries? Are vendors coming in late, on time or early? Are trucks idling for extended periods while waiting for bays to open up? Many warehouses and DCs schedule deliveries using an Excel spreadsheet or a whiteboard – or they just “wing it” and hope that a dock door will be free when a truck arrives. PathGuide knew we could help them do better.

So, we’re pleased to announce that a powerful new Inbound Transportation Management (ITM) Module will be available in April. This module will help streamline deliveries and give warehouse managers much more control to manage the delivery process. Using an intuitive web-based dashboard, the new ITM Module makes it easy to assign specific times and bays for deliveries and ensure that the right equipment and manpower is ready for unloading (i.e., pallet loaded vs. floor loaded). Once the shipment arrives, employees can check the trucks in and out and attach notes to each delivery, all from the web browser or an RF hand-held computer.

The ITM Module will also keep track of a variety of metrics automatically, such as how long individual employees spend unloading a certain kind of delivery. This is a great tool for warehouse managers who need to forecast and assign labor each day.

Having a pre-arranged appointment also means that trucks won’t arrive at the same time and cause a bottleneck. If a truck arrives outside of its scheduled 20-minute arrival window, it will be flagged as ‘late’ or ‘early’ – and warehouse employees can enter additional notes if the products arrive damaged in any way. This insight gives managers vendor performance reporting tools to help in negotiating future business.

We’re proud of the unique features that this brings to the WMS industry, and we hope that it will help many of our customers streamline their inbound transportation processes.

Dr.’s Gerry Faust and David Allais to Keynote PathGuide’s 2016 Latitude User Conference

It is my great pleasure to announce that Gerry Faust, Ph.D. and David Allais, Ph.D. will deliver the two keynote addresses at the 2016 Latitude User Conference in May.

Faust is a highly accomplished business consultant and motivational speaker who has been empowering and entertaining audiences for 30 years. His speeches help people understand the power and challenges of an organization’s culture, identify its key aspects and understand the role each person plays in its formation. He is hilariously funny, extremely smart, and his speeches deliver real business value. Past clients have said that Faust “provides stimulating ideas with practical approaches,” is a “consummate presenter,” and a “guy who truly cares about helping businesses succeed.”

His program will explain the true purpose for organizations and outline the four roles that managers and leaders must embrace to achieve short and long term success. In a presentation tailored to the needs of the warehouse and distribution industries, Gerry Faust will discuss the biggest reason why more organizations never solve their problems, and the key role teamwork plays in achieving organizational goals.

Allais is an internationally recognized expert and inventor in the fields of bar coding, automatic identification and data capture. As former president and CEO of Washington-based Intermec, Inc. (now part of Honeywell), he built the company from a small start-up into the leading manufacturer of bar code scanning and printing equipment. Leaving Intermec after 19 years, Allais founded PathGuide Technologies, a Washington-based developer of warehouse management systems for distributors.

PathGuide is thrilled to have Faust and Allais as our keynote speakers. Mark your calendars for May 22-24, this is one conference you won’t want to miss!

Faust’s keynote is scheduled Monday, May 23 at 8:45 a.m. and Allais’s keynote is scheduled for Tuesday, May 24 at 8:30 a.m.