Why We Don't Barcode People (But Could)

From the very first day barcodes were introduced, conspiracy theorists have publically worried about a future where every individual is marked with a barcode which is encoded with identifying data, bank account numbers, sensitive records, or any other valuable piece of information. Many of them have also theorized that the barcode creators went so far as to embed “666” into the barcode structure – a theory that has been repeatedly and thoroughly debunked.

The concept of barcoding humans – considered a workplace’s most valuable asset – certainly makes a very interesting science fiction story, but the reality of that scenario is that it wouldn’t be an optimal way to ‘mark’ a human.  For starters, barcoded data is very static, so anything you encode originally will be what is encoded forever. You couldn’t account for new medical situations, life changes, or ID updates with a static barcode tattooed to your wrist.

In theory, you could use a 2D barcode to provide access to a specific URL where content would be kept up-to-date. 2D barcodes also have an ‘error correction’ ability which means tarnished barcode tattoos could potentially still be read.

A more likely scenario would be to install a microscopic GPS or RFID transmitter underneath a human’s skin, done in a way that is discreet and non intrusive with regular motion.  This would allow the chips to send the human’s current data to receivers who can use it to access records, accounts, updates and more.

Regardless of what type of asset you have - human or fixed - Fulcrum Technologies can give you visibility, insight, and control over it through every possible lifecycle stage.   We've done it around the world with millions of assets - saving our customers millions of dollars. 

Top 5 Inventory Disasters of All Time

Wise Supply Chain, Warehouse, and Logistics Managers can learn from other people's mistakes when it comes to warehouse and inventory management. There have been millions of minor inventory problems, and numerous major catastrophes as well.  Some of the disasters were so enormous that it led to the formation of inventory management as an independent area of study in many management colleges keeping in mind the various supply chain organizations operating globally.  It also gave rise to the Six Sigma practices being a dominant force of normalization for inventory and supply chains.

Here are 5 of the top 10 inventory disasters in the world, historically:

1.      Foxmeyer’s Gamble into IT

In this era, information technology was just beginning to be in news and it impressed Foxmeyer the most, which was then the second largest wholesale drug distributor in the U.S, with sales over $5 billion dollars in a highly competitive industry. The company completely overestimated the efficiency gains from the new systems. It picked up orders in large numbers in advance. However the new system failed to handle huge order numbers leading to the collapse of company which filed for bankruptcy and the main operating division of the $5 billion company was sold to its larger rival, McKesson, for only $80 million.  Pennies on the dollar, thanks to their blunders...

2.      Robots Completely Ruin General Motors

Roger Smith the CEO of GM planned to deploy 14,000 new robots in GM plants by 1990 to increase the efficiency in plants. But the move backfired when robots worth billions of dollars failed to work and led to decrease in efficiency and lowered productivity. The entire project was later largely scrapped and Smith fired, as GM’s costs rose and market share shrunk. It is said that at that time GM could have bought both Toyota and Nissan with the money it spent on failed robots.

3.      Adidas Warehouse goes Awry

Adidas decided to upgrade its warehouse to modern warehouse management system but reminded rigid on using its own Stratus computer instead of vendor’s Unix-based System, asking them to port the system to their computers. The move failed and Adidas was unable to process and ship orders leading to major market share losses that persisted for a long while.

4.      No toys for Christmas in 1999 by Toys R Us.com (Whoops!)

It was the beginning of online retailing business and Toys R Us, advertised heavily for its online division promising to make Christmas deliveries for any orders placed online by Dec. 10. Perhaps it underestimated the power of internet as tens of thousands of orders were placed and despite the inventory being mostly in place, the company simply cannot pick, pack and ship the orders fast enough.  It led to the famous “We’re sorry “ emails being sent by the company to its customers two days before the Christmas leaving the customers irked and forever tarnishing the reputation of brand proving a wakeup call to the rest of the industry.

5.      Cisco’s 2001 Inventory Disaster

This example is the perfect example of the excessive inventory affects as Cisco in May 2001, reported $2.2 billion worth inventory extra which it was unable to sell as Cisco was slow to see the slowing demand and ended up with way more routers, switches and other gear than it needed.

Data Reconciliation for Your Asset Database of Record

So you used Fulcrum Technologies mobile scanning solutions to amass a huge amount of data about your physical inventory, assets, and critical infrastructure in the field.  Then what do you do with that data?  The first step in making the data transform into actionable data is through reconciling that data to create an accurate, real-time fixed asset accounting database.  Traditional ledgers are often years out of date with various capitalization limits and accounting approaches. The best practice is to correct these deficiencies and create asset records that can be easily maintained and audited in the short, medium, and long-term future.

An in depth review of the accounting records will often present the structure, paradigm, and path that needs to be followed. The assets attributes like age, type and available detail will populate the field data requirements and show how you should conduct the reconciliation.

Automated processes can connect your field data with your “books”. In many cases, the reconciliation can be completed with this single step, but often it’s more complex. If necessary, you can physically match material assets between the two data sets that were not connected electronically so that any material discrepancies can be resolved.

This central reconciliation should also take (and verify) inputs from any connected system, whether it is OSS, BSS, ERP, or Legacy, so it has another perspective into the data.  Then the new asset database of record can push out the best possible data to those same connected systems, so you can maintain accurate records at every location.  This process makes every single aspect of your asset records better at ever possible reference point, improving company wide CAPEX, OPEX, and business efficiencies.  

How does a barcode scanner work?

Barcodes would be absolutely worthless without the technology and devices to read them.  Barcode scanners have to have the ability to read the black-and-white zebra lines on products instantly and feed that information to a computer or checkout terminal, which can process and identify them immediately using a defined product database.

Here's how they do it.

For the sake of this simple example, let's assume that barcodes are simple on-off, binary patterns with each black line corresponding to a one and each white line a zero. (Real barcodes are much more sophisticated and complicated than this, but let's keep things simple for educational purposes.)

1.    Scanning head shines LED or laser light onto barcode.

2.    Light reflects back off barcode into a light-detecting electronic component called a photoelectric cell. White areas of the barcode reflect the most light, while black areas reflect the least.

3.    As the scanner moves past the barcode, the cell generates a pattern of on-off pulses that correspond to the black and white stripes. So for the code shown here ("black black black white black white black black"), the cell would be "off off off on off on off off."

4.    An electronic circuit attached to the scanner converts these on-off pulses into binary digits (zeroes and ones).

5.    The binary digits are sent to a computer attached to the scanner, which detects the code as “11101011”.

In some scanners, there's a single photoelectric cell and, as you move the scanner head past the product (or the product past the scanner head), the cell detects each part of the black-white barcode in turn. In more sophisticated scanners, there's a whole line of photoelectric cells and the entire code is detected in one go.

In reality, scanners don't detect zeroes and ones and produce binary numbers as their output: they detect sequences of black and white stripes, as we've shown here, but convert them directly into decimal numbers, giving a decimal number as their output.

Fulcrum Presenting Asset Lifecycle Management Best Practices at ITExpo 2017

Fulcrum Technologies Presenting Asset Lifecycle Management Best Practices for CSPs at ITExpo ‘17

“Mobility and Software Solutions for Asset Lifecycle Management and Capex Optimization.”

This is a high-level strategy presentation and discussion on best practices for using mobile phones to automate any asset and infrastructure supply chain using Asset Lifecycle Management technology, as proven by numerous Telecom and Communication Service Provider companies. Hear best practices for efficient ways for CSPs to get Asset Visibility, Insight, and Control of all their assets, and use ALM to purify and enhance data coming from OSS, BSS, and ERP systems.

For registration and more details, please visit their site HERE

Handheld Barcode Scanners for Asset Tracking and Management:

Handheld scanners are a key component of an end-to-end asset lifecycle management strategy.  Designed for use in industrial settings, warehouses, and field locations, they provide volumes of critical data to be reconciled and utilized as actionable data and business intelligence. 

The great thing about barcode scanners and inventory capturing apps is that they’re often compatible with your existing software, and many are available with cross-device compatibility. That means your team could be using their personal smartphones to scan barcodes on the job, with a minimal additional cost to your organization, provided security can be adequately mitigated with a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy.

To find out what your best solution is, ask Fulcrum Technologies.  We know more about the devices than the manufacturers do, and can suggest strategies and best practices that fit your enterprise’s specific needs.

At Fulcrum Technologies, We Make Asset Superheroes.

To survive and thrive in a changing environment, successful companies create Asset Superheroes to track their most valuable assets as well as deploy next generation technologies in an efficient and timely manner. As a result, these successful companies operate at peak performance while reaping maximum benefit from their capital investments.

CFO/Accounting and Finance Managers, Supply-Chain Executives, and Network Operations/Engineering Executives and Managers can all become Superheroes with powerful, intelligent, flexible Asset Lifecycle Management (ALM), saving their company millions of dollars in CAPEX.  These Superheroes use CATS ALM, a solution trusted around the world.

But with great power comes great responsibility.  We ask that you not abuse your new-found abilities with your coworkers. 

Some CATS users are unable to handle their newfound Superhero ALM skills.  

Some CATS users are unable to handle their newfound Superhero ALM skills.  

You’ve got a ridiculous amount of data. What are you going to do about it?

Every communication service provider CSP is sitting on a warehouse full of data, from their operations to their customer activity.  Data comes from their ALM scanning.  It comes from BSS and OSS systems.  It comes from legacy systems.  It comes from everywhere… in droves.

Successful Telecoms are able to centralize, reconcile, and verify the volumes of data, turning bits and bytes into actionable intelligence.  To have accurate visibility, insight and control of your assets from end to end, you have to have ALM in the center of all of your connected systems. This improves the accuracy of the data by means of data reconciliation as well as data collection. This ensures the integrity of CSP asset information, reduces the need for physical audits and serves as the database of record for all assets.

 

Fulcrum/MDSI Webinar: Asset Lifecycle Management as a key component of a Service Provider's Supply Chain

Asset Lifecycle Management, when done properly, is a critical component of an overall Supply Chain Management practice. Management Data Systems International (MDSI) and Fulcrum Technologies - developers of the CATS ALM Software solution - present best practices to allow you to manage complex supply chain and inventory management issues for both forward and reverse logistics, optimizing your CAPEX and OPEX expenditures. Powerful, flexible, intelligent mobile scanning solutions let you scan, track, and get visibility of your assets. From there, we overlay information gathered from integrated systems including MDSi’s Acuity Solution and other financial, engineering, supply chain, OSS, or BSS applications to achieve true, real-time business intelligence to make meaningful decisions. This information can then be used for reports, dashboards, and controls to provide both insight and verifiable data to drive to strategies and corporate initiatives. 

Coupled with MDSi’s logistics management services, we will present best practices, solution examples, and real-world ROI that gives you an incredible competitive and operational advantage.

Panelists:
Mark Bourgoin, EVP, Fulcrum
Shannon Payne, VP Business Development at MDSi, Inc.

To attend click HERE.

Color Barcodes

In today’s bright and vibrant global supply chain, the colors used in labeling can be just as important as the words or the label data. It’s no longer just valuable to show a pretty label on a finished product – demand for color labeling has moved beyond finished goods and businesses are beginning to see the importance of using color labeling throughout the entire supply chain for a number of reasons.

The need to support color label printing is becoming more prevalent across all industries in order to meet evolving customer and corporate branding requirements. Also, new government regulations, which require the use of color, are leading businesses to completely rethink the way they identify and label products. These evolving mandates are further driving investments in color labeling. With these impending changes it’s becoming increasingly important to have a solution in place that allows companies to quickly and easily add color to their labels and adjust to shifting environments. Therefore, as customers’ demands change companies must evolve their labeling strategies right alongside their products and processes to avoid any disruptions in their supply chain.

Color label printing in an automated system have proven to be critical for doing business in today’s global supply chain. Implementing an Enterprise Labeling approach, which offers the power and flexibility to support complex, global and high volume labeling, allows firms to quickly and easily create color labels to improve usability and brand recognition and most important safety without all the effort, cost and waste associated with using pre-printed stock.

A wide range of industries have seen governments make a steady push to increase workplace safety through the use of better warning labels. While long chunks of text or black-and-white images can be easily missed or ignored, color labels stand out and draw attention. As such, new global rules are calling for colored symbols on labels, which can more clearly indicate any crucial information that both handlers and customers in the supply chain need to know

The need for color printing is becoming more pervasive as companies look to meet the challenges of compliance and other regulations, reduce their dependence on pre-printed label stock, and adhere to emerging brand standards and customer requirements. 

Using Asset Lifecycle Management to Improve Your Supply Chain

A successful ALM implementation starts by identifying key areas and key performance indicators for improvement and creating a strategic long-term vision.  According to the Gartner Group, a company that effectively and efficiently implements an automated Asset Lifecycle Management (ALM) program can anticipate a saving of 15-20 per cent of the Total Cost of Ownership.

That is because ALM is the complete end-to-end management of equipment through each of the lifecycle stages, from acquisition to receipt, return, warehousing, order fulfillment, transportation, installation, maintenance, sparing, repairs, decommissioning, redeployment, and finally retirement.

To read the rest of the article, please click HERE.

XO Communication Presenting at ISE Expo with Fulcrum Technologies

XO's Director Yvonne Sabatini, recognized for establishing "Best In Class Supply Chain" at XO, will be presenting ALM Best Practices at the 2016 ISE Expo on September 21st at 8:00AM.  This presentation is titled "PERFECT ASSET LIFECYCLE MANAGEMENT FOR ICTS: GETTING VISIBILITY, INSIGHT, AND CONTROL OF CRITICAL ASSETS", and is going to be introduced by Fulcrum CEO Brent Bauer.

According to Gartner Group and PWCC Asset Management consulting best practices, a company that effectively and efficiently implements an asset management program including automation of this process can anticipate a saving of 15-20% of the Total Cost of ownership for those assets managed.  Attendees will hear first-hand how XO Communications had a positive CAPEX and OPEX impact up and down their Supply Chain using Asset Lifecycle Management.

This session will include Goals, Challenges, the Business Case, Pains, Best Practices, Real-World Examples, and more.  

To attend the session, you must be signed up for the 2016 ISE Expo (Formerly OSP Expo). 

Yvonne Sabatini, Recognized as establishing “Best In Class” Supply Chain at XO.

Yvonne Sabatini, Recognized as establishing “Best In Class” Supply Chain at XO.

Asset Lifecycle Management Telecom

To have accurate visibility, insight and control of your assets from end to end, Telecom organizations have to have Asset Lifecycle Management (ALM) in the center of all back-end, mobile, and e-Polling systems. This greatly improves the accuracy of the data by means of data reconciliation as well as data collection. A great ALM solution can reconcile and verify any and all asset data regardless of the source, to provide every connected system with the most accurate and consistent data possible, at either a high or low level. This ensures the integrity of CSP asset information, reduces or removes the need for physical audits and serves as the database of record for all assets.

Because critical asset and infrastructure costs are so enormous ($350 billion globally), network & engineering executives, finance managers and supply chain executives are all starting to demand better ALM to solve a plethora of their Supply Chain pains:

·    It reduces the requirement to purchase duplicate equipment.

·    It allows for efficient reuse of extra assets, inventory and spare equipment (spares).

·    It gives visibility and insight into invoiced equipment to provide an understanding of what has truly been received and if it matches the purchase orders (POs).

·    It gives visibility and insight into the status of equipment going through the return and repair process.

·    It reduces theft, fraud and employee stockpiling / hoarding.

Asset Lifecycle Management Benefits for Telecom:

·    It gives Telecom companies an accurate picture of what is actually in use & where the inventory and assets reside - to allow for accurate tax payments.

·    It supports internal controls to allow for compliance, which reduces organizational and regulatory risks immensely.

·    It removes excessive repair and replacement expense through granular-level accurate warranty tracking.

·    It also allows field techs to find spares quickly, with insight into network information, revision numbers and more.

The ability to use ALM to reduce and optimize capex becomes a telecom’s biggest strategic advantage in a fiercely competitive global marketplace.   This is because ALM is the complete end-to-end management of network equipment through each of the many lifecycle stages from acquire to retire.

To learn how Asset Lifecycle Management can help you, please email info@fulcrum.net, or visit www.Fulcrum.net.  

Fulcrum Technologies CATS ALM Solution Featured on RCR Wireless:

Fulcrum ALM was featured in an article in the RCR Wireless Opinion Page "Should telecoms be OK with losing $90B per year on waste?":

Should telecoms be OK with losing $90B per year on waste? Over 50% of a telecom’s annual capital expenditure is invested in acquiring expensive network assets that are the foundation of their services for the customers. This capex number globally is $350 billion, which is a painful hit to the bottom line. What’s even more staggering is how much of that capex is wasted. According to a 2015 TeleManagement Forum survey, asset managers reported an average asset accuracy rate of only 74%. This means $90 billion dollars per year is wasted due to purchasing duplicate equipment, inefficient reuse of excess inventory and spare equipment, theft, fraud, hoarding, inaccurate warranty tracking and more. In any other industry, this would not be tolerated. In the telecom asset and infrastructure world, however, it has become commonplace to assume a systemwide failure to accurately track these critical assets. Validating this, the same telecom executives who only had visibility, insight and control of 74% of their assets, said an 84% level of accuracy would be “acceptable.” Making it more painful is that the asset losses are avoidable with an asset lifecycle management software and services solution in place. The problem started in 1984, when the Bell system was broken up into 29 different operators. These operators were suddenly faced with P&L responsibilities they previously didn’t have to worry about. They all recognized the need to track and manage their expensive network assets, but all 29 tackled it in 29 different ways. They made various types of notes and lists on every visible asset. Those notes and lists gave way to ledgers, and ledgers gave way to spreadsheets. Some of these spreadsheets then rolled up into a variety of operating support systems, business support systems, ERP and network polling solutions, which produced an asset database of record considered “good enough” to track the full ALM. Many telecoms today still attempt ALM through paper trails, spreadsheets, ERP, OSS or BSS. The problem is these solutions have one common weakness – a significant delta between what happens with assets in the real world and what is reflected in the asset-tracking database. To have accurate visibility, insight and control of your assets from end to end, you have to have ALM in the center of multiple systems. This improves the accuracy of the data by means of data reconciliation as well as data collection. A great ALM solution can reconcile and verify any and all asset data regardless of the source(s), to provide every connected system with the most accurate data possible, at either a high or low level. This ensures the integrity of CSP asset information, reduces the need for physical audits and serves as the database of record for all assets. Because infrastructure costs are so significant, stakeholders (and shareholders) are starting to demand an accuracy rate closer to 100%. Network operations, engineering executives, CFOs, accounting, finance managers and supply chain executives are all starting to test better ALM for a number of reasons: –It reduces or eliminates the purchase of duplicate equipment. –It allows for the efficient reuse of excess inventory and spare equipment. –It gives visibility into invoiced equipment to provide an understanding of what has really been received and if it matches the purchase orders. –It gives visibility into the status of equipment going through the return and repair process. –It reduces theft, fraud and hoarding. –It gives communication service providers an accurate picture of what is actually in use (as well as where the inventory and assets reside) to allow for accurate tax payments. –It supports internal controls to allow for compliance, which greatly reduces organizational and regulatory risks. –It removes excessive repair and replacement expense through accurate warranty tracking. –It also allows field technicians to locate spares quickly, with visibility into network information, revision numbers and updates. The ability to use ALM to reduce and optimize capex becomes a telecom’s biggest strategic advantage in a fiercely competitive global marketplace. ALM is the complete end-to-end management of network equipment through each of the many lifecycle stages – from acquire to retire. These stages include, among others, receipt of shipment; warehousing and spares management; picking and shipping; “minimum/maximum” settings; transfers; assembly; installation; deployment; maintenance; upgrades; repairs; returns; audits; cycle counts; and decommissioning. A complete solution takes ALM a step further, adding a mobile solution to provide accurate, real-time information that allows you to keep track of where every asset is – across the field, warehouse, datacenter or back office. It can be configured to let any worker scan 1D, 2D or micro PDF barcodes with the least number of attempts required, capturing data as it flows organically throughout its lifecycle. The right solution should work on any major scanner or smartphone scanning platform in any environment. Of course, this mobile solution should also require enterprise-grade security, ensuring the data you collect remains uncompromised. This includes a secure logon, user limited permissions, and encrypted password protection to safely connect to any integrated system through a secure transport layer behind your own firewall. ALM mobile solutions allow any field technician to collect the information needed when and where changes occur. These updates are captured in real time and communicated to the systems that rely on different types of asset information. Implementing initial planning, multiple-step processes could be configured for different types of users, ensuring intelligent, directed decision support and visibility into all inventory at every step, whether the field tech is offline or online. Intelligent decision support tools would allow you to see and control everything you need to accomplish your job, no matter who you are, what mobile platform you are using or where you are located. A full ALM solution includes software, services, asset tags and mobile hardware to make sure your solution brings you the highest possible asset assurance. From a best-practice perspective, a productive ALM suite tailors and customizes its routines to match your specific business processes. The many departments within a telecom that work with network assets do so in a variety of ways. This requires initial business analysis and consulting around the needs of all departments, and involves the implementation of holistic process improvements to maximize operational efficiencies. As part of the set-up process, there is a data clean up and preload of legacy asset data into the ALM database, which may require an audit of all network and warehouse sites. When that’s completed, the full software solution can be deployed, which includes integration between the ALM application and other key enterprise applications. To ensure successful adoption, a proper and thorough training of ALM system users also happens up front. The fact is, telecom equipment and other assets move around frequently during their lifecycle – whether it’s due to regular maintenance, the upheaval of mergers and acquisition activity, or the technology cascade that occurs when new equipment is deployed and old equipment is reassigned to new locations or retired. Successful CSP organizations use ALM to get visibility, gain insight and take control of their assets, with the ultimate goal of driving the accuracy score up towards 100%. For information on Fulcrum ALM, visit FULCRUM TECHNOLOGIES today.   To read this article at RCR, as well as other fantastic articles from RCR, please visit the incredibly resourceful RCR site, starting with this article's original post.   

Should telecoms be OK with losing $90B per year on waste?

Over 50% of a telecom’s annual capital expenditure is invested in acquiring expensive network assets that are the foundation of their services for the customers. This capex number globally is $350 billion, which is a painful hit to the bottom line. What’s even more staggering is how much of that capex is wasted.

According to a 2015 TeleManagement Forum survey, asset managers reported an average asset accuracy rate of only 74%. This means $90 billion dollars per year is wasted due to purchasing duplicate equipment, inefficient reuse of excess inventory and spare equipment, theft, fraud, hoarding, inaccurate warranty tracking and more.

In any other industry, this would not be tolerated. In the telecom asset and infrastructure world, however, it has become commonplace to assume a systemwide failure to accurately track these critical assets. Validating this, the same telecom executives who only had visibility, insight and control of 74% of their assets, said an 84% level of accuracy would be “acceptable.” Making it more painful is that the asset losses are avoidable with an asset lifecycle management software and services solution in place.

The problem started in 1984, when the Bell system was broken up into 29 different operators. These operators were suddenly faced with P&L responsibilities they previously didn’t have to worry about. They all recognized the need to track and manage their expensive network assets, but all 29 tackled it in 29 different ways. They made various types of notes and lists on every visible asset. Those notes and lists gave way to ledgers, and ledgers gave way to spreadsheets. Some of these spreadsheets then rolled up into a variety of operating support systems, business support systems, ERP and network polling solutions, which produced an asset database of record considered “good enough” to track the full ALM.

Many telecoms today still attempt ALM through paper trails, spreadsheets, ERP, OSS or BSS. The problem is these solutions have one common weakness – a significant delta between what happens with assets in the real world and what is reflected in the asset-tracking database. To have accurate visibility, insight and control of your assets from end to end, you have to have ALM in the center of multiple systems. This improves the accuracy of the data by means of data reconciliation as well as data collection. A great ALM solution can reconcile and verify any and all asset data regardless of the source(s), to provide every connected system with the most accurate data possible, at either a high or low level. This ensures the integrity of CSP asset information, reduces the need for physical audits and serves as the database of record for all assets.

Because infrastructure costs are so significant, stakeholders (and shareholders) are starting to demand an accuracy rate closer to 100%. Network operations, engineering executives, CFOs, accounting, finance managers and supply chain executives are all starting to test better ALM for a number of reasons:

–It reduces or eliminates the purchase of duplicate equipment.

–It allows for the efficient reuse of excess inventory and spare equipment.

–It gives visibility into invoiced equipment to provide an understanding of what has really been received and if it matches the purchase orders.

–It gives visibility into the status of equipment going through the return and repair process.

–It reduces theft, fraud and hoarding.

–It gives communication service providers an accurate picture of what is actually in use (as well as where the inventory and assets reside) to allow for accurate tax payments.

–It supports internal controls to allow for compliance, which greatly reduces organizational and regulatory risks.

–It removes excessive repair and replacement expense through accurate warranty tracking.

–It also allows field technicians to locate spares quickly, with visibility into network information, revision numbers and updates.

The ability to use ALM to reduce and optimize capex becomes a telecom’s biggest strategic advantage in a fiercely competitive global marketplace. ALM is the complete end-to-end management of network equipment through each of the many lifecycle stages – from acquire to retire. These stages include, among others, receipt of shipment; warehousing and spares management; picking and shipping; “minimum/maximum” settings; transfers; assembly; installation; deployment; maintenance; upgrades; repairs; returns; audits; cycle counts; and decommissioning.

A complete solution takes ALM a step further, adding a mobile solution to provide accurate, real-time information that allows you to keep track of where every asset is – across the field, warehouse, datacenter or back office. It can be configured to let any worker scan 1D, 2D or micro PDF barcodes with the least number of attempts required, capturing data as it flows organically throughout its lifecycle. The right solution should work on any major scanner or smartphone scanning platform in any environment. Of course, this mobile solution should also require enterprise-grade security, ensuring the data you collect remains uncompromised. This includes a secure logon, user limited permissions, and encrypted password protection to safely connect to any integrated system through a secure transport layer behind your own firewall.

ALM mobile solutions allow any field technician to collect the information needed when and where changes occur. These updates are captured in real time and communicated to the systems that rely on different types of asset information.

Implementing initial planning, multiple-step processes could be configured for different types of users, ensuring intelligent, directed decision support and visibility into all inventory at every step, whether the field tech is offline or online. Intelligent decision support tools would allow you to see and control everything you need to accomplish your job, no matter who you are, what mobile platform you are using or where you are located.

A full ALM solution includes software, services, asset tags and mobile hardware to make sure your solution brings you the highest possible asset assurance. From a best-practice perspective, a productive ALM suite tailors and customizes its routines to match your specific business processes.

The many departments within a telecom that work with network assets do so in a variety of ways. This requires initial business analysis and consulting around the needs of all departments, and involves the implementation of holistic process improvements to maximize operational efficiencies.

As part of the set-up process, there is a data clean up and preload of legacy asset data into the ALM database, which may require an audit of all network and warehouse sites. When that’s completed, the full software solution can be deployed, which includes integration between the ALM application and other key enterprise applications. To ensure successful adoption, a proper and thorough training of ALM system users also happens up front.

The fact is, telecom equipment and other assets move around frequently during their lifecycle – whether it’s due to regular maintenance, the upheaval of mergers and acquisition activity, or the technology cascade that occurs when new equipment is deployed and old equipment is reassigned to new locations or retired. Successful CSP organizations use ALM to get visibility, gain insight and take control of their assets, with the ultimate goal of driving the accuracy score up towards 100%.

For information on Fulcrum ALM, visit FULCRUM TECHNOLOGIES today.  

To read this article at RCR, as well as other fantastic articles from RCR, please visit the incredibly resourceful RCR site, starting with this article's original post

 

Fulcrum Technologies Launches Capex Optimization Consulting Practice

Fulcrum Technologies, a global provider of Asset Lifecycle Management solutions, today announced a new consulting practice to help Communication Service Providers optimize their supply chain and business operations from end to end.

 

SEATTLE, WA. — March 1, 2016 — Fulcrum Technologies, maker of the CATS Asset Lifecycle Management software, today announced the formation of Fulcrum Consulting Services (FCS) - a consulting services organization aimed at helping Communication Service Providers (CSPs) get visibility, gain insight, and take control of their business operations.  Fulcrum Technologies has consulted for Finance Managers, Supply Chain Executives, Network Operations, and Engineering Managers from over 40 different CSPs, and is positioned to engage with additional clients who are interested in enhancing their CapEx Optimization plans.

Fulcrum, along with logistics management partners, SIs and complimentary technology partners, can assess your business operations and provide solid practices to optimize your Asset Lifecycle Management and other Supply Chain Management functions - from acquisition to retirement. This includes management of warehousing, inventory, warranties, spares, and more, and gives a precise snapshot of what is actually active (as well as the geographic location of inventory) to allow for accurate property tax payments. It also provides best practices for compliance with governing and internal process controls, which greatly reduces organizational and regulatory risks. 

FCS offers two pre-packaged offerings. The first consulting package is the “ALM Readiness Review.”  This option includes two days of on-site meetings, stakeholder interviews, detailed questionnaires, and intense analysis of key ALM areas, all followed by a detailed report of findings and recommendations. 

The second consulting package is the “Business Operations Review.”  This option includes two on-site trips - one week on the front end to do data gathering, and two days on the back end to present findings and recommendations.  The areas of study include inventory turns, equipment out for repair or return, taxation, time from receipt of asset to installation, sparing levels and philosophy, reuse, decommissioning management, and audit process and capabilities.  Following the data gathering and analysis, the consultants will produce a PMO (Present Mode of Operations), an FMO (Future Mode of Operations), a report comparing PMO with industry best practices and metrics, and an ROI analysis.

Additionally, FCS will engage with end clients and strategic partners to provide any custom engagement format desired.

“Having engaged with over 40 Communication Services Providers in the past 17 years, Fulcrum understands very well the considerations that CSPs have in optimizing their investments in network equipment. Over 50 percent of a CSP’s annual spend is on network assets and we understand the best practices associated with tracking, managing and optimizing those assets. Fulcrum’s new consulting division will provide consulting services directly to our end clients as well as through a variety of partners. These services will help our clients understand the processes, workflows, and best practices required to achieve phenomenal savings on their network spend,” states Brent Bauer, CEO and Founder of Fulcrum Technologies. 

Communication Service Providers wanting more information about FCS consulting offerings should visit www.ALM.Consulting to learn more. 

CapEx Optimization Consulting Services

To survive and thrive in a changing environment, successful companies recognize the need to reap maximum benefit from their capital investments and optimize their supply chain and business operations from end to end.  These organizations use industry best practices, world class tools, and effective data management to optimize their Capital Expenditure (CapEx) spend.  Fulcrum Technologies has partnered with over 40 such Communication Service Providers (CSP’s) and, through Fulcrum Consulting Services (FCS), is positioned to engage with clients who are interested in enhancing their CapEx Optimization plans.  FCS offers 2 pre-packaged offerings, as defined below.  As well, FCS can tailor a consulting engagement to suit the needs of our clients.  FCS can engage directly with CSP’s and/or can partner with other Logistics partners (such as MDSi, Worldwide Supply and others), technology partners, or System Integrators. Finance Managers, Supply-Chain Executives, Network Operations, and Engineering Managers can all benefit from the consulting services from FCS.  The consulting team can assess your business operations and provide solid practices to optimize your Asset Lifecycle Management and other Supply Chain Management functions from Acquisition to Retirement.  This includes warehousing, inventory, warrantee and spares management, and gives a precise snapshot of what is actually active (as well as what geography inventory resides in) to allow for accurate property tax payments. It also provides best practices for compliance with governing and internal process controls, which greatly reduces organizational and regulatory risks.  All that adds up to what every Communication Service Provider wants; full visibility, insight, and control of their Capital Expenditures from end-to-end.

ALM Readiness review:
• 2 days of on site meetings and Stakeholder interviews, including detailed questionnaire.
• Study key ALM areas (receiving, field operations, warehouse, current technology, existing systems to interface with, etc.)
• Deliver report of findings and recommendations

End-To-End Business Operations Review
• 2 trips on site - one at the beginning of the engagement (one week) to do data gathering, and one at the conclusion (2 days) to present findings, recommendations, ROI Analysis.
• Areas of study:   Inventory Turns, Equipment out for Repair/Return, Taxation, Time from receipt of Asset to when it is actually installed, Sparing levels and philosophy, Reuse, Decommissioning Management, Audit Process and Capabilities.
• Produce a PMO (Present Mode of Operations) and FMO (Future Mode of Operations) report.
• Produce a report comparing PMO with Industry Best Practice and Metrics.
• Use above information to produce a detailed ROI Analysis.
• 4 - 6 weeks in total duration.

To learn more about Fulcrum's consulting services, please visit ALM.Consulting.

Supply Chain Consulting


ISE Magazine Article: "In a Perfect World... There Would Be Perfect Asset Lifecycle Management"

Have you considered what managing your network assets would look like in a perfect world? ISE Magazine's latest issue provides the history, best practices and top line strategies for those with asset lifecycle management (ALM) responsibilities including finance, supply chain, network and operations managers, team members and field technicians.

You can listen to the article by voice over at this Youtube link

You can view the article below in text or image form, or visit ISE Magazine HERE to read it in the digital magazine, page 26.  

 In A Perfect World... There Would Be Perfect Asset Lifecycle Management

On October 21,1832, Baron Schilling produced the first commercially viable transmission of signals between two telegraphs, giving birth to the Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) industry.  At that time, the assets and infrastructure required to produce the communication was simple; two electromagnetic telegraphs and a cable running between them.  It was easy for him to track and manage the assets, as they were located in two different rooms of his apartment. 

Forty-four years later, Alexander Graham Bell produced the first commercially viable audio transmission, which was the genesis of the Telecommunications industry.  Similar to the setup in Baron Schilling’s apartment, Bell’s infrastructure and assets contained a transmission device, a cable, and a receiver - all located in plain sight in his Boston laboratory.

Those were the only two points in history where an ICT organization recognized 100% asset integrity with regard to their critical infrastructure.  It was easy then, with a minimal number of assets contained in a singular field of vision.  As the ICT industry grew, so too did the assets required to support it, as well as the ever-expanding geographic locations.  In short, it became logistically impossible to have perfect visibility, insight, and control of an ICT’s assets throughout their respective lifecycles.  Over time, ICTs grew to accept less than perfect accuracy rates as an industry standard.  According to a 2015 TeleManagement Forum survey, asset managers reported an average asset accuracy rate of only 74%.  Even more shocking, those same executives said an 87% level of accuracy would be acceptable.  The “acceptable” losses are staggering, given that the global ICT industry invested 350 billion dollars in expensive network assets in 2015, with that number expected to rise steadily year over year.  No other industry on earth would allow this level of inaccuracy.

The 350 billion dollars represent over 50% of the global ICT industry’s annual capital expenditures.  Because the infrastructure costs are so significant, the ability to use Asset Lifecycle Management (ALM) to reduce and optimize Capex becomes an ICT’s biggest strategic advantage in a fiercely competitive marketplace.  ALM is the complete end-to-end management of network equipment through each of the many lifecycle stages, from acquire to retire.  These stages include, among others, receipt of shipment, warehousing and spares management, picking and shipping, min/max settings, transfers, assembly, installation, deployment, maintenance, upgrades, repairs, returns, audits, cycle counts, and decommissioning.

Network Operations, and Engineering Executives, along with CFOs, Accounting, Finance Managers and Supply-Chain Executives can all benefit from powerful, intelligent, flexible ALM for a number of reasons.  It reduces or eliminates the purchasing of duplicate equipment. It allows for the efficient reuse of excess inventory and spare equipment.  It gives visibility into invoiced equipment to understand what has really been received and if it matches the Purchase Order.  It gives visibility into the status of equipment going through the return and repair process.  It reduces theft, fraud, and hoarding.  It gives ICTs an accurate picture of what is actually active (as well as what geography inventory resides in) to allow for accurate property tax payments.  It supports internal controls to allow for compliance, which greatly reduces organizational and regulatory risks.  It removes excessive repair and replacement expense through accurate warranty tracking. It also allows field technicians to locate spares quickly, with visibility into network information, revision numbers, and updates.

The ideal solution does all of this and takes ALM a step further, adding a mobile solution to provide accurate, real-time information that allows you to keep track of where every asset is - across the field, warehouse, datacenter, or back office.  It can be configured to let any worker scan 1D, 2D, or Micro PDF barcodes with the least number of attempts required, capturing data as it flows organically throughout its lifecycle. The right solution should work on any major scanner or smartphone scanning platform in any environment. Of course, this mobile solution should also require enterprise-grade security from end-to-end, ensuring the data you collect remains uncompromised.  This includes a secure log on, user limited permissions, and encrypted password protection to safely connect to any integrated system through a secure transport layer behind your own firewall.

In a perfect world, multiple-step processes could be configured for different types of users, ensuring intelligent directed decision support and visibility into all inventory at every step -whether the field tech is offline or online. Intelligent decision support tools would allow you to see and control everything you need to accomplish your job, no matter who you are, what mobile platform you are using, or where you are located.

Many ICTs attempt ALM through ERP, OSS, or BSS.  The problem is that these solutions have one common weakness - a disconnect between what happens with assets in the real world and what is reflected in the database.  Instead, ALM sits in the middle of multiple systems and improves the accuracy of their data by means of data reconciliation as well as data collection.  A great ALM solution can reconcile and verify any and all asset data regardless of the source, to provide every connected system with the most accurate data possible, at either a high or low level.  This ensures the integrity of your asset information, reduces the need for physical audits, and serves as the Database of Record for all assets.

ALM includes software, services, asset tags, and mobile hardware to make sure your solution brings you the highest possible asset assurance.  From a best-practice perspective, a productive ALM suite tailors and customizes its routines to match your specific business processes.  This requires up-front business analysis and consulting around the needs of all departments working with network assets (Supply Chain, Engineering, Finance, Operations, and Tax).  It also involves the implementation of process improvements across all departments to maximize operational efficiencies.

As part of the set-up process, there is a data clean up and pre-load of legacy asset data into the ALM database, which may require an audit of all network and warehouse sites.  When that’s completed, the full software solution can be deployed, which includes integration between the ALM application and other key enterprise applications.  To ensure successful adoption, a proper and thorough training of ALM system users also happens up front.   

Fulcrum Technologies’ CATS solution addresses all of these ideal scenarios.

The fact is, equipment and other assets move around a lot during their lifecycle - whether it’s due to regular maintenance, the upheaval of mergers and acquisition activity, or the technology cascade that occurs when new equipment is deployed and old equipment is reassigned to new locations or retired.  Successful ICT organizations use ALM to get visibility, gain insight, and take control of their assets, with the ultimate goal of driving their accuracy score back to the level it was in 1832 - a perfect 100%.   


Fulcrum Technologies Partners with Worldwide Supply

Fulcrum Technologies, a global provider of Asset Lifecycle Management tools, today announced a strategic partnership with Worldwide Supply, a leader in Logistics, Reverse Logistics, and Network Services to Communication Service Providers.


SEATTLE, WA. — February 3, 2016 — Fulcrum Technologies, maker of the CATS Asset Lifecycle Management software, today announced a partnership with Worldwide Supply, a leader in global network asset solutions management. Benefits to Fulcrum customers include deeper services for asset maintenance, return, repair, replacement, warranty services, and decommissioning.

“Worldwide Supply sets the standard for network equipment and deployment services, while Fulcrum sets the standard for powerful, flexible, intelligent ALM” explained Owen Grohman, NetGuard Services Director of Worldwide Supply. “This new partnership with Fulcrum allows for unprecedented Capex and OpEx efficiencies at every stage of a Communication Service Provider’s asset lifecycle.”

Fulcrum’s ALM software, services, asset tags, and mobile hardware compliment Worldwide Supply’s ability to maximize the value of corporate inventory. This joint Asset Lifecycle Management (ALM) solution allows Communication Service Providers (CSPs) the ability to manage complex asset tracking and inventory management issues that are critical to their organization every day. The combined platform is focused on reducing or eliminating the $90 billion Communication Service Providers lose annually to theft, fraud, hoarding, spares misallocations, and operational inefficiencies.

“Fulcrum is delighted to be able to partner with Worldwide Supply and leverage their extensive industry presence and services to CSPs all around the world.  The capability will augment and expand the CATS ALM solution for our mutual clients,” says Mark Bourgoin, EVP of Sales and Marketing for Fulcrum.

Communication Service Providers wanting more visibility, insight, and control of their valuable network assets and infrastructure can visit www.Fulcrum.net, and www.WorldwideSupply.net to learn more.

About Fulcrum Technologies™, Inc. 
Based in Seattle with Asia Pacific headquarters in Gurgaon, India, Fulcrum is the leading provider of Asset Lifecycle Management solutions for CSPs, including wireless and wire-line telecom carriers and Internet and cable providers. Fulcrum’s CATS software allows companies to track the status of their infrastructure assets in real-time and can integrate with other back-office systems such as ERP, OSS, or BSS. CATS enhances operational efficiencies, regulatory compliance, and profitability by improving capital equipment utilization, rationalizing spares allocation, and streamlining the return and repair processes. Fulcrum is used by 3 of the 4 largest telecom providers in North America and has recently been selected by one of the world’s largest providers in APAC.

About Worldwide Supply
Worldwide Supply is the global leader in networking hardware and services solutions with an expertise in the data, wireless, and wireline technology sector. Headquartered in northern New Jersey, with offices in California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Mexico, New York, Netherlands (Europe), North Carolina, and Texas, Worldwide Supply provides products, asset management programs, technical services, and third-party maintenance to clients globally.

Worldwide Supply backs the products it sells with an industry-leading lifetime warranty and offers products from major manufacturers like Cisco, Juniper, Arris, Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Nokia, and more. Worldwide Supply’s on-hand inventory of current and legacy network and wireless products is valued in excess of $500 million, combined with the flexibility to ship the same business day in many cases. Their products are tested, configured and certified in state-of-the-art global distribution centers throughout North America, South America, and Europe.

Worldwide Supply is TL 9000 and 9001:2008 certified.