Why You Should Update Your Inventory Process

June 20, 2017 at 9:37 AMChad Moulder

As more and more companies march towards in-store and online sales integration, it has become clear that there's more than just shipping costs digging into profits.

 

Why You Should Update Your Inventory Process

Modernizing your inventory management process could be just the change your business needs to stay successful. 

 

There can be no doubt that as a whole, retail operations have become vastly more complicated within just the past decade. As more and more businesses and companies look to reconcile in-person (in-store) transactions with online sales, the importance of managing that business with an efficient inventory management tool becomes all the more apparent. Poor or inadequate inventory management can open the door to production and order delays, unhappy customers and unexpected expenditures, so it is not difficult to understand the importance of getting it “right”.

The problem seems to stem from the slow adoption of processes and technologies that have been proven to save time and money for businesses in all sectors. For example, according to a recent study 43% of small businesses operating in the United States do not track their inventory or do so through a manual process. In the same study, it was also discovered that 55% of those same small businesses don’t currently track their assets or do so manually. This has resulted in overstocks, out-of-stocks and returns costing the U.S economy more than $1.75 trillion dollars in lost revenue annually, a number that has been steadily increasing. In fact, if you sell a product within the U.S., on average it is costing you $1.43 in inventory costs for every dollar made in sales.

To the business planner looking to forecast costs and sales, numbers like these must seem especially egregious. With nearly $14 billion in industrial assets changing hands and an increase of 15% in eCommerce over the same period last year, many companies may find themselves wondering why their gross margins may not be experiencing the same growth. For some, increasing the number of skus to meet long-tail customer demands has been the solution, but a much more efficient solution is to integrate better processes that remove contributing factors like human error from the equation.

This may be changing, however. As more and more companies look to shore up holes in their budgets, more and more are looking towards taming their inventory as one of the more rewarding opportunities. According to a study by Motorola, 66% of warehouse IT and operations decision makers plan to expand technology investments by 2018, citing automation efficiency and worker productivity as the driving forces behind those decisions.

The benefits of improving tracking and inventory management are numerous, but there are some considerations for businesses still on the fence as to whether to embrace digital solutions (such as All Orders by NumberCruncher) or not. One key consideration that may not be so obvious is that whether you like it or not, customer satisfaction is absolutely an external factor that can affect your ability to forecast inventory or production. Agitating your hard-won customers with low or out of stock items will almost certainly lead your customers to question if their patronage is worth the hassle to get the product and just as a recall can damage a business’ reputation, failure to recognize the value and importance of managing your inventory is a nightmare waiting to happen.

Additionally, for businesses that operate with regulatory or government oversight, proper inventory management can not only improve efficiencies within your business, it can also help to keep your customers safe. In a study by the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers observed that the use of barcode tracking led to a reduction of administrative errors by 41.4% at an academic medical center. In other industries, this might translate into an avoided recall or unexpected costly expenditures so there are other benefits a company can expect to receive by integrating and updating their inventory processes.

If your company is one of the estimated 69% of small to medium-sized businesses expecting revenue growth this fiscal year, it certainly seems worth investing the time and resources to implement an efficient inventory control strategy.

Give your company accurate insights into stock and inventory conditions and see a positive impact on your business’ profitability. Connect with one of our industry inventory specialists today for a free demo or to start your free trial of All Orders from NumberCruncher.

Posted in: AllOrder | Features | General | News | Production | Tracking | training

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Can Your Business Avoid Total Recall?

June 13, 2017 at 9:23 AMChad Moulder

 

Recall Image

In this week's blog, we look at some popular ways of managing the risk of recall to your business.

 

Can Your Business Avoid Total Recall?

This week, United Pet Group was forced to recall five different brands of popular rawhide dog chews when it was discovered that several lots contained a quaternary ammonium compound mixture used in some of it's facilities as a processing aid. The recall, which affected five different brands including the very popular Digest-eeze, has been traced back to the company’s Edwardsville, Illinois distribution facility where it was packaged and sent to a wide range of retail locations including many popular online retailers.

What happened to United Pet Group isn't, unfortunately, that uncommon an occurrence. For just the first half of 2017 alone, there have been 78 official product recalls issued by the Food and Drug Administration for reasons ranging from Listeria contamination to undeclared ingredients. Seven of those were this week alone and affected not only pet products like Digest-eeze and Loving Pets (Salmonella), but also retailers like consumer-favorite Trader Joe's (Listeria). When one looks at the affect even a small recall can have on a business and brand, it quickly becomes obvious that having processes and protocols in place can be a company’s blessing should the unthinkable become a reality.

Obviously, the best policy would be to avoid a recall altogether, but when dealing with complex manufacturing or production processes across multiple facilities and/or countries, the task of managing the individual parts can certainly become challenging. It’s too early to see the impact this recall will have upon its brand, but it does provide a chance to look at ways your business can minimize the risk of a recall. Let’s take a look at a few.

It cannot be overstated enough: although often tedious, this is by far the most important method of protecting your company from this kind of embarrassment. Having accurate knowledge of where your materials are, what condition they are in, and when materials are going to be in transit is one of the most essential contributors to maximizing efficiency and being proactive about introducing (and maintaining) processes. It can be a godsend for established businesses that have frequent interactions with multiple customers, manufacturers and suppliers or companies looking at releasing new products.

When looking at establishing procedures or standards for your company, it can often be helpful to model them to support or utilize industry code standards. One valuable resource for this is the American National Standard Institute which can provide comprehensive information about the standards within a variety of industries.

Organization also affords companies traceability of their products and when dealing with complex systems of crates, bins, lots and pallets. For some industries, such as food and beverage, traceability is not only important for internal business but also a matter of compliance with laws like the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. Having lot traceability, MSDS maintenance, and easily accessible HACCP documentation is one of the simplest methods for staying compliant and can make the process of ensuring quality across the brand easier.

When introducing new products or making changes to existing ones, it is not uncommon to receive components that do not conform to your specifications. Having the ability to trace components to their origin allows you the capacity to address quality control issues early on or to identify suppliers that produce inconsistent materials for your business. There are a variety of ways to accomplish this by leveraging software and experience, but one of the simplest is to establish and cultivate relationships with your suppliers.

Very few products today can be created from components manufactured in-house, so the use of third party suppliers is a well-established tradition in nearly every industry. Just as you would (likely) not buy a car sight-unseen, it is important to have a good understanding and relationship with your suppliers.

Although we are talking about recalls, the cultivation of these relationships have multiple benefits that reach beyond just ensuring your materials are of a suitable quality. For example, a company that produces food may want to ensure that their ingredients come from clean processing facilities or that the supplier meets kosher or organic guidelines in their production.

Even with all the planning and standardization, no system can really be considered complete until it has been tested. It is obvious that no company wants to issue a recall, but how can you know if all the work you put into place to protect your business from it works? You test it.

Many companies find great benefit in running mock recalls once or twice a year to target specific aspects of their production and distribution cycle. On the Quality Assurance & Food Safety website, Brian Honigbaum dives deeper into the how’s and why’s a company would want to run a mock recall, but the primary reason is to find holes in whatever system you have established for your company. Speed and the goal to locate 100% of a product regardless of production or distribution stage is an activity that affords a company the chance to refine processes and make improvements to its system. This will in turn ensure that high standards are not only adhered to, but maintained and refined across the landscape of your business.

The resilience of your customer base should the worst happen is dependent in very large part upon that consumer’s faith that your products are safe, that you take every available opportunity to ensure that all laws and regulations are followed, that your company is fully in control and being proactive by taking immediate action against specific lots and batches getting to the consumer.

A Software Solution

All Orders™ by NumberCruncher helps make avoiding recalls easier and managing them more efficient with a full suite of tools and features. Lot Number Tracking ensures that no batches can be created and no stock moved into or out of inventory without the correct data entered. This system of locks and gates means whether your company is consuming raw materials or ingredients with lot numbers, or even producing new batches with new expiration dates and lot assignments you will always be able to maintain full visibility of all the components of your production.

Receive lot numbers into stock, create Work Orders to deplete existing raw material numbers and move them into newly manufactured WIP or Finished Good Lot numbers. Transfers allow lot numbers to be moved around the warehouse and Ship Docs enable users to pick and choose which ones are sent to the customer and which will be invoiced to QuickBooks. Once tracking is configured, no user will be able to circumvent it always ensuring data integrity.

In the unfortunate event that a recall is needed, various tools are in place to take advantage of all existing tracking data that has been entered as lot numbers in All Orders™. The Lot Number Find Screen allows users to enter any series of lot numbers and generate a list of every document it appears on in an easy to filter Inventory Movement Detail Report that can provide logistical information such as a breakdown of precisely where each affected lot number was used.

Various Receiving, Ship Doc and Work Orders Log Reports have even more detailed breakdowns specific to each type of movement to help pin down as many details as possible for the lot numbers in questions. Production reports help find raw materials that went into the productions batch/lot numbers in the event that contaminated inferior raw material went into various batches or lots and lists all related production batches your company may need to have recalled.

Each of these reports is easily exportable to Excel, Access, CSV and PDF formats. Database experts love our SQL Server back end database for building any type of customer queries, connected Excel sheets, and custom business intelligence dashboard reporting. When combined or used in concert, these tools give users the capabilities they need to efficiently address the recall with precision and efficiency.

 

Contact us today for your 30 day free trial or to schedule a demo with one of our industry experts to see how All Orders™ can help you.

 

 

Posted in: AllOrder | Features | Lot Numbers | Production | Tracking

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New Release - All Orders Data Import/Export Optimization

June 6, 2017 at 4:00 PMChad Moulder


RELEASE NOTES
 

All Orders 6.2.16

DOWNLOAD 64bit 32bit

 

What's New

Starting with release 6.2.16, All Orders has added features that will enable users to easily export/import and edit bulk information within the software.

This is was one of the most requested features from our users and was voted on at the "Creative Feature Session" at this year's CRUNCHTREAT.

In addition we have enhanced our tools for update BOMs in bulk, added multi line custom fields and more. Read on for the details!  

 

Export/Import

You will notice on various lists and entity editing screens throughout the system a new Excel Export button. Some of the more popular ares it is available in include the item, customer, vendor and price level lists. This button can be used to export the data you need into the same format as our standard Excel import templates. By doing this we eliminate the need for exporting data from reports and then copying and pasting into our standard import template. Now you can export, make the changes you need and then import all without having to copy and paste a thing!

 

Bulk Updating BOMs

We've added a new and enhanced screen that will allow users to bulk edit bill of materials (BOMs). Simply go to the Production menu and click on the Bulk Update BOMs button.From here users can easily add new components in bulk, remove components in bulk or replace existing components in bulk. Select the components and the assemblies and click Process to quickly and efficiently get all your BOMs in order!


Multi Line Custom Fields

Ever wanted to add a new custom field to have notes, comments, or store any other type of data that needs to have multiple lines? Now you can! When managing custom fields and adding or modifying a Text type of field a Lines box will appear where a number of lines can be entered for how many lines should be visible for that custom field. Once a number larger than 1 is entered it automatically turns the custom field into a multi line that can store as many lines as needed and the number entered will be how many lines are immediately visible on the custom field entry screen before the user needs to scroll down.


Customer/Vendor Notes

Now users can view notes and comments for customers and/or vendors while saving order documents.


Edit Custom Fields on read only Ship Docs

Now users can create and edit custom fields on shipping documents even after the document has been marked as shipped or invoiced which would have rendered the fields as read only in the past.


Additional Features

  • Importing sales order from QB picks up custom fields as well.
  • Setting for showing customer/vendor notes when saving order documents.
  • Cost fields on the BOM screen made wider.
  • Download button on the attachments screen for downloading web based attachments locally.
  • New setting to leave inactive items off new order being created by duplicating existing orders.
 
 

We're always working to improve All Orders. If there is a feature you would like to see in a future release, please take a look at feature release page (link) to vote on other user-submitted suggestions or to submit your own.

For more information about this release, please email contact@numbercruncher.com. For details about CRUNCHTREAT 2018, including registration, programming and sponsorship opportunities, please contact chad@numbercruncher.com.