The Blog

APICS – Manufacturing done right

The I.T. industry is well known for its jargon and acronyms. Amongst others, a term that is frequently used during planning and development at Abel is “APICS”. If you were asked what APICS stands for, would you know?

I certainly didn’t know when I joined Abel Software; but it didn’t take long for me to be indoctrinated by my fellow teammates that Abel has been purposely designed and built on the principles and methodologies of APICS.

So where is all this going? Well I thought I would share with you what I learnt about the organization.

The story starts in 1957 where, a group of 20 production control managers got together in Cleveland and formed the “American Production and Inventory Control Society” (founding name).

Nowadays the organization is branded; “APICS The Association for Operations Management”.

APICS is the global leader and premium source of education and qualification in Production, Inventory, Materials Management, Purchasing and Logistics. The organization has 43,000 individual members and 10,000 companies worldwide subscribe. APICS offers foundation courses, workshops and certifications.

APICS defines operations management as “the field of study that focuses on the effective planning, scheduling, use and control of a manufacturing or service organization through the study of concepts from design engineering, industrial engineering, management information systems, quality management, production management, inventory management, accounting, and other functions as they affect the organization”. It’s interesting to see how of ERP “Enterprise Resource Planning” (yet another acronym) fits into the above definition. Below is a chart of the APICS certifications which show ERP business processes alongside the two certifications.

Having people that have been through one of the many courses or are APICS certified is invaluable given how important business systems are to an organization. Many of our customers who are manufacturing and supply chain organizations have employees that are APICS certified in either;

  • CPIM Certified Production Inventory Management – Providing the ability to understand and evaluate Production and Inventory activities within a company’s global operations and;
  • CSCP Certified Supply Chain Professional – Helping demonstrate the knowledge and organizational skills for developing more streamlined Operations.

As mentioned above Abel has been constructed around the principles of APICS meaning that Abel uses the processes and terminology which are recognized industry-wide.

The APICS website is worth a browse: www.apics.org. I found the Partner & Event Finder Page useful as you can search for course providers and events in your region.

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Latest case study: New Zealand Wool Testing Authority

New Zealand Wool Testing Authority has been using Abel™ for 14 years now and as you’ll see in the latest case study.. they still love it! Check out the case study here.

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Abel customer Manuka Health in the news again

It’s great to see Abel™ customer Manuka Health in the news again. This time announcing a new product line to be rolled out across a 45-country distribution network. Check out the full article in New Zealand Herald – Boosted product has honey firm buzzing.

In case you don’t know, Manuka Health are pioneers in manufacturing innovative health products utilising native flora only found in New Zealand. Manuka Health relies on Abel to process over 400 tonnes of honey per year into consumer products. If you’d like to know more about it check out the Manuka Health case study.

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Back into it

Hello and welcome to 2012 from the Abel Software team.

After a well deserved break we’re all back into it. I somehow managed to wangle 3 weeks leave, after which I was well and truly ready to come back. There are, after all, no kids to look after in the office..

As always the development team has been busy over the past quarter. One of the recent challenges was to accommodate low-value currencies, such as the Indonesian Rupiah or the Vietnamese Dong. Our reward for completing this challenge was the donation to our office of $2,800 Dong which we had framed and is now hanging on our wall. Using the current conversion rate (21,020 to 1) this represents a massive $US 0.13 which ironically is inversely proportionate to the amount of effort put in by all!!

Here are a few other new features included in the latest Abel Release 5.1;

  • Sub Accounts/Activity Ledgers
  • Drafts for Emails, Tasks, and Messages
  • Enhancements to handle Multiple Taxation Levels
  • SMTP Authentication

And of course there are hosts of other little tweaks and improvements that have been made that don’t necessarily make it to the new features list, but are equally important to improve the Abel user experience.

Until next time.. onwards & upwards!

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Twenty Eleven

I’m sure you’ve all heard someone say it.. As you get older the years seem to go by faster and faster, and perhaps this is the case for businesses too because this year has flown by. Did you know Abel has been in business for almost 16 years now! Of course they also say time flies when you’re having fun so perhaps it’s a combination of the two, plus of course one other essential thing.. a whole lot of hard work!

The team in the engine room (aka. ‘The Plant’) have had a very busy year adding plenty of cool new stuff and of course making countless improvements to existing functionality. In case you’re wondering what the programmers actually do I had a bit of a round table with ‘The Plant’ and they came up with a list of what the big ticket items were for the year;

  • Parallel and mulit-pass scheduling – ability to schedule routes in parallel within a manufacturing document.
  • MRP enhancements – added MRP II (Material Resource Planning).
  • SQL Exporter tool (build SQL tables directly from user defined mappings).
  • Jobbing enhancements – improved visibility, made simpler and more intuitive.
  • Manufacturing defects – added the ability to manage the defect process and analyse associated costs.
  • Foreign currency enhancements to handle countries that have a very low valued currency.
  • CRM messaging screens – ground up redesign of these screens adding new functionality such as: list as you type searching of recipients, multiple file attachments and new intuitive auto-linking.

With all the new functionality, enhancements and plain hard work it’s rewarding that 2011 was also a solid year in terms of new sales and organic growth of existing customers. This year has seen many new customers joining the Abel community. Abel continues to be deployed around the world with installations this year in:

  • China
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam
  • USA
  • Canada
  • Australia
  • New Zealand

It’s also been exciting to observe that a number of our current customers have taken the opportunity to acquire businesses, while others have expanded their product offerings locally and internationally.

We would like to thank our distributors for responding to our current and new customer’s business requirements by bringing them on-line.

Lastly, we would like to thank the people that we respect the most – “Our Customers”.

Merry Christmas and best wishes for the coming year.

The Abel team

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Three in one day

Abel Solutions our Australasian Distributor has been rather pre-occupied. Yesterday three quite different companies went live with Abel.

  • A pharmaceutical manufacturer of natural health products (New Zealand)
  • A company providing specialist reward and incentive programmes (New Zealand)
  • And a company that mines and produces gold (Vietnam)

It’s great to see Abel spanning such a variety of business processes and a satisfying way to finish up before Christmas!

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10 years and going strong

November 2011 marked a significant anniversary for Abel Software and our partnership with Australian Linen Supply (ALS). It is now 10 years since Abel was first installed in ALS and although it is really hard to believe it’s been 10 years, as the saying goes… time flies when you’re having fun! So given the occasion I thought I’d write a little something about Australian Linen Supply, and of course how Abel fits in.

ALS has been in business for over 40 years. Their core business is supplying textile, manchester and consumable products to the hospitality and healthcare industries. Another significant part of their business is producing custom designed door mats and emblems for uniforms.

Their head office which sits alongside their warehouse and distribution centre is in Sydney’s south-west and they have additional sales offices in Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth. The business incorporates three brands, Bev Martin Textiles, Confident Care Products and of course Australian Linen Supply.

Product is primarily imported from China, Pakistan, India, and Cambodia. The volumes are enormous with some 20 to 25 shipping containers processed every month. Abel handles every step of their business including;

  • Ordering
  • Inbound shipping
  • Manufacturing
  • Financials
  • CRM

I was recently in Sydney to upgrade ALS to Abel 5.0 and there was plenty of new functionality to showcase including;

  • Financial dashboards
  • Export to SQL
  • Audit logging extensions
  • Navigation to google maps
  • Quick launch to create emails
  • Batch print and/or emailing statements/invoices
  • Customisable navigation buttons
  • System email queue
  • CRM enhancements
  • Campaign building extensions
  • Ability to reassign tasks
  • Contact lists

To Peter, George and the rest of the team at ALS, thank you. We look forward to another successful 10 years.

Posted in Abel Blog |

Latest case study (E.W. Sinton)

E.W. Sinton (Homeware importer and supplier)

In February 2010, E.W Sinton gave the go ahead to replace their existing software package with Abel™. One of the main criteria was to find a system that could offer them more visibility of their stock (4500 product lines in fact) without needing to print out and analyse reports. Now if there’s one thing Abel does well.. it’s stock, so much so that if Abel were a person he’d have stock for breakfast (and would never run out because he’d know exactly how much and when to order more).

If stock visibility/movement is a concern to your business (it should be!) then I recommend you read the EW Sinton case study.

Ps. I promise to make Abel a ‘she’ next time.

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Opening a bottle of wine should always taste good.

I feel I am doing my bit for the New Zealand economy by consuming the odd glass or two of Sauvignon Blanc. Did you know that the majority of New Zealand wine bottle screwcaps are actually manufactured by Guala Closures, who use Abel to manage their entire, highly complex, manufacturing and sales processes?

Latest case study (Guala Closures)

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When was the last time you checked your backup (Part 3)

How can changing the location of your database journal files improve performance?

Any serious databases will allow you to store the database journal files in a separate location. It is good practice to store the database transaction journals on a different physical disk to where the database itself is stored. The theory being that if one disk/raid array fails, you still have the other to fall back on. And doing this also has the added benefit of improving performance.

In a transaction based system such as Abel, one of the performance considerations should be how fast the data is written to disk. As described in Part 2 (What are journal files?), every single time a record is added, modified or deleted, two write operations need to occur;

  • Information about the operation is written to the database journal file.
  • The appropriate database files are updated.

Putting the database files on one disk and the journal files on a different disk means the disk controller effectively writes to the journal disk independently of writing to (and reading from) the database disk, which in a system with high transaction throughput will help avoid latency / seek overheads. This performance benefit can easily be demonstrated by benchmarking.

It may be of interest to know that Jade adheres to the Write Ahead Logging (WAL) protocol when writing journal data. In a nutshell, this means the database engine cannot write updated data to database files until the journal records that describe those updates have been permanently written to disk. Jade does this to maintain Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation and Durability (ACID) properties of the database and to ensure data integrity.

Changing the location of your database journal files is fairly simple. Here are the steps;

  • Close the Abel server application.
  • Move the contents of the current Journals folder to the desired new folder. (Tip – The System Backup Maintenance screen displays where the current Journal files are stored – see the Journals Root Folder field).
  • Locate the JournalRootDirectory setting in Abel server ini file (usually abelserv.ini) and point it to the new journal folder.
    Eg. JournalRootDirectory=E:\Abel-Journals
  • Launch the Abel server application.
  • Check that the Journals Root Folder field on System Backup Maintenance displays the new folder location.

So if you haven’t already, you should seriously consider storing your database journal files on a separate physical disk.

( For detailed information on Jade storage media requirements please read this white paper Environmental Considerations for Deploying JADE )

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