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Monday, November 10, 2014

Join our November Web Session on Cycle Counts for Visual Users



While there are very few of us who are genuinely excited about doing a cycle and full inventory count, we must take the task at hand with the utmost seriousness. Why? As supply chain experts, we understand the consequences of inaccurate inventory and how it can negatively impact productivity, revenue and service levels.

On November 19th, 2014 at 1:30 PM EST we will be hosting a webinar on the topic of best practices for managing inventory, including full physical and cycle counts. We will be discussing several considerations and approaches on the subject, as well as strategies you can utilize right away.

While this session is geared towards Visual ERP Manufacturing users; there will be many insights for anyone charged with cycle count responsibilities.  Based on our 20 years plus in warehousing, you'll be leave our webinar with the know how to make  your next count far less complicated and definitely more productive.

Interested? Then please register HERE to secure your spot! This webinar is free but spots are limited.

Scanners on!

Posted By: Jeff Lem @ 10:43:54 AM

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Monday, October 13, 2014

Supply Chain Compression and The Retail Revolution


Last week I had the good fortune to attend the 28th Annual Conference on Transportation Innovation and Cost Savings  where not only did I learn a new term; “Supply Chain Compression”, but returned home greatly enlightened on the future of retail in North America.  

So what does transportation have to do with retail? Apparently everything.

According to Jim Danahy, speaker and CEO of CustomerLabit’s all about the "last mile". Ten years ago the Telecom industry faced an issue, which was how to deliver high speed internet access to people’s homes in order to make it possible for them to do video streaming, movies on demand, etc. They called this the "last mile" and obviously they figured it out. The retailers’ ‘"last mile" refers to the act of delivering product to the consumer anytime and anywhere.

Today’s consumers are relentless in their drive to obtain the best product at the lowest possible price and in a time frame acceptable to them. To this end, today’s consumer is using an omni-channel approach – buying from traditional bricks and mortar retailers, wholesale marketplaces, and the internet.

The end result is that traditional retailers and transportation executives are being challenged like never before. Squeezed by pure internet retailers like Amazon, these two groups have to figure out a way to deliver goods in the most cost effective way while meeting increasingly tight delivery windows. As an example, Mr. Danahy showed how a customer got a baseball cap ordered through E-Bay and delivered to him at a park bench in Manhattan in 90 minutes.

The Retail Revolution is about retailers going omni-channel and Supply Chain Compression is its natural consequence. Home Depot and Sobeys are shrinking their store sizes so that they can locate them on busy city streets accessible only by public transit or foot.  At the same time they’re also ramping up their web presence to allow for both at home and mobile shopping. And this revolution is not just about convenience, consumers are travelling to food terminals and farmers’ markets to obtain the freshest produce at the lowest price.

In this omni-channel world of retailing, the retailer who figures out how to compress their supply chain will be victorious. For the AIDC industry this represents a great opportunity; retailers and transporters will need greater visibility of their goods throughout the supply chain and in the case of food they’ll also demand more traceability information, which is a consumer’s assurance of quality and safety.   

I’m very excited about the Retail Revolution since products and data capture go hand in hand – data has to be available anytime and anywhere if the associated product is to be made available anytime and anywhere.

Scanners On!

Jeff Lem


Posted By: Jeff Lem @ 4:48:07 PM

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Monday, October 06, 2014

Inventory and Warehousing Survey Results 2014

We mentioned a couple blog entries back that we collaborated with a survey company to collect some relevant data on inventory best practises and today, we want to share them with you—in infographic form!

As inventory experts, we pride ourselves in our wide array of expertise, which include but are not limited to barcoding, printer mediabusiness infrastructureWMS and break-fix services. We understand the utmost importance of a healthy warehouse ecosystem and how it is the very foundation to a profitable organization. It’s how we do things here and it’s what we do for our many customers (4000 and counting!) 

When we received the results and poured over them with our team, we concluded that it is indeed a barcode nation out there. A leaping 53% of the 150 companies surveyed indicated that it will be the most beneficial tech in warehouse technology in the coming 3 years and it is constantly improving their own inventory practices (from the ability to track inventory moves to the holy grail of them all, data accuracy).

For 20 years we've been promoting inventory best practises to our customers, curious parties who stumbled onto our humble blog and especially to our very own team. And now, we want you to check out what industry leaders and professionals are doing in their warehouses.

Infographic ahoy!

And what’s an infographic without some tips and tricks? We have 3 e-books available (download free!) for you to peruse at your leisure and if you would like an appointment with one of our barcode experts for an in-depth explanation of the results, we will be happy to hook you up with a free appointment.  Remember, we've got your back!

Scanners On!

Jeff Lem

Posted By: Jeff Lem @ 2:49:03 PM

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Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Come Join Viascanqdata at the Quebec City Industriel Trade Show


Our team is hyped for this year's Quebec city industriel trade show. We'll be there with our friends from M.A.G. Intégration and Intermec, so expect a lot of cool demos, insightful presentations and free advice on how to get your warehousing operations into the next level.

If you're attending as well, please come by and say "hi"! We'll be at booth #29!

A bit about the show itself:

The Quebec city industriel trade show is the largest industrial exhibition held in Eastern Canada!

Over 500 expert exhibitors at each edition;
An average of 7,000 visitors visit the show over the 3-day period;
A gathering of businesses comprising all sectors of industrial activities under one roof:
Machine-tool;
Tooling;
Services;
& more

About M.A.G. Intégration

M.A.G. Intégration offers companies solutions to overcome problems related to new data processing applications integration, and existing systems optimization.

Over the years, we have developed a considerable expertise with distribution and manufacturing companies.

About Intermec by Honeywell

Honeywell Scanning & Mobility was formed via the acquisition of Hand Held Products (HHP), Metrologic Instruments, LXE, and Intermec, which included Vocollect Voice Solutions. Honeywell Scanning & Mobility is a leading manufacturer of high-performance image-, laser-, and voice-based data collection hardware, including rugged mobile computers and barcode scanners. Please Select your Location and Preferred Language.

Scanners On!

Posted By: Jeff Lem @ 11:42:25 AM

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Monday, September 22, 2014

WiNG EXPRESS - The Power of Wireless for Small Businesses


Today, we are checking out the Motorola WiNG express road show in Toronto! We want to learn all we can about this WLAN operating system in order to provide more ways to help your business "soar".

We believe in the power of wireless and WiNG express is tailored for small to medium businesses at a reasonable cost. It's especially perfect for a small team, so if you don't have a designated IT department, you're still covered. When your business is always on the move, no matter the size of your staff, you want to get things done fast without sacrificing productivity and accuracy.

To learn more about WiNG Express, check out the official site!
To attend the next road show in Quebec, you can register here!

Scanners On!

Posted By: Jeff Lem @ 11:57:33 AM

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Join Viascanqdata at the Toronto Wavelink Roadshow


If you follow us on social media, then you know we'll be making a "splash" at the Toronto Wavelink Roadshow this Wednesday on the 17th! Want to see how you can incorporate voice technology into your organization? Then there's still time to register, so delay no more!

This year, the event will take place at Ripley's Aquarium, which is one of the many gems Toronto has to offer and is a definite must see if you have never been before. For more information, check out the schedule below:

4:00 p.m. Welcome
4:15 p.m. Food and beverages served
4:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. – Presentation of current state of voice applications in the supply chain
5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. and on – Q & A

ABOUT WAVELINK:

Wavelink’s Mobile Enterprise Productivity Suite provides companies with a unified solution for deploying mobility that contributes directly to the bottom line – your company’s operating margin. Businesses around the globe use Wavelink mobile application client solutions - Telnet and browser-based, to connect to all leading Supply Chain Management systems. Wavelink Speakeasy voice-enables these mobile application clients, offering enterprises the opportunity for further worker productivity gains across supply-chain operations. Companies rely on Wavelink’s Enterprise Mobility Management software to ensure these mission-critical mobile deployments are fully operational, ensuring optimal worker productivity. Across industries – from manufacturing to retail, warehousing and field force automation, companies look to Wavelink for productivity gains through mobility.

Posted By: Jeff Lem @ 9:20:25 AM

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Friday, July 11, 2014

Summit 2014-Recap of 5 Technologies to Watch


Our Customer Advisory Summit took place on June 23rd and June 24th and let's just say Canadian summers are made for great discussions and a good ol' fashion Jay's game. We talked shop, tech trends, product roadmap, and the top five tech to keep an eye on. All in all, we gained a lot from the conference and our customers. So for all those who attended, thank you for the insight and the inspiration! 

So what does this have to do with Minority Report? In 2002, this film displayed some sci-fi-esq gadgets on the big screen and it was a marvel. But today, the future is here--now and many technological elements we have admired on films and tv shows are either in the works or is available in its infancy to consumers. We discussed the top 5 at Summit to watch for, but before we dive in, why did we pick what we picked?

-Ubiquitous – using existing devices or infrastructure
-Low Cost
-Consumer Driven
-High and rapid ROI
-Easy Migration into Supply Chain


So without further adieu, let's see the list.

5. Zatar by Zebra Technologies. Make no mistake, everything is getting connected. By 2020, IDC estimate that there will 212 billion connected devices. The exciting part about Zatar is that it's one platform to manage your entire network of devices. It's cloud-based, multi-device friendly and can be used almost anywhere. Zatar is designed to be intuitive on use, but powerful enough for enterprise applications



4. Near field Communication is a set of standards for smartphones and similar devices to establish radio communication with each other by touching them together or bringing them into proximity, usually no more than a few inches. You can find this tech in your wallet (credit cards, debit cards) and the sim card inside your phone. With NFC, you can grab a colleague or partner's files with a swipe, get automated payments and manage your workforce via mobile. The convenience it offers is addictive and we can't wait to see it get refined even more.

3. Wi-Fi Positioning Systems (WPS). The WPS uses a MAC address of your WiFi device
based on signal strength received by access points to create a geospace within your physical location
and connects to it. It can be used to track location of equipment/personnel, determine available resources,
track efficiencies and capacity and give rise to a new generation of intelligent software.

2. Payment Capture. From this blog entry, you already know we're a fan. 

1. Wearable Technology. Think google glasses, smart watches, but...bigger. An integrated piece of tech that does everything your mobile phone can and hopefully even more in the near future. With wearable technology, it can/will utilize the above 4 and will hopefully bring forth a new era of productivity, efficiency and accuracy. 



Posted By: Jeff Lem @ 10:53:27 AM

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Customer Facing Applications – Using Payment Capture to Make the Most of Them

Superman is copyrighted to Warner Bros. Original image is from the official DC Comics bio page, which can be found HERE.

Businesses are moving faster than a superhero in flight and it's up to us to keep up. While secretive serums and radioactive spider bites may not be readily available, payment capture might just be the ticket that will prevent us from being left in the dust. 

Each day, every business has many moments of truth that are both large and small; a salesperson closing a hotly contested opportunity, a customer finding out if an item is in stock, or the decision to have a repair performed on a piece of equipment. They may be consistent events that take place in your company daily, but epiphanies can definitely spring forth from them. 

These commonplace scenarios are where your personnel are working directly with the customer in what I refer to as a "Customer Facing Moment". Typically personnel leave these Customer Facing Moments with the
promise of an order and return to the office to generate a flurry of emails and paper work involving purchase orders, confirmations, and scheduling. 

What if we could turn these promises into something more binding at the time of the interaction?

A key function of our company is AIDC or automatic identification and data capture. The backbone of the business is the barcode – the design, printing, and scanning of it. We justify our existence on accurate and timely capture of barcoded information and then integrating it with POS, inventory, and asset tracking systems. Much of our work happens after an order is placed as we capture the movement of parts, assets, and inventory as a result of that order.

While this still is vitally important, our industry needs to evolve and position our technologies in the early stages of promises and budding relationships.

One such area involves adding payment capture or AIPC (automated identification and payment capture).

So what does AIPC look like? Let’s reconsider the aforementioned three scenarios:

1. Upon closing a sale, the sales rep takes out his iPhone and checks the weekly production schedule and advises the customer that in order to lock in production or delivery by next week he needs to make a 20% down payment now.

2. At the customer site, the sales rep reviews the online inventory and discovers there are two cases available in one of their warehouses out west. Anxious for the product because it could mean a stoppage in production, the customer decides to order the item and make payment for it on the spot.

3. In the field, the service rep advises the customer that the repair would be $200 but for $300 the customer can get a full year’s coverage on the device including getting it fixed today. The service rep then asks how the customer would like to pay and because the sum is under $500, the customer can choose to use his company credit card.

In each of above scenarios we've taken promises to complete a transaction and turned them into binding commitments.

Integrating payment capture into existing customer facing applications will shorten your sales cycle, dramatically improve cash flow, and turn prospects into customers in the matter of minutes. Businesses today are moving at the speed of thought – payment capture will allow you to seize that moment of truth and make the most of it.

Scanners On!

Jeff Lem


Posted By: Jeff Lem @ 1:09:23 PM

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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Inventory Survey – The People Have Spoken

Original image by ddpavumba from freedigitalphotos.net

In preparation for our annual think tank and product development planning, we recently commissioned a materials management survey of 154 companies from across North America. While some replies were expected, we did get some surprises.

The results will be summarised in more detail in an upcoming report and slide deck, but here are the high level details:

  • Companies Surveyed: 154

  • Geographical Coverage: United States and Canada

  • Industry: Manufacturing companies in the range of $50M to $200M in sales

  • Survey Participants: Plant Managers, Purchasing Managers, VP Logistics, President, CEO

  • Period: March to April 2014

Top 5 Findings:

  1. Barcoding Usage. While 66% were using some form of barcoding, only 12% were actually employing barcodes to track inventory. This falls into the "no surprise / surprise" category in the sense that we knew many companies are using barcoding, however only a handful were actually using it to manage inventories

  2. Top Three Needs. The areas cited that could use the most improvement in order of mentions: Inventory Visibility, Inventory Counts, and Labelling Compliance.

  3. Top Three Benefits of Wireless Barcoding Transactions. In order of mentions: Inventory Movement Tracking, Inventory Counts and Inventory Accuracy.

  4. Most Common IT Tool used to Track Inventory. Laptop/Desktop computer by a factor of 4 to 1 over the next closest item, which was ruggedized handhelds. Smartphones and Tablets were used by roughly 15% of all respondents almost equal to ruggedized handhelds.

  5. Technologies most likely to Improve Inventory Accuracy. The clear winner in this regard was the 2D barcode like the PDF417 barcode shown below and  is used in the automotive industry. The closest item is mobile computing.

As mentioned earlier, we will be compiling a more detailed report of our findings in the coming weeks, but what the survey tells me is that companies are not using barcoding to their full advantage. Visibility and accuracy of inventories need to be improved, and key-punch entries into a notebook or desktop are the most predominant means of capturing inventory movements.

For ourselves and other companies like us, it also means there are still lots of upgrades, improvements and opportunities in the supply chain industry.

Scanners On!

Jeff Lem


Posted By: Jeff Lem @ 10:29:34 AM

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Saturday, May 03, 2014

Naming Inventory Locations

Would a rose smell as sweet were it known by any other name? 

How you name your locations is critical to inventory visibility and hence, its accuracy. When considering how to name your locations, it’s always good to start with the widely accepted and common practise of this acronym.

ZABL

Z = Zone               A= Aisle                                B= Bay                  L=Level

Zone can be a physical area bounded by walls or categorized by the type of goods it stores. For example: refrigerated vs. dry goods.

Aisle is simply the driving or walking lanes within that zone.

Bay is the vertical section.

Level is the exact spot within the warehouse.

Your warehouse may not be big enough to support Zones or even Aisles, but it’s always best to start with ZABL and drop any letters that don’t apply to your facility. In my observation with double deep or double wide pallet locations, I've seen a fifth character used to describe the pallet position within that specific location.  

So as an example, if you have a location as follows: A1B03  

This translates into Zone A, Aisle 1, Bay B and Level 3. If each location can accommodate more than one pallet you may have a location such as A1B031, where the final number 1 tells the warehouse worker that the pallet is either on the right or left side of that specific slot.

Now let’s have some fun with location names; once you've named your locations you can now layer business rules and logic, which define what gets done and how it's done within the warehouse. Consider the following:

  • Putaway logic that controls how high you can place certain items due to weight or safety restrictions, such as allergen containment.

  • Pick algorithms that allow you to break up orders into zones to lessen warehouse travel and equipment wear and tear.

  • Material Handling equipment that is restricted to use within certain zones and aisles of the warehouse.

  • Warehouse logic that splits up order lines by the type of material handling equipment needed to fulfil transfer or pick.

  • Workers who are limited to certain aisles or zones in the warehouse.

  • Pick paths that go up and down or serpentine down the aisle.

  • Optimal placement of related product groups to support efficient replenishment, picking, and cycle counting.

Done right, your locations will give you more than just visible inventory but also more efficient warehouse processes. So what’s in a name? I'd say plenty!

Scanners On!

Jeff Lem

 


Posted By: Jeff Lem @ 6:04:09 PM

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