March 20, 2013 | By Steve Day
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Beyond the Scale

How automation goes beyond streamlining operations to improve accounting, customer service

Operations management software can deliver benefits that go far beyond the scale to not only improve the grain handling operations themselves but also streamline back-office functions and improve customer service – from faster weighing processes and traffic flow to speeding up invoicing to improving accuracy and communications.

At a grain handling facility, generating a scale ticket is the first step in managing the operations for inbound and outbound shipments. Operations management software with capabilities such as quick lists and RFID technology (which automatically retrieves customer information and records ID and weight information) mean less manual data entry and searching for information, which, in turn, improves accuracy and decreases wait times for haulers. Quick and easy ticket generation is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what operations management software can do for an agribusiness. With system integration and automation tools, the ticket information can go beyond the scale to improve efficiency, accuracy, and service from the scale to the bin to the office to the customer.

With a message board interface, the ticket information can display on an outdoor electronic display so that the hauler immediately can see and validate the information. Plus, the display board can convey instructions to the hauler as to which pit to proceed to, keeping traffic flowing and ensuring accuracy as to where the grain is dumped. At the pit, load information such as the vehicle ID, commodity, and grade can be automatically transmitted to a monitor in the receiving area to further ensure accuracy and make communication at the pit much easier versus trying to decipher handwriting or static-filled radio communications. System integration capabilities also allow for the ticket information to automatically update a binning system to ensure the grain is routed to the correct bin, as well as update the back-office accounting system so that statements are accurate and timely. Using an online account access tool for your customers, the ticket information can be available to your customers 24/7 so they can review the information at their convenience. System capabilities that allow for being able to automatically email tickets to your customers also help make you a great service provider in their eyes. In today’s age of instant communication, your customers expect that level of service, and automation tools and integration can help ensure you provide the level of service your customers appreciate.

Have you reviewed your grain handling processes lately to see how efficient they are? Are your scale house and office processes contributing to better customer service or are they hindering it? Are you maximizing system integration capabilities and automation to take full advantage of the benefits they can provide? Operations management software and automation tools are easy to fit into all kinds of facility layouts. Working with a software provider to review facility layout, traffic flow, and processes can bring best practices to your agribusiness and help you determine how automation can work for you. Whether you are ready for incremental automation or becoming fully automated, even small changes can make a big impact in improving efficiency, accuracy, communications, and service.

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Steve Day is Senior Product Manager for the oneWeigh Scale Automation System with Cultura Technologies Inc. For the last 15 years he has been dedicated to helping agribusinesses improve their shipping and receiving operations with practical, easy-to-use tools.

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