Archive for Transportation Management System

Enterprise Software -One Version of the Truth

Can you handle the Truth?

The term “One Version of the Truth” is often overused in the IT space, but intended to describe accessibility to accurate information as it relates to Business Intelligence within the enterprise. The need for this elusive “One Version” manifests itself as the result of having multiple discrete and disconnected systems within the organization to handle very specific business functions. This may include such systems as;

  • Financial systems,
  • Forecasting,
  • Web Store,
  • Order Management,
  • Manufacturing Execution,
  • Warehouse Management,
  • and Transportation Management.

 

How Did We Get Here?

The question is…how did we get to this place of requiring all of these unique and specialized systems to perform our job?

The natural evolution of technology has led us to where we are today, a spider’s web of systems and information exchange via cobbled together batch and “near real-time” interfaces. In IT, when there is a need for more control, visibility, accuracy, efficiency, etc., that need gets designed, developed, and plugged with a new system. Over time this “build it” philosophy has led to the multitude of different types of systems that are necessary to run an enterprise. The issue is that this best of breed attitude creates a vast data puzzle across the organization, forcing all of these data pieces to be put back together in a very precise arrangement to create A TRUE VIEW OF INFORMATION.

The provisional solution to this system jigsaw architecture has been to build yet another application that umbrellas all of your enterprise solutions to mine and aggregate information into yet another database so that it can be uniformly presented to the executive team. However, this is delayed information being aggregated, old information is the same thing as bad information in a real-time transactional operation, you are making decisions in the past, not about what is happening in the present or better yet, what may happen in the future.

Colonel Jessop played by Jack Nicholson in the movie A Few Good Men said it best when provoked by U.S. Navy lawyer Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise); “You can’t handle the truth!”

I stand with Col. Jessup on this belief, creating One Version of the Truth in a multiple best of breed systems; multi-database world is a daunting task and one that most organizations “can’t handle” and constantly struggle with.

Are we stuck with what we have?

Do we need to stay on that wall of Col. Jessup’s and keep fighting the fight in search of unified data in the current world of duplicate master data and interfaces?
The answer is NO!

Technology evolves faster than any other aspect of our world, and there are pivotal points in history that redefine and reshape the future. In technology we can point to many such examples; the evolution of the smart phone took multiple best of breed solutions in the form of phone, calculator, email, social media, music player, internet browser, shopping/ price comparison, GPS and unified them into a singular device. A single solution that provides you with real-time decision making tools and answers at your fingertips, information when you need it to make important and informed decisions such as where is the nearest Starbucks and how do I get there.

Enterprise systems must also follow this evolution and move towards the creation of a powerful and agile business through a very simple philosophy; everyone within the global enterprise work from One Version of the Truth; a single customer master, product master, order file; inventory view, transactions, shipment file, etc. Business is real-time, organizations can no longer afford to act and react in a batch delayed fashion. Instant access to up to date and accurate information is the cornerstone of intelligent decision making and empowers every employee across the enterprise. With One Version of the Truth, customer service and sales groups have real-time access to available inventory during order entry, and shipment status while on the phone with a high priority customer. No longer does the process need to be interrupted to pick up the phone and call the warehouse, or log into a separate best of breed system to access information.

This enterprise evolution takes you beyond a transactional system and into the paradigm of a Business Process Platform; a real-time decision making platform that synchronizes information and processes across the entire enterprise to empower and simplify. Monitor, communicate, notify, and execute based on events across all aspects of your business. The fundamental requirement to achieve this level of evolution is to provide immediate access to accurate and validate data when it is required regardless of which representative, department, facility is requiring it.

Platforms that Evolve Technology

The Microsoft Dynamics AX platform provides the capabilities to evolve the technology by extending and adding best of breed capabilities within a common framework, user experience, and data model. The Supply Chain Suite for Dynamics AX is a progressive example of how the Microsoft Dynamics AX solution has been naturally extended to provide advanced logistics and distribution capabilities in the areas of

  • Warehouse Management,
  • Transportation Management,
  • and Supplier Management.

The Supply Chain Suite for Dynamics AX allows manufacturing and distribution organizations to achieve “One Version of the Truth” across their global enterprise in a business simple and powerful approach.

Learn more about these advanced supply chain solutions:  Warehousing for Dynamics AX, Transportation for Dynamics AX, Vendor Portal (Supplier Management).

Data Driven Decision Making

By: Bill Ducat

What if your enterprise (back office, supply chain, warehousing, transportation, etc.) applications could automatically make decisions and react based on real-time information?
Any information. Natively. No exporting.

Why be a slave to solutions that limit you to their finite definitions of what information you need to drive your business?

“I guess she’s an Xbox, and I’m more an Atari.” Cee Lo Green’s lyrics in his song “Forget You”.

Are you as constrained with your current applications as we once were playing the video games from the 1980’s and 1990’s?

Just as my son’s video games make the ones I played look, well; cumbersome, so too can old approaches in enterprise applications. Worse yet, the old solutions cost more to keep pace as new requirements emerge.

The “Xbox” to which I refer is what I call “Data Driven Decision Making”. The ability to use the data, any data, in your application to power automated decision making and workflows.

A great example is what we do with our Warehousing for Dynamics AX (WAX), which is powered by the Microsoft Dynamics AX foundation. In a fluid warehouse, information is constantly changing in real time. Supply chains are constantly dealing with change and disruption. WAX has the ability to use any information available in the database to drive decisions and direct workflow.

Old applications, which provided great value in their time, were limited as follows:

  1. Here are the 10 criteria we have provided for you to select a business rule
  2. There are 5 business rules to choose from, because that is what we have programmed
  3. If you need any other criteria, or any other business rules, you can pay by the hour to have them created. And you can pay again to apply them to the next release.
  4. If you need to adapt to an unexpected change of business, you can work around the system

Typically, business just exported information to Microsoft Excel, made decisions based on the data, and then worked around their applications. They had no other option other than spending millions on customizations.

What if you used Dynamics AX, Warehousing for AX, and Transportation for AX and you could:

  1. Leverage any field or combination of fields in the database to drive decisions?
    -If you are managing sales orders, why not be able to look at customer data, inventory data, product engineering information, original vendor data, etc. to drive decisions and workflow.
  2. What if the business rules were unlimited and configurable by any data, grouping of data, sorting of data.
  3. What if there were ways to enter a “rush” or “exception” criteria, and have the solution walk a different path this one time?
  4. What if there were ways, even within the workflow, to adapt to real time data, and change the flow in real time?
  5. What if you could empower your super users to leverage these tools without customization, 3rd party or IT cost or involvement.

Every system is driven by the data. But other than Dynamics AX, most solutions have taken that decision away from you. They decided for you. Get to a solution that lets you control your own destiny via “Data Driven Decision Making”.

Supply Chain Partnership Improves Distribution Processes for Welding and Metal Working Product Company

BLUE HORSESHOE & FORNEY INDUSTRIES

The Client

Forney Industries is one of America’s longest operating family-owned welding and metal working product companies. The company, founded in 1932, introduced the first publicly available arc welder in the 1940’s. Today, Forney sells and markets over 5,000 metal working products nationwide, servicing hardware stores, auto shops, farm-and-ranch stores nationwide. Headquartered in Fort Collins, Colorado, Forney operates multiple sites and employs 300 personnel across the United States. Forney’s sales force services over 15,000 customers, ranging from small family owned stores, to multi-state warehouse operations. Forney is committed to providing the best product mix and most personal support services possible. For additional information about Forney Industries, visit www.forneyind.com

Their Challenge

Operating an outdated and functionally disparate system, Forney was looking for a state of the art solution to better manage their accelerating growth and their move into new distribution channels. A tightly integrated system capable of providing real-time information across the enterprise was needed to support daily and strategic business decision-making.

Forney’s executive team wanted better access to information. Report generation, the ability to easily extract and manipulate data, and real-time dashboards were all part of the system selection criteria. The company’s rapid growth demanded a scalable enterprise solution. Forney introduces new products every year. Plans to enter a new business sector and to introduce e-commerce capability via a web store were in place to augment their existing business. A flexible system capable of enabling new process creation was needed to support these plans.

The company had solid operations processes in place, and the desired system would need to support next generation improvements to those processes. System availability and consistency is a must because the company operated on a 24-hour order fulfillment commitment to their customers. Access to real-time information on process status, visibility into discrete inventory location within the warehouse and the requirement for product transformation via work orders were all requirements for the new system. The company operates a global supply chain, so an integrated material requirements planning module was critical.

Forney also wanted to transition from paper picking and stationary terminals to embedded radio frequency (RF) operation. Handheld RF devices were to be used for receiving, inventory movement, picking, and replenishment of pick locations.

The Solution

After identifying these key requirements and the evaluation of other industry solutions, Forney selected the Microsoft Dynamics AX platform, along with Blue Horseshoe’s Supply Chain Suite for Dynamics AX as the best solution on the market to achieve their goals.

Working side by side with the Forney team, Blue Horseshoe developed a comprehensive strategy to deploy the Supply Chain Suite for Dynamics AX, including WAX (Warehousing for AX) and TRAX (Transportation for AX) in conjunction with the company’s Microsoft Dynamics AX enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. The products within the Supply Chain Suite for Dynamics AX embed industry-specific functionality directly into the business layer of Dynamic AX’s architecture, offering identical performance, processing and file structure as Dynamics AX. These powerful solutions extend the base functionality of the Microsoft Dynamics AX ERP system; eliminating the need to synchronize, batch or reconcile data, and providing “One Version of the Truth.”

Both WAX and TRAX provide a real-time global view of business operations with extended functionality for Dynamics AX in order to accomplish warehousing and transportation tasks more easily and efficiently.

WAX (Warehousing for AX), a Certified for Microsoft Dynamics (CfMD) solution, adds the best possible fulfillment services without the need for a separate Warehouse Management System. WAX provides Forney with full warehouse management functionality including streamlined order flow and processing. As orders are being entered into the CN3 device by the field reps, the orders are integrated into AX via the AIF and an automated batch job releases orders that are ready to be processed to the warehouse. Orders are now created in WAX with shipments and are ready to be processed by the Operations team.

TRAX (Transportation for AX), also Certified for Microsoft Dynamics (CfMD), embeds advanced transportation planning and execution capabilities seamlessly into new or existing Microsoft Dynamics AX systems. TRAX provides a global enterprise transportation solution allowing for centralized freight planning across the business, or separate planning at the site/warehouse level. Inventory is reconciled immediately, which now provides Forney with an accurate snap-shot of (on-hand) inventory. TRAX provides improved inventory visibility and fulfillment planning (leveraging MRP for Warehouse Transfers and Replenishment for Fixed location) to meet the 24 hour turnaround demands.

With enhanced outbound procedures, the system is able to provide guidance to pickers as to which packing station the products should be handled. It also leverages the WAX Anchoring process to keep products from being separated within the shipment. WAX also has built in “reusable container” capabilities to handle the limited amount of physical picking containers within each warehouse. Additionally, WAX provides automated document printing such as custom shipping labels, standard shipping labels, UPS shipping labels, Bills of Lading and Packing slip.

By managing all enterprise functions within a single agile system, these solutions are designed to allow Forney the ability to react to customer requirements quickly and provide a higher degree of customer service in the market.

The Results

Leveraging Blue Horseshoe’s proven BluePrint Methodology, the Supply Chain Suite for Dynamics AX was delivered successfully with minimal business interruption. The project remained within the budget and project scope. Forney is now successfully operating a tier one solution that provides:

  • Real-Time, global view of business operations
  • “One Version of the Truth”
  • Significantly improved warehouse processing accuracy and productivities
  • Higher order throughput and support for new business growth without an increase in workforce
  • Paper-less warehousing process using Radio Frequency (RF) solution
  • Up-to-date / immediate inventory visibility
  • Seamless and immediate integration with the parcel web service embedded within TRAX to accommodate the high-volume parcel shipping requirements
  • UPS Shipping integration
  • Enhanced customer satisfaction
  • Provides the efficient distribution backbone to support the new eCommerce channel introduced by Forney

“Our business goal is to double in size every five years,” said Kyle Pettine, chief operations officer at Forney Industries. We’re going to the next level. We needed a system that could keep pace. WAX and TRAX complement Dynamics AX and give us the right solution to support our growth.”

“We chose Blue Horseshoe because of their vast experience with the supply chain and with implementing supply-chain solutions,” said Rob Lakatos, purchasing manager at Forney Industries. “Blue Horseshoe was very knowledgeable, and their team’s experience made the decision very easy. In addition, the implementation team Blue Horseshoe sent out here was great.”

Blue Horseshoe accepts awards at Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference

Blue Horseshoe President Chris Cason with Microsoft's Jon Roskill

Shown above is Blue Horseshoe President, Chris Cason, accepting award from Microsoft’s Jon Roskill at the 2012 Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference(WPC) for being named as the Winner of the 2012 Microsoft Dynamics Distribution Industry Partner of the Year, and being named as a 2012 Microsoft President’s Club Member, as well as being named a finalist for the Microsoft Dynamics Regional ISV of the Year (United States) Award.

“We are honored to receive these prestigious recognitions by Microsoft Corp. Blue Horseshoe is committed to delivering superior products, and is dedicated to driving innovation, creating value, and improving business results for our clients across the globe.” said Chris Cason, President of Blue Horseshoe.

For more information about Blue Horseshoe’s accomplishments with Microsoft in 2012, visit here>

ABOUT BLUE HORSESHOE
Blue Horseshoe provides expert Management & Strategic Consulting, System Implementation & Integration, and Distribution Design & Implementation Services.
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EXTEND FUNCTIONALITY
Built directly into the layers of Dynamics AX, Supply Chain Suite for Dynamics AX product modules offer identical performance, processing and file structures across the complete enterprise.

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