Barcode

RFID vs. Barcode: Which One Is Right for Your Organization?

When you are looking to implement a new supply chain solution for your warehouse, you will need to decide whether to use radio frequency identification (RFID) or barcodes. Knowing how each of these two solutions work, their capabilities and limitations can help you make a more informed decision.

RFID

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)

RFID are chips that are placed on products to help identify them. The chips contain all the information about the product and how it is supposed to be used. Each chip is capable of holding a vast amount of data, which makes them ideal for everyday use. For example, the chips can provide information on where a particular item is within the system, its transit route and the contents or the item.

RFID chips are made from hardened plastic, are very durable, virtually indestructible and can be stamped on nearly all kinds of materials. The chips can withstand harsh weather conditions, including extremely high temperatures.

RFID chips do not have to be manually scanned through a line-of-site system. A scanning device can be at any place within a specified distance and will still get all the data from the chips. Most systems can read up to 800 chips per second.

RFID chips are embedded in a unique way, making it impossible to copy them. This is why the technology is used in security applications such as ID cards.

Below are important highlights about RFID chips:

i) RFIDs have a high read rate. More than 100 chips can be read simultaneously.

ii) RFIDs do not require a line of sight to be read. The items can be read regardless of the direction where they are oriented. The only condition is that the items should be within a specified distance.

iii) Human capital is not required to read RFID chips. When the system is set up, it is completely automated.

iv) RFIDs have read/write capability. The chips can be read, written or modified even after being placed on items.

v) RFIDs have higher security and are made from hardened plastic that can withstand harsh conditions. The chips can still be read even in harsh environments.

vi) RFIDs are difficult to replicate. Their data can be password-protected, encrypted or have a “kill” feature than can remove the data in case of tampering.

vii) RFIDs can be used to trigger various events (for example, starting alarms, opening doors, etc.).

Barcodes

Barcodes are popular in many organizations and were the standard identification for a long time. Barcodes contain information about the place of manufacture and ingredients of an item. The information is usually encoded in the barcode and can be read through a barcode reader. Barcodes are found in almost all products in grocery stores and retail shops.

Barcodes are usually printed on a sticker that is placed on each bin. If the sticker gets dirty, it can be difficult for the reader to interpret the code. However, barcodes are easy to replace. In case a barcode is damaged or too dirty to be read, you can easily print a new one and place it on the bin.

Barcodes require line-of-site readings. An item has to be passed through a barcode reader at every phase for its information to be read.

Below are some highlights of barcodes:

i) The read rate of barcodes is very low. The chips can only be read manually, one at a time.

ii) Barcodes require a line of sight to be read. The scanners must see each item directly in the scan. Moreover, the items have to be oriented in a specific manner.

iii) Human output is required to read barcodes. Employees are required to scan each barcode.

iv) Barcodes cannot be modified or edited when stamped on an item.

v) Barcodes are not as durable as RFIDs. They can easily get damaged, removed and will fail to be read if they are greasy or dirty.

vi) The security of barcodes is low. The barcodes can be easily reproduced and even counterfeited.

vii) Barcodes cannot be used to trigger events.

When it comes to price, barcodes are cheaper than RFIDs. However, their implementation, required system scanners and manpower makes them expensive especially if you manufacture thousands of products.






Microsoft Dynamics Comparison

Microsoft Dynamics Comparison: Dynamics NAV vs. Dynamics AX

Update February 16, 2018: Since this article was published there have been changes to the Dynamics AX platform.  It’s now written in HTML 5 which means you can access it on any Internet enabled device.  It can be deployed as a software as a service (SaaS) or purchased for an on premise deployment.  Dynamics AX is now called Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations Enterprise Edition. Dynamics NAV will also be available as a SaaS or on premise solution in the 2nd quarter of 2018.  It’s name is Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations Business Edition.   This article is still very helpful but it does not include the latest features for either product.  Contact us to find out which Edition is right for your business.

Dynamics NAV and Dynamics AX deliver two fully integrated, highly scalable ERP software solutions especially designed for companies planning to expand locally or globally. How could you find out which system best suits your organization? The answer is quite simple: by checking the differences that set these products apart from each other. Below is a comprehensive Microsoft Dynamics comparison. A Dynamics NAV versus Dynamics AX review that can help make your choice.

Microsoft Dynamics Comparison

NAV versus AX: Exploring Capabilities

The main difference between these two systems relates to the size of organizations. While NAV includes capabilities appropriate for small- and mid-sized companies, AX can handle extensive operations that usually characterize large organizations. Both solutions provide features capable to support operations in different industries, ranging from manufacturing, distribution and retail to finance and service. However, for a comprehensive Microsoft Dynamics comparison of these two systems to be truly possible, we’ll focus on the functions they provide for certain business areas.

Manufacturing Management

Both systems allow organizations to improve performance by streamlining and automating different operations, tracking costs, gaining better visibility into production and supply chain, and responding quickly to changing market conditions. While Dynamics NAV offers an additional discrete manufacturing management feature, AX provides all the functions an organization may need to manage discrete, process, job shop, mixed mode and lean manufacturing.

Project Management

Focusing on project management more than Dynamics NAV, AX delivers a rich assortment of tools that you can use to efficiently handle multiple projects, regardless of how small or large they are. Assessing production capacities, scheduling and prioritizing tasks, controlling expenses, streamlining project-related accounting processes, running analyses, drafting reports and calculating ROI for each project are easy tasks with AX. NAV includes a few extra functions for managing special jobs, calculating extra costs and planning the resources needed to complete each task.

Financial Management

A Microsoft Dynamics comparison of NAV and AX would be incomplete without talking about financial management. Both systems offer accounting and financial features to help you get up-do-date, comprehensive financial information, monitor financial performance, meet regulatory requirements, reduce the time your employees spend on accounting tasks, optimize cash flow, maximize cash resources and perform multi-currency, cross-border payments between international subsidiaries.

Supply Chain Management

Dynamics NAV and AX propose a series of common supply chain management features for demand planning, warehouse and inventory management, picking and putting away, shipment and cost management, item tracking, substitution and transfer, cycle counting, purchase return order management, requisition management, campaign pricing, analysis and discount, and sales and purchase order management. AX includes a few more features that can be used to manage trade agreements along with RFID, logistics, and product development and quality. Compared to NAV, the supply chain management features included in AX are more complex, thus more suitable for handling complicated supply chain processes.

Sales, Marketing and Service Management

Organizing campaigns based on target audience, recording interactions with customers, sorting contacts into categories according to your own criteria, keeping track of sales opportunities and setting up sales and marketing activities have never been easier. But with Dynamics NAV and AX, you can complete much more, including assigning employees to work orders, managing field personnel, set up notifications, registering and prioritizing service requests, and setting up agreements and prices. Since the main role of this Microsoft Dynamics NAV versus Microsoft Dynamics AX review is to indicate the differences between these two systems, it’s imperative to know that AX includes several auxiliary features for telemarketing management, and marketing and sales force automation.

Human Resources Management

Dynamics NAV makes available functions for basic human resources management, allowing you to handle employee information, sort personnel by skills, education, and union membership, keep track of benefits and record absences. With Dynamics AX, you can complete additional tasks, among which recruiting, performance and compensation management, employee development and training administration are the most essential ones.

Matching the functionality of a system to your organization’s needs and calculating the value it could deliver are not the only things you need to do in order to get the most out of a modern ERP solution. Equally as important is finding a vendor capable to fine-tune the system for optimal performance.

If you want more information on the software and our services, we invite you to get in touch with our friendly advisers at Clients First Business Solutions.  We are a Gold ERP and CSP (Cloud Service Provider).  We focus on manufacturing, supply chain and MRO industries and implement Dynamics 365, AX, NAV and Acumatica.

Email: Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas , or call at 800.331.8382.





Wholesale Distribution Software

Finding The Right Warehouse Management Software

Considered a mission-critical component of the supply chain, warehouse management plays a key role in how productive an organization can be. Running well-structured, error-free warehouse operations can help you overcome industry-specific challenges typically relating to high costs, redundant and inaccurate inventory, inefficient space utilization, inadequate location selection, and so on. How can you deal with all these? Where do you start?

Warehouse Management Systems

Is your warehouse full with slow-moving inventory? Do you bring in fast-moving items all too often? Do you store pallets randomly, wherever you find an empty slot? Do you have negative inventory balance? To solve all these and many other issues, it’s advisable to choose a warehouse management software solution well suited to your organization’s needs.

WMS

If properly deployed, a warehouse management system provides all the support you need to reduce costs, get in-depth insight into inventory and workflows, streamline operations to minimize errors and improve efficiency, respond quickly to market changes, and even measure and quantify results to identify areas for improvement.

But not all warehouse management systems are the same. How can you choose the best one? The answer lies in the features and benefits each system delivers. Here are a series of aspects to consider when selecting warehouse management software.

  • Picking, Packing and Shipping: Opting for a solution that simplifies picking, packing and shipping operations will maximize efficiency. The top warehouse management systems provide portable data terminals that not only give access to real-time sales order information, but also allow warehouse personnel to verify scans against sales orders directly, which eliminates time-consuming double checking of data. Additionally, these systems can be used to prepare and print shipping documents, such as customer invoices, packing lists and sales orders. Once documents are printed, the accounting data is automatically updated with the latest information on shipped orders.
  • Receiving: Warehouse employees are finally able to migrate from traditional paper-based operations to wireless receiving. Warehouse management systems make possible quick, accurate counts, quantity verifications, new item processing and label printing through mobile handheld devices. Being able to complete all these tasks while supervising receiving procedures gives you more control over warehouse operations.
  • Stock Counting: Embedded with an Internet connection and a physical count module, advanced warehouse management systems can be used in remote locations to count inventory. After counting multiple lots, you can utilize the same systems to audit inventory, identify misplaced, missing and redundant inventory, and connect to the office. Periodic, physical inventory counts can help you improve the efficiency of your warehouse by maximizing space utilization. Further, you can make your employees more accountable and responsible, determining them to do the right thing in all the aspects pertaining to their job.
  • Inventory Management and Tracking: With warehouse management software, you can confidently manage multiple warehouses within a single system, which makes it possible for you to supervise inter-warehouse, pallet and bib-to-bin transfers, select routes and destination warehouses when moving inventory in other locations, track inventory by bar-code transaction and serial number, view statistics and even monitor performance in real time.
  • Barcode Development: These systems also allow you to print custom labels on demand with just one click. You can print any number of labels, in different sizes for existing or future inventory items.

All these features ensure faster, more accurate warehouse operations, which translate to fewer delays, fewer incomplete deliveries and fewer customer returns. The result? A higher level of customer satisfaction and more repeat orders, on one side, and greater revenue and profit margin, on the other.

If you haven’t already guessed, the aforementioned capabilities belong to one of the best warehouse management software solutions available today: FusionWMS. Especially developed to extend Acumatica’s warehouse management functionality, FusionWMS can be fine-tuned to fit unique business requirements, enabling companies to transform logistics into a source of competitive differentiation by:

  • taking full control of their warehouse operations
  • automating and optimizing core warehouse functions
  • increasing agility, speed and efficiency for superior operational accuracy, greater productivity and significant cost reduction
  • improving customer service levels
  • successfully handling market changes

Since all these can be achieved with FusionWMS, we recommend it to any supply chain provider looking for unparalleled flexibility at the best possible price.

 





NAV 2015

Looking Ahead: Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2015

Among Microsoft’s array of ERP solutions, NAV has been the enterprise accounting software of choice by distributors, manufacturers and other organizations alike. Users have come to expect Microsoft to roll out upgrades for these ERP solutions either once a year or every other year.  So for all of you NAV people on 5.0 and 2009-the time has come. NAV has been working on an upgrade since late 2013.  Soon, small and medium sized enterprises will have upgraded features in NAV that will arm them with the tools to move forward in 2015.

NAV 2015

The Microsoft Dynamics NAV team has been hard at work to not only make the ERP solution simpler to use but also to have multi-tenancy and multi-platform capabilities. During the Convergence 2014 presentation in March, Microsoft committed to shipping yearly releases for NAV, beginning with NAV 2015. Also christened “Crete”, the NAV 2015 is expected to undergo partner testing in June and launches in beta for businesses in September.

While Dynamics AX R3 got all the hype for its new capabilities, the NAV 2015 also promises to be packed with a couple of upgrades that will improve business agility among SMBs.

NAV 2015 is built to create a uniform experience across devices. For example, when operating on mobile and other portable devices, it can adjust as a user tilts the device. However, Crete’s main emphasis is on Power Business Intelligence (BI), integration with Office 365 and document reporting.

NAV 2015 Business Intelligence

Big data plays an important role among organizations by enabling them to put the customer at the center of the universe- with central access to customers, suppliers, sales cycles, inventories and other pertinent business processes.  With Big Data becoming not only an advantage-but a necessity for Manufacturers and Distributors competing in the SMB space-it is becoming crucial to capitalize on big data sooner, than later. However, despite the importance and potential of big data, very few organizations are using it to their benefits. It’s estimated that 85% of businesses do not have the capability to harness the power of big data for their operations.

With Crete, Microsoft is focused on helping small businesses tap the full potential of big data insights in their critical business processes. Through Power BI, Crete users will be able to use common tools such as SharePoint, Excel and mobile devices. Some of the key features in the Power BI module include:

i) Power Query – This feature will enable users to access data from public and corporate data sources.

ii) Power Pivot – This module extends the capability of Excel by adding key Performance Indicators (KPIs), hierarchies, custom measures and relationships. Pivot’s in-built memory can store generated models, hence enabling users to analyze millions of data fast.

iii) Power View – Provides interactive views of Excel data or reports in form of charts and graphs for easy understanding.

iv) Power Map – Enables end users to integrate Excel with geospatial data to create a 3D map experience.

Power BI will also be accessible through Windows 8 app-enabled phones, iOS and Android devices.

Apart from introducing new features, Microsoft is also working on technological innovation that will make it less expensive for users to upgrade to NAV 2015 and subsequent versions. Any upgrades after NAV 2015 will be easier to carry out. Users will not feel a big technological shift like has been in the case before.

The Crete is expected to be a major NAV upgrade. After launching Crete, the NAV team will focus more on supporting applications.

Microsoft believes that small businesses also need agile solutions that will solve their problems just like the big companies. Crete will solve many of the problems SMBs face in their daily operations. Crete is poised to have powerful enterprise-comparable features that are quick to deploy and easy to implement.










Cloud based ERP

Acumatica Cloud ERP: Improve Operations And Increase Revenues

Today’s customers are more sophisticated and require personalized attention to spend more. With increased competition from online stores and offline competitors, retailers need to find ways to improve their revenues and keep their costs down through agile methods that improve value delivery. One of the ways retailers can do this is by using cloud ERP.

Cloud ERP software solutions like Acumatica can help retail stores have a centralized view of their business and get real-time information on inventory, status of orders, and customer history.  Cloud ERP enables retailers with multi-location channels to have a better view of their operations since the application can be accessed from any location.

Benefits of Using Cloud ERP

Some of the benefits of cloud ERP software solutions include:

Cloud ERP

i) Control Operating Costs

Stores can streamline their entire business processes including ordering, inventory, invoicing and accounting. Since the solutions are available on the cloud, warehouses, franchises, and offices can be easily linked without the need to have additional communications infrastructure.

ii) Optimize Inventory, Ordering , and Sales

With cloud ERP, retailers can automate all their business processes in multiple locations. Automation allows for accurate decision making regarding, price, promotions, inventory, overheads and revenues.

iii) Integrate Point of Sale (POS) and Ecommerce Orders

Solutions like Acumatica have robust APIs that enable them to be integrated with third party apps and hardware that a retail store may be using. Cloud ERP can be integrated with touch screens, scanners, credit card readers and POS systems.

Improving Revenues through Customer Optimization

Beyond optimizing operations, cloud ERP has much potential for improving revenues through customer offer optimization. Retailers can improve their revenues when they understand more about their customers and hence provide more relevant recommendations at the right time.

Cloud ERP software systems can help retail stores capture customer data and shopping history, allowing them to see purchase patterns and spending. From this information, retailers can position their offerings based on the customer’s purchase history. This relevant positioning helps in delivering a consistent message and leads to more sales.

Improve Cross-Selling Revenues

With in-depth customer shopping behavior data available in the cloud ERP, stores can provide on-time recommendations and increase cross-selling opportunities. For example, a customer purchasing a particular machine may also be interested in buying its accessories. When these accessories are recommended to them at the right time (when making a purchase), the customer is likely to buy them.

Better Inventory Flow Control

Retailers can use ERP to see the flow of inventory over different seasons. This information can help the purchasing department determine which inventories should be procured based on the frequency of their replenishment.

Apart from this, the store can know which inventory needs to be scaled down or augmented in sales and promotions activities based on how they are selling.

Accurate Store Pricing

One factor that reduces loyalty among retail customers is a disconnect between prices of goods on offer and price at the point of sale. For example, if a store advertises a particular item is on sale but when the customer goes to pay for it the item is found to be no longer on sale, this can create friction towards buying.

To reduce such friction, retail stores can use ERP to control promotional pricing for their products. Cloud ERP software solutions can be integrated with other applications like CRMs to ensure accurate data is relayed at all times. Integration reduces price mismatch between ERP and CRM applications, leading to better customer experience at the store.

Manage Complex Information

Cloud ERP helps in managing complex information retailers handling different products usually have. Retail stores may add hundreds of products every year. This increases the complexity of managing inventory and supply chain. Cloud ERP can help stores modernize their businesses keep their inventory up to date and hence gain a competitive advantage on order fulfillment.

ERP applications like Acumatica have become important tools for today’s retailers looking to improve operations and keep costs at a minimum. The cloud applications enable retailers to have a clear view of their operations and identify areas where processes can be optimized to improve efficiency and revenues.






Cloud ERP software

Acumatica Cloud ERP: Real Time Warehouse Management

About 90 percent of C-level executive decision makers see cloud computing as key to business success – an unsurprising fact considering that cloud ERP solutions have already helped thousands of enterprises efficiently manage different business areas and boost profit.

Cloud ERP

What about warehouse management? Will your warehouse thrive in the cloud? Is cloud-based software the best alternative for your organization? To efficiently manage warehouse operations, maintaining information flow is of the utmost importance. Even short delays in delivering real-time information can have serious consequences, such as stock outages resulting in lost sales and warehouse congestion jeopardizing in-bound and out-bound activities.

Unfortunately, one of the biggest disadvantages of cloud computing is delay in communication due to slow remote servers and disruptions in links. Since this can literally cripple your entire activity, having a cloud-based software solution capable to manage the issues known to cause communication delays while executing many other tasks is critical when handling dynamic, fast-paced operations.

The Solution

Acumatica, an industry leader in manufacturing and warehouse control software, proposes an intelligent cloud ERP solution that eliminates information lag time typically occurring in cloud computing. Not only this system downloads information from remote locations, it also maintains it locally. Essentially, this means that Acumatica can process data quickly, in real time and maintain warehouse operations even when remote servers experience communication delays or disruptions.

Combining a full spectrum of capabilities, Acumatica delivers an adaptable, highly configurable cloud-based ERP system that you can use to manage:

  • Multiple warehouses. For each warehouse, Acumatica allows you to select several employees who can perform inventory transactions and access warehouse information. Additionally, this cloud ERP system can be used to track products and pallets; customize grids with filtering and sorting; perform inventory and cycle counts; and draft reports of profitability by business unit, location, product line and warehouse.
  • Inventory. The inventory management module included in Acumatica gives your real-time access to inventory in stock, in transit, on sales orders, on back orders, on purchase orders, and even to damaged and expired inventory, while calculating the inventory needed to complete certain work orders. Integrated with order, purchasing and financial management features, this module can also be used to check warehouse space, lots, expiration dates, inventory sub-items, and negative inventory; analyze location-specific inventory allocations, quantities and costs; track inventory by lot or serial numbers; set item-specific valuation methods to develop and view reports by quantity and costs; obtain detailed cost allocation data based on inventory-related transactions; and create multiple accounts for different groups of items so that you can keep a detailed record of your inventory.
  • Purchasing. This cloud ERP system also contains a purchasing module that can be fine-tuned to automate different processes commonly used to acquire materials, require vendor quotes, issue purchase orders, receive orders and create vouchers. A series of analytics tools and ordering algorithms included in this module can help improve procurement process efficiency.
  • Orders. With Acumatica, you’ll be able to optimize not only the way you enter work orders, but also the way you fulfill them. You can split jobs among different subsidiaries, allocate inventories according to the tasks that must be completed, accept returns, and set up notifications and alerts to improve the entire operation.
  • Requisition. Streamlining the complex distribution process involving multiple products, suppliers, warehouses and shipping routes has never been easier. Acumatica makes available a series of requisition management tools appropriate for obtaining bids, gathering requests, creating and approving quotes, and managing purchases and orders in the most efficient way.

Acumatica is one of the few cloud ERP solutions that provide a single point of control to direct and manage equipment and personnel along any physical activities within manufacturing and warehousing facilities in real-time, enabling your organization to quickly adapt to last-minute changes. Real-time verification capability also enhances order accuracy, leading to fewer errors, improved throughput, on-time delivery and lower operating cost. All these mean more revenue and profit for your organization.

Additionally, Acumatica can be customized and configured to optimize a series of business operations, ranging from manufacturing to picking, packing and shipping. Whether your organization grows or shrinks, this agile software solution can easily adapt to changing business environments, improving performance and optimizing operations to improve financial performance.