On Sunday, October 26, 2014, updates will be applied to all IntelliTrack Stratus products. During this time, the site will be unavailable. The updates are estimated to take approximately an hour and we apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

Should you have any questions or concerns regarding these updates, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Stay tuned for more information on these new updates and how they will improve your business processes!

Happy-5th-Birthday-Intellitrack-StratusHappy 5th Birthday to the Stratus line of cloud based inventory software from IntelliTrack!

Recognizing the increasing demand for web based solutions and building on feedback from satisfied customers, IntelliTrack has worked tirelessly to design excellent technology systems for tracking inventory. Stratus solutions have been at the industry forefront since the beginning of cloud based activity.

The Stratus portfolio has expanded to the point IntelliTrack can say with confidence that every organization from a warehouse or fire department to a hospital or university can benefit from a convenient, hosted Stratus solution. This web based option provides all the necessary tools for managing inventory in an efficient, cost effective manner and produces reports to prove its value.

Integration is a signature element of IntelliTrack technology. Stratus software works easily with accounting applications such as QuickBooks, MAS90 and Great Plains and with shipping software such as ShipWorks. IntelliTrack is now taking Stratus integration services to the next level.

“We are currently investing in developing ways for Stratus to talk to external applications,” said Ron Pawlowski, COO at IntelliTrack. “We know the enhanced capacity will significantly increase the value of Stratus to our customers.”

Currently, there are seven Stratus versions available:

  • StratusInventory for fast efficient physical counts with serial and lots numbers, expiration dates and other identifying information
  • StratusStockroom for physical counts, tracking and receipts, popular for customer managed inventory services
  • StratusCheckOut for collecting and processing all data on consumable and fixed assets including reordering alerts and checking in and out
  • StratusAssets is a full service solution for all data on all inventory, even in multiple locations, reported within customized parameters; ideal for asset audits for accountability
  • StratusVMI is particularly useful for its real time data on which to base the efficient restocking of vendor managed inventory
  • StratusFirehouse for managing equipment and supplies used by fire departments often in life or death situations where there is no room for error
  • StratusISRP wraps up all the data about inventory, shipping, receiving and picking in a small to medium sized warehouse

Each Stratus application can be customized to meet the particular needs of any business concerned about efficient, cost effective inventory tracking and management. IntelliTrack excels at taking time for in-depth front end consultation so the Stratus installation is absolutely the best option available.

With more than two decades of experience responding to the needs of 20,000 customers around the world, IntelliTrack specialists are the go-to team for successful inventory management. Stratus is a stellar software solution with capacity to increase the productivity, customer satisfaction and bottom line of any business.

Pawlowski says the IntelliTrack team is looking forward to the next five years of Stratus success and encourages any business with consumable or fixed assets to come along for the ride. IntelliTrack inventory management professionals are available at 1-888-583-3008 or marketing@intellitrack.net to discuss the Stratus options.

In a recent report from Global Intelligence Alliance’s (GIA) Business Perspectives on Emerging Markets 2012-2017, it was revealed that transportation and logistics professionals expect emerging markets to contribute to 36% of their global revenues by 2017—over double what it is today. The logistics professionals surveyed surmise that China, Brazil, India and Russia will remain the top four emerging markets over the next five years, followed by Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore and Chile.

In the years ahead, emerging markets can expect to see fast growth—a quarter of respondents agreed that current emerging markets will become future large market. Particularly, cold chain logistics in China will greatly expand, due to the Chinese government’s plans to increase food safety.

Potential Threats
However, because of the volatility in many emerging markets, poor infrastructure, bureaucracy and red tape are common threats, particularly in hard-to-access markets.

For example, Indonesia has over 1,700 islands, making it difficult for carriers, especially with crowded ports and shallow waters.

Potential Success
In order to achieve success in emerging markets, localized competitive positioning, access to customers and the quality of products/services will be crucial.

However, 75% of respondents doubted the accuracy and completeness regarding information on emerging markets. It’s clear that there are a log of uncertainties in emerging markets, but understanding the unique characteristics of each local market and partnering with the right companies will allow those in transportation and logistics companies to take advantage of the forecasted growth in emerging markets.

In total, 60% of the over 400 companies featured in the cross-industry study said that decision making is delayed because of lack of information, while 75% doubted the accuracy and completeness of the information they have on emerging markets.

As always, we strive to give our customers the utmost in care and support. In order to ensure our Stratus product line is performing at its best, we plan on making additional upgrades and security enhancements on Sunday, September 27, 2014.

The additional features will be added beginning at 12am on Sunday, September 27 and ending at 11:59pm, during which Stratus Servers will be offline. We apologize for any inconveniences this may cause, but look forward to providing you with additional features for maximum efficiency and security.

For questions or concerns regarding the upgrades, feel free to contact us.

Attention IntelliTrack Stratus users—we have some exciting news! We’re doubling our resources for Stratus web and database servers. With double processors and RAM on our servers, that means increased performance for our customers. These changes will allow for an increased performance in page load time and data search and retrieval.

In order to add these additional resources and increase performance time, servers will be offline for maintenance and thus, the site will be unavailable during the evening of Sunday, September 21.

We apologize for any inconveniences this may cause, but once the upgrades are made, customers will be able to instantly enjoy increased performance across all of our Stratus products.

For questions or concerns regarding this matter, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Mobile technology has revolutionized our lives, but from a business perspective, logistics as we know it wouldn’t be the same without it. Mobility is essential for managing the flow of resources throughout the supply chain—it streamlines processes, thus cutting costs and saving time. Processes that once took hours now only take minutes with the use of cloud-based applications.

In conjunction with the mobile revolution is the Internet of Things, or IoT. While first seen as a consumer gimmick, IoT is now gaining a lot of traction in the world of logistics. For example, in food-based supply chains, IoT devices can sense vital information, such as temperature, ensuring food is delivered efficiently and safely.

A recent study by the National Science Foundation (NSF) concluded that if 25% of the U.S supply chains adopted IoT, it would result in $100 billion more in annual profits, 30% less in greenhouse emissions and 75% less trucker turnover.

Learn more about how mobility and IoT affect logistics.

Software as a Service (SaaS) has been gaining in popularity for years, but more recently, “logistics as a service” has been the latest craze.

Smaller online retailers are under more and more pressure to streamline their shipping processes—it’s hard to compete when Amazon sells just about everything and often offers free 2 day shipping.

That’s why Shipbeat, a Denmark-based company currently operating in beta, plans to offer an application programming interface (API) that collects the services of leading delivery companies, such as FedEx, DHL and UPS, to collect bids and solve delivery issues for small to medium- sized e-commerce businesses.

By working with multiple delivery companies, Shipbeat allows businesses to allow their customers to choose the best delivery option for them. Simply offering quick shipping isn’t enough in today’s competitive market—customers need flexibility on delivery options, free return shipping and same day or next day options.

When consumers are ordering goods online, it’s not necessarily because of the marketing—it’s because of the shipping options. If your e-tailer can’t offer cheap and fast shipping, consumers will find someone else who does. That’s why Shipbeat’s logistics as a service makes sense. Small and mid-sized businesses are busy building up their clientele—Shipbeat takes the hassle and confusion out of logistics and allows businesses to offer more delivery options than they would be able to on their own.

Shipbeat co-founder and CEO Kenneth Svenningsen stated that delivery is “critical for the most fundamental problem every online shop has.” In fact, as much as 70 percent of prospective customers will create a shopping cart, but then decide not to purchase due to a lack of shipping options.

So far, Shipbeat has raised $1.6 million in investments, which will be used to expand their offering and hire the necessary individuals for e-commerce software integration.

Learn more about the Shipbeat logistics API.

Stratus Web Application and StratusMobile Application: Stratus Data Lists Now Specific to a Division

Our recent updates to the Stratus Web and StratusMobile applications bring about some exciting new changes, making data analysis more in-depth and easier than ever before.

Data lists in Stratus have always been available company-wide, for multiple divisions. Now, with the latest Stratus updates, users are able to generate Stratus information that’s unique and specific to a division. This change effects the following Stratus data information:

  • Lookups (Accounts, Categories, Conditions, Manufacturers, Models, and Units of Measure)
  • Container Types
  • Assignees
  • Customers
  • Vendors
  • Carriers and Shipping Methods
  • Barcode Parsing Rules

With this new Stratus update, users can take advantage of greater data management flexibility, making it easy to maintain data and organize information by division, allowing for different division information to be viewed and analyzed.

For existing Stratus customers, data tables will be automatically duplicated for all divisions after the updates are applied. This means that you don’t need to do anything—simply use your Stratus application as you always would and all of the above data tables will be instantly updated so that you can instantly start analyzing data within a specific division!

StratusMobile
Additional updates were made to the StratusMobile application, including a new asset inventory form. The new asset inventory form in StratusMobile:

  • Accelerates the asset inventory process for existing assets—the user only needs to scan the Asset Number for this field
  • Automatically uses the asset’s site-location used to perform the asset inventory transaction when the asset number is scanned into the form. (No more scanning the location!)

To use the new StratusMobile asset inventory form, simply select Form 4 from the Asset Inventory Form Type options in the User Preferences screen/Assets tab. Please be sure to update your StratusMobile application and database in order to make use of this new feature.

Please contact us with any questions you may have regarding the new updates.

The Company

Cycle Force GroupCycle Force Group designs, builds and distributes bicycles, bicycle parts and accessories. Located in Ames, Iowa, an easy half hour drive from Des Moines, the company has been in the bike business since 1998. It is well established as a driving force in the industry, selling directly to consumers and to retailers.

 

In addition to its own Mantis line of bicycles, Cycle Force Group manufactures Kawasaki, Polaris, Head and Hollandia bikes under license. The inventory includes a wide range of designs, styles and prices. There is something for every taste, ability and budget from touring and racing bikes to kiddies cycles, a battery operated bicycle for the eco-friendly riders and even crowd pleasing unicycles.

 

The list of accessories appears endless, from helmets, jackets and hydration backpack systems to bike parts and maintenance products such as pumps. The Cycle Force Group’s commitment to eco-friendly products can be seen in degreasers, battery free lamps and lubricants.

 

Each day in the offices and warehouses of Cycle Force Group, 30 employees are kept busy processing hundreds of orders. The main warehouse has approximately 30,000 square feet of space and the overflow facility a few miles away measures about 15,000 square feet. There are plans underway for new warehouse space to keep pace with the growing demands.

 

The Challenge

About five years ago, as the company steadily increased its sales, the inefficiencies in accounting and order management became obvious. Cycle Force Group has always used Sage Business Works (SBW) so it was a natural next step to build on that software’s functionality to resolve the emerging issues. The solution was integration software that allows the automatic download and processing of all orders into SBW through EDI. SBW also generates all picking documents.

 

The batch picking documents were matched to customer packing slips and shipping labels before being sent to the warehouse to be filled. The orders included:

  • Drop ship orders for retail and 3PL customers, usually entered by some form of electronic data interchange (EDI)
  • Distribution orders for retail customers such as Amazon and Overstock, dealers and 3PL customers, mostly manual entries
  • Direct orders from consumers, entered manually

 

As the orders increased, so did the urgency in meeting the company’s commitment to a 24-hour turnaround for shipping.

 

The leadership team at Cycle Force Group was proud of the automation. As an accounting system, Sage Business Works worked well from its installation and continues to do so. However, Sage did not prevent what had become ongoing issues, including:

  • Stock shortages
  • Wrong products shipped to customers
  • Backlogs of orders
  • Customer complaints
  • Employee frustration with the system and with each other; e.g. time wasted looking for items when manually picking from among 1200 SKUs
  • Stock in two warehouse locations with no reliable central inventory

 

It became obvious the real problem was a lack of control over the inventory as shown by:

  • No up to date counts; the once a year shut-down for a physical count was inadequate, inaccurate and time consuming
  • No clear identification of location in the warehouse and no connection between primary warehouse and overflow
  • Lack of confidence in daily reconciliation reports to customers

 

The leadership team at Cycle Force Group knew they had to fix the operational problems before any further expansion was feasible.

Searching for a Way Forward

In 2012, they began checking out various companies and asked some of their partners for ideas. IntelliTrack Inc. was the company recommended by a trusted local reseller.

 

Contact was made with IntelliTrack, a leading provider worldwide of cost effective, efficient solutions for tracking and managing inventory. The IntelliTrack project manager spent a day onsite at Cycle Force Group, asking questions, listening and watching people at work, looking at every process end to end, reading reports and procedures, and checking the effectiveness of existing systems. Graham Watkins, the CFO, was impressed that the IntelliTrack specialist was able to help them identify situations they had not even realized were barriers to their efficiency.

 

The project manager analyzed all the information he had collected during his visit, considered the application of various IntelliTrack products and prepared a comprehensive proposal for Cycle Force Group. After due consideration and with great anticipation, Cycle Force Group management prepared to move ahead with the IntelliTrack recommendations.

 

The IntelliTrack Solution

The team at IntelliTrack weighed all the options available before recommending the Warehouse Management System (WMS) RF Professional, including integration with Sage Business Works. They knew this software solution would provide all the tools necessary to address the primary issues at Cycle Force Group, especially the picking process. The WMS package features include:

  • Inventory tracking
  • Zone picking
  • Shipping, receiving and picking
  • Physical inventory and cycle counts
  • Barcode labeling
  • Batched order management
  • Management queries
  • Daily inventory reports for customers
  • Cross dock warnings
  • Inventory inspection and grading

Zone picking, in particular, is most efficient. It allows the front warehouse to focus on Parts and Accessories, while the back warehouse processes orders for bikes.

 

It was also important for IntelliTrack to include functions for:

  • Including item details such as wheel size, color and category
  • Tracking inventory in three sites: primary warehouse, overflow warehouse and the returns site
  • Wave management to grouping sales orders for more efficient picking
  • Validating SKU against tracking number
  • Labeling pallets with ID as part of the receiving process for use in aging the inventory
  • Capturing serial number during the shipping process, but not in inventory

 

The most significant customization for Cycle Force Group was the integration of data from Sage Business Works into WMS through interfaces for:

  • Item master data
  • Physical and cycle counts and updates
  • Purchase orders including vendor contact information
  • Sales orders including customer contact information
  • Inbound imported container information

 

The initial installation included three workstations and five mobile computer licenses. A server was needed to run the IntelliTrack SQL data, license service and RF server software. The main warehouse needed wireless infrastructure installed. It was decided not to equip the overflow warehouse as transfers could be made from either the workstation or a mobile computer.

 

Cycle Force Group was eager to implement the new WMS system before Black Friday. IntelliTrack was able to follow its usual projected timeline of eight weeks from the initial onsite visit of the IntelliTrack project manager, including:

  • Preparation, review and acceptance of the Scope of Work document
  • Collaboration and agreement on scheduling all the necessary actions and timelines
  • Preparation for programming and installation
  • Onsite installation for Alpha testing
  • Employee training
  • Go live
  • Customer satisfaction review

 

The WMS system went live in November 2012, ready to support Cycle Force Group’s busiest season between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Even with the glitches typical of implementing any new system, and with 20% more orders to process than the previous year, employees did not have to work late or on weekends. There was an even smoother process in 2013 with the number of orders still higher. Overall, IntelliTrack’s WMS RF Professional software immediately began proving its excellence and continues to do so.

 

Outcomes

Cycle Force Group has now been using WMS RF Professional for more than 18 months and is very pleased with the results, specifically:

 

Increased productivity

o   Efficient picking process with an automatically generated route around the warehouse once to fill a cart instead of back and forth

o   Increased speed and efficiency for day-to-day tasks

o   More efficient use of employee time as anyone who can access the system can fill and track an order

 

Improved inventory tracking

o   Accurate, reliable information about kind, numbers and location of inventory

o   Capacity for management to do spot checks

o   Automation means having tracking numbers earlier in the process

 

Increased accountability

o   Increased confidence in the numbers for the daily reports to customers

o   Increased accuracy of shipments for both corporate customers and individual consumers

o   Timelier response to customer queries about status of orders

 

Moving Forward

The only ongoing challenge is making sure all employees use WMS as it was designed. It is not a lack of knowledge as the system is user friendly with most employees trained in less than an hour. Occasionally, though, there are employees who move a skid and forget to scan it, but the number of such incidents is steadily decreasing.

 

The positive impact of implementing IntelliTrack’s WMS RF Professional is foundational to Cycle Force Group’s future growth. This customized software solution provides a stable operational framework. Company leadership now has the confidence in its basic operations so it is ready to plan the acquisition of new warehouse space and build its market share. A bonus from IntelliTrack is the scalability of WMS; it is robust and flexible enough to grow with the business.

 

When asked about the main impact of installing WMS RF Professional at Cycle Force Group, Graham Watkins was quick to reply, “Obviously, the inventory tracking is important, but the benefits really show in the speed and efficiency with which we can do day to day tasks. And, of course, it’s easy to use.”

 

To find out more about how IntelliTrack Inc. can help your company to manage its inventory more efficiently, call 888-583-3008, or visit our WMS product page.

As we finish up July, IntelliTrack is pleased to announce that we’ll be making some exciting updates to our Stratus line.

On Sunday, August 3rd, updates will go into effect for all IntelliTrack Stratus products. The updates will allow for Stratus data lists to be specific to a division. In the past, data lists have been available company-wide, for multiple divisions. With the new updates, Stratus information can become unique and specific to a division. This change in the Stratus data structure will apply to:

  • Lookups (Accounts, Categories, Conditions, Manufacturers, Models, and Units of Measure)
  • Container Types
  • Assignees
  • Customers
  • Vendors
  • Carriers and Shipping Methods
  • Barcode Parsing Rules

For existing customers, after these updates are applied on August 3rd, the above data tables will be automatically duplicated for all divisions. Best of all, you don’t need to do anything—after the updates are applied, your software and the data tables listed above will instantly be updated so that you can start analyzing this data within a specific division!

The updates are expected to take approximately one hour on August 3, 2014. During this time, the site will be unavailable. We apologize for any inconveniences this may cause.

Please contact us if you have any additional questions.