There is a significant number of logistics and transportation professionals who are still unsure about the distinctions between offshoring and outsourcing. The fact is that there is a big difference between the two and these professionals need to be aware of them.

Outsourcing is the process whereby companies delegate pieces of their business to specialists who are outside of their company to operate and manage. There are a few reasons why companies might do this, including saving money, improving efficiency, speeding up turnaround times and improving business accuracy and continuity, all these advantages aside, the main motivation is to streamline the processes of the business. Outsourcing is always outsourcing, regardless of where the company you are outsourcing to is located. Offshoring requires business to be moved to another part of the world, outside of the businesses tax jurisdiction, and this is the fundamental difference between the two – outsourcing is possible without offshoring.

There is also uncertainty over whether companies will lose out in terms of cost or quality if they want to outsource without offshoring. This may be true in some instances but is not always the case, due to the fact that there is a significant number of outsourcing solutions onshore who rely on experience and innovation to provide value. Specialist dependable outsourcers will use the best possible practice and rely upon quality metrics to ensure the best quality of service to their client at prices which are competitive in their field.

Examples of successful onshore outsourced projects always utilize the latest innovative technology where possible. These include Intelligent Capture (IC) and Optical Character Recognition (OCR), technologies that are now more successful than ever when it comes to reducing formerly labor intensive data entry functions. Massive amounts of freight shipping data can now be recorded, classified, and extracted, plus being transferrable in any format extremely accurately and with little or no interference from humans. These systems can be operated either on site or off site without having to move the company’s work offshore.

There are also outsourcing options that do not require companies to eliminate staff, by allowing them to use raw data to make business decisions. The reason for outsourcing is that many companies do not have the resources.

ISRPWe all know that most human beings are hardwired to resist change. We also know that an effective manager will help his business move with the times and implement operational efficiencies wherever he can. A case in point is moving even a small warehouse operation from pen and paper to state of the art software for inventory management.

You Have Made a Decision to Install Warehouse Management Software

You have been working with our IntelliTrack specialist to figure out what is the best inventory tracking software for your business. You have settled on IntelliTrack Stratus ISRP, a perfect solution for receiving and storing product prior to packing and shipping. You can customize the data collected on barcodes, decide what reports you need and even integrate the program with QuickBooks purchasing and invoices. All this information means you will be able to track each item from its purchase order to receiving, moving it around the warehouse and shipping it off with an invoice.

The software will be supported with the best hardware available, including barcode printers and mobile computers. There is secure centralized data storage in the cloud with easy authorized access from anywhere there is connectivity.

Understanding Employee Resistance

You might ask, “What’s not to like about the new system?”  Whether you have five employees or 150, there are sure to be some who will tell you exactly what they do not like about your fancy technology. And remember that even a few can infect the others with their negativity.

Employees often express what appear to be good reasons for resisting change:

  • They cannot see the benefit of doing things differently; after all, “if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it”
  • They are intimidated by the technology and afraid they will not be able to learn the new tasks
  • They are afraid there will be the downsizing that often accompanies technological advances

Yes, all these reasons reflect a personal perspective which might be difficult to shift. All the same, you have to recognize these are valid responses to your announcement about installing new software. You will want to do what you can to prevent or reduce such resistance.

Working through the Transition

The sooner your employees are involved in the change process, the better. Do not start with an announcement about changes in operations but invite your employees to take part in the initial decision making. They can participate in the process directly if there are only a few workers or through their supervisors if there are many. You can ask them their opinions on current inefficiencies and frustrations and have them discuss the optional solutions before a decision is made. That way, they will have a better understanding of the rationale behind the change.

Even if you did not have the time or foresight to let your employees participate in the initial discussions and it is time to announce the change, you can alleviate some of the resistance if you:

  • Explain the benefits of the new system to the company and to them individually; e.g. increased productivity, reduced frustration in searching for parts, elimination of customer complaints about order errors, or anything else that would make sense to them
  • Assure them there will be training and ongoing support; our IntelliTrack team can facilitate the initial training on both software and hardware and is able to provide 24/7 tech support
  • Explain how increased efficiencies translate into increased profitability and possible expansion, not downsizing
  • Schedule a formal review of the effectiveness of IntelliTrack software that includes feedback from all employees

Demystify the change process by involving your employees from the beginning. After all, they are the ones with intimate knowledge of the day to day operation. Not only will they be pleased to be consulted, they have plenty of useful information to consider.

Work with our IntelliTrack professional to review your entire operation, speak with all the stakeholders and make a decision about installing up to date inventory technology. An honest, open process will benefit everyone.

Contact us now to start the conversation.

Warehouse Management SoftwareOver the past 25 years, IntelliTrack Inc. has become an industry leader in providing best of class inventory management solutions. IntelliTrack specialists have developed the software and overseen more than 20,000 installations of inventory control systems across the world. From small family businesses to Fortune 500 companies, satisfied customers have benefited from IntelliTrack experience and expertise.

This is the success story of one such company.

ZM Sheet Metal Inc.

For nearly fifty years, three generations of the Zivic family have worked hard to establish ZM Sheet Metal’s excellent reputation for making ductwork for customers in the mid-Atlantic region and up into New England. The corporate offices and a small plant are located in Chantilly VA with the main manufacturing facility an hour’s drive away in Winchester VA.

ZM Sheet Metal produces ductwork to support the HVAC systems in both commercial and residential buildings. The detailed, illustrated online catalog shows all the standard parts that can be ordered from distributors. The experienced team at ZM Sheet Metal is also prepared to customize parts to meet customer specifications. The volume of repeat business speaks to both the quality of the product and the prompt order fulfilment.


The ZM Sheet Metal company has developed a streamlined operation so they can:

  • Receive orders
  • Manufacture product based on the day’s orders
  • Ship the order that afternoon or use product to replenish inventory

This timely response to customer orders is ideal for the just in time inventory management so prevalent in today’s supply chains. Custom work receives the same efficient attention.

There have been two important factors supporting this operational effectiveness:

  • Scheduling shifts so the metal production employees begin work early in the morning and the employees handling the finished product start later in the morning, allowing the shipping procedures to be completed on the same day
  • There are distinct production departments each with designated space within the facilities; for example, all collars and spin fittings are manufactured in one area and all oval pipe and fittings in another space

The two warehouse facilities provide a total of 100,000 square feet divided into aisles, sections and levels. Racks are used to maximize space available. Both the facilities and the manufacturing process have been made more and more efficient over the years. However, there is always room for improvement.


In early 2013, a new generation of management at ZM Sheet Metal decided to update the way they managed the inventory. The traditional pen and paper system had worked well but it was time to digitalize the procedures to take advantage of inventory technology. At that point, management did not even have an accurate count of their current on hand inventory. 

They wanted a location-based inventory tracking system that covered both warehouse locations. Also, they wanted to make better use of barcode information to increase the accuracy of shipping and receiving product. It was also important that the software would be supported by handheld mobile data terminals to increase productivity in the warehouse.

The IntelliTrack Technology Solution

After discussions with many companies and a false start with another inventory control application, ZM Sheet Metal engaged IntelliTrack to work with them to develop just the right inventory system. There were two primary reasons that influenced their choice:

  • IntelliTrack recognized ZM Sheet Metal as a unique company with its own particular strengths and challenges; it was not just another number on the client list
  • IntelliTrack demonstrated the capacity to design the modifications ZM Sheet Metal wanted to incorporate

More than a year later, Tyler Zivic, Vice President of Zivic Sheet Metal can still confirm, “We just felt comfortable with IntelliTrack. They were close to us logistically so we felt they understood a company our size. Most importantly, they were prepared to tackle all those modifications we needed.” 

After a thorough review of the ZM Sheet Metal operations, the IntelliTrack team recommended the installation of their Warehouse Management Software (WMS) RF Professional inventory software with modifications and integration with QuickBooks for purchase orders for raw materials, sales orders and invoicing.

  • Data Collection Requirements

Receiving, inventory and shipping data on finished product can be collected from both the Chantilly and Winchester sites, including:

  • Location data – 4”x6” barcode label indicates which warehouse and actual location
  • Item data – info imported from QuickBooks for product label for each box shows details and image of product and number in package
  • Inventory data – finished product inventory tracked by site using ZM Sheet Metal current labeling process for standard stock and WMS generated labels for custom pieces
  • Vendor/customer data – vendor and customer data imported from the purchase and sales orders in QuickBooks
  • Modifications

For optimum use of their WMS RF Professional software to meet the goals of ZM Sheet Metal, the IntelliTrack team designed five primary modifications to the:

  • QuickBooks interface to allow site designation for sales and purchase orders and generation of unique part numbers for labeling and shipping
  • Workstation application reports and forms to create customized Shop Copies summaries with enough detail so each foreman can initiate and monitor production and inventory for his department and management can review a consolidated progress report
  • RF mobile computer application to initiate auto receiving function more quickly and allow the picker to make two complete passes of the warehouse instead of jumping back and forth to fill the order
  • Wave management screen to allow edits to due date and provide info for decisions about grouping and shipping orders
  • Packing lists and bills of lading to align with ZM Sheet Metal formats and include payment terms identified in QuickBooks

It was up to ZM Sheet Metal management to decide what WMS functions they required. In order to meet their current requirements, the ZM Sheet Metal team decided they did not need to identify Units of Measure, lots, expiration dates, serial numbers and pallet tracking. However, they know those functions are still available through WMS RF Professional for use in the future.

Hardware to Support IntelliTrack Software

ZM Sheet Metal needed to equip 14 workstation users and 8 mobile computer users with most of them located at the larger manufacturing plant at Winchester. To support the software on the network, IntelliTrack recommended trusted partners to provide:

  • Single centralized SQL and application server
  • Secure hardware based VPN that connected both warehouses
  • Workstation desktop processors
  • Handheld mobile computers, battery chargers and docking stations
  • Barcode printers


IntelliTrack usually schedules an 18 week timeline from the initial meeting for outlining the scope of the project through development and installation to training and testing. ZM Sheet Metal went live in April 2014 with only minor glitches to be resolved.

ZM Sheet Metal has been pleased with the way IntelliTrack has been able to accommodate their unique needs. Since the initial installation, IntelliTrack has introduced another 20 modifications or customer reports to further enhance the company‘s capacity for effective inventory management.


All the significant outcomes reflect increased efficiency in the ZM Sheet Metal operations from beginning to end, including:

  • Reduced admin costs
  • Less paper and time needed with electronic data collection
  • Fewer employee resources needed with integration of WMS with QuickBooks for processing purchasing orders, customer orders, shipping info and invoicing
  • Fewer meetings as all info is directly accessible for all employees
  • Increased accuracy and reliability with move from paper to automatic data collection
  • Optimum levels of inventory thanks to accurate, real time tracking and monthly inventory turnover; i.e. little surplus, no shortages
  • Increased efficiency for employees receiving, moving and shipping both raw materials and finished product; reduced time spent searching for product and wondering  how much is available

All these positive outcomes have resulted in greater customer satisfaction and sustainable profitability. ZM Sheet Metal continues to be pleased with IntelliTrack WMS RF Professional software and the ongoing support and service.

Outsourcing logistics and supply chain management to a third party logistics (3PL) provider offers many advantages. Leverage the time tested methods and expertise of an experienced provider while enjoying efficient and accurate product distribution. Here are five great reasons to hire a 3PL provider today.

Save Time and Money by Outsourcing

Making an investment in the components of a supply chain management process ties up significant capital that may be more useful in other areas of a business. Warehouse space, transportation, technology, and even additional staff represent a huge investment in time, as well. Free up money and time for use in other areas of the business without sacrificing accuracy and top shelf customer service by outsourcing supply chain management to a 3PL company.

Leverage 3PL Provider Expertise

Hiring a 3PL company gives businesses direct access to a staff of experienced professionals and cutting edge software. Experts in the areas of inventory management, process tracking, advanced reporting, and logistics, a 3PL provider lets a business offer their clients a high level of supply chain expertise which ultimately adds value for the customer. 3PL outsourcing allows a small or medium sized business to focus on what they do best, instead of trouble shooting their supply chain.

Remove Barriers to Growth

As a business grows, so does its need for increased resources within its supply chain. While scalable and flexible labor, space, and transportation may be ideal, it isn’t always an option for growing companies. Outsourcing these areas offers peace of mind, but it also removes a common barrier to expansion. Seasonal businesses see immediate advantages when hiring a 3PL company. There’s no need to spend time and money on managing the highs and lows. Simply request additional warehouse space and shipping services during peak times.

Streamline Logistics Systems

3PL providers offer resources that help businesses offer top shelf services to their customers. Adjusting to market conditions, customer demand, and growth spurts is a simple process that begins by analyzing current practices. After drilling down to discover any inefficiencies in the supply chain, an expert 3PL team can eliminate barriers to excellence, monitor performance, and streamline the entire system which ensures orders arrive where and when expected.

Gain access to high-level resources

A 3PL provider helps businesses leverage high-level resources they may not otherwise have access to. Optimizing the supply chain to increase customer satisfaction, reduce delivery times, and improve accuracy requires expensive software, dedicated staff, and transportation resources that aren’t often available to a business in-house. Minimizing overhead costs and increasing efficiency by outsourcing to a 3PL provider gives a business access to the 3PL manager’s network of resources and established relationships with other vendors that it may take some single businesses years to build on their own.

Maximize profits, reduce the need for additional staff, ensure continuous improvement, and remove barriers to growth by outsourcing 3PL services to the experts. Customer service is the most important part of any business and keeping a current base of clients happy while freely growing the business without concern about seasonal shifts in demand or growth spurts that require immediate changes to warehouse space and transportation allows an ever-changing business to focus on what they do best.


Need software for your 3PL? Learn more.


trucks in snowOver the last number of years, severe weather events such as arctic winters, an earthquake in Japan, and various hurricanes have put supply chains under severe pressure, and this pressure is more prevalent when you consider that supply chains are now mostly global concerns and bad weather in any part of the world can have some kind of effect.

Regardless of whether supply chain operations take place in a localized area or across countries, continents and various modes of transport, many kinds of disruption can have an effect on the network, bringing new and unique problems for managers to solve, sometimes in locations hundreds of miles away. Supply chains are only set to become more rigid as it becomes more efficient with technology. This means that stakeholders in transportation companies should attempt to grow more agile in proportion to their new technological efficiency so that they can keep their fleets moving regardless of any challenges that present themselves. Planning for contingency can no longer be considered as simply a backup strategy, but crucial to the maintenance of day-to-day operations.

The importance of making plans for contingency can’t be overstated, when it comes to keeping fleets moving regardless of the size and scale of challenge presented. Having a layered contingency plan means companies can respond to these challenges unforeseen in an agile manner. In order to ensure that these layers are created, optimal responses must be evaluated proactively and any potential outcomes must be presented to stakeholders. Trucking companies need to have an effective game plan in place that allows them to look after their team and clients while minimizing the levels of disruption right across the distribution network.

Planning for contingency begins with research, gathering information, and communicating. Then relationships with other partners local to your supply chain must be built via a communications network that is solid and accessible. Without this, getting access to important information when it is needed most, for making decisions rapidly and alleviating pressure, will be very difficult or near impossible. Shippers need to establish mutually productive relationships with drayage partners and long haul transportation companies.

When emergency occurs, it is vitally important that all those involved remain focused on the task at hand by evaluating timelines and communicating with all types of transportation partners, while providing their customers with information in real time to allow for strategic planning.

On November 1, we made some updates to our Stratus products. We’re happy to report that the updates went well and there are some great new features for our end users. Updates in this release include:

Stratus Web Application

  • Spanish Localization: The Stratus web application has been localized for Spanish. All web application pages and forms are available in both English and Spanish. Each individual user may set his/her language preference for English or Spanish at the User Preferences page or at the Add/Edit User form.
  • View Labels page, New Labels: As part of the standard label offering, 2 x 1 labels have been added for item, item/description, and location labels. The labels are ready to be created, printed, and used for scanning and data tracking. Users now have these additional standard label options when creating labels in Stratus.
  • Assets Data page, Field Chooser: New asset fields that include Purchase Date and Purchase Cost have been added as options to the Field Chooser at the Assets Data page; thus allowing the user to add them to the Assets Data page grid. When added to the page’s grid, this asset information is readily displayed and may be viewed directly from the page (instead of opening the asset record to view it).

StratusMobile Application

  • Lock Feature Enhancement: The lock feature at the following forms has been enhanced: Inventory-Assets Form 3, Rapid Issue Details, Rapid Receipt Details, Add Item to Container, Check Out, and Check In. Now the mobile application retains the locked field state for any optional field when the form or the application is closed. If an optional field is locked, the field remains in this state until the user changes it. This enhancement accelerates data entry at these forms because the user does not have to continually reset the locked field state.
  • Add Location form, Site field: The site used for viewing locations is now automatically selected in the Site field in the Add Locations screen. This saves the user the step of selecting this site when adding a location; thus it simplifies the Add Location process in the mobile application.
  • Item Unit of Measure Confirmation: The unit of measure is now confirmed in StratusMobile; this means that when adding a duplicate unit of measure and/or each count to an item, the user is immediately alerted and stopped from adding this unit of measure to the item. This enhances the reliability of the add item process in the handheld application.
  • Add Item form, Additional UDF fields: the UDF fields 3, 4, 5, and 6 have been added. This enhances the Add Item process in the mobile application by providing the user with four additional user defined fields for each item. The user may enter specific information about the item in these fields.

Check-out Feature Enhancement: StratusMobile and Rapid Check-out Feature in the Stratus Web Application

Asset check-out in the StratusMobile application and in the Rapid Check Out feature in the web application is now more streamlined. The user may now check out an asset that is currently checked out to another assignee. The transfer of asset ownership to the new assignee is handled during this check out. This eliminates the step of checking in the currently checked out asset before checking it out to another assignee, thus making the whole process easier for the user.

Update StratusMobile

Please be sure to update your Stratus Mobile application and database in order to use the new features found in StratusMobile. For instructions on this process please visit:

This Sunday, November 1, 2015, we will be making updates to IntelliTrack Stratus products. The updates will take approximately one hour, during which time the site will be unavailable.

Once the updates have been made, we will provide a detailed summary of what was done to ensure that users will know exactly what to expect.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, but look forward to releasing some great new features.

If you have any questions regarding the update, please feel free to contact us.

Please check back on Monday, November 2, 2015, to learn more about the updates to Stratus.

Businessman checking inventory in stock room on tabletWith the owners of small businesses struggling even to find time to communicate with their customers, it’s hard to see how they can find the time to count their inventory and weed out inaccuracies from their warehouse. There are applications on the market that can help manage inventory, but systems must be implemented in-house, which can be used for counting physical stock. A lot of businesses with physical stock are now doing away with annual inventory counts in favor of cycle counts, which are ongoing and thus, a lot less stressful.

Cycle counts are a process of auditing inventory that takes place regularly throughout the year. This allows companies to focus on small subsets of their inventory. Cycle counting is not as disruptive as annual counts when it comes to the effect on daily operations. They also give a rolling insight into the accuracy of inventory and the execution of procedures. They can be used to focus on inventory of a high value, movement volume, or anything that is critical to the processes of the business in a bespoke manner.

The Benefits and Processes of Cycle Counting

Reducing Disruption

Having cycle counts integrated into a weekly routine should help to prevent major disruption on the warehouse floor. This is in contrast to annual inventory counting which can shut down an entire warehouse until the process is complete. Cycle counting allows inventory to be evaluated all the time, meaning that disruption is kept to a minimum communication is ongoing amongst staff.

Basic Processes for Optimizing the Warehouse can Relieve the Stress of Cycle Counting

Reducing rubbish from deliveries and keeping the warehouse floor clear will save a lot of time and stress during the cycle counting process—this is just one example of how to make life easier when carrying out these processes.

Gain Confidence in Buying Related Decisions

By the processes associated with ongoing inventory counting, your hand will be forced to assess inventory on a continuous basis. The fact that there are now smaller check-ins that are focused on narrower subsets of inventory means that any decisions made about buying can be more targeted and informed. Running out of stock can be avoided and better reports can be provided to buyers and you staff as well.

Find the right inventory software for you.


Does Your Company Have a Recall Process that’s Fit for Purpose?

The amount food products being recalled has almost doubled since 2002, according to reports. With many cases of food standards not being met, and the resulting recalls, it stands to reason that supply chain management is under a lot of scrutiny.

Huge mistakes have been made by some well known brands, which led to a product recall. Recalls bring to light issues relating to how food manufacturers and producers manage their supply chain in relation to the two main pillars of product recall, which are response and prevention.

Many supply chains are still supported by antiquated and inaccurate manual systems and techniques, others are not equipped to use the track and trace technology which they have installed. However, with the current level of technology available, there is no excuse for instances where risk is not being mitigated and could prevent a recall.

In order to reduce the number of recalls, the greatest ally of prevention is preparation. The continual refinement of processes combined with properly implemented track and trace technology will reduce the number of occurrences of food safety issues and therefore limit the effects. Using automation in the process of developing preventative measures, including the introduction of mandatory check point for products combined with quality testing when procurement and manufacturing is taking place within the supply chain should make the process of identifying issues much easier.

When track and trace technology is properly implemented it can give notifications in real-time to manufacturers so that any issues can be addressed before produce leaves the factory floor. In addition to this, the implementation of track and trace technology within the supply chain can provide managers with more visibility and chances to attain actionable insight so that distribution processes can be improved. The technology can also come into play in the event of a recall, by allowing the process to be initiated strategically, helping to avoid the common pitfalls.

A lot of executives in the supply chain use systems for tracing products, these systems vary in quality due to how precise they are and how far into the supply chain process they can delve. The question over whether they can provide end-to-end control over the supply chain process is very important in terms of being compliant and efficient.

Against a backdrop of consumer angst and demands for compliance, these changes and more are necessary for the supply chain. The time is now for managers to get their operations in order, both for the sake of consumer safety and the bottom line.

truckThe cost of fuel is an important issue for truckers, so why are rules needed when keeping consumption to a minimum is important for the success of trucking businesses? The answer is that there are a lot of hurdles to overcome that are presented by the open market, and which are slowing investment in upgrading fleets. These include surcharges on fuel and risk aversion in a marketplace, where cash flow is so important. However, the vast majority of fleet owners are in support of regulations for fuel economy. There is a growing belief that proposed regulations for fuel economy and emissions in the face of global warming will also help to save money.

A recent survey by Calstart, comprised of 45 fleets from across the trucking industry, found a number of common opinions held by fleet operators about regulations for fuel economy;

The first is that while fuel consumption adds to operating costs it can also be worked on. Adding to the efficiency of vehicles and systems will deliver higher fuel economy and lower operating costs.

The second opinion is that because of the high variety in on-off road drive cycles, more care must be taken to allow for fleets having enough options to purchase vehicles which provide higher fuel economy which can also apply to the drive cycle and capacity for fueling.

The regulations for heavy-duty vehicles apply to a wide section of vehicles, including small vans, dumper trucks, tractors and trailers, buses, even ambulances and RV’s. They apply to practically every vehicle that is not a car for passengers or a motorbike. Two government agencies, the NHTSA and the EPA, are working on rules that are more specific to each duty cycle, while at the same time, making provisions for manufacturers to be able to provide trucks that are of the highest possible for each individual market segment.

The third common opinion is that manufacturers should make sure that the technologies they use to provide fuel economy do not affect the reliability of vehicles and parts in a negative way. Goals for fuel economy must also be achievable without costing too much money or time to fleets. Ultimately, trucks should be working at the highest efficiency, and when they have downtime they are not able to do their job properly.