Inventory Systems


Any company that still relies on some secondary level program (such as an Excel spreadsheet) will find that more than at any other time, they will have problems truly knowing where every stock item really is. A common scenario will reveal that the 50 widgets you knew were in Bin 5 a month ago will now show that there are only 48 or 49 of them — despite the fact that there is no record that any of them have been sold or committed to an in-house build project. The way to prevent such “disappearances” is to up the level of importance of your inventory management conditions. Weekly or bi-weekly stock counts lets everyone know that the bosses are looking into stock on a regular basis and that it will continue to be easier for the discovery of when and how the disappearances have taken place.

One such tool is SIMMS 2015 Inventory Management software. It demand s that all employees that record, process or handle every item of stock have their virtual “fingerprints” everywhere in the system. The intricate levels of checklists that SIMMS maintains will send a loud and clear message that the company is now serious about its anti-fraud policy and that very soon, those who are suspected of improper activities can be pigeon-holed with ease and speed. Managers need to trust others, and the important task of stock tracking should not be given to anyone who is not both detail-minded or lax in their approach to inventory coordination. Inventory systems are better tasked to newer employees who already have a standard of performance in mind in regard to their jobs; similarly, such task are often best not given to long-term employees who have gotten used to the previous breezy methods. Set up a system with strict rules and have at least one individual who can run the system with a firm hand that waves away excuses for muddled entries or careless attitudes and that “Iron Hand” can save the company thousands upon thousands of dollars over the course of just one year.

The more lackadaisical you are with your inventory, the more the observant crew members will take advantage of it. But achieve a system that both staff and customers alike know exists and is watched like a hawk, and just as quick your stock accuracy will improve.

You need stock management that is feature-rich, accuracy-driven and quick and easy to use. You need a program with a low learning curve and a high return on investment. You need to customize the manner in which information enters the system and enjoy customizing the way that information can be pulled from the system, ready for presentation and analysis.  You need accuracy and reliability.

SIMMS 2015 can do all this for you. Visit www.simmssoftware.com or email sales@kcsi.ca to find out more.

Device Shortcuts Everyone Should Know

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Cell Phones

Want to redial? Press the Call button and the phone will load the last number you dialed. Repress the Call button to start the new call.

While typing, once you come to the end of the sentence, tap the Spacebar twice. It will add your period, enter a space and capitalize the next letter you type.

Google Search

Google Search auto-produces results for: 1) the definitions of words (just type “define” and then the word; 2) airline flights (type “Delta 56”, for example); 3) unit conversions (type “inches in 4m”, for example). Results will appear immediately.

Webpage Navigation and Movement

Instead of scrolling down one screen’s worth of information on a webpage, just tap the Spacebar. To jump up a screen’s worth of content, hold the Shift key down and tap the Spacebar.

For larger text on a webpage, hold the CTRL key and tap the +; it will grow larger with each tap. To shrink the text, it’s CTRL and tap the –.

When entering data into forms, tap the TAB key to jump to the next field. On a dropdown option field, type the first letter of the option you want to choose (i.e., U for USA) then use the down arrow to get to the one you want.

Working with Text

A lot of our time is working with text and there are numerous shortcuts available to everyone.

Instead of deleting text, highlight it and type over it.

Rather than dragging your mouse while holding a button down, simply double-click a single word to highlight it.

To select one-word chunks of text, double-click then drag the mouse over the words you want.

To select a line of text, place your mouse to the left of the line then single-click.

To select a whole sentence easily, triple-click anywhere within it.

To select a whole paragraph, place your mouse to the left of the first word in the paragraph then double-click.

To select all the text in a document, place your mouse to the left of the first word on the page then triple-click.

For more information, contact sales@kcsi.ca or visit www.simmssoftware.com

Supply Chain Rules

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The rule of thumb for supply chains is, “Plan for capacity, execute to demand!” We don’t need to concern ourselves about actually
executing the plan; that is never the objective of planning.

The basic rule comprises six goals:

1. Choose a planning approach according to your capability
to deal with uncertainty.

2. Follow up on plans being executed.

3. Pace decision making with planning, and execution
with feedback.

4. Plan flexibility, not execution.

5. Recognize the product life cycle; plan product introductions
and ramp-downs.

6. Use plans to balance supply with demand.

Following the above steps will lead us to successful implementation of the rule. For more information, contact sales@kcsi.ca or visit www.simmssoftware.com.

A Moment of Perspective

vietnam_war_endsOn this date in 1973, peace accords were signed in Paris by North and South Vietnam, the United States, and the National Liberation Front. This ended the United States combat role in an undeclared war which had involved Americans since the defeated French had left under terms of the Geneva Accords of 1954. The longest war in United States history had come to an end.

On the same date in 1888, the National Geographic Society was founded. 132 years before, Mozart was born.

Ideas of Success

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How can they say my life isn’t a success? Have I not for more than sixty years got enough to eat and escaped being eaten? —Logan Pearsall Smith

If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. —Henry David Thoreau

Success has made failures of many men. —Cindy Adams

Success is a journey, not a destination. —Ben Sweetland

Success is counted sweetest/By those who ne’er succeed. —Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

The essence of success is that it is never necessary to think of a new idea oneself. It is far better to wait until somebody else does it, and then to copy him in every detail, except his mistakes. —Aubrey Menen

There is only one success—to be able to spend your life in your own way. —Christopher Morley

The toughest thing about success is that you’ve got to keep on being a success. —Irving Berlin

Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed, and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. —Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

Recording History

Many times organizations like to take a moment to remember their individual histories, usually by some grand gesture that will benefit posterity. We can only hope that those who do have a bit more luck than the following nine examples of time capsules:

Bicentennial Wagon Train Time Capsule
A capsule containing the signatures of 22 million Americans. President Gerald Ford arrived for the sealing ceremonies at Valley Forge on July 4, 1976, but someone had stolen the capsule.

The M.I.T. Cyclotron Time Capsule
In 1939, a group of M.I.T. Engineers placed a brass capsule beneath an 18-ton magnet in a new cyclotron, to be opened in 50 years. In 1989, no one remembered it was there. The cyclotron has long since been deactivated. Will M.I.T. move the 36,000-pound lid and find the capsule?

The Most Forgetful Town
Corona, California — has lost track of 17 different capsules, dating back to the 1930s. “We just tore up a lot of concrete around the civic center,” said the chairman of the town’s centennial committee in 1986.

The M*A*S*H Time Capsule
In 1983, the cast of the TV show buried props and costumes somewhere in the Hollywood parking lot of 20th Century Fox.

The United States Capitol’s Cornerstone
In 1793, President George Washington officiated at a Masonic ritual in which a memorabilia-filled cornerstone was laid for the original U.S. Capitol. Over the years, the Capitol has undergone extensive expansion, but the original cornerstone has not been located.

The Gramophone Company’s original sound recordings
In 1906, precious master-pressings of opera star Nellie Melba (of toast fame) and others were deposited behind the foundation stone of the new Gramophone factory (later HMV, then EMI). The container was removed in the 1960s, but someone ran off with it before it could be reburied.

The Washington Centennial
The State of Washington celebrated its territorial centennial in 1953 by burying a two-ton time capsule near the state capitol in Olympia. The legislature did not approve funds to mark the spot, and the capsule was lost until 1959. A supplementary time capsule may have been interred beside the primary one or maybe lurking in a closet at the capitol.

The Blackpool Tower Cornerstone
In Blackpool, Lancashire, England, a cornerstone was interred with great ceremony in the late 19th century. When a search was organized recently, fancy sensing equipment could not locate it, nor could clairvoyants called to the scene.

Lyndon, Vermont
Citizens of Lydon filled an iron box with proceedings of the town’s centennial celebration in 1891, to be opened in 100 years. In 1991, citizens looked high and low but could not find the box. The burying ceremony may have been canceled because of rain.

Optimize Your Time at Work

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Between constant meetings, phone calls and emails, staying productive at work can be a challenge. However, the odds of staying productive can be greatly improved by taking some simple steps to lighten your workload. Adam Gurian, president of Timex, offers the following tips for workers to make the most of their time at work:

Act immediately on phone messages—If you can accomplish a task in just a few minutes, do it. It is one less thing on your to do list and you will have that immediate sense of accomplishment. If you let too many small activities pile up, you will be playing catch up the rest of the day.

Don’t let email take over your day— We are all so accustomed to email that as soon as we see a new email in our inbox we instinctively click it on, respond and focus on the content of the email. These seemingly tiny activities during the day can quickly add up to large amounts of time that not only cause your day to slip away but also distract you from completing your current task. If you are focused on a project, tell yourself that you will not check your email for a set amount of time, so that you get through your activity.

Don’t sit at your desk all day—It is important to get up, walk around the office and take a few minutes for a ‘mental break.’ These short breaks will reinvigorate you and help you be more productive in the long term.

Don’t take advantage of FaceBook in the office—Social media is a part of all of our daily lives. However, to save time you must have the discipline to not spend large parts of your day seeing what your friends thought of the latest movie release or what they had for dinner last night. Many companies are moving towards banning FaceBook in the office, as it is becoming a drain on the workday. If you are allowed on FaceBook during the day, be sure to use it as a ‘break’ for just a few minutes, because if it becomes a regular habit, it can easily take over your day and impact the work needed to get done.

Get a head-start on tomorrow by preparing before you leave the office today –The simple task of writing a to-do list is one of the most efficient ways of keeping track of your daily work requirements. By writing out a list for tomorrow before you leave the office at night, you will have an immediate head-start on your next day and be ready for your new priorities.

Learn to say no –While everyone wants to be a good team player at work, saying no is sometimes the right thing to do. If you are not the best person for an activity, or if you have other pending deadlines, it is OK to turn down a project. However, it is always beneficial to have an alternate solution or suggestion, so that your co-workers have a clear vision of what they will need to do to help move their projects forward.

Organize your tasks—By arranging your workday so that you tackle your most important priorities together, you will save time, be more efficient and ultimately produce higher quality work. In addition, by starting your day with the most important task, you will increase your productivity and get your day off to a good start.

Stand up for your phone calls—It is amazing that the simple act of standing during a phone call will actually help shorten the call, thus saving you time. If you are standing you are less likely to be involved in idle chatting and you will get to the point of the conversation faster.

Stick to a schedule –If a meeting is scheduled for an hour, do everything possible to keep it to an hour. Once meetings start running long, it directly impacts the rest of your schedule for the day, while also impacting your co-workers. A series of meetings that run long will have a snowball effect throughout the day. Also, if you are not required to be at a meeting and you have a more pressing deadline, do not feel guilty about missing the meeting.

Use technology—There are amazing tools that you can use in the office to make you more productive and ultimately save time during the workday. Use GoogleDocs to collaborate with colleagues on documents. Use calendar planning tools to sync up your schedules with colleagues. Use Skype for video conferencing so that you can potentially reduce the need to travel for meetings. Also, work with your IT team to see if they have suggestions on which new technologies can be used to save time. They can be a tremendous resource not only to you but to the entire organization.

10 Easy Steps To Profitable Warehouse Efficiency

Busy warehouseHaving grown up in a construction supply house, I spent countless hours observing the good, the bad and the ugly of warehouse management. I am probably the only person you have ever met who has vacuumed warehouse shelves. Seasonal changes and the erratic demand of the contracting business make maintaining the warehouse a never ending battle. Here are a few tips that I have found useful over the years.

Clean the Place
It is amazing what you will find in the warehouse when you just clean it on a weekly basis. Mystery inventory such as: returned goods, damaged goods and special buy outs won’t have any place to hide. Beyond the ability to move more quickly in the facility, your team will begin to develop a greater sense of pride in their workplace. Remember, this is the place where all your cash is stored. We want to develop a team that protects your cash from the outside threats – salespeople, truck drivers, and manufacturer reps.

Give the Warehouse Personnel an Identity
These are the folks who work with your cash all day. Give them shirts that say “Vault Security Team” or “Vault Management Team”. This does a couple of things. First, it reminds them that inventory has value. Second, it helps identify those people who belong in the warehouse. A key element in keeping a secure warehouse is to eliminate those folks who have no business in there.

Increase the Size of the Receiving Area
When most people are designing their warehouse, they tend to cram as many racks of inventory into the possible space. As an afterthought, they usually carve out enough room for a little desk by the dock door, run a terminal to it and call it the receiving department. Here is the problem. Most inventory errors start in receiving. If you make a mistake here, 10 additional problems will occur in the company. Start by giving them adequate room to work. You will see your inventory adjustments decrease immediately.

Put Senior People in Receiving
Why do we always put rookies in receiving? As I mentioned earlier, mistakes in receiving cause multiple headaches down the line. We need to make sure that we get it right coming in the door. Pay your receiving clerks well. Encourage them to stay in this position. Remember you will always have more product coming IN than going out. Receiving is your one place to get it right the first time so you do not have to redo orders later because of receiving errors.

Create Signage in the Warehouse
Don’t assume that your newer employees can navigate your aisles. Help them out. Create colorful signs to direct them to aisles or bins. Warehouse maps are a great way to increase productivity immediately. Clearly label landmarks. Try this exercise. Ask a friend to come into your warehouse and pick an order. If your warehouse is set up correctly, they should achieve a high success rate without asking questions on every line. It needs to be that easy.

Add Lines of Description to Pick Tickets
Most item databases will allow you to add multiple lines of description to any SKU in the system. Use them. Increase the order picker’s chance of pulling the right product. Put in physical descriptions like “the blue one” or “two wheel”. This is very critical when you are talking about minimum quantities. Let them know that an “each” is always the pair in the pack, not one of the two. This simple suggestion will help you eliminate future dead stock. Don’t worry about killing a few extra trees. They grow back.

Double Check Orders Before They Go Out the Door
A really bad motto in a distribution company is “We fix our mistakes faster than anyone else in the business.” For the typical distributor, the cost to process an order is around $45. It costs an additional $100 to send it out the second time. None of us have enough margin to absorb this cost on a regular basis. In order to get it right the first time, install a method of double checking by one of your seasoned veterans. This is especially important if you have several new people picking orders.

Create Color Coded Delivery Labels
In order to make it easier for your delivery folks, develop a custom colored label for your most valuable customers. Make sure that every package you deliver to them has that label. Your drivers will be able to quickly identify their orders. You don’t want to make mistakes on these orders.

Implement “Day’s Work in a Day” Discipline
This concept simply states, “What is started today must be completed today.” If you receive it, it must be put away. If an order is put in the system and a pick ticket printed, it must be picked and shipped or staged. In order to make this happen, we need to create cut off times. Order processing must end at a defined time. We need to give the warehouse a chance to finish off the day.

Implement Cycle Counting
Most of us know what it is. Some of us recognize the benefits. Few of us have made it part of our standard operating procedures. Cycle counting will increase the accuracy in your systems. By examining the inventory daily, you will find those mystery items that have found their way to the shelves. You can correct items that have been put in the wrong place. You can rotate stock. The list can go on indefinitely. Cycle counting is penicillin for distributors because it attacks so many little problems and solves them on a timely basis.

Good customer service begins in the warehouse. Sloppy procedures and a disorganized warehouse show much further than the confines of your four walls.

by Jason Bader