WHY WE WENT WITHOUTWIRE?
I started Appolis almost 15 years ago. The idea around the name was “city of applications” [app] + [olis]. At that time mobile devices such as the PalmPilot and HP iPAQ were showing potential to maximize the power of the internet. In the early days, we were building applications for construction site management, home inspection, data collection for auction sales, and of course inventory. Today, we are recognizing a more focused view. Inventory. Inventory Sciences to be specific. As you move through our web site, we hope you will sense the excitement that we have about solving inventory challenges for a wide variety of organizations.
I don’t read business magazines that often, but yesterday I read a few articles that compelled me to write about. It reminded me of the company I started long ago; Appolis. Appolis is not a super successful company. We are successful to be sure, but a few Harvard Business Review articles reminded my why I remain optimist. We are good at survival. The company recently turned 13 years old and despite our failures, we seem to be very good at attaining a great degree of success in part because we make creative products and we are good at converting failure to success.read more
I recently visited a manufacturer that is growing at an incredible pace. The kind of pace that I observed in the reverse manufacturing market.
Side note: Another more recognizable term for reverse manufacturing is refurbishing or repurposing. These businesses buy broken or used stuff for pennies on the dollar, and either fix or disassemble for parts. Great business model!
My visit today reminded me of the 3D printing movement. One of the most revolutionary aspects of 3D printing is its ability to economically produce 1 offs. Rare and unique parts or in the realm of consumerization; unique value when it’s pinpointed to the right buyer.read more
While traveling recently, I had a chance to read an article (Meet a Start-Up With a Big Data Approach to Hiring) in a magazine about how Big Data is being used to help HR divisions in organizations predict the outcome of new hires. Whitetruffle provides a data service using a proprietary model which analyzes 50 categories of “signals” in a job candidates profile. The claim is that the more data they get, the smarter the model becomes. The result is that you end up hiring better employees. While I’m not an expert in the “Big Data” trend, I summarize its purpose as simply “more data to analyze, means better results”. Big Data analysis can be a valuable tool to selecting the best performers for your company, but it can also be used for selecting the best performing method of picking, receiving, and bin strategies.read more
Over a year ago, we rolled out the concept of using a low cost consumer device for warehouse picking at a major trades how. In 2012, the feedback can be summed with the comment “Why?”.
Fast forward to 2013. A month ago, the feedback has changed! Now the same people are embracing the concept. The term “Tipping Point” comes to mind. The reasons may be varied, but one this is certain, buyers are on board with the idea that cheap devices from Apple and those running Google Android are more then a crazy idea for use in warehouses. The reasons are very strong:read more
If you’re a distributor or manufacturer and lot tracking is heavy on your mind these days, then this article is for you. I know lot tracking requirements can be very difficult to plan for and implement. Especially since the world around us wants faster and more accurate traceability and recalls. The biggest question that will drive the strategy your organization uses is this:
How much additional labor are you willing/able to incur?read more
Over the last 3 months as part of our R&D projects, Appolis developed an iOS based Sales Order Entry System we call “WoW Order”. The need for order entry in the field is alive and well and we continue to get requests for this capability all the time. This article explains our experience with the V2 release of Microsoft Dynamics Connector which was made available to the masses in December 2011. For information about the SDK which is used to create your own custom adapters, check out the Microsoft Dynamics Adapter SDK. (you’ll need login credentials as a partner or customer).read more
The use of barcodes during manufacturing is not a new concept, but the efficient use of barcodes is something that is much more difficult to design for. Recently I read an article in Technology Review published by MIT. It’s author, David Rotman was questioning whether manufacturing growth is a necessity for the US economy to grow. David and other contributors argue that while design and engineering skills are the strength of the US, over time, countries providing the manufacturing to American companies will chip away at our design skills with one important advantage; knowledge of what current manufacturing technologies are capable of. The article goes on to give specific examples of how American companies are not deeply rooted in the manufacturing process level for a number of manufactured products and therefore, cannot compete. Finally, the article makes the argument that we cannot afford to continue to outsource manufacturing to other countries if we hope to regain a growing economy that fuels more employment. The jobs are no longer growing in the middle tier, but rather are growing in both low end service jobs and highly skilled labor.read more
Why does a company like Appolis put an ad in a parking garage with a QR code? Well, this brings me to the topic of tracking. In my analysis, most marketeers see the value in QR codes as providing tracking of customers and prospective buyers with targeted messages and instant feedback on “views”. They engage the customer with an experience that can connect the physical locations of the codes with the message that is tailored for a consumer.read more
At the beginning of the year, I handed my Windows Phone 7 over to a co-worker and decided to try out the latest Android devices available via AT&T. I now am testing with Galaxy S from HTC.
My take on Android is that it iPhone is designed for ease of use (for most beginner users of smartphone). Even my wife can use an iPhone and likely she could use my Android but it’s a bit more technical. Which also translates to flexible? The android operating system has been the worst in 1 area in particular: connecting to older versions of Exchange Server. I assume this is part of the OS and due to its limitations; I had to move to a 20 dollar exchange email app which works great.read more
A few days ago I made the switch from Apple iPhone to Windows 7 Phone. The day it came out on AT&T. Not because I disliked my iPhone, but because this new OS will provide a glimpse of how Microsoft will compete for years to come in the explosive Smartphone revolution. I thought I would write about my experience. I have not read any instructions on the device (same as iPhone experience). Both Apple and Windows devices have a significant focus on the younger market (games, social networking, music). I don’t intent to provide any feedback on the features of either system in most of these areas with the exception of Facebook. Facebook has a very deep relationship within the Windows Phone experience. I believe this strategy could drive a major benefit as there are many aspects of the mobile lifestyle that can rely on your definition of “friends” and I expect many revolution applications to drive this forward in the near future.read more
In my last post, I described a need for a Processing Engine. This processing engine needs to support very fast operations as well as more loosely defined operations that can only operate more slowly. By expanding the traditional definition of a license plate, since we now can support more complex collections of goods that are associated with this license plate via the processing engine, we can look at a more complex scenario known as soft allocation.read more
As mentioned in my last post, the concept around intelligent license plates relies on contextual information (meta data) combined with a scan event to trigger 1 or more workflows that can automate the job of the manufacturer. In a typical software automation solution, the logic related to all operations exist in the core of the application. By using this new paradigm, the scan itself can trigger unique business rules outside of the core system.read more
Intelligent License Plates Part 2
We start with the concept of a barcode. A barcode is almost magical if you think about it. A barcode can mean almost anything…literally. A barcode does not need to be long and packed with digits to make this statement true. For those familiar with database technology, a barcode can be compared to a primary key or index into a set of information. The larger the primary key, the larger the collection or set of referenced objects. The interesting idea around intelligent license plates is that the primary key can be comprised of both contextual information as well as the “Scanned” barcode. For example, lets say I scan a barcode “12345678”. I could add contextual information to this about who I am, what time it is, and what operation I am working on. Therefore, the primary key into a collection of objects, or in this example, workflows, could be represented as “TSMITH+PUTAWAY+06/25/2010+12345678” or more realistically the user name, operation, and date would be translated into integers and the primary key would become something like “0010+034+06252010+12345678” or “00100340625201012345678”. By extrapolating the context in which the scan occurred, we can now apply an additional layer of insight into what steps need to be taken or to put it simply, what workflow(s) need to be triggered. There are now 5 possible primary keys that we can use to allow the system to intelligently find automation steps. 1 for user, operation, date, barcode, and the combination of all 4 primary keys. The large primary key allows for storing data in a very sparce matrix. (A topic for future discussion…)read more
I am publishing a technique for process automation, in hopes for cost savings to manufacturers in America and abroad. I believe that by implementing Intelligent License Plates, supply chain businesses will benefit and hopefully save on operating costs. Whether we want to believe it or not, a lot of people will buy the cheapest products that suit their taste. Period. We believe our technique will allow companies that run poorly in meeting a customer’s needs to utilize Intelligent License Plates.read more