IT Science Case Study: Finding Perfect Bolt-on for Existing ERP

SEA Wire and Cable spent three years trying to use its existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform to handle its warehouse operations, which should have worked well in theory, but in practice, the ERP wasn’t able to handle the level of granularity the company required. Then SEA was referred to PathGuide.

Here is the latest article in an eWEEK feature series called IT Science, in which we look at what actually happens at the intersection of new-gen IT and legacy systems.

Unless it’s brand new and right off various assembly lines, servers, storage and networking inside every IT system can be considered “legacy.” This is because the iteration of both hardware and software products is speeding up all the time. It’s not unusual for an app-maker, for example, to update and/or patch for security purposes an application a few times a month, or even a week. Some apps are updated daily! Hardware moves a little slower, but manufacturing cycles are also speeding up.

These articles describe new-gen industry solutions. The idea is to look at real-world examples of how new-gen IT products and services are making a difference in production each day. Most of them are success stories, but there will also be others about projects that blew up. We’ll have IT integrators, system consultants, analysts and other experts helping us with these as needed.

Today’s Topic: Finding the Perfect Bolt-on for Existing ERP

Name the problem to be solved: Cutting and selling inventory in feet (such as with rope, chain, wire or cable) creates a unique set of challenges, such as knowing not only if a particular type of cable is in stock, but what length remains and whether it is a continuous piece or cut into multiple lengths. On top of that, the strict requirements and regulations governing the military and aerospace industries require accurate traceability to ensure that a potentially defective product, such as wire with thin-jacket insulation, can quickly be identified and quarantined from sale.

Describe the strategy that went into finding the solution: SEA Wire and Cable spent three years trying to use its existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform (Prophet 21) to handle its warehouse operations, which should have worked well in theory, but in practice, the ERP wasn’t able to handle the level of granularity the company required. SEA was referred to PathGuide by an associate familiar with SEA’s Prophet 21 ERP to talk about deploying a purpose-built warehouse management system (WMS). Through the collaboration that followed, SEA discovered that PathGuide’s Latitude WMS was the perfect bolt-on for its existing ERP.

List the key components in the solution:

  • Latitude WMS: PathGuide’s enterprise-grade Latitude Warehouse Management System (WMS) offers advanced system features and customization that provide businesses with the tools necessary to expand sales, improve customer service and outperform the competition. Latitude WMS an all-inclusive warehouse management system offering several advanced features on top of its core capabilities. Details here.
  • Latitude Manifest Shipping System:  PathGuide’s Latitude Manifest & Shipping System is a parcel shipping integration system that simplifies warehouse shipping, package tracking and route management. This software provides a multi-carrier shipping solution that automatically finds the lowest available shipping rate (or fastest option for those rush orders) from all available carriers. Details here.
  • Prophet 21: Latitude integrates seamlessly with all major ERP business systems, including Prophet 21, a distribution software from Epicor. Details here.

Describe how the deployment went, perhaps how long it took, and if it came off as planned: PathGuide’s implementation and engineering experts worked closely with SEA Wire and Cable to ensure that the deployment was organized, staged and sequenced properly. By the time Latitude was ready to go live in SEA’s warehouses, it was a matter of flipping a switch with virtually no disruption or surprises.

Describe the result, new efficiencies gained, and what was learned from the project: SEA Wire and Cable’s ultimate goal is to reach zero defects and the company takes continuous improvement very seriously, so by understanding that this objective could not be accomplished in-house alone and spending the time to collaborate with PathGuide on a Latitude deployment, SEA was able to realize how investing in technology like Latitude could not only support their business, but the business of its customers and supply chain. PathGuide and Latitude helped SEA take its next big step forward in the pursuit of continuous improvement and logarithmic leaps toward reaching its critical goal of being error free.

Describe ROI, carbon footprint savings, and staff time savings, if any: Today, all of SEA’s departments rely on Latitude’s data and functionality, including sales, purchasing, management, receiving (QA), small parcel picking, freight picking and the value-add teams. Latitude has become the biggest asset to SEA in its inventory management activities by providing its sales team access with real-time data on all inventory; giving the purchasing team insight into what’s in stock and what needs to be re-ordered; and by enabling its warehouse to quickly verify product details for customers with special requirements–ranging from where the material was made, the minimum length of wire, and even the regulatory revision level–and that kind of information used to take SEA hours to pull in the past, but today is all just a click away .

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Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...