Tracking inventory in motion got a boost this week with the release of Optum Inc.’s TradeStream 3.0 supply chain process management software.
One of the leading suppliers of best-of-breed supply chain software, Optum also is unveiling Move 7i, a new release of its warehouse management system (WSM), and WebShip for the optimization of shipping rates and transit time for less than truck load packages typically handled by the national carriers such as UPS, FedEx, and Airborne.
While the major ERP vendors are now targeting the same large, global companies as Optum, Steve Banker, service director for supply chain management at ARC Advisory Group, said that Optum has a special niche for manufacturers that have a highly complex outsourced supply chain.
“If a company is doing outsourced product development, project management with lots of contract management and they’re trying to hold it all together, the ERP folks would be hard pressed to match it,” said Banker.
Among TradeStream 3.0’s features is synchronization of fulfillment activities across suppliers, contract manufacturers, logistics providers, and customers.
Using such event data, manufacturers will be able to calculate lead times and calculate the variability around lead times.
“This information (calculation of lead times) is critical as you are trying to hit a certain service level by carrying the least amount of inventory possible,” said Banker.
But despite the real-time event management and time alerting capabilities in TradeStream, Mary Haigas, chief marketing officer for Optum, said that companies should not drop the ball when it comes to analytics.
“There have been great advances in real-time alerting capabilities, but you also need to take it and trend it. You want to look at the long term impact of late shipments, for example. (You want to) take all the deviations of shipments and look at it from a different perspective, perhaps grading your suppliers,” Haigas said.
Version 3.0 also includes a portal architecture for viewing both customer and Optum applications from a single browser page.
Optum added additional features to Move 7i, its WMS software, that will now allow manufacturers to do mass customization and drop-ship programs for customer-specific value-added services.
Move 7i will allow a manufacturer to postpone pieces of an order so that they can be assembled in the warehouse. For example, made-to-order cosmetics company Reflect allows customers to create special cosmetic formulations based on type of skin moisture and coloring. The final mixture is done at the warehouse with a custom label and it is shipped within 10 days.
“Mass customization turns your warehouse into a revenue stream,” said Haigas.
The latest version of WebShip creates business rules around shipping rates, transit time, and carrier links and selects the optimal shipping method.
Banker, at the ARC Advisory Group, said that what impressed him most was the way one global client at Optum — whom he could not name — was using the TradeSteam solution for financial settlements.
“Now that they know exactly when the stuff they are shipping arrives at the customer site, it becomes the system of record and allows them to recognize money quicker than they could in the past,” Banker said. TradeStream 3.0, Move 7i, and WebShip are shipping now.