Supply Chain Assessment Leads To Big Sales
One systems integrator earns its sales by taking time to assess its customers' supply chain processes from end to end.
Let's say you need an extra bedroom in your house. Essentially, you have two options. Buy a new house with one more bedroom than you have now, or construct one bedroom as an addition to your current abode. Though it would be nice to buy a new house, it is more expensive, difficult, and disruptive to do so. The idea is similar for companies looking to install new technology. "No one wants to abandon all the systems they already use and start from scratch," said Van Alder, CTO (chief technology officer) at Dynasys Logistics (Alpharetta, GA), a systems integrator that specializes in supply chain management. "We try to work with a company's current software by providing the pieces and parts that fill in the gaps. There is no need to reinvent a company for technology's sake."
Pre-Assessment Leads To Success
Much like a homeowner would hire a contractor to evaluate the current house before launching into new bedroom construction, Dynasys Logistics performs an end user assessment before it's hired for any project. The assessment process was the first step the systems integrator took with its latest customer, a consumer packaged goods (CPG) distributor that manages 9,700 SKUs (stock keeping units). "We spent four weeks with the company assessing its operations, identifying areas of improvement, defining solutions, and calculating the ROI that could be achieved by implementing our solution," Alder said. Through the process, Dynasys Logistics was able to identify the company's warehouse problems so it could offer a complete solution. "When you work closely with a customer assessing its operations, you develop a strong knowledge of its business. This helps you become an integral part of the solution," Alder said.
Data Collection Key To Tracking And Reporting
Many times, Dynasys Logistics must work with legacy systems that do not provide necessary warehouse functionality. "Some customers have no reporting or tracking functionality. A company might know it has 10 widgets, sold 4, and is left with 6, but that is the extent of it," Alder said. In any installation, Dynasys Logistics first looks at a company's inventory management processes because they have a downstream effect on the rest of the supply chain. Many companies, like the CPG distributor, use manual processes to track inventory. To eliminate manual data collection, Dynasys Logistics often installs Symbol SPT 1700 handheld devices to scan products' UPCs (universal product codes). The goal is to establish a product master file, which relates to a customer's internal product descriptions and warehouse locations. Once an inventory database is built, Dynasys Logistics installs a warehouse management system (WMS) to link the inventory to the rest of the supply chain.
Many times, system assessments reveal a company's highest-selling products are located furthest from the packing area. As a result, it might take forklift operators extensive amounts of time to retrieve products from shelves. Many WMS' have the ability to alert a company to warehouse problems relating to inappropriate inventory location. By integrating a WMS with a company's legacy order processing software, companies like the CPG distributor will be able to track product movement. Eventually this supply chain improvement will lead to better inventory and order management.
Another area Dynasys Logistics focuses on is financials. In one installation, the integrator integrated accounting software from Peachtree Software Inc. (Norcross, GA) with the customer's legacy order processing software. "Many of our customers don't create invoices at the time of shipment. In some cases it takes from four to seven days to get an invoice out the door," Alder said. Financial report integration allows companies to send invoices to customers at the time of shipment as well as track the financial impact caused by problems or improvements.
Stay Open To Technology Opportunities
The CPG distributor originally contacted Dynasys Technologies, Inc. (Clearwater, FL), a value added distributor (VAD) of data collection technology products. Dynasys Technologies then handed off the lead to Alder's company. Dynasys Logistics used the VAD to purchase the hardware for the CPG distributor project. Some of that hardware included Symbol SPT 1700 and PDT 6846 scanners, Zebra (Vernon Hills, IL) S600 bar code printers, and Symbol Spectrum24 wireless access points. Dynasys Technologies also conducted the wireless network site survey for the CPG distributor installation. This survey identified the best places to install the wireless network's access points.
According to Alder, Dynasys Logistics understands a successful supply chain installation requires integration of many different products. The integrator thinks its success stems from its flexibility to find new vendors to provide the solutions it needs. "If VARs align themselves with certain products, they tend to push those products anywhere they might fit," Alder said. "The assessment process has forced us to stay on top of new technology." In the near future, Alder will work on a project that integrates touch screens and RFID (radio frequency identification) technology.