TQS Tech Team

TQS Tech Team

An Investigation Into IPS: How to Make It Happen! (Part 2)

This is part two of our Indoor Positioning System (IPS) case study, you can read part one here.

“Wow! This is great,” you say, “What’s next?”

Most business owners may know the hard work it takes to install new technology into their business. Those who don’t may just want to avoid this process altogether. Truth be told those stakeholders may be missing out on big opportunities to improve their business. Our goal here is to help those companies who may not have an IT department already, see how the first step in implementation works.

Enter the Business Analyst

For those who don’t know what a Business Analyst does think of them like an architect. An architect takes the needs of the client and designs them in a way that an engineering/construction team can use them to execute the project. Similarly, the Business Analyst takes the client’s needs and connects them to the technology. (Usually in the form of a development team.)

In business analysis, we need to identify the stakeholders involved with the project. Usually, the business owner is the first person on this list. However, in some cases, the project may not be of big enough scope to impact him or her. Let’s take a look at the stakeholders who involved in an IPS implementation:

  • Warehouse Manager: Arguably the most important stakeholder. The warehouse manager will interact with the system day to day. The warehouse’s performance will be measured before and after the implementation. He or she will be responsible for maintaining the system after it implementation. The warehouse manager will also be responsible for training the team on how to use it.
  • Warehouse staff: This team will also interact with the system on a daily basis. It is important that the system is setup in a way that they are comfortable using. If they don’t buy in the whole project isn’t worth investing in.
  • Business Owner: To a certain extent, business owners are only concerned with ROI. Is this going to save time and/or money? Is it going to improve the quality of the business? Most business owners will also care if their staff enjoys the new technology. If it saves the workers time, they most likely will.
  • Clients: In a case like this chances are they won’t notice a change. If they are getting their products faster, that’s a bonus.
  • Other projects will have different stakeholders. It pays to be as thorough as possible, consider people outside your company as well. Carriers, dealers, etc. may all be affected by new technologies. It is important to include all the parties.

After all the stakeholders are identified, the business analyst will elicit interviews together. In these interviews, the BAs are responsible for gathering requirements. An IPS will involve the implementation of both software and hardware. If Warehouse Management System (WMS) already exists, the IPS must able to function with the system. (this is an example of a requirement.)

This is only the tip of the iceberg in the requirements gathering process. We want to provide a general overview of how this whole process works. (In the meantime we will write a separate article on the requirements process.) Essentially, the requirements are all the constraints, functional and non-functional needs the stakeholders outline. These can be written out, outlined in flow charts, etc. These are then passed off to the development team to execute the project.

The BA’s job is not done yet! There should be an implementation plan drafted before the project is ready to go into production. When we roll out our software, we always have a contingency plan in place. (In case of a business stopping issue.) Often that plan is a called a rollback, where we switch to the prior solution while the bug gets fixed. It’s nice to think that we won’t need to ever rollback our software. The reality is that you can’t predict every single process that every single person will use.

The one thing we want you to take away from this article, every business project will benefit from a BA. The BA's job in one sentence: Making sure you build it right the first time.

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Did you Know Trucks are Already Driving Themselves?

For years, employers have had trouble finding truck drivers but are they going to even need them in the years to come?

On April 6, 2016, a convoy of trucks was set off from three different bases. What was so special about theses trucks? They had no human drivers and drove completely on the concept of autonomous driving. For logistics specialists and fleet owners, the idea of automated vehicles is an exciting future. The technology may be closer than we think and it's called truck platooning.

The Concept of Truck Platooning

Platooning is where trucks drive cooperatively at less than 1 second apart. It is possible by automated driving technology. The airflow between the two trucks actually helps to push both trucks forward through the road and reduces fuel consumption. This is like the way that race cars draft to get a speed burst and get around each other on a track.
In studies conducted with Peloton Tech in conjunction with CR England, platooning with saving companies an average of 7% fuel. This is an average of 4.5% for the lead truck and 10% for the rear truck, due to improved aerodynamics and reduced drag. These tests occurred as a result of 1400 miles of testing.

The EU Truck Platooning Challenge

Initiated by the Netherlands, the European Truck Platooning Challenge is where various brands of automated trucks will drive in columns (platooning) on public roads from various European cities to the Netherlands. IT provides an opportunity for the trucking industry to test implementation of truck platooning in various EU states. Transport authorities, truck manufacturers, business owners, academics and scientists are all involved.
The goal is to centralize all the partners in efforts to get this technology implemented.

Dirk-Jan de Bruijn, program director of truck platooning challenges, says:

"We now have huge energy in the network and the concept is that we will want to real-life cases. Companies like Unilever are preparing to start these cases in 2017. The challenge is of course not an endpoint, but a starting point, it's a new kick-off."

The Future of Truck Platooning

Of course, there are many challenges still needing to overcome before this technology can be widespread. Once policy and law are able to meet with today's newest technology we'll see a massive shift. Resulting in lowered shipping costs, safer roads and massive savings across the board.

The Dutch legislation has already amended to allow testing this concept of autonomous vehicles on public and they want truck platooning implemented across the Europe.

Truck platooning is going to revolutionize the transportation for everyone and the European truck industry is taking the steps necessary to implement it.

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Five Benefits of a Warehouse Management System

Choosing the right Warehouse Management System (WMS) will depend on your business needs, but every WMS has something in common: they are designed to help improve your operations. From streamlining your processes to more available information, here are 5 benefits to choosing a WMS.

Inventory Management

Accurate inventory can be a key factor in running your business. When stock is received and verified in the system, it can then be tracked through the entire process. Since operations are system driven, receiving, picking, packing, and moving, are all directed and accounted for. The ability to monitor inventory accurately allows your warehouse to order inventory only when it is needed. Reports can be generated to show stock amounts and help you decide when the best and most economical time to order new product will be.

Order Accuracy

The ability to improve order accuracy will save both time and money. There are less shipments being sent out to correct errors, which means less labour being used and less money on shipping. From creating a Sales Order through to the shipment, the entire process is accurately tracked through the system. Each product on the order can be scanned. Parts won’t be picked in error because this system will know that it isn’t part of the order.

Cycle Counting

Taking inventory is never anyone’s favourite job, but it is necessary. Cycle counting will help reduce the need for doing a complete physical inventory. Counting small amount of inventory frequently can become part of the warehouse’s daily operations.

Organization

Organizing a warehouse will help keep the warehouse moving efficiently. Defining specific storage areas and locations in the warehouse helps keep your inventory organized. Optimizing processes through the order and knowledge of the warehouse through the WMS will help save time.

Continuous Improvement

If your WMS is cloud based, like ours is, it can evolve with your business really easily. Continuous improvements, even small ones, to the system can be released to you without any disruption to your business. This allows your business to keep improving as the WMS adds new features or customizes them to your needs.

TQS Fusion 2 could be the right Warehouse Management System for you. Inquire today.

 

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The Internet of Things is Here and it’s Taking your Supply Chain Along for the Ride

 

Everything is connected, or it will be soon. The Internet of Things (IoT) is making sure of that. Emerging technologies mean that sensors connected to the internet can be detect almost anything. The IoT is no longer an idea of the future, but a current phenomenon. And it’s one that will drastically affect people’s lives and their work.

Imagine your car is coming up on its regularly scheduled maintenance. A reminder email is sent to you, and at the same time an email is sent to the car’s manufacturer. Before you have even had a chance to check your email, there’s a coupon in your inbox for an oil change at the dealership.

The IoT is also making its way into the supply chain and the manufacturing industry is leading the way for this technology. It’s being used to automate processes, increase productivity, heighten safety protocols, and make countless other improvements. And manufacturing is not the only aspect of the supply chain that can benefit from the IoT.

Most people are pretty familiar with the advantages of using a GPS. Tracking your own location on a map to navigate around unfamiliar streets has become commonplace for many. Attach a GPS to a delivery truck and suddenly you have real time visibility. As GPS becomes more sophisticated and technology advances, the possibilities will keep growing. GPS technology will reroute carriers around traffic and accidents and it will become more accurate in predicting delivery times. At the same time, this data will be collected and analyzed to create further efficiencies along the delivery route.

GPS tracking is only the beginning when it comes to the real time visibility of a shipment. Adding sensors to individual palettes can also help with more in depth tracking. The palette can be tracked from vendor to customer, regardless of how many distribution centres it passes through. Sensors on pallets could also keep track of the internal temperature of refrigerated trucks to ensure that the goods being transported are kept at a safe temperature. The IoT continues to increase the possibilities for a completely transparent supply chain.

The power of the IoT stretches beyond what is easily imaginable. With the internet continually growing it is creating a new kind of industrial revolution. Realizing the power of the IoT and embracing it early can give you a step above the competition.

This doesn’t mean that tomorrow your washing machine will send you a text message indicating that it needs service. It does mean that fully integrating the IoT into our lives is a very real possibility in the not-so-distant, ever-connected world we live in.

Check out our TQS™ iRoute Solution | Mobile Pickup & Delivery Tracker | Route Planning GPS Vehicle Tracking | Fleet Management Solution

 

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5 Reasons to Choose Software as a Service for your Logistics Company

There are many factors to consider when adopting the Software as a Service (SaaS) model. Time and money are among the biggest concerns for businesses who are considering the transition.  

Just because it isn’t broken, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t fix it. Even if your existing system works just fine, there is a great benefit to the implementation of SaaS within your organization. Efficiency is important for successful business and SaaS delivers that by improving on existing processes and finding efficiencies. Software as a Service can help your logistics business excel.

Why mess with a good thing? Because there is a better thing out there. Here are five of the best reasons you shouldn’t wait to switch your company over to SaaS.

No Software Installation

With SaaS, you don’t need to install a program; you just need to navigate to the website. This saves on the time you would spend on multiple installations over multiple computers. Anyone in your organization can access the software immediately.

Available from Anywhere

Since there is no installation, you can access your software from anywhere as long as you can access the internet. With all your information being on the cloud you can check warehouse inventory, shipment status, or other information along supply chain from anywhere and at anytime. Mobile accompaniment apps help you check up on your business needs more easily while on the go.

Quick and Easy Deployments

Since the software is accessed online, you can access it as soon as you have your account set up. New releases, or small bug fixes, won’t become huge company implementations. New deployments are effortless on your part so you can keep your business running.

Scalability

You can get exactly what you are looking for. Everyone’s business needs are going to be different and your software can be customized to suit your needs. You don’t have to settle for a one-size-fits-all type of software. And as your business grows from one warehouse to many, the software can grow and adapt with you.

Lower Costs Overall

There’s no large upfront investment on your part. Signing up for a few accounts before taking the plunge and connect all of your employees.  It will also greatly reduce the burden on your IT department. No additional server installations and no upgrades to perform on your part both equal a cost savings.

Check out our SaaS solutions for your business here.

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