The Blog

Merry Christmas and Best Wishes for 2014 from the team at Abel Software

As we look back on another year, it’s a chance to reflect on some of the highlights for us here at Abel Software.

We continue to reach out to our existing customers, to help their expansion into new markets.  China and the United States were the stars this year, with two of our New Zealand customers extending their manufacturing operations – one into China and another into the United States to be closer to their major markets. It’s great to be a part of our customers success stories.

Our distributor, Abel Solutions, has been busy on both sides of the Tasman with several new implementations. Their Melbourne team installed Abel for the Australian Wool Testing Authority who went live in September. The Australian Wool Testing Authority is the largest wool testing organization in the world.

In Sydney the team has been busy with existing customer upgrades and implementing Abel for Disk Brakes Australia.  DBA is an Australian owned manufacturer, designer and global marketer of automotive disc brake rotors.

In June the New Zealand team completed the implementation of Abel for Talus Industries’ Brushworks brand, which is part of the Innova Products Group.  Innova is a global company that designs and produces household brands such as Click Clack kitchenware, Dixbro, Brushworks brushware and Strahl beverageware products.

Our good friends at Alsco have also been busy installing Abel into three branches in Italy, Merlino, Padova and Sovicille.

Abel Software’s Research & Development Center released some cool new features including several significant enhancements to our Manufacturing functionality, some new cross database functions for those of you with multiple databases, as well a number of small enhancements requested by our customers.

Abel’s Material Requirements Planning (MRP), which continued to develop this year, has been a big hit with customers.  MRP is a technique which uses budgets to drive Production Planning and Inventory Control. MRP can be used to plan manufacturing, purchasing and delivery activities.  It recommends re-order quantities and timing for materials, ensuring your supply and demand is efficiently managed while maintaining low inventory levels.

To all our customers around the world, we are always striving to help you, whether it is by way of a major development to align with a new business process, assisting you to expand into new markets or providing a small tweak that makes your job a little bit easier.

We wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous 2014.

Jane and the Team at Abel

Posted in News |

Abel’s Email Interface for Microsoft Outlook®

Hi There, This is the next in our series of blogs on Abel’s features and what they can do for you.

At Abel, of course, we use our own Abel ERP software for running our business. Jane our Business and Channels Manager loves Abel’s Email Interface functionality. Says Jane:

“I deal with Abel’s Customers, Suppliers and Channel Partners. Keeping tabs on all correspondence is easy using Abel’s Email Interface, and everyone in the organization can get the ‘full picture’ of our email conversations with our customers at any time.”

Abel’s Email Interface enables you to import emails from Microsoft Outlook® and store them against Customers in Abel. The Email Interface has been a great addition to our Client Relationship Management (CRM) functionality for managing all those important email conversations that you need to track as part of doing business and giving good service. As well as CRM, you can use Abel’s Email Interface throughout Abel to record all email exchanges that are important to your business including those with Customers, Suppliers, Prospects and Suspects or other Client Categories that you have defined.

With the Abel Email Interface you can …

  • Quickly and easily capture and store your inbound emails against the relevant ‘Client’. And you can easily view them from within Abel’s CRM functionality.
  • Have your inbound emails attached to the relevant Client in Abel so all your employees (with appropriate security settings) can share those important email conversations for better management of the business relationship.
  • Reply from within Abel. Your replies are automatically stored in Abel and the ‘sender’ will be the Outlook account that received the original inbound email.
  • Reduce paper filing and email management while still giving you an accurate account of email conversations for all your Customers, Suppliers, Prospects, Suspects or other Client Categories that you have defined within your Abel ERP system.

How it Works

In Microsoft Outlook, you select one or more emails that you wish to export, click ‘Export to Abel’, select the ‘Client’ to attach them to (e.g. a particular Customer, Supplier, Prospect, Suspect etc..), and off they go into Abel. You can then manage the emails from within Abel – Reply, Forward, Print, Delete etc. This of course adds to the history against the ‘Client’ in Abel’s CRM.

screenshot

For the technically minded…

The Abel Email Interface uses Microsoft® Internet Information Services (IIS) to run a JADE dll which transfers the emails to the Abel Application Server.

The Abel Email Interface is supported in Abel 5.3.179.13 and later versions.  You will also need:

  • Microsoft® Internet Information Services (IIS) version 7.
  • Microsoft Windows Server® 2008*, Windows 7.
  • Microsoft Outlook® 2007, 2010 or 2013.

So, if you would like to use Abel’s Email Interface, or to find out more about it, please contact your Abel Consultant or Abel Distributor.

Until next time, Rik.

Posted in Abel Blog, News |

Using Queue Points in Abel’s Scheduling

Hi There, This is the next in our series of blogs on Abel’s features and what they can do for you.

Have you heard about Queue Points in Abel’s scheduling process? Queue Points cause Abel’s scheduling functionality to synchronize disparate activities to a point you define in the parent Bill of Materials (BOM). For example, you can use Queue Points to identify the same kind of external manufacture within several sub-BOMs and co-ordinate them to finish together at a point defined on the parent BOM.

Benefits of Queue Points

  • Queue Points help you schedule complex manufactures more efficiently by allowing you to easily synchronize specific activities from different sub-BOMs. For example, you can synchronize external manufactures (such as powder coating or granite cutting and polishing).
  • When you need to use your sub-BOMs both standalone and as part of larger manufactures, Queue Points allow you schedule your larger manufactures more economically and efficiently while still preserving the flow for standalone use of those same sub-BOMs.

How it Works

You can define your Queue Point in the parent BOM at a point where you want to synchronize a number of activities. Then set the Queue Point attribute for the activities in the sub-BOMs that you want to synchronize, giving them the same Queue Point identifier that you defined in the parent. This causes Abel’s scheduling functionality to schedule the specified activities at the Queue Point defined in the parent BOM, instead of where they fall in the sub-BOMs, and makes them all finish at the same time.

Example:

In this example, a manufacture of metal balustrades has two sub-BOMs, one for posts and one for panels each with an external manufacturing activity for powder coating and you want to ensure that both powder coating activities are scheduled at the same time to provide an efficient workflow between your factory and the external manufacturer who does your powder coating.

  • In the parent BOM, add an activity for Queue Point ‘A’ at the place where you want the external powder coating to happen.
  • In each of the two sub-BOMs, enter ‘A’ in the Queue Point attribute for the external powder coating activities that you want to synchronize. There is no need to move these activities.

Abel’s Scheduling functionality will look for all activities that have a Queue Point of ‘A’ and schedule them to happen at Queue Point ‘A’ defined in the parent, instead of where they fall in the sub-BOMs, and makes them finish at the same time. All the powder coating activities that you identified have been grouped to the same queue point for efficient management of the external manufacturing workflow with your powder coating supplier.

If you would like to know more about scheduling, or how queue points can help your business, please contact your Abel Consultant or Abel Distributor.

Until next time,
Rik

Posted in Abel Blog, News |

New Release of Abel

Hi there, the development team has been busy again. Abel version 5.3.179.13 was released in July. This is another one of our minor releases, and includes plenty of new features to interest you. Here are just a few:

Abel Email Plugin for Microsoft Outlook®

The Abel Email Plugin is a cool new utility that exports emails from Microsoft Outlook and stores them against your Clients in Abel.

In Microsoft Outlook, you select one or more emails that you wish to export, click ‘Export to Abel’, select the Client to attach them to, and off they go into Abel. You can then manage the emails from within Abel – Reply, Forward, Print, Delete etc. This of course adds to the history against a client in Abel’s CRM.

Abel_Blog_-_Release_5.3.179.13_image.png_preview_500x309

New and Improved Abel Functionality

  • Deposits
    We have improved our deposit functionality making it even easier to create, select, receipt or pay deposits for Customers, Suppliers and Jobs.  Two new forms allow you to view all paid and unpaid deposits. Deposits can be automatically deducted from the total owing on a receipt or payment, and you can stop a Customer Order being posted if the deposit has not been paid.
  • Build a Stock Transfer on to a Customer Consignment
    You can now add a Stock Transfer directly on to a Customer Consignment, making it easier to manage stock transfers that are required for specific customer orders. There are various options around how to set this up so you will want to discuss this with your Abel Installer.
  • New Cross Database Functions
    Those of you with multiple databases will be pleased to hear about two new cross database functions – Customer Despatch / Supplier Delivery and Customer Invoice / Supplier Invoice for transactions between your internal clients. Create your Customer Despatch or Customer Invoice and simply click Transfer to create the corresponding document in the other database.
  • Picking Bins
    We have added Picking Bin information  to Inventory Items and a Picking Reorder form to support Picking Bin processes. Those of you with Picking Bins can now manage them much more easily.
  • MRP Manufacture Reorder
    Your manufactured MRP items can now be automatically included in the Manufacturing Production Schedule, based on your MRP budgets. See my earlier blog on MRP for a bit of background.
  • Parallel Scheduling
    We have enhanced our parallel scheduling so it is now easier to manage sequential steps within your parallel manufacturing processes.
  • Fixed Asset Transfers
    We have created new functionality for Interdepartmental Asset Transfers.  This transaction transfers the asset to the new department and automatically transfers the depreciation as well.

There are around 40 items in this release and the above highlights just a few. Keep an eye out for our new Release Documentation detailing all of the enhancements.

Until next time, Rik

Posted in Abel Blog, News |

Latest case study: GTech Bellmor

Read about how global high-tech equipment manufacturer GTech Bellmor utilizes Abel to export its centrifuge equipment to every corner of the world. Check out the case study here.

Posted in Abel Blog |

Innova Products and Australian Wool Testing Authority choose Abel…

June 2013 saw us welcoming two new customers to Abel ERP.  

Innova Products started their implementation of Abel with their first site going live last month. Innova is a global company that designs and produces household brands such as Click Clack kitchenware, Dixbro, Talus and Brushworks brushware and Strahi beverageware products.

Melbourne-based Australian Wool Testing Authority (AWTA), the largest wool testing organization in the world, has chosen Abel’s ERP Software to integrate with their custom wool testing software. Subsidiary company New Zealand Wool Testing Authority (NZWTA) has been an Abel customer since 1998.

As always, we are pleased to see Abel growing its customer base and we are happy to be helping more businesses achieve their goals.

Posted in Abel Blog |

Abel’s Material Requirements Planning (MRP)

Gidday, This is the first in a series of blogs I am writing on Abel’s features and what they can do for you.

Abel’s Material Requirements Planning (MRP) is a technique which uses budgets to drive Production Planning and Inventory Control within a business. MRP can be used to plan manufacturing, purchasing and delivery activities.  It recommends re-order quantities and timing for materials, ensuring your supply and demand is efficiently managed while maintaining low inventory levels.  Here’s what MRP can do for you:

  • MRP gives you certainty that you have all necessary components as MRP recommends re-order quantities and timing of  ALL the components needed to make or deliver your products, including labor loadings and machine times.
  • MRP helps you maintain low inventory levels by matching supply to time-based demand from the budgets and recommends ordering the items only when they are needed, while always ensuring you have enough stock to meet anticipated demand.
  • MRP informs you about work group / work center utilization by using routing and labor data in Bills of Materials to forecast factory loadings.
  • MRP can help you build good relationships with your suppliers and customers. Using MRP recommendations, you can give your suppliers accurate forecasts of your purchases, helping you with price negotiations and placing you as a favored customer. Having confidence in your materials flow and pricing gives you a competitive advantage, and more certainty and accuracy in setting and meeting delivery times to your customers.

Abel’s implementation of MRP uses Budgets, Bill of Materials (BOM) and Inventory Data together with the Master Production Schedule to calculate time-phased requirements for materials.  It uses the Budgets to generate recommended Order Quantities for Inventory Items and Production Scheduling for manufactured items.

  • You can switch MRP on or off  for individual Inventory Items and give each its own MRP production settings.
  • Budgets used for MRP can be by product, department, customer or a combination of these.
  • A scheduled MRP process uses your budgets, BOMs and inventory data to generate material requirements for staff engaged in planning and re-ordering activities.

P.S. Though MRP is more commonly used to manage materials and production for manufactured items, it can be used for managing inventory levels of stocked items too.

If you want to know more about Abel’s MRP and how it can help your business, please refer to the Manufacturing and Production section of our website or alternatively contact an Abel Distributor.

Posted in Abel Blog |

Highlights from the Latest Release

Gidday, Here is an update of what the development team has been up to !!

Abel version 5.2.1.13 was released in December and customers are now enjoying the benefits. This release includes enhancements suggested by our customers as well as improvements identified by the Abel team. Though this is one of our minor releases, it includes some handy features we thought you would like to know about:

Manufacturing & Production

Bill of Material (BOM) functionality has been extended to make it more flexible and maintainable throughout the manufacturing process. Manufacturing processes now have a specific BOM which is carried throughout the process, handles multiple levels of options and gives full visibility top to bottom of the exploded BOM.

Selecting and building an ‘alternate’ process during manufacturing becomes easier with our enhanced BOM capability because multiple BOMs can be stored against Inventory Items and used as alternates to vary the manufacturing process. You can select any applicable BOM on the Inventory Item (or any BOM elsewhere within Abel) and then customize it for your particular process.

Options within manufacturing have been extended to include Multiple Options and Multiple Levels of Options within a manufacturing process. There are a number of ways to view and satisfy Options, plus the ability to bring more lines on to a BOM (and subsequent manufacturing steps) through Options. Working with multiple options is easier as lower level options are filtered according to your selected higher level options.

These features will be very useful for Options management, for customizing BOMs for particular manufactures or for re-routing workflow e.g. for load balancing.

Internationalization

Indirect Tax for Italy

This release fully supports variable rate Indirect Tax handling for Italy.

Abel’s coverage of indirect tax (GST, VAT, Sales Tax etc.) now extends throughout Europe, North America and Asia Pacific.

Official Document Numbering

This functionality implements legal requirements for Official Document Numbering in Italy. Numbers must be consecutive with no gaps, chronological by posting date and re-start each calendar year.

Usability

This release includes a number of usability improvements :

  • Pricing
    You can now update GST exclusive customer pricing and supplier pricing direct from functions such as supplier delivery, customer dispatch etc. via the new SuppPrice and CustPrice buttons on most document screens. This makes maintenance faster when introducing new Inventory Items and also quicker to make pricing updates for existing items. This requires configuration, please contact your Abel installer if you wish to use this feature.
  • Improved Bin Selection
    There is a new screen for selection of available bins on customer dispatches, supplier deliveries and other functions where stock bins are selected. By default, stock branch bins selection only shows bins where stock for this item is currently located. Click ‘Show All’ to invoke the new screen for selecting from all bins in the branch. This is useful for new items being put away for the first time or for expanding your bin storage of an existing item.
  • Configurable Previous / Next buttons
    The behavior of the Previous and Next buttons on Client related screens can now be changed in your user preferences. You can switch between the default behavior – (documents for all Clients in apply date order) and the new behavior (documents for the current Client in apply date order).
  • Report Screens
    As part of Abel’s initiative to continually improve its user interface, Report screens have been re-designed to provide a more intuitive look and feel. The print, email and export options are presented on separate tabs. The file and pathname for export are now able to be set as a default at user level.

Other New Features

  • Attached Files
    There are some changes to the way files are attached and stored. Attached files can now be either  ‘linked to’ or stored, checked in and out and also have additional options for security.
  • Work in Progress (WIP) total on Jobs
    Jobs screen variations 1 and 2 have a new option to display WIP in total 1 or total 2 at the bottom of the screen. This gives greater visibility over the progress of the job.  This requires configuration, please contact your Abel installer if you wish to use this feature.

And those are just  a few, refer to your release notes for details on all the enhancements. Meanwhile, there is plenty to do and we are busy working towards our next release later in the year.

By the way, keep an eye on the blog for my series of articles on Abel’s features. The first one – out now – is about Material Requirements Planning (MRP).

Until next time, Rik

Posted in Abel Blog |

Customers expand globally with Abel

As much as we love seeing new customers join the Abel community, we also love seeing the existing community expand their Abel footprint, and especially so when it’s expanding internationally. It’s been a lively start to the year in this regard and we can’t even tell you ALL the news! But for now here’s the latest..

First out of the blocks is Mastip Technology who are adding Abel to their operation in China. Abel with help them to respond more quickly to the needs of its Asian customers and distributors. With operations in New Zealand, North America, Europe and China, using Abel will give the management team at Mastip head office total visibility of its global operations.

Next, Denice from Abel Solutions Australia is heading off to Texas to install Abel into GTech-HilTech. GTech-HilTech distribute and service New Zealand made equipment for the oil and gas exploration industry. This implementation of Abel will streamline operations between GTech Bellmor in New Zealand and their US agent GTech-HilTech

Lastly, US based textile services company Alsco is rolling out Abel into its Italian branches, with Alsco Merlino going live in March and others to follow later in the year. Alsco uses Abel to manage its laundry operations worldwide keeping track of more than 1 million transactions daily. The Italian implementation brings Alsco’s deployment of Abel to 9 countries and 4,400 users. Check out the link to see Alsco Italy in action. http://vimeo.com/58448054

Posted in Abel Blog |

Customer Visit: Alsco in Metzingen, Germany

I am Bonny Maltby the Lead Technical Writer at Abel Software responsible for maintaining our system documentation, online help and other written material. I was on holiday in Germany recently and took the opportunity to visit one of Abel’s customers – Alsco in Metzingen. Globally, Alsco is a leader in the textile services industry and uses Abel ERP software to manage 1 million transactions daily across 135 branches. Being a new member of the Abel team, this was my first customer visit and it was pretty special to visit a site on the opposite side of the world!

Metzingen is located 35km from Stuttgart in the state of Baden-Württemberg in the South West of Germany. Baden-Württemberg has the third largest population of Germany’s 16 states.

We met with Branch Manager Jan Schultze-Berndt who took my partner and I to lunch and gave us an overview of Alsco Metzingen’s business. He then took us on a very interesting and informative tour of the branch and explained the textile services processes in detail.

Alsco Metzingen provides personalized uniforms, flat linen, mats and consumables. European Union regulations more or less require food handling garments to be leased – attention to hygiene is paramount – and the Metzingen branch specializes in garment services. The branch manages the supply, laundering, repair and replacement of uniforms for customers all over the state – keeping a track of over 200,000 uniforms and laundering thousands daily! Alsco runs 11 collection and delivery routes, visiting each customer once or twice a week – the longest route requires an overnight stay in the picturesque area of Bodensee (Lake Constance) in the South.

Standard garments are kept in stock while custom-designed uniforms are manufactured to order. Garments moving into or out of service are managed in the large on-site store. Staff introduce new garments, retire old ones and provide replacements when necessary ensuring each garment has its individual barcode identifying the customer, the wearer and other key information.

Alsco Metzingen has a sophisticated set of ceiling-mounted conveyors which conveys bags of dirty laundry ready for washing, and the cleaned and pressed garments on their individual hangers all the way to the outbound loading area where there is a hanging conveyor for each van. To streamline garment handling, some of the Abel software functions have been modified to provide spoken commands.

Dirty laundry on it’s way to being washed.

The garments are scanned on arrival at the branch and are sorted according to the washing program required. Washing solutions are mixed automatically for each wash program. After washing, the garments are sucked out of the washing machines then dried and steamed in an automatic steam chamber. Garmets requiring a high standard of finish such as pharmacist’s uniforms are individually pressed.

One of the washing machines .. and the automatic detergent mixer.

The dried and pressed garments on their hangers are scanned again and ‘verheiratet’ (meaning ‘married’) to an intelligent hook containing a microchip on the conveyor system. Each hook then ‘knows’ the barcode data of the garment it is carrying so it can proceed to the sorting floor where a number of conveyors sort the garments by customer and delivery route. The garments are delivered either folded or on hangers according to Alsco customer’s preferences. Each delivery van has it’s own conveyor and the automated sorting system ensures the right garments get to the right van on the right day of the week.

‘Marriage’ of the garments to intelligent hooks        … and the sorting floor.

The outbound loading area.

Günter Gottschalk is the Abel Manager for Germany and is based in Köln (Cologne). Jan says Günter is key to the smooth management of Abel throughout Germany. Günter communicates with Alsco’s IT department in the USA and ensures that all the branches are kept informed about new Abel functionality and pending software upgrades. Günter provides staff training programs for Alsco Germany’s configuration of Abel.

The Alsco model of management allows Jan autonomy in the management of the Metzingen branch and his staff. I thoroughly enjoyed the visit and found it to be a well organised branch with a pleasant culture.

P.S. If you ever visit Metzingen, make time to visit the outlet stores! Metzingen is the home of Hugo Boss and there is a large Hugo Boss outlet store and many other designer brands as well! And I can recommend the Hotel Gasthof Schwanen for lunch!

 

With Jan Schultze-Berndt outside the plant …… lunch the Hotel Gasthof Schwanen – thank you Jan!

An Alsco van on its rounds in picturesque Tubingen.

Posted in Abel Blog |