Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Using EDI to Mitigate the Impact of Loading Dock Congestion - Part 3: Conclusion & Recap

QLogitek Inbound Management System
So far we have explained how and why EDI is important for optimal loading-dock performance and what thekey ingredients are for organizations seeking to improve DC, warehouse andstore-level loading-dock efficiency. In order for an organization and its logistics partners to have a highly effective shipment and delivery operation, there is a need for all of the three components, implemented as part of its logistics operation. 

Using EDI and the proper implementation of the related supply chain pieces that are related across a purchase order, an ASN, as well as a cross-docking type environment will help in achieving maximum benefits.

QLogitek has been helping organizations spanning the retail, manufacturing, distribution, telco, utility and public sector industries, by providing full automation and collaboration of various supply chain processes; the result has been the enhancement and streamlining of their purchasing, logistics and goods receipt and goods shipment operations for many years. Our integrated set of modules have helped, equally, all member organizations that are part of the delivery and shipment operations. Find out more about our products and services here. Bottom Line: Being a highly compliant, timely and accurate delivery and shipment operation is key for a successful business operation. In order to achieve this, one cannot be second guessing conveyance/handling equipment and human resource requirements for primary and support operations at the store/warehouse level. One just needs to KNOW.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Using EDI to Mitigate the Impact of Loading Dock Congestion - Part 2: 3 Key Components of an Efficient Loading Dock Operation

QLogitek Inbound Management System
Key Components:
In our last post we discussed the need to improve efficiency in loading dock operations. In DCs, warehouses and at the retail store-level, loading-dock congestion can be a very annoying and costly problem. By integrating processes with EDI, organizations can achieve dramatic improvements in loading dock performance. 

The key components that make up an efficient loading dock operation are;

1.An Integrated Purchase Oder to Advance Ship Notice (PO-ASN) Process
2.An Integrated Appointment Scheduling Process

An Integrated PO-ASN Process
With the proper use of EDI with integration of the PO and the ASN transactions, the loading and unloading of shipments can be efficiently handled as the ASN will identify the products that are being handled, so that the proper conveyances and equipment can be available during loading and unloading. This not only ensures that the shipment is accurate but also provides other necessary information regarding the shipment, so that the loading and unloading can be handled very efficiently.

An Integrated Appointment Scheduling Process
An integrated appointment scheduling system will result in the most optimum utilization of the loading docks, as full product and its handling details will be known by the warehouse/store for a given delivery or shipment. This integrated scheduling process must provide visibility and synchronization between the various processes; beginning with the Purchase Ordering system, to the Logistics System, to the Inventory Management System and finally with the Warehousing and HR scheduling System.

Cross-Docking Process
The cross docking facilities at a given warehouse/store help in reducing and/or eliminating additional steps necessary for product storage and retrieval.
The main benefit of cross-docking is that it provides for a more efficient inbound and outbound flow of goods to a store and/or a warehouse. This reduces the need for storage and retrieval, hence speeds up the delivery of goods to their destination.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Using EDI to Mitigate the Impact of Loading Dock Congestion - Part 1: Our Point of View

Inbound Management System
In addition to its many other benefits and uses, EDI presents a solution to helping organizations mitigate the impact of loading dock congestion. Congestion at the loading dock, whether at the distribution center (DC), warehouse or store-level is a major headache for retailers as well as many other types of organizations dealing with merchandise that needs to be transported from a distribution centre or warehouse to a store. Time is money and time wasted on loading dock congestions is money you’ll never see again. A primary aspect of having a holistic process to reduce the inefficiencies of congestion at the loading dock is the use of an Advance Ship Notice (ASN) related to a particular Purchase Order (PO). The EDI-based ASN that supports cross-docking can dramatically enhance the related logistics needed to operate an effective merchandise handling operation.

An efficient loading dock operation will result in:
1. Reduced Energy Costs

Energy costs are reduced through the timely and rapid manner in which the shipments and deliveries are handled. A poor loading dock operation causes wasted energy due to pickup/delivery scheduling delays.
2. Improved Safety of Stock
3. Increased Productivity

Shipments and deliveries can be handled with the efficient use of labour and the most relevant conveyances and equipment to deal with the type of merchandise being handled.
4. Improved Pickup and Delivery Efficiency

A poor loading dock operation causes endless problems with delivery and shipment schedules that result in wasted time, traffic delays and traffic problems.
5. More Efficient Yard Operation

It is worth noting that an integrated PO-ASN and an integrated Delivery and Shipment Appointment Scheduling operation and reduce or eliminate the need for a yard operation altogether. This alone could be of huge benefit to an organization.
6. Reduced Need Temporary Goods Storage

Integrated PO-ASN and Delivery Shipment and Appointment Scheduling can eliminate the need for satellite, temporary and/or retrieval goods storage areas.

In order to achieve full benefits, a well executed ASN process including cross-docking is crucial to reduce and eliminate loading dock congestion. In our next post, we’ll discuss the key components that make up an efficient loading dock operation including an integrated PO-ASN process, scheduling processes and cross-docking.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Using EDI to Manage Vendor Compliance and a Case Study of an Inbound Management System - Part 3: A Case Example

So far in this series, we have discussed the need for vendor compliance and the state of the vendor compliance market place. We know that EDI can be very beneficial in helping a retailer organization manage the compliance of its vendors; we know that organizations can gain significant visibility and increase the responsiveness of their supply chain operation through a best-in-class vendor compliance program. What we haven’t discussed so far is how this might look, which brings us to our case study of an Inbound Management System in practice. 


The use of EDI continues to be the key ingredient in helping best-in-class organizations streamline their business operations and realize operational and financial benefits. Today we are looking at a tier 1 Canadian General Merchandiser.

Client Profile & Industry: One of Canada's largest diversified general merchandise retailers with over 600 retail locations and nearly 60,000 associated located in every province of Canada.

This is a retailer who has gained unprecedented visibility into its inbound merchandise and has saved millions while making substantial improvements of speed and accuracy in its entire order-to-cash process.

Business Problems & Challenges: Retail operation was negatively affected due to limited visibility into inbound merchandise for xeven national DCs, minimal dock-door and DC level planning & execution capabilities, a compliance-management program that often did not work and overall poor quality data.

Solution: The Client relied on QLogitek's Cloud-Based Inbound Management system to manage inbound logistics, dock-door scheduling and to manage compliance of 3PL and other carrier partners.

In the first year of compliance tracking and monitoring, the retailer realized approximately 80 million dollars in compliance fee charge backs to its trading community.

Results & Benefits: 1. 75% reduction in DC appointment scheduling staff, resulting in $2 Million in year-over-year savings 2. 400% ROI in a single quarter 3. The operation moved from a highly labour intensive process for the retailer to one of self-serve by the trading community 4. Appointments that took 3-5 days to confirm and book now take 3 seconds 5. Appointment cancellation rates have fallen from 12% to 3% 6. Complete visibility into real time merchandise arrival information 7. From thought to finish, the entire process took only 6 months.

The compliance information was used to fix and improve broken parts of the supply chain process. The compliance fee charge backs were practically eliminated in the 3rd year of the operation. As we can see, EDI can play a vital role in managing vendor compliance, benefiting both retailers and their vendor-partners.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Using EDI to Manage Vendor Compliance and a Case Study of an Inbound Management System - Part 2: The State of the Marketplace

Although supply chain automation technologies have been with us for almost half a century, we still find a very large part of supply chains within today’s businesses to not be vendor compliant. Having taken a look at the need for vendor compliance, we can see that this is due to the lack of proper automation and integration both on the part of both an retailers and its vendors.

The solutions offered by most technology vendors are very costly and lack the robust automation needed to handle organizations of different sizes and their trading needs.  Moreover, they often do not provide the necessary level of automation and integration in order to allow vendors to provide accurate and timely information to retailers .

In previous posts we have stated the merits and benefits derived from EDI implementations in terms of providing a supply chain with automation, integration and collaboration. Similarly, EDI is one of the most robust and best-in-class ways of achieving good vendor compliance.

The Benefits of a Well-Executed Vendor Compliance Program:

In order for a retailer and its vendor community to have a best-in-class vendor compliance program, the complete order-to-cash supply chain process has to be looked at and streamlined.

This may seem simple and straightforward. However, to achieve this requires that the entire lifecycle of the order-to-cash process be properly automated. That is, the complete process, from the issuance of a purchase order to the sale of the item, must be fully automated and integrated all the way down the line.

There are organizations that have hundreds of millions of dollars invested in supporting an operation that provides for a properly functioning fulfillment process. If vendor compliance in not properly planned across all the members of the supply chain, the resultant outcome will be that of a poor supply chain that ultimately brings financial losses to the retailer and its vendor community. This is certainly to be avoided.

The goal is to develop a well-planned and implemented vendor compliance program that will result in a highly compliant supply chain operation for both the retailer and the vendor, which is free of fines or fees associated with non-compliance. The following outlines the lifecycle of vendor compliance which works to this end.

Review and analyze the above 5 stages to ensure that all the vendor compliance criteria have been met.

If any of the compliance criteria was not met, then improvements and corrections have to be made in order to fix the broken part of the vendor compliance process.

Without the proper level of automation and integration of the seven above vendor compliance life-cycle events, vendor compliance is not possible. This will result in problems for the retailer and/or the vendor community. These problems could also sometimes spell the demise of a business.

In our next post, we’ll take a look at a case study of a large retailer that is using EDI to create a best-in-class, fully integrated, automated vendor compliance process.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Using EDI to Manage Vendor Compliance and a Case Study of an Inbound Management System - Part 1: The Need for Compliance


Over the past few months we have been discussing EDI in some detail, starting with the history and ongoing usefulness of EDI and more recently the importance of integration planning in B2B EDI projects. Today, we’re starting a series discussing the benefits of using EDI to manage vendor compliance. To complement this discussion, in a subsequent post, we will be presenting a case study of a Tier 1 Canadian retailer that realized substantial benefits through an automated and integrated vendor compliance program, known specifically as an Inbound Management System. 

Essentially, vendor compliance allows businesses to collaborate with their various vendor communities of trading partners to obtain end-to-end visibility, with a highly responsive and accurate supply chain operation. An automated and integrated vendor compliance program eliminates all of the non-compliant aspects of a supply chain and helps to achieve a highly vendor compliant operation both for the retailer and its trading communities. This results in millions of dollars being saved by the vendor communities through the avoidance of compliance fee charges levied by the retailer. In addition to the huge financial benefits, a highly vendor compliant operation also increases the speed and accuracy in the entire order-to-cash process.

The Need for Compliance:

Bottom Line: Organizations that implement good merchandise compliance programs benefit from having a very responsive, timely, accurate and satisfied relationship with their vendors. Vendor –compliant trading environments help the vendor community in eliminating compliance fees and other penalties. If this community can reduce and/or eliminate the problems of incorrect and untimely merchandise shipments, everyone wins.

A compliant trading environment helps the retailer sustain profitability and remain in business as a result of a compliant supply chain. One which is responsive to the need of its customers and can provide its customers with customer service that is responsive to customer needs.

With the proper use of EDI and other non-EDI automation technology implementation for vendor compliance, the retailer and its vendor community will benefit from the following;

With the proper use of EDI and other non-EDI automation technology implementation for vendor compliance, the retailer and its vendor community will benefit from the following;

These are only some of the benefits; there are literally endless benefits that a well implemented vendor compliance program can provide.

The best-in-class companies are those that have the most successful vendor compliance programs that substantially reduce errors and problems in the supply chain. The errors and problems that a good vendor compliant program eliminate are;

The errors and problems that a good vendor compliant program eliminate are;

Any one of these problems can make a good company lose money, reputation and market share. 

This is why Best-In-Class companies are reaping the benefits of well thought out vendor compliance programs. Next time we will take a look at the state of the vendor compliance market place and assess the benefits of a well-executed vendor compliance program, an Inbound Management System, in more detail.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Importance of Integration Planning in B2B EDI Supply Chain Projects – Part 4, Closing Thoughts


As we have seen over the course of this series on the importance of integration planning in B2B EDI projects, a properly planned integration architecture can provide all the members of a supply chain community with a highly efficient overall trading platform. It can also provide them with a significant competitive advantage. This is really a key secret of very successful organizations today; and this is something that the successful organizations will not openly share with you.

The truth of the matter is that enjoying a BEST-in-CLASS supply chain status, is far less complex an undertaking than it first appears. All one needs to do is to ensure that the proper integration planning is done, by automating the supply chain transactions in an order and manner that will result in an operating environment that will be collaborative.

The secret is simplicity and conciseness of structure. Remove as many of, if not all of the in-between and/or redundant processes from the supply chain and directly integrate with the supply chain systems to achieve “Collaborative End to End Visibility and Collaborative End to End Responsiveness”.

Let us conclude with what we mean by “automating the supply chain transactions in an order and manner that will result in an operating environment that will be collaborative.” Once a process is created for basic purchasing transactions, it can be used to share critical planning and status information. This information can include sales activity, forecasts, inventory positions and work-in-process and shipment statuses. Moreover, this information can be shared daily or weekly or even in real-time for certain processes, versus monthly or quarterly, creating leaner and more synchronized processes.