Supply Chain

Level up your supply chain

Level up your supply chain

Level up your supply chain 2400 900 Xcelpros Team

Introduction

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the global supply chain. While eCommerce and online retail is uniquely positioned for rapid growth in today’s business climate, companies with traditional or linear supply chain models are finding it harder to adapt.

Thankfully, this change has led to the emergence of advanced technologies which provide a unique opportunity for organizations to leverage the digital supply chain network to reach new levels of operational effectiveness. This guide to digital supply chain transformation is full of useful information for businesses looking to adapt to the new paradigm in an effort to develop their supply chain into a more collaborative model.

Understanding Digital Supply Chain Management and Supply Chain 4.0

Today, Supply Chain 4.0 refers to the introduction of advanced technologies, like Internet of Things (IoT), big data analytics, blockchain, AI / ML, autonomous mobile robotics (AMR), and more. These new technologies enable the reorganization of traditional supply chains into the interconnected, open system of supply chain operations we know as the Digital Supply Network (DSN).

This shift from sequential supply chain operations to his new digital model sets the foundation for how companies will compete in the future by integrating information from different sources and locations in an effort to:

  • Better respond to changing market conditions
  • Drive production and distribution,
  • Create a digital record of the supply chain,
  • Enable advanced analytics of real-time data, and
  • Translate actions from digital inputs into physical outcomes.

Whether you consider this new supply chain model as a set of supply chain management best practices, or simply a cluster of technologies to be deployed, Supply Chain 4.0 provides substantial opportunities for companies to enhance the productivity, profitability, and performance of their unique supply chain.

Supply Chain Digitization is no longer an option

According to a McKinsey Global Survey of executives, digitization of the supply chain is the largest trend affecting companies in the post-Covid environment.

“Companies have accelerated the digitization of their customer and supply-chain interactions and of their internal operations by three to four years. And the share of digital or digitally enabled products in their portfolios has accelerated by a shocking seven years.”

Figure: 1Digitalization of customer interactions

Digitalization of customer interactions

When asked why their organizations did not implement changes to their supply chain before the pandemic, more than fifty percent of respondents said that supply chain digitization was not a top business priority. The Covid-19 crisis has eliminated this barrier and highlighted the need for modernization.

Executive leadership teams are now highly motivated to implement new supply chain risk mitigation strategies designed to alleviate the impact of current supply chain disruptions, as well as ant future global crises.

Consumer expectations are also on the rise: the online trend of the last several years has led to higher service expectations, and a much stronger granularization of orders. If supply chain operations want to keep up with customer service, order fulfillment, delivery, and other “value-added” tasks, more comprehensive, enterprise-wide overhauls will be required.

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Benefits of Modern Supply Chain Management

Modernization of supply chains enables companies to not only address changing requirements and overcome things like global supply challenges, it can also improve the overall speed, efficiency and performance of their entire operation.

Improve Proactive Decision-Making

Traditional supply chains utilize top-down management and communication for merchants and vendors alike. Distributors looking to grow their product lines tend to focus on the reconciliation, monitoring, and reporting of defects, delays, or other types of disruptions early on in the supply chain cycle.

Monitoring tools, modern ERPs, and other digital solutions help companies make better proactive decisions that increase efficiency, remove waste, and keep operations running smoothly.

Increase Agility and Avoid Disruption

The Covid-19 pandemic proved that even flexible supply chains are susceptible to unpredictable economic changes, natural disasters, and political pressure. Digitizing your supply chains provides for greater diversification of suppliers, and makes it easier to enact sourcing changes, especially during hard times.

Create a More Resilient Supply Chain

The most resilient supply chains are built on a solid foundation of transparency and efficiency that enables them to scale and adjust as circumstances change. This flexibility provides greater freedom for businesses when onboarding new suppliers, particularly in new industries or geographies. Resilient supply chains also help organizations better respond to changing demand, launch new product lines or roll out support to additional regions.

Digital Supply Chain Tips: How to Build a Digital Supply Chain

Creating a modern supply chain is an enormous undertaking, but this article will help prepare you for your digital transformation, and make the integration of advanced technology easier for everyone involved in the process.

Define Your Vision

Start with a clear vision that aligns with your enterprise goals. These goals should be related to specific business objectives, and include things like:

  • Improved supply chain visibility,
  • Better and faster decision-making,
  • Automated operations, and
  • Integrated customer engagement.

Assess Existing Resources

The next step in digital transformation is to identify the things you need to achieve your goals. The best way to identify those capabilities is to scrutinize your existing resources, alongside the new technologies that might replace them. Ask yourself the following questions.

  • Data collection and analysis – Can data be accessed easily and used to draw actionable insights?
  • Legacy systems – Will existing systems support your new goals? Is the technology aligned with business objectives? Are these digital solutions best suited to achieve the desired outcomes?
  • Workforce skills – Does your workforce have the necessary skills to work with and adapt to the new business model?

Utilize Data and Analytics

In a modern, digital network, supply chain professionals are able to rely on real-time data to make informed decisions, and collaborate effectively with suppliers, partners, and more. Access to real-time data also enhances visibility across the supply chain and helps supply chain managers identify potential disruptions before they happen.

Final Thoughts

Making the move towards a more modern supply chain will become more and more critical to capturing new markets going forward. Developing your supply chain into a flexible, open, agile and collaborative digital model requires an enterprise-wide approach, careful planning, and close collaboration with internal teams and partners.

Stop struggling with legacy solutions and aging customizations. Implementing modern enterprise resource planning software like Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management can help you achieve a 360-degree view of your supply chain and better anticipate potential disruption to your operation and adjust before it becomes a problem. Book a free consultation with XcelPros to begin your digital supply chain transformation today.

About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company and delivers transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

Customizations and Configurations in the Microsoft Dynamics 365 ERP

Customizations and Configurations in the Microsoft Dynamics 365 ERP

Customizations and Configurations in the Microsoft Dynamics 365 ERP 2400 900 Xcelpros Team

Introduction

You have your eyes set on an Enterprise Resource Planning solution and want to jump into the implementation phase without delay, but are you sure you know what will be necessary to make that happen? Dynamics 365 customizations can help make sure your ERP solution meets your needs exactly and helps you get the most value out of your investment in the software.

Here are some common customizations to consider when implementing Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance or Supply Chain Management Enterprise Resource Planning solutions. What are common customizations? Why do companies customize their ERP implementation?

Should you customize your ERP?

While customization is technically possible with any enterprise software, it’s best to only customize what you need to. That’s because each customization is an additional layer of work that can cause things to go awry down the road. This doesn’t mean your new ERP will run without a hitch—but it should mean fewer and less problematic hiccups in implementation and usage over time.

If you are considering customizing, consider some important questions first: Will your customizations be well-supported by your vendor? What kinds of training do they offer? Are there customizable modules available for what you want to do? Should you customize you ERP?

If one of your goals is streamlining business processes or integrating disparate data sources, for example, then you may have good reason to customize. It all depends on what it is you’re trying to accomplish and how far along you are in your overall project lifecycle.

In general, though, you don’t rush into customization just yet, plan out how exactly it’ll fit into your end goals before diving into development or taking on a project manager.

How to start exploring customization options

Microsoft recommends that the best approach to understanding what customizations exist for Microsoft Dynamics 365 is to begin by creating a customization request on the Dynamics Marketplace. The Dynamics Marketplace offers organizations pre-built or partially built business solutions, known as applications for Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations. Microsoft applications on the marketplace allow organizations to quickly get started with an out-of-the-box solution that can be customized to meet their specific business needs. They also offer organizations a way to familiarize themselves with how other customers have customized and extended Microsoft’s standard applications.

These samples can provide a good starting point, making it easier for new customers to identify opportunities to extend the capabilities of their own implementations. For example, if you want to know about ways your customer could extend Microsoft’s standard application functionality, start with their existing sample apps. If you want to learn about ways they could leverage PowerApps or Flow in order to create more dynamic forms in real time using line of business data then check out sample apps developed by partners. When exploring these samples keep in mind that they may not fit your specific requirements but are valuable sources of information about additional functionality available from third parties that can augment your implementation project.

Microsoft D365 customization and configurability examples

A good example of ERP customization is the configuring of Microsoft D365 Finance or Supply Chain Management (SCM) so that only very specific users have access to everything in your system, whereas other users only see their specific parts. You can even create a separate security model for internal versus external use. This sort of granular configuration means you’re not dealing with dozens of different user interfaces—you just have one, but depending on your level of access you see only certain tabs and pages and menus. Since everyone sees what they need to see, it’s easier for everyone to work together.

Let’s Know more about the Customizations and Configurations in the Microsoft Dynamics 365 ERP.

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Some of the more common examples of D365 customization include:

Adding more functional modules

Dynamics 365 is made up of numerous modules, each with their own specific function. Organizations can easily offer their users significantly increased functionality by allowing them access to different modules simultaneously.

Adding additional Fields

Many times, based on the specific data your organization needs to collect, standard forms within D365 may not be enough. For this reason Microsoft added the ability for Sysadmins and Power Users to include custom fields through the workspace personalization options. These supported field types are the easiest way to allow users to track additional data and can include, Text, Numbers, Decimals, Date/ Time, Date, Picklist, and Checkboxes.

Customizing workspaces

Users also have the ability to create their own workspace with different functionality than out-of-the-box modules. Users can add things like, Live tiles, Lists, Power BI tiles, and Links. This can result in a very focused workspace that lets users complete their job more efficiently.

Adding custom reports

Being able to create custom reports saves companies a significant amount of money during an implementation project. Microsoft’s D365 gives users a number of different ways to create custom reports.This includes simple Filtered views that can be exported to Microsoft Excel, the Report Wizard that asks the users simple questions before generating a report, and SSRS for creating more complex reports.

Microsoft’s AppSource

Microsoft’s AppSource allows you to explore and try approved D365 extensions designed to add certain functionality or seamlessly tie in other third-party software solutions that your business requires.

Custom solutions

Even in the same industry, business models can vary wildly from one company to another – For requirements that can’t be met by existing solutions available in Microsoft’s AppSource, customers can work directly with partners that have experience developing complex business solutions.

Self-service functionality

Companies can take advantage of increasingly valuable tools like Microsoft Flow, and the Microsoft Power Platform to help develop one-of-a-kind processes and integrations for whatever solution needs it most. These tools are some of the best ways to make your solution fit your specific requirements.

Final Thoughts on D365 Customization

Should you customize ERP? Yes. Of course, you should. Because the real question is, what customizations do you need to make your solution work best for your organization? Organizations that choose to implement Microsoft Dynamics 365 often know they will need to customize the software, but don’t always have a clear idea of how to approach it—they want to maintain standard functionality and ensure their data remains accurate as possible. The best way to go about customization is simply to understand why organizations are customizing in the first place.

While ERP comes with a lot of built-in functionality, that’s not to say you shouldn’t consider customizing it to fit your organization. ERP implementations are rarely perfect out of the box and require a variety of modifications from your organization in order to function properly and integrate seamlessly. You might customize for a variety of reasons—for example, if you’re using multiple ERP solutions or have different business units with unique needs—but one thing is for sure: customizing your implementation can save you time and money.

Whether you’re dealing with manufacturing companies, retailers, wholesalers or logistics companies there are sure to be some common things to consider when customizing your new software implementation.

About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company and delivers transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

Streamlining Operations in an Automotive Company

Streamlining Operations in an Automotive Company

Streamlining Operations in an Automotive Company 1669 626 Xcelpros Team

By the Numbers

  • 10.5 millionThe projected sales of fully electric and electric/gas hybrid passenger vehicles in 2022 worldwide. China accounts for nearly 6 million followed by Europe at 30 percent with the U.S. in third.
  • 6.5 million and less than 4 millionThe number of these vehicles sold in 2021 and 2020.
  • 75 percentThe anticipated increase in zero emissions delivery van and truck sales in 2022.
  • 2000,000The production cap per manufacturer for a full $7,500 credit per vehicle. As of Jan. 19, Tesla and GM had already hit it. Toyota, Ford and possibly Nissan may also reach the cap this year.
  • Less than 1 millionThe total number of electric passenger vehicles sold worldwide in 2015.

Introduction

Automobile manufacturers, and the thousands of people who supply and service them every day are in the midst of three simultaneous revolutions. Each one of these revolutions by itself is set to be a major disruptor. Managing them all together will require even established companies to rethink how they do their business. Even incremental improvements to efficiency will be paramount to success.

These growing revolutions include:

  1. 1.The rise of Electric cars
  2. 2.The development of autonomous and connected vehicles
  3. 3.The growth of Digital mobility

The rapid adoption and sales of electric vehicles is only going to increase as gasoline prices continue to rise thanks in part to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict in 2022.

As computer controls become more and more commonplace—backup cameras, for example, have been a required safety feature in all new American made cars since May 1, 2018—mechanical linkages and parts are being replaced by computerized versions.

A 2019 study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) concluded that while ‘rear cameras alone reduced collision rates by only 5 percent, combining a camera with rear parking sensors reduced the backup collision rate by 42 percent, and adding automatic rear braking to the camera and parking sensors lowered the collision rate by 78 percent.Hagerty stated

These autonomous controls are now becoming commonplace. One study shows backup cameras in the Honda Fit LX. Its base model had a list price of $16,190 in August, 2020.

So what do these numbers mean for companies in the automotive industry, especially operations managers?

They mean the former way of running a shop isn’t going to cut it any longer.

Diversifying the Supply Chain

Improving operations management in the automotive industry requires a focus on ways to streamline operations and improve efficiency. A critical area is supply chain management. Today, that means building a supply chain that looks radically different than it did ten years ago.

Ongoing supply chain nightmares leftover from Covid-19 are still impacting every industry, including consumer electronics. These days, that includes cars, not just computers.

Quoting a U.S. Department of Commerce study, the median inventory of computer chips held by consumers, which includes automakers, fell from 40 days in 2019 to less than 5 in 2021.

“If a COVID outbreak, a natural disaster or political instability disrupts a foreign semiconductor facility for even just a few weeks, it has the potential to shut down a manufacturing facility in the US, putting American workers and their families at risk,” the report noted, a danger that isn’t lost on car companies,” Cnet states.

The ramifications, especially for electric car manufacturers, means an inability to meet demands. Projected shortfalls for some major automakers, in large part due to the chip shortage, include:

  • 1.25 million vehicles: Ford’s shortfall last year
  • 1.15 million vehicles: Volkswagen’s shortfall
  • 1.1 million vehicles: the shortfalls for GM and Toyota

Relying on a single supplier or vendor for a key part is no longer viable. Car manufacturers need a supply chain that is robust and has alternative suppliers for all critical parts, including computer chips.

Lacking critical parts in any industry, not just the automotive, can put the brakes on production.

Learn how you can streamline the operations of an automotive company

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The Car Manufacturing Process

The car manufacturing process includes stamping sheet metal components for the side frames, doors, hood and roof for each vehicle. Key pre-assembled components are the engine, transmission and gearbox in a gasoline vehicle. In an electric vehicle, they are much simpler motors.

The Tesla Model 3 electric cars use one or two centrally-mounted drive units. Each drive unit has a three-phase electric motor, inverter electronics, reduction gears and open differential that drives a pair of wheels in a simple arrangement. Vehicles with two drive units have one in front and one in back, providing all-wheel drive. Tesla’s Model S/X Plaid uses three traction motors: one for the front and one for each rear wheel.

These differences can cause logistical headaches for automotive supply chain managers, warehouse managers and vendor managers, especially when they use individual software packages.

Automation in Automobile Manufacturing

“There is very little in the assembly line or supply chain that is not fully optimized, and even less left to gain,” one business insider states when speaking about automating the automobile industry.

According to this article, U.S. automakers buy one of every two industrial robots sold globally. The robots handle everything from welding to assembly and painting on the production floor. Their computerized “cousins” are also common in sales, handling customer queries in finance company call centers, scheduling service appointments, sending alerts and running diagnostics.

All of this automation consumes and creates one product: data. “A self-driven car produces about 1 GB of data per second,” this article states.

Managers do their best trying to make sense of this information to ensure their supply chain delivers what is needed, when and to the right location. They are also responding to inquiries from sales, letting warehouse managers know what products are coming in and going out.

The only effective way to manage this deluge of data is by working with a supply chain management software product designed from the ground up for data integration.

Using Software for Data Integration

Modular software designed with data integration in mind reduces bottlenecks and speeds decision making. How? By taking information from multiple points—the inventory of computer chips in the warehouse, the number of outstanding electric vehicle orders, vendor deals on a specific paint color, the number of available skilled technicians for key assembly steps—and presenting it as a uniform whole.

By processing information in close to real-time, a modular, secure cloud-based system can provide insights to business leaders. It can help explain where supply meets demand. What key components are critically low in supply and which are adequately stocked?

Using technology tied to these modular software components prevents automobile decision makers from pushing products they can’t produce while letting them use business intelligence to respond to changing demands.

Final Thoughts

The days of car makers cranking out gas-guzzling giants are already over. Electric vehicles are quickly becoming the new kings of the road. Taking advantage of the new technology requires stepping up your supply chain management software so you can respond to change when it happens.

A modern, modular enterprise resource planning (ERP) package has more than enough under the hood to help your automotive-related company keep running smoothly.

About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company and delivers transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

Handling Different Types of Purchase Orders in Microsoft Dynamics 365

Handling Different Types of Purchase Orders in Microsoft Dynamics 365

Handling Different Types of Purchase Orders in Microsoft Dynamics 365 2400 900 Xcelpros Team

By the Numbers

  • $35.88: The minimum cost of a PO according to APCQ.
  • $506.52: The estimated maximum cost of a manual purchase order according to APCQ.
  • $53-$741: The average cost range of POs according to CAPS Research.
  • $60,000: APCQ’s estimated annual cost associated with manually producing purchase orders.

POs and the departments that approve them

  • 8%: No approval required
  • 21%: Finance
  • 52%: Budget owners
  • 84%: Supply management

Introduction

Today, purchase orders (POs) are the lifeblood of all companies, especially manufacturers. Being able to properly use POs helps in a number of different ways, including:

  1. 1.Simplifying the ordering process, making it easy to find approved items and place orders.
  2. 2.Aiding in budgeting by helping you determine how much you need to spend and how much you need to sell.
  3. 3.Enabling accurate planning by providing insights into company performance.
  4. 4.Warning of unexpected expenses when a PO is submitted, providing time to research it.
  5. 5.Confirming the quantity and price of goods bought or sold, eliminating miscommunication.
  6. 6.Providing legal protection against errors in quantities or unexpected price increases.
  7. 7.Controlling spending by limiting who can place and approve POs.
  8. 8.Tracking spending by providing details into where your money goes.
  9. 9.Helping manage vendors by seeing who delivers on time at the agreed price and who is late or constantly complaining.
  10. 10.Improving inventory management by telling you what should be arriving compared to what actually arrives.

Types of Purchase Orders

Most POs used today typically fall into one of four types. An automated purchase order system helps manage each of these types of POs.

1.Standard Used for one-time orders such as office furniture.

2.Planned purchase orders (PPOs)Typically lacking a delivery date and location, they are used for restocking items at irregular intervals.

3.Blanket purchase orders (BPOs), also known as “standing orders.”While similar to PPOs, they lack the known quantity in addition to having uncertain delivery dates. Vendors may place limits on quantities so they can deliver.

4.Contract purchase ordersUsed to set the terms and conditions for future purchase orders. Their main function is ensuring a smooth ordering process.

The Disadvantage of Manual Purchase Order Systems

The job of a purchase order automation system is to send each PO to the appropriate staff member for review and approval. These systems leverage existing purchasing processes and rules to perform their jobs while protecting your business at the same time.

Modern automated systems are often used to counter major issues associated with older manual PO processes.

Figure: 1Disadvantages of an Manual PO System

Disadvantages of an Manual PO System

Compared to modern, automated systems, manually created POs tend to suffer from a number of drawbacks, including the following:

  1. 1.They’re less efficient
  2. 2.They’re paper heavy
  3. 3.They lack accountability
  4. 4.They open the company to security risks
  5. 5.They lack process regulation
  6. 6.They’re often time intensive

Using an automated system for POs in place of any older, manual processes results in a number of benefits, regardless of a company’s size:

  • Increased cost savings
  • Reduced human input error
  • More visibility into the PO process
  • Increased flexibility and control

Most importantly:

  • Improved process efficiency

Improving process efficiency is usually overlooked in a businesses day-to-day affairs, but this boost to efficiency is huge and provides a number of key benefits, including:

  • Significantly reducing the time between orders being placed and shipped.

And

  • Providing a verifiable audit trail so a manager wanting to know the status of a requested item can get a real-time view of the order. If a discrepancy occurs, the PO provides a written record.

Want to learn more about handling purchase orders in Microsoft Dynamics 365?

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Benefits of a Modern PO Management System

According to a recent Altametrics blog, a purchase order management, “is an in-house procurement process implemented by businesses to make certain that every purchase is required, accounted for, and augmented for costs. The purpose is to ensure workers are following all policies and procedures before fulfilling a purchase order.”

Using a modern automated PO management system ensures that all orders are created, approved, and dispatched according to current policies and procedures set in place by the organization. These systems exist to ensure that your company has complete control of its purchasing, along with the ability to make quick adjustments in the event of an emergency.

Once generated, these purchase orders are considered a binding contract

  • Company A agrees to pay the stated price for the listed items upon delivery from Company B.
  • Company B agrees to provide the goods on time, and at the agreed-upon price, terms and conditions.

If any mistakes are realized, a modern PO management system provides a streamlined way to quickly resolve any discrepancies.

Properly managed POs:

  • Eliminate overpayments
  • Reduce damaged goods
  • Save time
  • Eliminate inefficiencies

Modern PO management systems start by examining a company’s current methods to identify bottlenecks and ways to improve efficiency. These systems are able to strictly adhere to existing procurement policies and procedures using simple guidelines. This enables shop floor workers to make requests that are converted into accurate POs.

PO management systems also help to organize existing information. For example, they can create a real-time vendor management database showing which companies are approved. This helps buyers know exactly who they can deal with to get what they need, and when.

Another tangible benefit is the ability for workers to directly track the status of any current POs. Instead of having someone else take time away from their duties to provide an update, workers can quickly log into the system and find out themselves.

The best PO management systems not only make it easy to create and track POs, they can also share the information seamlessly with other departments when included as part of an overall Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution.

Procurement and Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management

One of our favorite ERP solutions is Microsofts Dynamics 365, a modular ERP system that includes asset management and procurement functions in its Supply Chain Management module.

Located in the Asset Management > Common > Procurement > Work order purchase requisition section, this software shows a list of purchase orders related to work orders. It also shows how the purchased goods are used in relation to assets, maintenance jobs, spare parts and work orders.

This module can be configured to indicate any potential delays. The system can generate notifications giving management teams different options to resolve the issue

  • Wait out the delay or
  • Find an alternate supplier.

As well, work orders, job orders and purchase orders can all be tied to each other through the Supply Chain Management module. The end result is visibility:

  • Purchasing knows what items are in the pipeline,
  • The warehouse knows what is coming,
  • Production knows when the materials it needs will arrive, and
  • Sales knows when customers can expect delivery of their finished goods.

Note: Click here to see how to create a purchase order in Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management.

Dynamics 365’s Supply Chain Management module also lets you control other aspects of the purchase order process. It provides a number of critical business functions, including creating purchasing policies, product receipts and invoices, and more. More than just a PO management program, Supply Chain Management also has direct ties to rebates, production controls, service management, transportation, warehousing plus sales and marketing.

By providing everything from an overhead view of your entire supply chain to the status of an individual PO, Supply Chain management provides companies of any size with the information they need to control their inventory.

The Bottom Line

Purchase orders continue to be an integral part of all businesses. Continuing to manually enter this data—and trying to keep track of it all on paper—makes the process cumbersome, and prone to mistakes and expensive errors.

An automated PO management system, like that included in Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 solutions, helps reduce the amount of manual inputs, ensures only permitted vendors are used and simplifies the approval process, even automatically approving smaller purchases, debiting them to a department’s budget, or forwarding them to the right department for approval.

Connecting this PO management system to your overall inventory control system is one of the best ways to ensure you always have the right amount of materials on hand to meet your production and sales goals.

About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company and delivers transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

Best techniques for tracking and managing raw materials

Best techniques for tracking and managing raw materials

Best techniques for tracking and managing raw materials 2400 900 Xcelpros Team

At a Glance

  • 18% – The hike in the Raw Material Price Index from 2020-2021 with at least another 10% hike expected.
  • 60% – The increased amount of raw materials extracted, harvested and consumed since 1980.
  • 117% – The increase in raw materials costs for non-food agricultural materials since 2000.
  • 359% – The cost increase in rubber since 2000.
  • 62 billion metric tons – The amount of raw materials used per year in 2008, an 8-fold increase since the early 1900s.

Introduction

Today, manufacturing relies heavily on the ability to acquire raw materials, both directly and indirectly. Examples of direct raw materials are the chemicals, textiles, minerals and other components that become finished products. Indirect raw materials are components added to other parts that together make a finished product. Accurate tracking of these materials is a good way to determine if a company flourishes or fails. Both of these material types are listed as current assets.

Tracking raw materials typically starts when they enter a warehouse. Their value is calculated from the start of a given time and adding costs such as storage, shipping, processing and labor to determine total value. Before you can build, mix or blend your products though, you have be sure to acquire them. Obtaining the essential materials you need to create your products is the end result of an involved process.

Obtaining Raw Materials

One of the first things to do before you start acquiring raw materials for your products is sufficient planning. Raw material planning can be used to determine how quickly you use each item, but only once you understand your inventory turnover rate – the number of times you use your raw materials.

In a previous post, we stated that “Materials planning is the method used to determine the requirements and quantities of raw materials to implement production.” If you don’t have enough raw materials on hand, you can add delays to your production schedule, or even lose orders altogether. If you keep too many materials on hand, there may not be enough budget available for other projects, like capital improvements.

A critical part of materials planning is understanding lead time: how far in advance do you need to place orders with your suppliers to get what you need in order to satisfy your customers?

Being sure you can order what you need requires a procurement management plan that, “defines requirements for a particular project and lays down the steps required to get into the final contract,” including raw materials.

This plan sets and defines everything you need to manufacture your products: what to buy, who to buy it from and how much you’ll pay. This includes determining purchase costs plus delivery and storage costs, also referred to as inventory costs. Placing an order, or receiving one from a customer, often uses an order management plan.

If your departments are unable to report how much of a given product, or the raw materials required in the process, are on hand, entire orders can be lost. When production tells sales one thing, but inventory says something else, the end result can be chaos. This is where accurate, frequent, communication that tracks the flow of raw materials through the entire acquisition process becomes critical.

Inventory Management

“Inventory management is important to small businesses because it helps them prevent stockouts, manage multiple locations and ensure accurate recordkeeping. An inventory solution makes these processes easier than trying to do them all manually.”

A chef can make a large salad using a full head of lettuce but only a teaspoon of spices. Managing inventory is often similar: A manufacturer is likely to have some items they use in large quantities, such as active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs). Equally important are the catalysts and other chemicals bought in much smaller lots. Like a chef making a salad, without their ingredients, they don’t have a product.

Inventory management not only tracks what you have on hand, it also looks at your supply chain: making sure you have options for getting what you need when you need it. Getting your basic supplies is one part of inventory management: making sure your customers receive their finished products when they need them is another. Having viable shipping options to ensure your merchandise arrives on time means gathering even more information and constantly updating your options. A common option used by a large number of companies, especially retailers, is vendor managed inventory.

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Vendor Managed Inventory

Commonly referred to as VMI, vendor managed inventory is when a company lets its suppliers determine the amount of product a company has in stock. If you walk into a grocery store you might see people who are not market employees stocking shelves. These are vendors – these employees track inventories, place orders, monitor shipments and stock shelves.

According to American Express, benefits of a VMI include:

Figure: 1Benefits of Vendor Management Inventory

Example of a Barcode

  • Improved efficiency You have the right quantities on hand to meet your needs without going overboard and having too much or too little.
  • Cost reduction Having accurate inventories means few if any disruptions to sales, thereby providing better customer service.
  • Reduced complexity Depending on your products, you may be able to reduce the number of vendors. The result is a predictable and reliable inventory schedule.
  • Data insights Your supplier can anticipate demand, helping you prepare for seasonal and market-driven trends.

Working with a single VMI has some negatives as well as positives. Three of the biggest challenges, according to AmEx, include:

  • Loss of control Someone else determines what products you have and therefore what you’re able to sell. Using a VMI also means an outside company has access to your private data. Data security can be a major issue, especially when you first start working with a vendor.
  • Limited options It’s tough to make a fruit salad when the only fruit available is an orange. Your product choices may be limited and you might become dissatisfied if your vendor fails to deliver at the best price.
  • Market agility Working with a single vendor reduces your ability to pivot when markets change. For example, some whiskey manufacturers were having problems selling their goods when the Covid-19 pandemic took hold. A few of the more enterprising companies were able to switch from making whiskey to producing alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Using a VMI might eliminate this flexibility to quickly change in response to market conditions.

Looking at your options and picking the best ones often comes down to software. Managing your raw materials and inventory accurately, especially when your company is growing and has distant suppliers, generates a lot of data. Managing this vast amount of data requires capable software.

Software Options

Depending on your needs, two types of software can help with your raw materials management, inventory management, order management, procurement management, stock management and resource planning needs:

  1. 1.Customized products designed to perform a specific function for a single industry with a company at a particular size. If your company is unlikely to grow, one or more of these products might be perfect for your needs. Using this type of software, you will likely need one product for each requirement. This is likely to mean using several different providers, potentially creating data exchange roadblocks. A second option offers greater flexibility, the option to handle many of these needs in a single package while also growing with you.
  2. 2. A modular Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) product such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management is a large, versatile product capable of helping you track inventories from far-flung suppliers into, through and out of your warehouse. Based in the cloud, Microsoft Dynamics products also offer added data security since they’re built on Microsoft’s Azure platform. Modular systems let you add sections when needed while maintaining constant communication between the modules. Using a system from the same company also ensures constant data flows, reducing inventory data errors.

The Bottom Line

Especially today, managing raw materials accurately requires a lot of work and attention to detail. Errors at any stage of the process – from ordering to shipping, storing or using – can result in expensive repercussions.

Finding the right software solution means evaluating your current and future inventory needs. What do you need now? Will solving today’s problem also work in 1-5 years or will it require an expensive overhaul?

The bottom line is that you should consider an investment in a modular product that can grow with your company over time, and not one that becomes obsolete the minute you expand.

About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company and delivers transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

Streamlining the Label Management Process

Streamlining the Label Management Process

Streamlining the Label Management Process 1200 450 Xcelpros Team

At a Glance

  • $10 million: The average cost of recalls to food companies that can are caused in part by inaccurate labels.
  • $65,000: The average cost of incorrect labeling based on a 2020 survey. Of that group, 61 percent said mislabeling costs exceeded $50,000.
  • 10-26%: The number of products mislabeled every year according to a survey of 300 IT directors in the U.S., UK, France and Germany.

Introduction

Labels serve three primary purposes in a consumer’s eyes. Labels help to:

  1. 1.Identify the contents of a product
  2. 2.Identify the product name
  3. 3.Promote the brand image

In combination with well-designed packaging, certain parts of a label are could be considered one component in an effective marketing campaign. From a business perspective though, labels need to do a lot more than tell consumers what is inside. Efficiently labeling and tracking is the best way to monitor the performance of a product, along with making sure customer safety is the best it can be. This is especially true when it comes to certain industries like pharmaceuticals.

Packaging and Labeling

There are a number of key points to note when it comes to packaging and labeling, including the following:

Definition:

Labeling refers to the text, design, symbol, logo, instructions and use suggestions printed on the product package. Labels are designed to inform and attract customers by providing information.

Objective:

Labeling provides all information required by the governments in the geographical location where the product is marketed, sold and used.

Focus:

While exterior packaging is about appearance, labeling focuses on what’s inside. When it comes to food for example, products are required to accurately list the primary ingredients along with their nutritional value. Labels on medicines must include active and inactive ingredients, allergic reactions and harmful side effects.

Label designs are usually simple and formal. They may follow a government or company template. These can include requiring a set list of data fields such as country of manufacture and expiration or “use by” date. Hazard information is typically posted where a customer can see it before making a purchase.

Effective label designs also include inventory tracking options while also meeting government requirements.

Inventory Tag Controls

“When paired with a competent asset or warehouse management system, inventory tags can be scanned to inform your supply chain of changes in your current inventory. This practice helps build end-to-end visibility among all parties, from supplier to customer, as your inventory moves through your warehouse,” according to a blog post by CamCode.

Inventory tags can be integrated into a product’s label design. The most common inventory labels we see doing this are bar codes. Barcode are a series of vertical lines—generally black—of varying widths interspersed with white gaps. QR (i.e., quick response) codes are a form of bar code generally in a square or rectangular format with black blocks and white spaces.

Speed is the main advantage of using a barcode or QR code label. Handheld and machine scanners can read the barcode information, sending it to inventory tracking software. That software can then automatically update inventory counts, eliminating the need for manual checks. The result is a fast, more accurate inventory update. A critical part of inventory tagging with barcodes is using the right type. Before creating any labels however, companies should make sure they understand any regulatory or equipment-based requirements for the barcode type, label size and label material type.

Figure: 1Components of a Barcode

Example of a Barcode

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Different Types of Barcodes

Barcodes primarily come in three different types:

  • Numeric only with a row of numbers beneath the bars
  • Alpha-numeric with a row of letters and numbers
  • Two dimensional (QR is one example) using a series of small dots arranged in a unique pattern

The type of barcode a company chooses often depends on their industry and how the product will be used. For example, the Postnet format uses a series of long and short lines to encode destination information. Retail items often use the Universal Product Code (UPC).

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has several requirements for barcodes. While the FDA does not require a specific code format, it mandates the barcode include the drug’s national drug code (NDC) number. Machine-readable information on blood and blood components must be on those labels.

“This new system is intended to help reduce the number of medication errors that occur in hospitals and health care settings,” according to the FDA.

These FDA rules apply to manufacturers, repackers, relabelers, and private label distributors of human prescription drug products, biological products, and over-the-counter (OTC) drug products in an effort to protect consumers from dangerous side effects or worse.

Labels alone are not enough however, companies need to be able to accurately track their inventory as well as safely manage any recalls or other issues with products. This only works when you have the right software in place.

Inventory Tracking Software

Software like Microsoft Dynamics 365’s Supply Chain Management includes a number of powerful inventory management features helping these businesses thrive today. For example, Supply Chain Management is able to automatically assign serial numbers based on any manually-entered (or scanned) batch numbers.

Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management also makes it easy to create and track barcodes and for any released products. This modern inventory management software also works with the GS1 bar code and QR formats for use on shipping labels.

According to Microsoft, “Unlike older bar codes, GS1 bar codes can have multiple data elements. Therefore, a single bar code scan can capture several types of product information, such as the batch and the expiration date.”

With a system like Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management, you can use a predefined list of application identifiers to define the meaning of your data and connect it with GS1 codes. Microsoft suggests; “The setup of the application identifiers defines how the system should interpret a bar code and save it as a value in the system.”

The Bottom Line

With today’s focus on consumer safety, proper labeling and tracking of products, especially when it come to pharmaceuticals and medicine, will continue to be of utmost importance, including efficiently dealing with government regulations. Today’s businesses need to make sure they’re taking advantage of inventory tracking software that lets them easily create labels that help track the flow of raw materials, from work in progress to finished goods.

Programs like Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management can create unique QR codes that contain things like a list of ingredients, allergy information, serial and batch numbers, hazardous warnings, safety data sheets more. Solutions like these lets your warehouse staff scan products and send information wirelessly to any device on the network, more efficiently than ever before. Is your labeling solution up to speed?

About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company and delivers transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

Effectively-Tracking-and-Controlling-Inventory

Effectively Tracking and Controlling Inventory

Effectively Tracking and Controlling Inventory 2400 900 Xcelpros Team

Introduction to effective inventory management

Especially today, manufacturers, wholesalers and retail businesses from a number of different industries share several common business practices, with inventory management at the top of the list.

An efficient, capable inventory management system can be the difference between struggle and success, and any boost to the efficiency managing your inventory can result in a significant return on investment. To drive the effectivity of your inventory management, especially when if you’re just getting started, it helps to pay attention to 10 popular techniques:

1.Fine-tune your forecasting Accurate forecasting is a must unless you want to either tie up precious capital in product stuck on warehouse shelves or be unable to meet your customers’ orders.

2.Identify low-turn stock Have a flexible ordering approach that, combined with accurate forecasting, lets to adjust inventory based on customer priorities.

3.Regularly audit your inventory Knowing—not guessing—what you have at any given moment lets you adjust ordering to ensure a balanced inventory.

4.Track stock levels You want to be able to track all inventory from the moment you purchase raw materials or components to the time you deliver finished goods to your customer’s door.

5.Keep track of your equipment Especially in a production plant – Knowing what you have, how quickly it wears and when to schedule repairs for optimal life ensures uninterrupted production runs.

6.Verify Quality Ensure all items in your inventory meet your quality control standards, ideally from the moment they arrive.

7.Categorize inventory based on customers needs Ensure you have the most sought-after products in stock at all times, working your way down the line to the least popular products.

8.Consider drop shipping This is much quicker especially for any items you don’t make yourself, especially when it becomes part of your product. An example is a Siemens ® controller for industrial machinery.

9.Rotate your stockTurn your stock so the oldest items are sold first This is especially true for pharmaceutical products with comparatively short shelf lives.

10. Use good inventory management software A viable program that meshes with your financial and sales software helps keep everyone informed, making for happier customers.

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Figure 1:Common inventory management challenges

Common inventory management challenges

Common Inventory Management Challenges

Among the most common inventory management challenges that can have an effect on a number of different business are the following:

  • Inconsistent tracking Working with older software that relies on manual data entry opens a company to data entry errors. When different departments use different spreadsheets to input the same information, errors are bound to happen.
  • Inaccurate data Companies need to know how much of everything they have on hand and in the pipeline. Without accurate information you won’t be able to track your production. This can be a huge problem if you’re still manually entering data.
  • Order management Manufacturers often live on the edge when it comes to logistics, struggling to make sure deliveries are going out just in time – right before their customers need them.
  • Juggling a complex supply chain Manufacturers need to have alternate ways of obtaining raw materials and shipping finished products. For example, your primary port is running way behind because dock workers are sick. How do you get what you need when you need it?
  • Communications and planning Intercompany communication is critical, especially in a world where companies often have business units in different countries, keeping everyone focused on the same task can be difficult.
  • Robust competitionIn every industry, competition is ready and willing to grab your customers the moment you make a mistake or find yourself unable to deliver on time and within budget.

These are a few examples of the challenges faced by modern manufacturers. Thankfully, the good news is that modern ERP solutions can be a huge help when it comes to addressing these issues.

Inventory Management Software As a Solution

There are several inventory management programs available on the market today that focus not only on addressing these challenges, but also by identifying potential issues before they can impact your operations. Some of the best solutions available, like Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management, are able to seamlessly integrate with your existing software, reducing data silos, allowing different departments to share more information. Instead of requiring three departments to input the same information into a database, each group is able to provide material unique to their specialty.

Effective inventory management programs like Microsoft’s have the ability to print barcodes and QR labels. When these codes are scanned with a hand-held reader or cellphone, users can be rewarded with a wealth of information. Some of the most important data to keep track of is exactly how much of any given product you have, where it’s being stored, and what it’s going to be used for.

For example, you need to produce 20,000 doses of a Covid-19 treatment. Your customer needs them yesterday but will settle for next week. Do you have enough raw materials on hand to meet your customer’s deadline? If not, what can you do to obtain what you need?

Using this information wisely lets management develop complex plans, like the ability to track everything from small lots to pallet loads. By checking an item’s progress at different points—its arrival at the warehouse, use in production, loading onto a truck or ship and delivery to the customer—a company can learn. By examining reports, you can identify potential delays or roadblocks, finding ways to speed up delivery.

Supply chain management software that runs on a secure cloud computing platform like Microsoft’s Azure lets you communicate securely and safely with other researchers, sales people and vendors. With Azure you’ll know that your intellectual property and contracts are safe from your competitors.

Boost Decision Accuracy with Power BI

With the state of today’s supply chains – seemingly constantly in a state of upheaval – effective inventory management that goes beyond tracking stock on hand is critical to operations. Effectively managing your inventory and raw materials ensures you’ll have the materials you need when you need them. It means having more than one source of supplies and materials. It also means constantly checking with vendors to ensure you have the goods to meet your own delivery deadlines. This is where an integrated business intelligence solution comes into play.

Microsoft Power BI lets you connect to hundreds of data sources, preparing reports that you can share with ease. Using information from inside and outside your company, you can confidently deliver interactive reports to customers. Inventory planners can be warned of potential shortages in time to find alternate supplies. Sales people can be told of potential delivery delays caused by outside forces, giving them time to ask the customer if they want to use a different shipping method.

Having accurate business intelligence at your fingertips puts you ahead of competitors stuck using their “tried and true” methods that are becoming more and more worthless every day.

Final Thoughts

Effective inventory management comes down to data: knowing what you have and where it is at all times.

A modern inventory control system that supports labels and barcodes lets you track raw materials, work-in-progress and finished goods at the same time, with a high level of accuracy.

An inventory system with business intelligence helps you find faster and alternate ways of obtaining raw materials and pre-made products, especially when shipping delays occur. That same information can help you get your products to your customers when they need, balancing everyone’s inventory.

About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

Manufacturing Metrics and KPIs That Matter the Most

Manufacturing Metrics and KPIs That Matter the Most

Manufacturing Metrics and KPIs That Matter the Most 1440 810 Xcelpros Team

At a Glance

  • The manufacturing industry operates best by integrating people, tools, processes, and information.
  • The data generated from each of these facets needs to be quantified and analyzed.
  • In the manufacturing world, organizations that know their metrics tend to understand the tricks of the game.
  • It’s critical to focus on the metrics that matter the most; the ones that help your entire organization gain essential insights regarding different functionalities and business areas to continuously improve the manufacturing process.
  • One key that comes from knowing and managing your manufacturing metrics is the ability to systematically optimize your operations based on results.

In any industry, it’s essential to know exactly what your numbers are and what they mean to your business. While this sounds like it should be simple enough, we all know how difficult this can be in practice. When you’re able to gather numbers and metrics they still need to be collated, classified, quantified, and analyzed to add value to the business, especially for a multi-pronged industry like manufacturing. Manufacturing metrics can be diverse, and each metric has a different value throughout the manufacturing value chain. A cumulative study of a group of these metrics is a good way for manufacturing companies to gauge their performance and form strategies for continuous improvements.

Figure 1:Cycle of Continuous Improvement Methodology

Cycle of Continuous Improvement Methodology

As a manufacturing company, you always want to aim for a higher ROI which can mean a thorough analysis of manufacturing metrics and alignment of short-term and long-term business goals. Each of these metrics serves as a source of truth, representing a precise measurement of your manufacturing processes either in terms of quality or quantity (and sometimes, both). Let’s take a look at the manufacturing metrics that matter the most and how you can fortify your IT infrastructure to study and derive insights from these metrics.

1.Demand Forecasting Market research helps companies gain ideas to make estimates about demand forecasting. A manufacturers’ objective is to gauge the amount and type of raw material they will need for their upcoming business cycle. Planning, supply chain management, and operational alignment can all significantly benefit with the help of this metric. It’s essential to remember that demand foreshadowing is dependent on external factors and, as such, subject to sudden changes. Take, for example, the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Many manufacturers found that much of their yearly estimates had taken a hit (especially sectors like automotive and luxury consumer goods). On the other hand, the demand for things like medical equipment and hygiene products increased by several fold, the world over. In this scenario, manufacturing companies can benefit from a robust enterprise resource planning system such as the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations that seamlessly enables change management, demand analysis, and order management.

2.Throughput & Yield of Units Produced A manufacturing company’s operational efficiency is directly proportional to its yield. Throughput is a metric that measures the average number of units produced in a particular amount of time (other coefficients being per machine, per production line, or facility). Having access to he correct yield information helps manufacturers gauge their performances accurately, address bottlenecks, and come up with plans for improvements.

63%

of manufacturing executives plan to get more out of what they already have invested within their manufacturing and supply chain network.

Source: Accenture

3.Inventory Turnover Properly managed inventory is a strong indicator of a manufacturing companies’ performance- after all, knowing how often inventory is sold or used in a particular timeframe is the measure of knowing its success in the market. This is precisely why decision-makers in the manufacturing industry focus on analyzing the turnover data of their inventories. To expedite the analysis and avoid data mismanagement, manufacturers still using legacy systems need to strongly consider investing in an automated ERP system that can track inventory data in real-time and facilitate seamless coordination between multiple stakeholders.

4.Quality Analysis The final quality of your product is one of the best indicators of production performance. A successful product is the best way to build your customer base, making it essential to have an understanding of applicable quality metrics- including monitoring and documenting raw material quality, supplier’s quality incoming, random quality checks at manufacturing plants, packaging quality, and more.

5.Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) Whether it’s a single piece of equipment or an entire production line, knowing how effective every piece of equipment is, has become essential to a timely yield that matches quality and quantity requirements. This metric is recognized by the manufacturing industry worldwide as one the most important to assess agility, downtime, and overall production quality.

Book a demo today to learn how Microsoft Dynamics 365 helps you achieve manufacturing KPIs.

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The metrics above are just a few in manufacturing that often generate mountains of data through multiple sources, all of which are constantly subject to any number of changes. The answer to managing all of this information is with a data pool – a single source of truth for multiple manufacturing metrics that can help companies track, manage, and analyze the data against their KPIs.

Figure 2:Role of Sophisticated ERP in Managing Manufacturing

Role of Sophisticated ERP in Managing Manufacturing

Implementing Microsoft Dynamics 365 ERP and Power BI lets you optimize your IT infrastructure to systematically allow real-time data access, multi-level visibility, and artificial intelligence-backed insight generation. This allows you to visualize and track the progress of your manufacturing metrics, along with a cumulative awareness of your production line.

Final Thoughts

For every manufacturing company operating today, metrics and KPIs have become among some of the most important things to understand and track. How you view these metrics moving forward, how accurate the information is, and how you’re able to leverage it will be the deciding factor in your success.

  • Every company needs to reinvent its best practices with the help of manufacturing metrics for a profitable business.
  • Investing in a fortified IT infrastructure to track and manage manufacturing metrics is the need of the hour for manufacturing companies.

About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

pharmaceutical serialization track and trace

Gen-Next Serialization in the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain: Improving Track & Trace

Gen-Next Serialization in the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain: Improving Track & Trace 1500 1049 Xcelpros Team

At a Glance

  • Worldwide pharmaceutical companies are dealing with drug counterfeiting, adulterations, supply chain thefts and packaging glitches.
  • Serialization is much more than just applying barcodes to personalized medicines.
  • This modern age of fast-paced digitization calls for modifications and improvements in serialization techniques.
  • To better strengthen the supply chain, loopholes need to be identified and closed.
  • Transparency needs to be maintained for every drug dose.
  • Pharmaceutical companies and their supply chain vendors should use of advanced analytics, cloud computing and the Internet of Things (IoT) to get a grip on modern serialization techniques.

Introduction

Traceability in pharmaceuticals is now very much seen as a global mandate. With laws differing from one country to the next, major pharmaceutical companies are looking for ways to improve how they track and trace their products in the supply chain in order to remain in compliance at all times.

Struggling to continuously meet those requirements is causing pharmaceutical companies to develop and implement new serialization techniques. Supply chain security, having to battle counterfeit and altered drugs, better product traceability and overall cost-savings are chief among the motivations.

Reports suggest that by 2023, more than 90% of the global drug supply will be scrutinized under track and trace regulations. The program will enhance patient safety measures by combating drug counterfeiting.

Serialization is no longer restricted to global compliance mandates either. It’s helping more and more pharmaceutical companies add transparency, accountability and integrity to their supply chains.

Serialization is proving to be more effective at reducing shrinkage (i.e., errors and theft) than other solutions such as sturdy packaging and traceable 3D hologram models.

Figure: 1Common Loopholes in the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain

Common Loopholes in the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain

Innovation is the key to improving trace and track in any supply chain model, including the frequently complex pharmaceutical supply chain.

Companies worldwide are investing millions of dollars in maintaining product integrity.

Assigning unique identification numbers or barcodes to individual items (such as a strip of tablets or a bottle of medicine) for computerized serialization and tracking is becoming among the best ways to maintain product integrity.

Among newer innovations and latest trends in serialization in the pharmaceutical supply chain.

Data Encryption and Data Security

The ultimate aim of pharmaceutical supply chain serialization is to ensure consumers get the right drugs at the right price and quality. At the same time, companies that trace and track their products end up knowing where each shipment is at any given moment.

Verification for this requires very strict data management and security. One way to get it done is through computerized encryption that lets only designated people read the data.

The pharmaceutical industry loses on average 4.5% of its potential revenue because of supply chain inefficiencies.Source: Interactive Data Corporation

Recalling Individual Products

The pharmaceutical industry is highly susceptible to recalls caused by things like poor packaging that leads to contaminated products that could be harmful to patients.

Previously, these recalls were made at batch-levels, causing massive revenue loss as well as distrupting the supply chain. Narrowing defective medicines to individual units makes it possible for companies to limit recalls to specific products. The same serialization can then be used to determine when and where the product was altered or contaminated.

Figure: 2 Serialization to Improve Track and Trace

Serialization to Improve Track and Trace

Use of Advanced Analytics

Life sciences organizations and their research groups are constantly working to understand what consumers need and want by studying buying trends. Using advanced analytics applications like Microsoft Power BI to create in-depth business intelligence reports is becoming the best way to help realize and act on these patterns. Power BI’s dashboards take advantage of interactive visualizations to help users make informed decisions about if and when they need to alter their production schedules to keep up with market demand.

Enhanced Visibility at Every Level of Supply Chain

Serialization is a good way for companies to provide accountability when it comes to compliance with government regulations. It’s also a good way to enhance visibility and improve monitoring at every level of the pharmaceutical supply chain. Knowing how much of what you have and where reduces stock-outs improves overall distribution and ensures your products are available when and where the consumers want them.

Barcoding and Labeling

Barcodes can provide a lot more information than just a serial number alone. You can include electronic links to product information sheets, safety data sheets, ingredients, storage requirements, shipping requirements, dosage levels and other information. All a worker needs to do is scan a code made with advanced label-making capabilities using a bar code reader or cellphone to access this data on the spot.

$200 billion (10%): that is the global monetary cost of counterfeit drugs according to the World Health Organization.
One million: That is the annual cost in human lives each year from fake and altered medicines according to Interpol.

Serialization’s Impact on Companies

In the United States, the serialization of all drugs at the sealable unit and case level became a requirement with the passage of the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) in November, 2017. This requirement had an impact on pharmaceutical companies and their supply chain vendors that had to ensure serialization of all drugs at an individual container or dose level with barcodes for better tracking and tracing.

Ultimately however, this has led to a number of benefits including:

  • Better market visibility down to individual drug demand. This helps by allowing for more efficient drug distribution.
  • Warehouses and inventories need to be equipped with a fortified drug distribution plan.
  • Better understanding and communication among cross-functional teams. Since serialization provides an inflow and outflow of different information, life sciences researchers, packaging personnel, IT experts, and distributors alike can share any data available for a particular drug.

Challenges in Serialization

Like any other change across the supply chain, serialization has its own set of challenges, including:

  • Hardware Setup and Updates
    Companies need to ensure they have the right equipment and supplies on hand at all times to print the labels, barcodes and seals required for serialization.
  • Steady Flow of the Production Line
    Introducing serialization and the training required to understand the process might have an impact on the production line early on as labeling each and every product may initially slow down the process.
  • Higher Costs
    Adding serialization to an existing process often means adding costs in terms of hardware, software and people. These costs can be reduced by using pooled investments and sustainable applications of the hardware and software.
  • Skilled Personnel Shortage
    Newer, digital methods of serialization require a workforce that understands what needs to be done. Companies are facing a lack of a skilled employee base that’s technically sound enough to implement their serialization strategies.
  • Technical Glitches
    Serialization should ultimately require minimal human intervention, aiming to significantly reduce manual errors. With anything else so integrated, you will need to make sure any technical issues can be identified and addressed in a timely manner to avoid any major disruptions to production.

XcelPros’ Microsoft Dynamics 365 solutions enable pharmaceutical companies to seamlessly implement serialization for better compliance and enhanced track and trace.

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Key Benefits of Serialization in Operations

Pharmaceutical companies able to take advantage of advanced, digital serialization processes for their supply chain operations often realize a number of benefits, including

  • Easy end-to-end implementation across the supply chain
  • Efficient sealing of supply chain loopholes to combat drug counterfeiting and packaging mistakes
  • Minimal human intervention required, making serialization a fool-proof, effective way to ensure brand authenticity and reduce batch recalls
  • Full compliance with government traceability regulations
  • Reduction of counterfeit drugs and compromised quality.

Final Thoughts

Overall, serialization in the pharmaceutical supply chain plays a significant role in avoiding drug theft, counterfeiting, batch recalls and and other potential hazards. Every pharmaceutical company needs to have a unique serialization processes to meet its requirements. Newer serialization software uses advanced analytics for better drug distribution and fewer stock-outs.

With government mandates requiring pharmaceutical companies and their supply chain vendors to understand and master the technical details of implementing serialization at batch and case levels in an effort to fortify their supply chain and enhance visibility, these companies need to be prepared to overcome any challenges that arise. Is your track and trace solution ready?

About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

Strengthening Supply Chain Capabilities

Ways to Strengthen your Supply Chain Processes

Ways to Strengthen your Supply Chain Processes 1440 810 Xcelpros Team

Supply Chain Woes

Over the past two decades, many manufacturing operations have moved offshore to lower operating costs. No one could have foreseen the recent COVID-19 pandemic that brought the world’s economy to a grinding halt. Pandemic-related problems exposed gaps in various supply chains across the globe. Pharmaceutical companies that had pivoted operations found themselves scrambling to get their hands on raw materials and pre-fabricated components at a time when their suppliers were working out how to operate safely.

Transportation problems, safety concerns, government-imposed quarantines and other barriers posed a threat to supply chains worldwide.

While all industries—and most companies in them—were severely impacted, hardest hit were business sectors that were considered critical.

What is a Critical Industry?

“There are 16 critical infrastructure sectors whose assets, systems, and networks, whether physical or virtual, are considered so vital to the United States that their incapacitation or destruction would have a debilitating effect on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination thereof,” according to the U.S. Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency.

Critical Infrastructure is identified as functions that are essential for the functioning of a society and economy. Since 2001, the National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP) lists 16 Critical Infrastructure Industries as essential to keep our country and economy moving. These industries are:

  • Chemical
  • Commercial facilities
  • Communications
  • Critical manufacturing
  • Dams
  • Defense industrial bases
  • Emergency services
  • Energy
  • Financial services
  • Food and agriculture
  • Government facilities
  • Healthcare and public health
  • Information technology
  • Nuclear reactors, materials, waste
  • Transportation systems
  • Water and wastewater systems

Understanding your Supply Chain

A robust supply chain is the foundation of any successful company. A supply chain’s importance is magnified when critical operations rely on getting raw materials in the door and finished products to customers on time. An efficient supply chain is essential for daily operations.

The impact that COVID has had on supply chains around the world has taught business that:

  • Raw material supplier relationships are essential
  • There are still massive transportation industry constraints
  • Security issues in the supply chain can lead to unexpected challenges

According to the Information and Communications Technology’s (ICT) Supply Chain Risk Management program, it’s essential to know your immediate supply chain along with an extended one that may not have direct access to third party suppliers.

Materials once considered abundant can quickly become scarce when multiple businesses compete for them. This is where a good supplier relationship makes a difference between getting access to a product or waiting until more materials are produced.

Another part of existing supply chain woes is that while companies focus getting goods flowing, data breaches and other security problems are rising. According to the Risk Ledger Report, third-party app developers, payment processors and remote worker infrastructure are among the top security threats.

Figure: 1Functions enabling modern supply chain management

Functions enabling modern supply chain management

Ways to Stay Ahead

Thankfully, there are a number of solutions out there to help companies stay competitive. The latest version of Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Supply Chain Management not only includes several features for building strong supplier relationships and minimizing risks, but also retains a familiar look and feel to other Microsoft Office products. This familiar interface helps with change management and reducing training needed to get up and running.

Some of D365 Supply Chain Management’s more powerful features include:

  • A Role-based Vendor Collaboration Portal
    Members of the procurement team can post and respond to Requests for Quotations (RFQ) and edit company information. Companies and suppliers can confirm, maintain, reject and accept purchase orders.
  • Purchase Inquiry Options
    This option is available outside of the portal. It provides an alternative to the RFQ process when immediate material pricing and delivery need to be met with your existing supply base.
  • Vendor Performance Analysis
    Includes a dashboard to real-time Spend Analysis and Vendor Performance insights into on-time delivery.

Talk with us today to learn more about enhancing your supply chain capabilities.

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As a way to further help the manufacturing industry, Microsoft debuted its Dynamics 365 Manufacturing Accelerator on May 14, 2020. The Manufacturing Accelerator is a Power App offering an enhanced Supplier Relationship Management experience. It runs within Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management.

Primary features include processes to:

  • Qualify new suppliers
  • Onboard a supplier for data integration
  • Manage and track Supplier Relationship Health Data

While the accelerator was being developed before the recent pandemic, it’s become a great asset to procurement teams looking to strengthen their supplier sourcing capabilities.

Final Thoughts

Companies today are still struggling with two competing priorities: maintaining a healthy workforce, and delivering goods to their customers. The latter means having a strong, versatile supply chain. A robust, secure platform like Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management helps businesses make this a reality by enhancing every process, from supplier onboarding to monitoring vendor performance.

About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com