We’re excited to share details with you about WS2, CANA’s Warehouse Software & Services offering. We developed WS2 with the intent to create a complete and customizable warehouse solution Powered by CANA Analytics, and I believe we’ve succeeded! CANA’s WS2 starts with an expert, full-scope warehouse assessment to fully understand our client’s physical processes and operating procedures. We then configure our cloud-based software based on our client’s priorities. From here, we provide a variety of services including those that help our clients improve their warehousing planning, operations, and management, and to support data integration and analysis. Our approach to full integration is relationship-based - we want our clients to fully realize the benefits of our WS2 software & services as soon as possible and for the long term.
Our first WS2 implementation was for an emergency incident response department with responsibility for warehousing, order management, and customer fulfillment of supplies and equipment within the state of Alaska. This project started in the peak of COVID and is now winding down into a successful maintenance mode. As we all know, that pandemic time period was marked by a number of global unknowns and some serious supply chain and logistics challenges; I believe it allowed us to illustrate how effectively WS2 can integrate into, and improve upon, an emergency response warehouse operation.
The primary impetus behind the WS2 success is the CANA team - warehouse specialists, software developers, and operations research analysts - who work directly with our clients and behind the scenes to build a seamless product with services that ensure each successful client implementation and integration! We’ve gathered those team members together in this CANA newsletter to tell their story. As we continue to bring this solution into other commercial spaces, we welcome you to forward this edition to anyone seeking a warehouse management solution - either to help refocus and improve warehousing processes or implementing a warehouse management software. We will be happy to reach out and provide a demonstration. As always, we wish you a safe and wonderful summer.
Q&A with CANA WS2 Lead, Cliff Carpenter
As a Principal Logistics Analyst, what is your role in the development of WS2?
WS2 means “Warehouse Software & Services.” CANA provides clients with services that help them prepare to effectively use warehouse software to manage their operation and decide how to use the data created by warehouse management software to shape business decisions. As an experienced warehouse manager, I was able to work with our talented team of developers to prepare our software for the commercial market and work with our client base to choose the right services for their needs.
What makes WS2 different from other products on the market?
First, it’s the CANA people. The commercial market is filled with warehouse software products that small businesses, in particular, buy and struggle to implement. CANA is about seeing a client run a successful warehouse - this may or may not mean that we sell them software, it may mean helping them effectively use a software product they already purchased. Secondly, the CANA Warehouse Management System (WMS) represents the best aspects of modern warehousing software including a unique module for inventory control and quality assurance. Finally, CANA WMS has specific features to service warehouses that issue and recover kits (medical kits that go on an ambulance or individual kits that are issued to wildland firefighters, for example). Typical eCommerce software does not anticipate inventory coming back to the warehouse except in the case of customer returns.
Who is WS2's target audience and how does it cater to each individual client?
Our charter is specific to State warehouse clients (particularly emergency response) and small and mid-cap commercial eCommerce and service delivery clients. CANA uses a front end analysis (FEA) to evaluate each client's specific needs. The range of needs is very wide and CANA is committed to offering only what a client needs to be successful.
What do you see as some of the more significant challenges in warehouse management today?
Economically staffing a warehouse with a competent labor force at an hourly wage that is profitable is the hardest problem for a warehouse to solve. WMS is the bridge to this solution, allowing a team to execute the essential functions of receive, putaway, pick, pack, and ship with very limited training while generating the data needed to assess performance indicators and make adjustments.
Did you learn anything unexpected while creating WS2?
Market planning, sales and revenue forecasting, partnership with a software development team, and interaction with analytics professionals for the purpose of data modeling are all 100% new to me. I'm an experienced operations manager for large warehouse organizations, so before joining CANA, I was a customer of all these CANA core competencies. Every day has been a learning experience for me since joining CANA two years ago. Unexpected? Clients know the result they want without knowing what they need to get the desired result; I didn't expect that.
Everyday HEROes: CANA Implements WS2 in Alaska
During the height of the COVID pandemic, the state of Alaska’s Health Emergency Response Operations (HERO) team in Anchorage was tasked with providing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other critical medical and emergency supplies to many facilities across the state. This critical customer base included healthcare facilities, hospitals, preschools, schools, nursing homes, food service industries, first responders, and more.
The HERO team’s usual processes and workflows were all manual: orders were filled out on a paper form and faxed to the warehouse, and spreadsheets were used to manage everything from inventory quantities, order fulfillments, and basic reporting. Once the warehouse clients faxed their orders to the warehouse, they had no visibility of order delivery. This often resulted in HERO personnel spending significant amounts of time fielding calls for more information about items ordered. The HERO team realized there should be a better way; a global pandemic confirmed it.
With high demands for PPE, Alaska HERO realized software was needed to automate warehouse operations and streamline processes. They also required visibility into product distribution across the various regions of Alaska to properly report how the PPE was distributed across the various metropolitan and rural areas. This was necessary to ensure equitable and prioritized access to all citizens. The warehouse director was also responsible for reporting accurate data to the state and this took a substantial amount of time. Alaska HERO knew they would benefit from warehouse management software, and they knew it had to be a highly customizable solution to fit the unique needs of their organization. When Alaska HERO called, CANA was ready with an answer.
Front End Assessment and WS2 Customization
CANA’s first course of action was to conduct an on-site assessment at the Alaska HERO site, traveling from Pennsylvania, Georgia, and California to meet at the Anchorage facility. The team included CANA’s Cliff Carpenter, WS2 Lead; Dan Sterrett, Principal Software Developer; and Kurt Eades, Principal Information Systems Security Manager. First person views aided their ability to meet the needs of Alaska HERO and later afforded meaningful opportunities to provide onsite training on the software and warehouse best practices.
Once at the warehouse, the CANA team observed the processes and workflows of the HERO operation to understand its strengths and weaknesses and to assemble a thorough list of unique software, hardware, and storage requirements. The next step was to consolidate all of the data from the HERO spreadsheets, such as customer accounts, products, and historical data. This information was then loaded into the Warehouse Management System (WMS), the software component of WS2, through an Extract Transform and Load (ETL) process and then customized to specific HERO business rules and requirements.
Testing, Evaluation & Implementation
During several of CANA’s onsite visits, the team conducted physical inventories of the HERO equipment. The intent was to determine exact inventories and locations, and to establish the data points HERO desired in the new WS2. Some inventory iterations were virtual, with the CANA team creating a digital warehouse twin that exactly mirrored the Alaska HERO site. Using this, the team had unlimited means to identify key areas of interest, correct problems, and improve efficiencies. Kurt Eades played a unique role in this aspect of WS2 integration.
When not directly on-site in Alaska, Kurt was able to physically and repeatedly test the optimized warehouse layout and software integration. He achieved this by creating a mock up of the HERO warehouse assets and processes at his home office in Georgia, complete with layout of inventory, scanning and tracking capabilities, warehouse processes, and appropriate hardware and software. The attention to detail included the labeling of barcodes on the smallest trackable items within parts kits to generating comprehensive reports, and enabled CANA to test and evaluate the eventual optimal warehouse in Alaska without disrupting operations.
Back in Pennsylvania, Dan Sterrett evaluated the information gathered at the on-site assessment and worked diligently to develop an eCommerce platform to handle customer orders. Within the CANA WS2, Dan customized the software to meet the unique needs of Alaska HERO, improving the workers’ ability to manage inventory; facilitate picking, packing and shipping processes; and providing visibility to customers by including notification options from order placement to when the items were shipped. Dan noted, “[s]preadsheets can only do so much. Every business or organization needs software that is designed for their particular use case...especially when it comes to warehouse management. Powered by CANA Analytics is what enables us to take HERO’s available data points, integrate the client’s key performance indicators and priorities, and then provide a rich analysis of what it all means; it’s what makes WS2 unique.”
CANA wrapped up the Alaska HERO WS2 project with a final site visit to complete the revised layout of the physical warehouse and to confirm final implementation and approval of the WS2 product. WS2’s cloud-based nature ensures updates over time will be prompt and not cause extra friction to the Alaska HERO team. The product’s flexibility will allow CANA to adapt WS2 to HERO’s evolving needs, from future applications like SMART facilities to renewable energy alternatives and autonomy. The CANA team remains fully available to troubleshoot any issues that might arise, continuing the superior level of commitment CANA has towards its clients.
The Alaska HERO warehouse team was particularly pleased with the in-person, hands-on experience, as well as the continued touch points over time. Cliff Carpenter observed, “[i]t's been a pleasure working with our partners at the State of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. A lot was asked of that team during the COVID response and it has been very rewarding to be a part of them accomplishing their mission of delivering testing equipment, supplies, personal protective equipment to the people of Alaska, and helping with the regular mission of the Health Emergency Response Operations (HERO).” CANA looks forward to continued opportunities across the country.
Mr. Cliff Carpenter, CANA Principal Logistics Analyst, serves as the CANA WS2 Lead. His 20+ years of experience as a Marine Corps logistician, and several years at Chewy and Amazon have, according to Cliff, “...helped [him] understand the scope of large operations, the criticality of mission planning, and how all elements of operations are intertwined - nothing can be planned in a vacuum. Five years as an eCommerce operations and senior operations manager taught [Cliff] about the pace of change in a commercial operation and that every dime counts in the commercial world, as well as the business imperatives of Safety and Quality planning as fundamental to an organization's success.”
Mr. Dan Sterrett is the lead developer for the CANA Warehouse Software & Services (WS2) and a CANA Principal Software Developer. His 17+ years of experience in software development, with 9 years at CANA working on a variety of commercial and government applications, made him an ideal choice to be a key member of the Alaska HERO project. Throughout Dan’s career, he has developed both web and mobile applications and developed a breadth and depth of skills in many programming languages, frameworks, and methodologies. Dan’s level of expertise and knowledge was precisely what was required to tackle this project.
Implementation and Testing
Mr. Kurt Eades’ role as Principal Information Systems Security Manager requires Kurt to work across a wide breadth of CANA projects. His technical knowledge of information systems, coupled with decades of Marine Corps explosive ordnance disposal and commercial logistics experience, give him an unique insight into creating intuitive, imminently reliable, and repeatable systems. Kurt is a firm believer in ensuring that what looks good in theory works in reality. During his time on Alaska HERO, Kurt verified that, “every idea [was] looked into and tested, and then tossed out or incorporated for the betterment of the project…”
Visit the CANA WS2 Warehouse Software & Services™ website for more information.
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Join us on the CANA CONNECTION PODCAST
The CANA Connection offers insights from the team CANA experts into analytics, logistics, supply chain operations, big data, and more. Check out some of our recent sessions. https://www.canallc.com/podcast
Let's Talk About Warehouse Management Solutions with Cliff Carpenter
In this episode of the CANA Connection Podcast our Host Rob Cranston President and COO of CANA, talks with Principal Logistics Analyst, and fellow CANA'er Cliff Carpenter about Warehouse Management Solutions. Cliff brings a ton of experience, knowledge, and insight to warehouse management from his time in the United States Marines and his work at Chewy and Amazon. So, join in as Rob and Cliff have a conversation about the four main areas most warehouses should take into consideration and the ecosystem life on an item in a warehouse in this part 1 of our sessions on WMS. [Connect]
Team CANA Spotlight: MORS and Being a MORS Fellow with Renee Carlucci & Norm Reitter
In this special CANA Connection Spotlight episode we talk with Principal Operations Research Analyst, Renee Carlucci and CANA's Chief Operating Officer, Norm Reitter about MORS (Military Operations Research Society) and what it means to be a MORS Fellow. So, join us as we delve in and showcase more about what it means to be Powered by CANA Analytics®. [Connect]
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The CANA Connection Newsletter July 2023 © CANA LLC. All rights reserved