Over 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
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.