Distribution and Supply
Winning new customers is always important. But making sure you can meet deadlines, have stock on hand and accurately track a myriad of other details prior to posting an accurate and timely invoice all matter just as much.
Indeed, just by simplifying the whole process of tracking every item in these processes some of our larger clients have told us Abel has added 10% to their bottom line.
Definitions of what is considered as distribution vary widely, depending on each organization’s needs. In developing our software we have tended to follow the approach of the American Production Information Control Systems (APICS) who define it as all activities involved in moving materials from the supplier to the customer. This includes procurement transportation, warehousing, inventory control, material handling, order administration, site and location analysis, industrial packaging, and running the communications network needed for effective management.
As with all Abel functionality, the Abel distribution and supply component is included as part of our ERP platform. From procurement through to dispatch, it provides a safe, simple and transparent document chain. It handles large numbers of inventory items and includes serial numbers, batch tracking and auto-generation of documents when required. And it will happily combine the complexities of multiple warehouses, inter-company trading and even shipping management operations in one easy to use, real-time process. Our Distribution software tracks every step of the process from both the supplier and customer sides.
All the documents described below leave a source trail, from quote to order, to dispatch and invoice, and any variations along the path such as multiple dispatches and returns. This means that from any document within the sequence, all related documents can be easily viewed and navigated to with a simple double click. This feature within Abel ensures that customer requirements are met and invoices not forgotten. The end result is that customers become more satisfied, revenue rises and profits within the business increase.
Supplier quotes provide the means for requesting prices from various suppliers. After a quotation document is prepared it is sent or emailed to the supplier. Quotes can be for a one-off quantity, a quantity to be purchased over the next number of months or for ongoing price arrangements. Following the receipt of prices from the supplier the document is amended manually or via a spreadsheet. Prices can be discarded, used to update supplier price records or to build a supplier contract that will be drawn down against over time. Reminders can be created via Abel CRM that will notify the user when to review the quote status in the future.
A supplier contract is an agreement between you and the supplier for the supply of goods and services over time. Contracts of course may specify a guaranteed quantity that must be purchased to obtain the quoted price or alternatively a price that will be held over time with no minimum quantity. The exact contract confirmation may be emailed or printed. When a supplier contract is in place, purchase orders can be raised against the contract which will reflect the drawn-down quantity. Review reminders can be created via Abel CRM.
When you have contracted with a supplier that they will provide you with a minimum quantity of goods each week or month, a supplier forecast document may be created or copied from a supplier contract to reflect the quantity to be receipted each period. Its purpose is to create an ongoing on-order quantity against the inventory item so that the auto-reorder process will recommend only reorder quantities that are in excess of supply. Supplier forecasts can also be used to accommodate regularly scheduled manufacture of sub-assemblies or finished goods.
Supplier Buffer Orders
Buffer orders are normally only used within companies that have contracted manufacturing or production responsibilities. These contracts may be short or long term, but require you to hold a minimum quantity of raw materials during the term of the contract. Buffer orders are usually built by exploding the Bill of Materials for the finished goods specified in the contract removing any machine or labor components. When the buffer order is posted it serves to increase the minimum and maximum stocking quantities used in the auto-reorder process. When the buffer order is no longer required it may be closed or removed which immediately reduces the reorder quantities appropriately.
Supplier orders, commonly known as purchase orders, are either manually created, or automatically created from the supplier reorder process, or from customer orders that contain back-to-back requirements, or from manufacture or production orders that require direct raw material purchases. Like most Abel documents, purchase orders are built in local or foreign currency according to the trading arrangements with the supplier. Purchase orders can be emailed or printed.
Purchase orders raised against associated internal or externally specified companies, either in the same Abel database or at a remotely located Abel database, can automatically build the resulting customer order within the supplying company’s trading databases.
The purpose of a supplier delivery is to provide an inwards goods document for the warehouse receipting process. The line item details may be for inventory stocks, items purchased for manufacturing or production, or items that are to be onwards dispatched to customers. The supplier delivery is also used to record serials and batch numbers and provides the specific warehouse and bin location for goods going into stock. Supplier deliveries can be built manually, built from single, multiple or part purchase orders, or can be built as a result of an external Abel company processing a customer dispatch in the same database. (Customer dispatches in external Abel databases are handled via the inter-company invoice and transfer process). Freight and other goods related expenses may be added to the supplier delivery, apportioned across the line details so that goods being receipted into inventory stock or consumed by manufacturing or production or dispatched directly to customers are costed correctly.
The supplier return is similar to a reversed supplier delivery with the addition of the supplier’s return authority number and the reason for the return. Other printed text can be attached to the document or to any of the line details. Goods may be returned prior to being placed into stock or following the receipt of inventory items into stock. The supplier return can be built manually, from a customer return, a supplier delivery or a purchase order. When built from a supplier delivery, serials, batch numbers, warehouse locations and bin locations are retained to ensure the same stock is removed from the same location for the return.
Shipping deliveries are designed to provide the documents for overseas inventory receipts where bills of lading, freight, duty, demurrage and other fees are invoiced via multiple suppliers. It is normal for the company accountant to receive the shipping documentation prior to the goods being receipted, usually from the freight forwarder. It becomes a cost accounting function to prepare the shipping delivery prior to passing it to the warehouse inwards goods for receipt processing. Freight, duty, demurrage and fees can be apportioned across the line item details according to loadings on each inventory item or by the cost value of the line item. These costs can then be altered manually if required. The user may also enter serials and batch numbers and provide the specific warehouse and bin location for goods being receipted into stock for dispatching items to customers or for items moving directly to the manufacturing or production process.
A supplier invoice may be built manually, from supplier deliveries, supplier returns or purchase orders. Frequently a supplier’s invoice can contain a mixture of the above documents. In this case the detail lines can be pulled on to the invoice as appropriate. Sometimes part of a supplier’s invoice is to be charged to different cost centers, either within the same company’s accounts, or across company bounds within the database or within an associated external database. When inter-company processing is required the details of the individual lines will be automatically added to appropriate inter-company invoices.
When the supplier’s invoice details are built manually or from purchase orders, and it contains inventory items that are to be receipted into stock, the supplier invoice performs the processing of the supplier delivery and the invoice. When the supplier invoice details are built from the supplier delivery or return, the invoice processing will attempt to adjust inventory stocking values or adjust the manufacturing or production work in progress values. Variances that cannot be managed because stock has already been sold or consumed are posted to an account specified by the user during the set up of the system.
The customer quote is often the starting point of the sales process for some organizations. Quotes can sometimes be a relatively protracted process and as such Abel provides a numerically sequential process which saves a historical trail of quotes to a customer, recording the negotiations before the quote is accepted. During this process, individual or multiple quotes may be printed or emailed directly to the customer.
In a manufacturing or production based company, it is frequently necessary to determine raw material availability and to establish a date to promise before providing the customer with a quotation. Abel can provide this function by building a production pre-plan document that will explode the Bill of Materials and calculate a likely date of completion taking into account current loadings throughout the plant.
Once accepted, the customer quote can be used to populate the customer order, customer forecast or customer contract. It is also possible to update the customer’s pricing records from the customer quote.
There are two forms of customer forecast. The customer forecast document provides an indication of the likely demand a customer requires for a single sale. The customer forecast places demand against the specified items of the forecast. A production pre-plan can also be generated from the forecast to place demand upon raw materials. It is likely that the customer forecast will be used to create customer orders in the future.
The second form of the customer forecast creates customer requirements over time and is predominantly used to provide budgetary information for sales to the customer, the inventory items involved and frequently the sales employee. Demand is not placed directly against the inventory item, but can be used as input to both supplier and manufacture reorder process and is included in the production of projected stock positions.
A customer contract is a firm agreement between yourself and a customer where the customer has agreed to purchase a particular quantity of goods over a defined time period at a specific price. A customer contract will place forward demand on your inventory items, and will be included in the automated stock reorder process and can be amended at any time to suit the changing needs of your customer if and when applicable.
A customer contract can either be pulled on to an order, or the customer order built from the contract and then amended as necessary. The contract will show cumulative quantities drawn down as the contract is progressively fulfilled.
A customer order can either be built manually or can be the result of a quote, forecast, or contract. The customer order is frequently the source document of the sales process, created by the sales employee, the order taken on the telephone or from the customer’s purchase order. In the case of a manufacturing or production company, it may also be the primary document in the generation of the manufacture to order workflow, specifying the items to be manufactured, repaired, modified etc and includes the options such as color, fabric, or other choices that are requested by the customer.
In the case of a distribution model, it can be the document that will auto-create a purchase order to satisfy the demand for goods and services, (back to back ordering), or the document that simply initiates the pick and subsequent dispatch process. It will store information such as reserved and backorder stock, quantity dispatched, and what is on supplier order. Customer orders can also be configured so that an inventory item on a specific supplier order, which has been created from a customer order, can be delivered direct to the end customer, without passing through the warehouse.
The customer order can contain such information as the customer’s order number, as well as due and required dates, which are key drivers in both the manufacturing and distribution processes. Abel is instantly able to calculate the “date to promise” availability of inventory items, incorporating supplier and/or manufacturing lead times, to meet the expectation of your customer in respect of due and required dates.
A customer order will auto-generate the documents in either the manufacturing or distribution process, and can be passed between databases, both inter-company and inter-branch. Additionally, customer orders can be configured so that stock can be picked from different warehouses within the same document, and dispatched from those warehouses.
A customer return is essentially a reversal of a customer order, although it may include a return authority and a return reason. This customer return can then in turn build a supplier return, including the reason, or produce the necessary production orders for repair, recertification etc. The return to your supplier will, naturally, include an authority number as well. Additional explanatory text can be entered on the customer return which will in turn copy to the supplier return document.
Abel ERP’s pallet functionality manages pallets from packing through to container dispatch. Pallet management is integrated with Abel’s manufacturing and container functionality. Finished goods are scanned onto pallets as they come off the production line or from the warehouse. Pallets are assigned to shipping containers and are dispatched within the normal container process. The Pallet functionality includes:
- Print Pallet labels
- Scan goods from manufacture or warehouse direct to pallets
- Use Abel’s Pallet document to group multiple items and streamline handling:
– multiple pallets for one manufacturing order
– multiple inventory items or orders on one pallet
- View all pallets and their status
Pallets complete their lifecycle through to dispatch using Abel’s Container functionality.
Container Management is an optional step in the customer fulfillment workflow between Customer Order and Customer Dispatch. Abel’s Container management enables you to record container bookings, cross-reference orders with containers and produce dispatches:
- Create a container document in Abel for each of your shipping container bookings
- Allocate customer order lines to containers
- Assign stock to containers
- View containers in progress
- View stock waiting in the container bay
- Dispatch containers with one click – Abel creates customer dispatches for everything in the container
The container workflow differs from a “normal” workflow because dispatch documents are created when you post the container document rather than the customer order.
The customer dispatch is the document utilized by the warehouse employees to pick and dispatch goods via the outward goods process. The printed picking document accompanies the shipped goods, enabling verification of quantities provided and backordered products. The printed picking document can be provided dispatch by dispatch or consolidated by row and bin location for bulk picking.
On completion of the customer dispatch process, Abel will remove inventory from stock, perform the required accounting postings and place any shortages on backorder according to the preference of the customer. Where applicable, the dispatch will include serial numbers, batch numbers and any use by date controls. These identification numbers may be included on the printed dispatch documentation for the receiving customer.
As well has managing dispatches from customer orders, customer dispatches may be built through a batch process which will look at date required and stock availability from the customer orders and build the dispatch documents accordingly. In the event where multiple dispatches are made from one order, these always retain a link to the preceding order document and can be used to number dispatches sequentially, using the customer order number as the predominant number in the sequence.
The purpose of a customer consignment document is to join together multiple dispatches to one or more customers and destination onto a single freight forwarding delivery manifest. It details the dispatch document, recipient, location and the number of cartons, pallets or other unit of measure to be delivered to each recipient. When printed for the freight forwarding company, there are options to print the summary only, or to print the detail lines of each dispatch per delivery location.
The customer invoice is the final stage in the outwards distribution process. It can be built manually, via a customer dispatch, customer order, customer return or from a production order at invoice stage. A single invoice can be built from any combination of the above according to system setup or user choice.
At the completion of the customer invoice, the general ledger entries are generated to revenue, cost of goods, debtors etc immediately. Where the invoice has been produced manually, directly from a customer order or return (i.e. the dispatch process has been bypassed), it will also generate the entries to credit the stock from the warehouse or provide the contra entries to the goods purchased account.
The Abel cash register screen is not designed to replace the full functionality of a retail POS unit, but provides sufficient processes to be used for cross the counter sales. The cash register screen is easy to use and is fully integrated with the rest of Abel, thus stock sales will remove inventory from stock immediately and the financial transactions occur at the same time. Once configured, it fully integrates with daily bankings and provides till balance clearances.
Abel cash register offers:
- Standard cash sales
- Multiple tender types and displays
- Change to be given
- Pickup now with invoice later
- Payment now with the dispatch to follow
- Payment of debtors balances mixed with sales transaction
The prime benefit of the cash register is that it is fully integrated with the back office processes and is supported by the rest of Abel’s inquiries and warehouse functions. For companies who have a steady flow of cross counter sales, the cash register function comes as part of the Abel product, thus removing the need to install specialized POS functionality.
Abel Email Interface
Abel’s Email Interface for Microsoft Outlook® enables you to import emails from Microsoft Outlook and store them in Abel. You can also reply to imported emails from within Abel, so that your email replies are automatically captured within Abel and automatically sent via Outlook.
Using Abel’s Email Interface, you can easily manage all those important email conversations that you need to track as part of doing business and providing good service. Because the emails and replies are stored within Abel, all staff (with appropriate security settings) have access to them for better management of your business relationships and processes such as purchasing and credit control.
You can use Abel’s Email Interface throughout Abel to record email exchanges that are important to your business including those with Customers, Suppliers, Prospects etc. You can also link the email to other things in Abel e.g. a particular Invoice, or a particular Inventory item. Each email can have multiple links within Abel. That way, an email can be viewed from all the places in Abel that it is relevant.
When you import an email, you can select the objects within Abel to link the email to e.g. a Customer, a Supplier, an Inventory Item, an Invoice etc. The object types available for linking are configured for each user in Abel’s User Preferences, so you can configure a set of email interface object types that is relevant to each user’s work.
The Abel Email Interface requires an Add-On license. Refer Licensing for more information.
What our customers say:
Director - NZ Drinks
"For NZ Drinks, automation was a great decision, and Abel’s robustness and flexibility provides us with a great foundation for growth,” Kyle says. “If we wanted to quadruple our business tomorrow, we wouldn’t have to change anything."
General Manager - Disc Brakes Australia
"Once you configure Abel to suit your business processes, it just delivers. You get a system that can handle a very high level of complexity which would cost a lot more if you went anywhere else. I hate to think where we might have been today without Abel."
Director of Information Technology - Alsco
"Abel spent time getting to know how our business works and how to make us better. Our accountants are all amazingly surprised how much the new system has simplified their lives. We’ve already reduced the time for closing our monthly reports from nine or ten business days to four."
CEO - Dairy Products NZ
"Abel was the most engaged company we met. Their attitude is very can-do. A whole team of Abel experts came out to understand our specialist equipment and ensure we got the best out of our system, and we have."
Managing Director - Nautech Electronics
"Abel gives us a forecasting advantage. It knows our future production and material requirements and it can predict our stock requirements and stock shortages, ensuring we can respond more quickly to customer orders"
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