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Software Helps Manage Sales, Inventory

Progressive Solutions expands suite of products for all operational departments

By TimberLine Staff
Date Posted: 3/1/2005


Progressive Solutions has become known for its flagship product — Lumber Track™, a leading computer software program for wood products sales and inventory management.

Now, Progressive Solutions has expanded its suite of products to help primary and secondary manufacturers — both large and small, softwood and hardwood — in all operational departments. 

New Products: More Paths to Higher Profits

        Progressive Solutions introduces two new products at opposite ends of a wood producer’s operation: Fiber Track™V2 and Load Track™.

        These products, as well as the other products described below, can help your business standardize and streamline operational procedures, eliminate redundancy and errors, improve customer responsiveness and track inventory faster and more accurately. These benefits translate to: better customer satisfaction, higher sales, lower costs, and ultimately higher profits.

        Progressive Solutions is enhancing and expanding its offering for log and fiber management with this all-new release of its popular Fiber Track product.

        Fiber Track V2 is an enhanced log and fiber management system designed to meet the unique fiber accounting and inventory management needs of the forest product industry. It is a modern approach to timberland accounting, streamlining contract management and settlement.

        Fiber Track also keeps track of inventory in the yard with descriptions and costing relevant to your operation. Management can use the information in Fiber Track to plan production and-or harvesting and to make decisions on whether to sell or consume inventory.

        Fiber Track has a strong track record with users including BWP Hardwoods. “With Fiber Track, we’re able to maintain higher controls on our log inventory,” said BWP’s Terry Stockdale. “Each log is tagged and individually costed in the log yard. We evaluate log quality in the mill and know if the price paid was appropriate. That’s the biggest plus.”

        Progressive Solutions has added Load Track to its product suite to help sell and pack optimized loads.

        Load Track is load optimization software that increases shipping capacity utilization. Sales people can use Load Track to generate sales orders of sizes that match the capacity of containers or rail cars. Logistics and shipping personnel can produce loading instructions, drawings and documentation faster. Shipping capacity and other resources are used optimally.

        Although this product is new to the industry, several international suppliers of wood products already are excited about the efficiencies that Load Track can bring to their shipping operations.

Lumber Track: Top Seller Delivers Top ROI

        Lumber Track is the Progressive Solutions’ premier software for managing inventory, sales and accounting in wood products operations. It has earned its top spot by consistently delivering the highest return on investment (ROI) for its customers — through greater product functionality, top-notch implementation and superior performance.

        The simple premise of Lumber Track’s success is that inventory and sales information can be made available to an entire business organization. Sales personnel know what is in production and stock, so they can close orders faster. Once an order is placed, the order information is available to production and shipping personnel so that the order can be filled and invoiced faster. Management can view customer, product and cost information to make better decisions.

        When the whole transaction is automated, there are no slips of paper or Excel spreadsheets, no redundant data entry and fewer chances for error. Shipments and invoices are correct, customers are well informed and inventory levels are accurately known. Less time is wasted fixing errors and dealing with customer complaints. Internal communications and efficiency are enhanced along with customer satisfaction.

        Companies have turned to Progressive Solutions and Lumber Track because of the program’s superior ability to track inventory and the complex business practices of wood products operations.

        Here are some examples of Lumber Track performance in actual applications:

• Primary manufacturers

        Progressive Solutions has a long history of supplying software to sawmills and panel mills of all sizes, and its staff understands this sector’s information needs and best practices. In fact, many companies say that the Progressive Solutions Business Process Review and subsequent software implementation helped them improve their processes in addition to automating them. This helps them keep up with 24-7 production schedules, reduce errors and improve customer satisfaction.

        Joe Patton, Sales and Administration Manager with Gulf States Paper Corporation said, “Because of Lumber Track, we’ve been able to improve nearly all aspects of our business, and it has allowed us to expand and grow in new ways.”

• Treaters & remanufacturers

        Timely work order generation and accurate inventory valuation help secondary manufacturers turn inventory faster and control margins, even in a fast-paced environment.

        Tom Evans, president of Coastal Treated Products Company, remarked, “Customers expect orders to be delivered in 48 hours or less. Having Lumber Track helps us keep up. It gives us real-time inventories, accurate valuations and margin reports for every order.”

• Multi-divisional companies

        The ability to link multiple locations at the same high performance, consolidate information from different operations, cross-sell, cross-train, reduce administrative and support costs make Lumber Track shine with multi-faceted operations.

        Bob Seldon, office manager at Falcon Lumber Ltd., said, “Lumber Track is definitely the best system on the market for a business like ours, which needs wholesale, remanu­facturing, mill and warehousing integrated.”

• Hardwood operations

        More and more, hardwood companies are selecting Lumber Track because it helps them with inventory, costing, accounting and customer information requirements. Plus, hardwood operations can tie in log yard management and load- and end-tallying with hand-held data collection devices using Progressive Solutions’ complementary products.

        Mel Yoder, CEO of Yoder Lumber Company, said, “We reviewed five separate vendors, and Progressive Solutions had the most complete package.”

Reduced Costs, Higher Profits

        Cost savings are hard to track, and many customers never document actual cost savings. However, reports and estimates below indicate that operating overhead can be reduced 10% to 30% by streamlining processes. These cost reductions make significant contributions to the bottom line.

        Numerous Progressive Solutions customers cite cost savings from the following:

• Integrated data sources — No redundant data entry, fewer errors, less need for double-checks.

        — Mid-States Wood Preservers estimated that 95% of entry errors were reduced, resulting in customers pleased with correct orders, shipments and prompt accurate revisions, all of which freed up general manager Gerry Brucia for more productive activities.

        — Craig Lumber reported a 20% increase in sales because Lumber Track made order handling and shipping more efficient.

• Efficient sales and administrative staff — More efficient processes let sales and administrative staff refocus on proactive sales and customer management or other activities.

        — Hampton Affiliates reported revenue growth of 36% while the number of sales and administration staff went up only slightly.

        — Coastal Treated Products reported that standardizing and streamlining processes allowed them to operate with fewer clerical staff and cross-train employees from different locations.

• Lower information technology support costs — Fewer software systems to maintain, low maintenance platforms, standardized systems and equipment all lower IT support requirements.

        — A panel and lumber producer with operations in four states reported about a 10% reduction in IT operating costs.

        — A major producer estimated a three-year system payback based on reduced IT costs alone.

• Lower inventory count costs — Inventory needs to be counted periodically, but it adds no value to a company’s operations. It makes sense to reduce the frequency and the effort as much as possible.

        — Mid-States Wood Preservers reduced the time required to perform monthly inventory count by 70% using Lumber Track and bar-coded inventory. In addition, Lumber Track improved inventory accuracy by 85%.

        — Columbus Lumber was able to eliminate weekly physical inventory counts.

        Gulf States reduced inventory counts from quarterly to semi-annual with a goal to transition to annual inventory counts.

        — Craig Lumber reported year-end inventory count is faster by one or two days.

• Lower working capital requirements — With accurate inventory information from Lumber Track, safety stock and total inventory levels can be reduced, freeing up working capital for strategic initiatives.

        Lumber Track is an enabler for many strategic initiatives. Acquisitions and mergers of new facilities are easy and cost-effective with the standardized procedures, centralized and shared resources, and cross-selling possible using a networked Lumber Track system. E-business is made possible with Lumber Track’s advanced technology platform.

        Norbord Inc. used Lumber Track as a springboard to more strategic use of its information technology. Bob Jackson, vice president of information services, explained, “We have the entire business running on the one system. The sales function is based in our Toronto office, and the mills handle shipping and inventory. As we open or acquire a new mill, it’s very easy to implement the Progressive Solutions system at their site and integrate their business. And it put us in an excellent position to participate in e-commerce. We’ve seen efficiency gains.”

Complementary Products, Services Extend Benefits

        Companies invest in Lumber Track to become more efficient, reduce operating costs and working capital, and increase sales.

        Lumber Track’s effectiveness can be improved even more by taking advantage of  complementary Progressive Solutions products and services.

        The following can be added to Lumber Track to more completely automate and integrate data collection and usage within a wood products company:

1. Product identification and tracking

2. Implementation services

3. Financial management

        Progressive Solutions offers two categories of data collection applications that run on popular Pocket PC and industrial hand-held data collection devices:

        • Inventory Management — Using software specifically designed to track inventory movement and perform physical inventory counts in wood products operations, companies can dramatically speed inventory counts and accuracy.

        • Hardwood Tally — Two software applications assist in performing load tallies and end tallies, and capture that information so that it can be used in Lumber Track.

        Progressive Solutions also offers equipment and software to generate product tags. The Tag Track™ tag and barcode printing system is used to tag product as it comes off the sorter, production line or is packaged for delivery. Product attributes can be captured automatically from production equipment PLC or entered manually from a touch screen using pre-programmed product attributes and product codes. Tag Track can operate stand-alone or interface with Lumber Track for real-time inventory tracking.

        Mike Beye, systems analyst with Vaagen Bros. Lumber Inc., said, “By classifying products as soon as they come off the mills and then tracking them through our system with the hand-held scanners, our inventory is always kept current.”

 Implementation Services

        Progressive Solutions has a strong reputation for the quality of its implementation services and teams. Knowledgeable about the industry and the software, they match the implementation to suit the customer’s needs. First-timers will be guided through the steps that will ensure a smooth transition. Experienced software users may choose to customize the software and its roll-out to best suit their organizational needs.

        Coastal Industrial Products’ financial manager, Marilyn Strange, recalled, “We had a very aggressive schedule, and it came off without a hitch. It was obvious that we weren’t the first one Progressive Solutions had done. The documentation and preparation just walks you through the implementation steps.”

        Tod Tibbitts, MIS director at Bloch Lumber Company, said, “I’ve been involved in many new project startups, and this was my best experience ever.”

        Express Track™implements Lumber Track pre-configured to suit the common needs of most one- and two-location sawmill businesses. Pre-configuring makes the implementation faster and more affordable — but still with all the benefits of using a leading software. Beadles Lumber implemented Lumber Track and Tag Track at its two locations with this implementation method. Total time from order to startup was about two months.

        Whichever implementation method a company chooses, Progressive Solutions is committed to the helpfulness and responsiveness of the implementation team.

Financial Management Integrated with Operations

        Lumber Track Financials is a full financial and accounting software package that can be interfaced with Lumber Track for seamless GL transactions.

        Marilyn Hendrick, corporate controller for The Collins Companies, reported, “There’s a definite benefit of having a business system integrated with an accounting package. Lumber Track Financials has worked out extremely well for us. We’ve been able to reduce the amount of time and energy it takes to consolidate information. Accounts receivable is an area where we have really benefited.”

Investing in Best Practices

        Since the early 1990s, Progressive Solutions has focused on delivering products and services to the wood products industry. It has come to thoroughly understand the operational and business practices of the wood products industry. That deep understanding is reflected in the rich features and capabilities of its products.

        Thanks to the success and leadership position of Lumber Track, Progressive Solutions is able to invest considerably in research and development and product expansion. It offers a broad range of products, a high level of industry specialization and technology leadership, and a large installed base from which to draw innovative ideas that help improve business for customers.

        Progressive Solutions’ software products integrate and automate a company’s business information and transactions. Each product has its own way of streamlining an operation. When used independently or integrated together, Progressive Solutions’ products provide powerful insight and control over operations. They are tools that help manage a business at peak performance. An investment in Progressive Solutions’ products is an investment in efficiency and strategy-enabling information.

        Some of the industry’s top names are using Progressive Solutions’ products to improve their businesses and their bottom lines. Learn how Progressive Solutions can help you.




 






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