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.

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 12.29.35 PMWe were in the cloud before it was cool.

We are pleased to be celebrating the 5th year of our line of hosted web-based inventory software—Stratus.

Over the past five years, we’ve watched web-based inventory software grow, change and flourish—and IntelliTrack was there from the beginning.

To date, our Stratus line consists of:

Our Stratus line of products have brought about hundreds of happy customers, finally able to solve all of their inventory control needs from a convenient, hosted solution.

In order to celebrate IntelliTrack’s Stratus line of products turning 5, we’re giving away one month of access to the system for free!

It may be our birthday, but we want our customers to receive the present! Simply sign up for a one year account and the first month of access will be provided at no cost to you! Contact us for more details.

Happy 5th Birthday Stratus!

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 5.45.36 PMIn the words of Kermit the frog, “It ain’t easy bein’ green.” This statement is true now, more than ever, when it comes to the supply chain. Having a sustainable supply chain is no longer an option—it’s a necessity.

Over the past few years, sustainability has become more and more important as we’ve become increasingly aware of how our actions impact the environment. Improving sustainability in the supply chain has become a strategic business decision. One way to improve your supply chains’ sustainability is by taking a closer look at packaging.

Packaging is crucial in communicating the brand’s identity to the consumer. As global awareness of sustainability increases, consumers are letting the environmental impact of a package determine purchasing behavior. In fact, in a recent survey by Cone Communications, approximately 80 percent of respondents claimed that sustainability is important in their purchasing decision and prefer packages that define the proper way to use of and dispose of the product/package. Sustainable packaging can enhance the reputation of the brand and become the final deciding factor when making a purchase.

In order to ensure companies are using sustainable packaging, strict regulations are being put in place to ban the use of certain materials.

Aside from following regulations and portraying packaging as “green,” reducing the weight of packaging can also have significant environmental impact by reducing transportation costs and thus reducing the carbon footprint of the supply chain 

What has your organization done with its packaging in order to achieve a sustainable supply chain? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook, twitter or LinkedIn.

If time is money, then being lean is both. Thanks to mega retailers such as Wal-Mart, lean principles have rapidly spread to a variety of different manufacturers, such as consumer foods, apparel and food/beverage.

Over the past few years, these retailers have dramatically changed how they do business in order to stay competitive in the marketplace. How products are ordered, how inventory is moved throughout distribution centers and barcodes vs. rfid technology for inventory management have all been taken into consideration in order to work as swiftly and efficiently as possible.

While lean thinking has been rapidly expanding amongst large manufacturers and retailers, there are still a lot of companies that have hardly implemented any lean concepts.

At the end of the day, it’s about adding value for customers—but how can companies do that while also reaping in benefits for themselves?

Lean opportunities for wholesalers and retailers fall into three basic categories:

1) Retail Strategy
For lean concepts to be successfully applied within a retail or wholesale organization, departmental strategies need to be aligned with and support an overall lean company strategy in order to efficiently function as one lean, cohesive machine.

2) Merchandise Management
When it comes down to it, efficiently managing merchandise comes down to having the right product at the right price at the right time. To achieve this trifecta, developing, securing, pricing support and communicating the retailer’s merchandise offering effectively is of the utmost importance. Failing to manage merchandise using lean principles causes waste, taking away value from both the customer and the enterprise.

3) Store and Distribution Operations
Store and distribution operations tend to be where companies have the biggest amount of waste. Depending on how many stores are involved, it can be one of the hardest areas to manage, making lean principles seem unattainable. But distribution is all about optimizing trade-offs between handling costs and warehousing costs, maximizing the warehouse while maintaining low costs and minimizing time.

It’s All About the Customer
In a retail environment, it’s crucial to consider store operations and process improvements from the customers’ point of view before making lean improvements. Remember, what’s good for the customer is good for your business; it’s just about finding the right solution.

Analyzing in-store logistics can be very beneficial to becoming a lean organization. These “last 10 yards” of the supply chain can have a drastic impact on your bottom line—from employee productivity, to quality issues, to receiving processes, every little step in the last 10 yards is crucial to improve processes and increase profits.

In addition to those crucial last customer-facing moments in the retail environment, omni-channel marketing, such as e-commerce, adds an entirely new layer of challenges to becoming a lean organization.

Identifying where customers will see value across all channels and applying lean concepts to these areas is crucial in retail and wholesale environments in order to succeed in today’s competitive market.

 

 

IntelliTrack recently made updates to our StratusMobile software in order to help our customers work as efficiently as possible.

Rapid Issue and Rapid Receipt
StratusMobile users can enjoy Rapid Issue and Rapid Receipt.This feature was added to enable users to quickly issue and receive items during a Stock Issue and a Stock Receipt. In addition, items can be continuously scanned to an Issue Order or the Receipt Order by using the Lock feature.

Add and Maintain Item and Assets in Containers
With the new StratusMobile update, users can easily add or remove items and/or assets from a container, allowing for assets and items to be grouped into a moveable location. Grouping the items makes it easy to make updates if an item or asset needs to be removed.

Now, the Add Container form and Edit Container form each have two new tabs—Assets and Items. An asset can be easily added or removed from the container in the Assets tab. Items can be managed in the Items tab. The new form was created with rapid item data entry to a container in mind and uses a Lock feature, allowing users to “lock” a value in a field so that it doesn’t have to be continually scanned.

Rapid Asset Entry for New Assets
We’ve added a new Asset Inventory form for rapidly adding new assets. With the new form, users can rapidly add new assets to a site-location, in addition to assigning a serial number, assignee and condition to the asset. The new Inventory-Assets form uses a lock feature that allows default values to be set within a field. In addition, users can customize the prompting sequence when adding data.

Update StratusMobile Today
In order to take advantage of all these great features, please be sure to update your StratusMobile application and database. View instructions on how to update your StratusMobile software.

In addition to updating the Stratus Mobile, updates were made to the Stratus Web Application.

View Labels Page
In the Stratus Web Application, improvements have been made when previewing and printing the following labels:

  • Asset, Item, and Location Labels are now sorted in ascending order
  • Asset Labels now have the added ability to be sorted by an Asset Number range
  • Assignee Labels now have the ability to be sorted by an Assignee range

Rapid Check-In/Check-Out feature
The Rapid Check In/Out feature now contains a Rapid Check-In/Check-Out Operations Reportas well as a new Save and Print function. The Operations Report contains all of the Rapid Check-In/Check-Out Operation Labels, which are contained on a 8.5” x 11” sheet of paper. Simply print the report and all of the operation labels will be conveniently located on one sheet of paper. The new Save and Print feature allows users to save the check-in or check-out transaction and loads the correlating Confirmation report onscreen. The Confirmation report includes the asset number-item, description and assignee for each asset that was checked in or out during the session. The Confirmation report can be previewed onscreen, exported to a file or printed depending on your needs.

Contact us with any questions regarding either the StratusMobile update or Stratus Web Application update.

 

On Sunday, June 29th updates will be applied to the IntelliTrack Stratus products. The updates will take roughly an hour during which time the site will be unavailable.

Performing a full physical inventory can seem like a daunting task, but having accurate inventory is the key to overall accuracy in the warehouse. Luckily, there’s ISRP by IntelliTrack to help with all of your inventory needs.

ISRP is ideal for small to mid-sized warehouse order fulfillment operations and is comprised of four main functions—Inventory, Shipping, Receiving and Picking.

ISRP Inventory supports warehouse functions such as physical counts, cycle counts and moving inventory, all from a mobile device.

Download a step-by-step procedural guide for performing a full physical inventory using Intellitrack ISRP and start increasing your accuracy today!

You do not need a drone to provide excellent delivery service to your customers. We have been fascinated recently by Amazon’s commitment to delivery service within 30 minutes of placing an order, thanks to a drone zooming in and dropping a package right outside our doors. However, there is more to customer satisfaction than a high flying technological wonder.

What makes customers happy?
There is much more to a successful delivery than just a package showing up at the door. Your customers are probably happiest when:

  • They receive the product they order, not a substitute or something that was stored on the next shelf in the warehouse
  • The package is delivered to the correct address
  • The order arrives when scheduled

How to deliver on customer satisfaction?

For small to mid-sized businesses, there is a software solution for customer satisfaction. It is an Inventory Shipping Receiving and Picking (ISRP) system that calculates and tracks all data about the inventory, from receiving and storing products and receiving customer orders to picking, shipping and invoicing the items. You want the process to flow smoothly and if there are any glitches, you receive an immediate alert so you can take care of the problem right away.

ISRP software integrates the four main functions necessary for successfully filling customer orders:

  • ISRP Inventory is all about having an accurate and complete count of the inventory no matter what the location within the company operations. The system has the capacity for physical inventory and cycle counting. You can design queries and request reports that allow you to monitor and manage inventory.

Accessing this kind of information gives you the confidence to know you absolutely can fill the orders being received. You can build in reordering alerts so you never run out of product. You can track consumption over defined periods and cycles so you can plan ahead.

  • ISRP Shipping functionality validates all the details of your customer’s order and generates the shipping labels. The system is integrated with the delivery service provider such as FedEx or WorldShip so there is no need to risk errors by rekeying customer names and addresses.

The shipping information can also be exported to your billing department. Once again, eliminating the need to input the information again eliminates the risk of error. The customer will receive the items ordered and the correct invoice.

  • ISRP Receiving is the part of the software solution that enters all necessary data about the product you have ordered from a manufacturer or distributor. Such data typically includes a purchase order number, due date, vendor ID and the location where it is being stored. Errors are significantly reduced and the receiving process is speeded up as the information is validated by barcode or RFID tag readers. The product will now be easy to find to fill your customer’s order.
  • ISRP Picking imports the details of the customer order and validates the part number, location and quantity using a portable barcode or RFID tag reader. This efficient system reduces if not eliminates error so the customer will be assured of the correct product in the requested quantity arriving at the door.

What are the ISRP Advantages?

The primary advantage of using an ISRP software solution in your warehouse is all about accurate, complete, current information in order to fill orders efficiently. There is no more apologizing because you have to backorder an item or send a substitution. When a customer has spent time deciding on a product, you can be sure that is exactly what he wants to receive.

The customer data is all in the system so there is little chance of error in shipping labels. Having that functionality integrated with the system used by the courier who will actually be delivering the package is a great bonus feature. The risk of error just keeps on decreasing.

Customer satisfaction begins with the first step in the entire inventory process. If you know for sure that your purchase order is filled, received and stored in your warehouse, you are in a much better position to fill your customers’ orders to their complete satisfaction.

A drone dropping a package on their doorstep is not going to keep a customer happy. A delivery service arriving at the door with exactly what the customer ordered as a result of an efficient and accurate end-to-end ISRP system is impressive.

The IntelliTrack Solution

IntelliTrack Inc. offers state of the art ISRP software solutions that can be customized to meet your company’s needs. There is a web based option with cloud storage that can be accessed from anywhere with an Internet connection. There is also a system that can be locally installed on your company server and might be appropriate for your operation. IntelliTrack professionals are always ready to discuss your needs and what works to satisfy your customers.