Top Five Steps to Preventing Cyberattacks and Validating Microsoft Dynamics 365 in the Cloud

By Valarie King-Bailey, OnShore Technology

We live in an amazing time when technology is changing almost every aspect of our lives—at breathtaking speed. But with that speed comes increased cybersecurity threats. In fact, 74% of the world’s businesses expect to be hacked each year.[1]  The estimated economic loss of cybercrime is estimated to reach $3 trillion by 2020. And in recent years, life sciences, pharma and medical device companies have become highly sought-after targets of cyber-attacks due to the high revenues and substantial costs involved in research and development.

With the rise in cloud based software applications and apps available to the industry, employees sometimes inadvertently create an opening—clicking on links they shouldn’t or sending sensitive files by email to recipients they shouldn’t. It is mission critical to protect test data, formulas, patent information, trade secrets, and more from cyberattacks.

By now you’ve heard that Microsoft Dynamics 365 unifies CRM and ERP cloud solutions together into one cloud-based application platform. But what does that mean for pharma and life sciences companies when cybersecurity and validation comes into play? First of all, it is important to understand that Dynamics 365 and Azure in the cloud can be validated. The process for the validation of cloud applications differs somewhat from on premise applications, but the principles of validation endure. Secondly, the good news is that the validation process helps you become more protected against cyber threats.

Our validation partner, OnShore Technology Group, recommends the following five steps to preventing cyber threats and validating systems in the cloud:

  1. Establish Validation Procedures Including Cloud and Cybersecurity Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) – You must have a SOP that addresses cloud computing and the outsourcing of validated IT infrastructure to an external cloud provider. You must also have a Cybersecurity SOP that addresses the need for Cybersecurity qualification and testing as well as how to address a specific cyber event.
  2. Know That Microsoft is Developing a Safe, Trusted, Responsible, and Inclusive Cloud – Microsoft provides online tools to assist you in understanding and documenting cyber-safety and compliance through its Microsoft trust center. This is a fantastic resource that provides everything you need to conduct the supplier audit, as well as special programs for security like the Microsoft Azure IP Advantage program.
  3. Automate Requirements Traceability – A mandatory validation activity is the traceability of validation test scripts to each user, functional, and design (if bespoke development) requirement. An effective strategy for validation is the automation of this process to ensure accuracy and compliance, as well as security against cyber-attacks.
  4. Conduct Cybersecurity Qualification (CyQ) – Validated systems include data essential to quality and regulatory processes as well as information necessary to achieve compliance. Therefore, the systems must be protected at all times. One cannot eliminate the potential for a cyber-attack, but you can minimize the probability of a cyber-attack by changing your validation strategy. In addition to IQ-OQ-PQ testing which is common for all validated systems you should also conduct CyQ (Cybersecurity Qualification).
  5. Carefully Install Apps – Apps are an excellent way to enhance Dynamics 365. Care must be taken to ensure that apps are thoroughly tested and are in compliance with current guidelines.  Apps should be treated like all other integrations.  You will need a strategy to address this challenge, with regression testing, as well as documentation of all apps.

Dynamics 365 and Azure represent a change in the way systems are deployed. Cybersecurity and Validation strategies must be changed to keep up with the pace of changing systems environments. For more information about cybersecurity and validation in the cloud, Join us for our upcoming webcast featuring Valarie King Bailey: Wednesday, May 24, 1:00 pm EST: Validating Microsoft Dynamics 365 & Azure in the Cloud.

An award-winning Microsoft manufacturing partner with nearly two decades of experience, Edgewater Fullscope can guide you into a move to Microsoft Dynamics 365. Our team’s manufacturing experience can help you combat your toughest operational business challenges.

Food Lot Traceability: The REAL (And Devastating) Costs of Not Investing in Modern ERP System

In any manufacturing organization, there are business issues that can keep people up at night. Issues you face day in and day out. Food safety issues that appear in the news have a large impact on organizations and even devastating consequences.

In the food manufacturing industry, a top business issues is product recalls. Recalls are a high cost subject that can deeply affect your business in the future – from operational costs, public relations and branding, and many other organizational matters. How can you plan for and deal effectively with product recalls, both in real situations and in mock ones?

Full lot traceability  functionality is a key aspect to look at when evaluating ERP software. Most manufacturing businesses have traceability in some shape or another, but typically the process is not complete from start to finish. The objective is to invest in an ERP software solution that enables companies to have a fully automated traceability plan for every stage of the production process-from farm to fork and everything in between. This automation allows manufacturers to recall at any stage in the production. The quality of the raw materials, the location of the finished goods, the different customers who have received the products, and being able to manage FDA Regulations and Global Food Safety Initiatives, can all be tracked and integrated by a modern ERP system.

These systems provide:

  • Lot Traceability – You know where every raw material that went into every product came from, and every customer that received that product. This can actually speed up the recall process.
  • Customer Tracking – You can see how customer deals affect margins, as well as track promotion effectiveness.
  • Package Tracking – From lot numbers to converting units of measurement.
  • Sample Process – Tracking the product from the lab to the production floor.
  • Compliance – Assisting you with compliance for FDA Regulations, Global Food Safety Initiatives, and Food Safety Modernization Act.

Protecting the health of your customer, protecting your brand in the marketplace, and protecting your costs and margins can all be improved with a comprehensive ERP solution like Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations that provides full traceability in food manufacturing.

Click here to learn more on how to improve your Food Lot Traceability by watching our On Demand webinar.

Success on the Plant Floor: 3 Keys to Shop Floor Optimization

When it comes to warehouse management, today’s manufacturers face many challenges around shop floor optimization. Successful manufacturers require a solution that promises customers the following:

  • A firm commitment date for delivery
  • Visibility of delays on the production floor and material requirements in the short and long term
  • Ability to reduce the frequency and time for machine cleanup and setup.

With Dynamics 365 for Operations (formerly Dynamics AX), manufacturers do not have to worry about any of these shop floor questions.  By implementing an ERP system like Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations, manufacturers will improve manufacturing efficiency through connected operations.

Manufacturers know that maintaining a healthy, long-term relationship with a customer means following through on promised deadlines. Now and again in the production process, orders can be mixed up, machines may break, and other unforeseeable situations may arise. Dynamics 365 for Operations offers manufacturers the ability to assure customers of a firm delivery date with the Available-to-Promise feature. Order promising helps you reliably promise delivery dates to your customers and gives you constraint visibility so that you can meet those dates. With global visibility of all inventory, manufacturing and logistics, and a role-tailored workspace accessed anywhere and on any device, your customer service representatives can proactively explore production, warehouse and transportation options. Further, with material and capacity planning, you can optimize production and materials planning, incorporate demand and supply forecasts, and schedule required work orders with Capable-to-Promise deliveries.

One manufacturing nightmare is order delays; unexpected halts in production mean prolonged shipments and backorders. Both of these could put companies at risk for failure. When things do not go exactly to plan, Dynamics 365 for Operations is capable of warning planners regarding delays or the impact of customer order date changes and cancellations and ensure that proper communication is delivered. With the Master Planning tool, production planners can calculate the earliest fulfillment date for a transaction, based on lead times, material availability, capacity availability, and other planning parameters. When an order is delayed, the master-planning tool forward-plans the order from the current date and incorporate lead times from all levels of the product structure (from materials to work-in-process to finished goods). If various lead times and constraints indicate that a product cannot be produced on a required date, the order then receives a delay date and is tagged with a “delay message”. Having this information and capability at the touch of your fingers ensures your delivery goals are met and establishes true communication and trust with your customer.

To optimize the shop floor, production planners often try and minimize machine cleanup and downtimes by having a system sequence products in a logical fashion. The last thing manufacturers need to worry about is setup and changeover times on a machine or production resource. To help minimize delays, Dynamics 365 for Operations offers production sequencing as an out of the box feature. With production sequencing, manufacturers can:

  • Use finite or infinite scheduling from various dates
  • Quickly reschedule jobs and simulate alternatives using a drag-and-drop Gantt chart view of the schedule by resource type (e.g. production lines, packing crews).
  • Resolve scheduling overloads by reassigning operations to alternate work centers
  • Improve machine utilization by combining similar products

Also, having constant visibility of material requirements in the short and long term is a necessity for planning. The resource scheduling functionality in Dynamics 365 for Operations’ Master Planning module assists by scheduling and tracking material, equipment, and labor resources and by planning resources based on production activities and capabilities of resources.

“By generating a long-term production plan, Dynamics 365 for Operations can give you visibility of your long-term material requirements and enable you to negotiate better volume pricing with your suppliers, allowing you generate a request for bid to multiple suppliers so they can provide a better price and lead time on materials,” mentioned Sylvain Menard, ERP Solution Consultant for Fullscope.

Dynamics 365 offers better manufacturing though integrated operations by making it easier to have full visibility of the shop floor. Dynamics 365 for Operations provides manufacturers an ERP solution that is architected with flexibility and change in mind, focused on allowing you to drive innovation and become the market leader. With Dynamics 365 for Operations, business can grow at their own pace through the choice and flexibility of the Microsoft Cloud, allowing them to scale their operations globally to meet business needs.

At Edgewater Fullscope, we know manufacturing. With over 200 manufacturing clients worldwide, Fullscope is ready to be your one-stop shop for all your ERP, CRM, and BI software needs. Contact us to schedule an appointment with Fullscope to learn more Dynamics 365 for Operations can do for you.

 

Top 3 Takeaways from IPPE 2017

by Marielena Zajac, Marketing Specialist

From January 31st – February 2nd, thousands of exhibitors from around the world gathered for the annual International Production and Processing Expo (IPPE). The annual, global feed, meat, and poultry industry trade show, which took place at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia, highlighted the latest technology, equipment, and services used in the production and processing. With so many vendors in attendance discussing a variety of topics, here are my top three takeaway from this fantastic show:

 1. Over 31,000 people attended!

The show had more than 533,000 net square feet of exhibit space and 1,275 exhibitors. Sponsored by the US Poultry & Egg Association, American Feed Industry Association and North American Meat Institute, IPPE is the world’s largest annual feed, meat and poultry industry event of its kind.

“This year’s tremendous exhibit floor and attendee and exhibitor numbers are a compliment to IPPE’s unmatched education programs, ample networking opportunities and diverse exhibits. The excitement and energy displayed by this year’s attendees and exhibitors will continue to safeguard the success and growth of future IPPEs,” the three organizations said in a joint statement.

2. IPPE 2017 was the year of the feed exhibitor.

Multiple food storage and processing equipment exhibitors at IPPE said business is currently strong internationally, and improving domestically due in part to the large size of the U.S. crop. Further, there has been expansion activity across live production and processing, and feed mills play directly to that. Despite previous years, grain is improving due to a large 2016 crop, strong exports, improved ethanol margins and profitability. From pelleting equipment to feed storage systems, feed exhibitors truly reigned supreme with captivating and interactive booths that highlighted their strengths. Turn a corner, and any attendee would immediately see a product directly tied to feed.

3. Sessions, sessions, sessions.

When it came to informing the masses, IPPE 2017 certainly was not lacking.

IPPE 2017 featured several new educational programs, including important sessions on food safety, consumer trends, and international trade. Some new programs discussed the following:; Meat Quality Workshop; Beef 101; Whole Genome Sequencing 101; and much, much more.

Attendees also had the opportunity to attend free 20-minute technical presentations while they walked around the tradeshow floor. The TECHTalks program, located at Booth C1305, was held at various times throughout the event and discussed topics such as food safety, animal welfare, sustainability, and feed production. An IPPE exhibitor who shared their expertise and experience on the topic of the session led each presentation.

Edgewater Fullscope once again exhibited this year at IPPE. We were delighted to share the latest information regarding technology and food manufacturing. Specifically, we shared how Dynamics 365 for Operations is changing the landscape for cloud-based ERP solutions.  From product recalls to recipe management, Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations has everything food manufacturers need to stay ahead of their competition.

Join us tomorrow, February 7th, 2017, at 11:00 a.m. EST for a 60 minute webinar exploring how you can resolve the top three food manufacturing issues and get back in control of food lot traceability. Sign up here and learn more information.

 

Microsoft Dynamics 365: Digital Transformation at Work

dtwork-email-header

Let’s talk about Digital Transformation.

Digital transformation means re-envisioning how you:

  • Engage your customers
  • Empower your employees
  • Optimize your operations
  • Transform your products

To enable digital transformation strategies—so organizations can grow, evolve and meet the changing needs of customers, as well as capture new business opportunities—companies need intelligent business applications…and that’s where Microsoft Dynamics 365 comes in.

Microsoft is unifying all its business applications. Breaking down the artificial silos of ERP and CRM and will deliver new purpose-built applications in the cloud to deliver next generation intelligent business applications.

With Dynamics 365, your business applications can work together seamlessly across CRM and ERP. You can now manage specific business processes in a single platform including Sales, Customer Service, Field Service, Operations, Project Service Automation, Financials and Marketing.

With Microsoft Power BI, Cortana Intelligence, and Azure Machine Learning built in, Dynamics 365 helps you and your employees turn big data into actionable plans. You can engage customers with personalized insight across all customer touchpoints. You can transform products with an extensible platform and integrated applications to use data as a strategic asset, automating processes, and innovating with new business models, services, products, and experiences.

Dynamics 365 helps organizations empower people to achieve more by giving them proven processes, familiar tools and intelligent guidance to take the next best action—so they can do their best work.

Dynamics 365 takes advantage of the foundational capabilities of the cloud ecosystem built on Azure. This includes all the intelligence and data tools that make your knowledge available and actionable throughout your business process workflows.

With intelligent business applications across CRM and ERP, Microsoft Dynamics 365 gives you choice. Start with just what you need to run your business—and then add apps as your needs change. Add new capabilities to your existing enterprise business solutions to enhance what you already use. These apps are designed to change and adapt, including an amazing breadth of technologies that prioritize actionable intelligence. With applications that fit roles, industries and businesses – so organizations can start with and pay only for what they need and grow at their pace to run their entire business in the cloud.

Take the next steps for your business.

Now is the time to take advantage of all the benefits of cloud-based, data driven business applications.

Join us for this free, in-person event and learn how Microsoft Dynamics 365 can drive business growth with Digital Transformation. You can view the sample agenda here.

Reserve your seat!

 Atlanta, GA on 2/8

Chicago, IL on 2/22

Houston, TX on 3/1

Process Safety Management Dynamics AX

By Randy Goldbeck, Fullscope Services Director

 

Whatever business you are in, there is always the possibility of an accident or damage to someone’s health. All work exposes people to hazards: manually handling loads, dangerous machinery, toxic substances, electricity, display screen equipment or even psychological hazards such as stress.

 
Thanks to the systems of prevention that are in place, there haven’t been more accidents and diseases in the workplace. But safety does not come about by accident: most accidents happen because they have not been prevented. Despite all the precautions that are taken, there are still thousands of workplace injuries every year.

 
In this Blog series, we will focus on the major elements of a Process Safety Program and how Dynamics AX can help your company setup a Process Safety Management system to provide for a better work environment.
The major objective of Process Safety Management (PSM) is to prevent unwanted hazardous conditions that could expose employees and others to serious dangers. An effective process safety management program requires a systematic approach to evaluating the whole process. Using this approach, the process design, technology, changes, operational and maintenance activities, non-routine activities, emergency preparedness plans and procedures, training programs, and other elements that affect the process are all considered in the evaluation. The purpose of the standard as a whole is to aid employers in their efforts to prevent or mitigate hazards that could lead to accidents in the workplace and possibly in the surrounding community.

 
To control these types of hazards, employers need to develop the necessary expertise, experience, judgement, and initiative within their work force to properly implement and maintain an effective process safety management program as envisioned in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standard.

 

Safety Management Area Description Dynamics AX Feature
1.

Hazards of chemicals used in the process.

Complete and accurate written information concerning process chemicals, technology, and equipment is essential to an effective process safety management program and to a process hazard analysis. Formulas and Document Management
2.

Technology of the Process.

Process technology information is a part of the process safety information package and should include employer-established criteria for maximum inventory levels for process chemicals. Formulas

Bills of Materials

Production Routes

 

3.

Equipment in the Process.

Diagrams are used to describe the relationships between equipment and instrumentation as well as other relevant information that will enhance clarity. Document Management
4.

Employee Involvement.

Train employees regarding their efforts in developing and implementing the process safety management program elements and hazard assessments
  • Human Resources
  • Workers
  • Injury and Illness
  • Absence
  • Skills Analysis
5.

Process Hazard Analysis.

A process hazard analysis (PHA), or evaluation, is one of the most important elements of the process safety management program. Used to identify and analyze the significance of potential hazards associated with the processing or handling of highly hazardous chemicals Questionnaire

 

6.

Operating Procedures.

Operating procedures describe tasks to be performed, data to be recorded, operating conditions to be maintained, samples to be collected, and safety and health precautions to be taken Production Routes

Document Management

7.

Employee Training.

All employees, including maintenance and contractor employees involved, need to fully understand the safety and health hazards of the processes they work with so they can protect themselves, their fellow employees, and the citizens of nearby communities Human Resources

  • Workers
  • Skills Analysis
  • Courses
8.

Contractors.

Employers who use contractors to perform work in and around processes that involve highly hazardous chemicals have to establish a screening process so that they hire and use only contractors who accomplish the desired job tasks without compromising the safety and health of any employees at a facility Human Resources

  • Contractors
  • Skills Analysis
  • Courses
9.

Pre-Startup Safety Review.

For new processes, the employer will find a PHA helpful in improving the design and construction of the process from a reliability and quality point of view. Questionnaire

 

10.

Mechanical Integrity of Equipment.

Employers must review their maintenance programs and schedules to see if there are areas where “breakdown” is used rather than the more preferable on-going mechanical integrity program Questionnaire

Quality testing

 

11.

Written Procedures.

Compile and categorize a list of process equipment and instrumentation included in the program. Document Management
12.

Quality Assurance.

A quality assurance system helps ensure the use of proper materials of construction, the proper fabrication and inspection procedures, and appropriate installation procedures if applicable Quality Management:

  • Certified of Analysis/Assurance
  • Nonconformance tag
  • Corrective actions
13.

Inspection and Testing.

The mean time to failure of various instrumentation and equipment parts would be known from the manufacturer’s data or the employer’s experience with the parts, which then influence inspection and testing frequency and associated procedures. Questionnaire

Quality Management:

  • Certified of Analysis/Assurance
  • Nonconformance tag
  • Corrective actions
14.

Non-routine Work Authorizations.

Non-routine work conducted in process areas must be controlled by the employer in a consistent manner  
15.

Managing Change.

To properly manage changes to process chemicals, technology, equipment and facilities, one must define what is meant by change. In the process safety management standard, change includes all modifications to equipment, procedures, raw materials, and processing conditions other than “replacement in kind.” Formulas

Bills of Materials

Production Routes

 

16.

Incident Investigation.

Incident investigation is the process of identifying the underlying causes of incidents and implementing steps to prevent similar events from occurring. Cases

Activities

Questionnaire

17.

Emergency Preparedness.

Each employer must address what actions employees are to take when there is an unwanted release of highly hazardous chemicals. Document Management
18.

Compliance Audits.

An audit is a technique used to gather sufficient facts and information, including statistical information, to verify compliance with standards. Employers must select a trained individual or assemble a trained team to audit the process safety management system and program. Questionnaire

Quality Management

Audit Workbench

19.

Planning.

Planning is essential to the success of the auditing process. During planning, auditors should select a sufficient number of processes to give a high degree of confidence that the audit reflects the overall level of compliance with the standard Questionnaire

Quality Management

Audit Workbench

20.

Staffing.

The selection of an effective audit team is critical to the success of the program. Team members should be chosen for their experience, knowledge, and training and should be familiar with the processes and auditing techniques, practices, and procedures. Human Resources

  • Workers
  • Skills Analysis
  • Courses
21.

Conducting the Audit

An effective audit includes a review of the relevant documentation and process safety information, inspection of the physical facilities, and interviews with all levels of plant personnel. Questionnaire

Quality Management

Audit Workbench

22.

Evaluation and Corrective Action.

The audit team, through its systematic analysis, should document areas that require corrective action as well as where the process safety management system is effective. Quality Management:

  • Certified of Analysis/Assurance
  • Nonconformance tag
  • Corrective actions

 

 

 

 

 

Introducing Microsoft Dynamics 365

By Marielena Zajac, Marketing Specialist

It is all anyone in the Microsoft Dynamics community has been discussing. Since Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella’s announcement back in July, Microsoft Dynamics 365 has caused quite the stir among partners and customers alike. Dynamics 365 unifies CRM and ERP cloud solutions together into one unified, cloud-based application platform. Nadella’s main takeaways to eager customers were that Microsoft Dynamics 365:

  • Helps organizations move from monolithic application suites to purpose-built, SaaS applications with intelligence built in
  • Integrates Microsoft Office 365
  • Introduces a customer centric business model to build what you want and buy just the capabilities you need, while ensuring all roles have access to all the data they need to be successful in their jobs

All this buzz has consumers asking, “what is Dynamics 365?” and “what does this integration mean for my business?” More importantly, what sets Dynamics 365 apart from the competition?

It’s Purpose-Built

According to Microsoft, Dynamics 365 provides customers a modern and familiar experience with built-in insights, intelligence, and workflow. It allows customers to choose the exact functionality that they need, which can be selected from a huge catalog that include sales, marketing, customer service, field service, project management, accounting, and much more. Dynamics 365 merges current CRM and ERP functionality into one comprehensive, cloud-based collection of apps and services for business.

Dynamics 365 apps are independently deployed and bring together the full power of Microsoft’s enterprise offerings. With these business apps, customers can start small and only pay for what is needed, and from there expand their arsenal.  The app catalog includes built-in insights, predictive intelligence, and workflow optimization, among many other selections. All of these will be delivered through simple, easy-to-use mobile experiences with offline capabilities.

It’s Productive

Dynamics 365 will provide an immersive user experience with Office 365. Microsoft states that there will be a deep integration between Dynamics 365 and Office 365 that will connect the structured workflow of business apps with the unstructured work of collaboration and productivity. With Dynamics 365, all information you have can easily be uploaded and shared on Office 365, and it is offered across web, mobile devices, and the PC.

It’s Intelligent

Power BI and Cortana Intelligence will be natively embedded into Dynamics 365 to attain actionable next steps and predictive insights for customers everywhere, making this the AI product that everyone will be eager to demo. Cortana will enable cross-sell recommendations to help sales reps predict which products and services a customer will need, and uses tools like sentiment analysis to check on the likelihood of closing a deal. Meanwhile, the Power BI components of Dynamics 365 align big data and analytics to enable every user to gain their own analytical insights. With Dynamics 365, comprehensible data is always at the user’s fingertips.

It’s Adaptable

In an industry that is constantly evolving, you need a system that can be easily adapted. Dynamics 365 supports existing capabilities that any Dynamics CRM or Dynamics AX user is running today, and has introduced Microsoft PowerApps and Microsoft Flow, which are powerful new extension capabilities that work across all the data that’s been stored in Dynamics 365. Specifically, Microsoft Flow automates workflows across applications, while Microsoft AppSource offers SaaS applications that cover a huge range of requirements. To view Edgewater Fullscope’s  AppSource apps for the manufacturing industry, click here.

The new Common Data Model surfaces all the data stored within Dynamics 365 across a set of custom entities that model data across all the different business apps. This feature allows you to seamlessly extend and accelerate all of your business apps as well as all your productivity solutions.

With Dynamics 365, customers can get the job done quickly and effortlessly while adjusting to a changing environment at a moment’s notice. As Satya Nadella said during the reveal of Dynamics 365, “The motivating force behind everything we do and everything we build is to empower our customers to make things and make things happen. Together with our customers and partners, we are reinventing business processes for a world where devices, data, intelligence and connectivity can be everywhere.”

An award-winning Microsoft manufacturing partner with nearly two decades of experience, Edgewater Fullscope can guide you into a move to Microsoft Dynamics 365. Our team has deep manufacturing experience that can help you combat your toughest operational business challenges.

For more information or to request a demo of Microsoft Dynamics 365, call at 770-772-3121 or visit www.fullscope.com

New Blog Series: Keeping Employees Safe with Microsoft Dynamics AX

By Randy Goldbeck, Fullscope Services Director

With manufacturing operations, there is always the possibility of an accident or damage to someone’s health. All work exposes people to hazards, including loads that are manually handled; dangerous machinery; toxic substances; electricity; working with display screen equipment or even psychological hazards such as stress.

The reason there are not more accidents and diseases caused by work is that we have learned a lot over the years, and systems of prevention are in place. Most accidents are preventable. Despite all the precautions, there are still thousands of workplace injuries every year. To control these types of hazards, employers need to develop the necessary expertise, experience, judgement, and initiative within their work force to properly implement and maintain an effective PSM program as envisioned in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standard.

We have developed a new blog series that focuses on the major elements of a Process Safety Program. It will explore how Microsoft Dynamics AX can help your company setup a Process Safety Management (PSM) system to provide a better, safer work environment.

The major objective of a PSM is to prevent unwanted hazardous conditions that could expose employees and others to serious dangers. An effective PSM program requires a systematic approach to evaluating the whole process. Using this approach, the process design, process technology, process changes, operational and maintenance activities and procedures, non-routine activities and procedures, emergency preparedness plans and procedures, training programs, and other elements that affect the process are considered in the evaluation.

The purpose of the standard as a whole is to aid employers in their efforts to prevent or mitigate hazards that could lead to accidents in the workplace and possibly in the surrounding community.

Check back for future blogs in this series, incuding:

  • Hazards of chemicals used in the Process
  • Technology of the Process.
  • Equipment in the Process. Employee Involvement
  • Process Hazard Analysis Operating Procedures
  • Employee Training Contractors
  • Pre-Startup Safety Review.
  • Mechanical Integrity of Equipment
  • Written Procedures
  • Inspection and Testing
  • Quality Assurance
  • Non-routine Work Authorizations.
  • Managing Change
  • Incident Investigation
  • Emergency Preparedness
  • Compliance Audits
  • Planning Staffing
  • Conducting the Audit
  • Evaluation and Corrective Action

Cycle Counting In Microsoft Dynamics AX

By Randy Goldbeck, Fullscope Director of Services

Cycle counting is a specific and practical way to measure inventory by selecting a sample of your items every day and recording the actual on-hand quantities. A good cycle count program also identifies errors in inventory balances and corrects them, so the actual count agrees with what is in the system. The objective is to measure and correct inventory errors on a continual basis. The cause of the problem should be investigated and corrective action taken to fix the root cause.

Guidelines for Cycle Counting Programs

The following are some guidelines to a good cycle count program:

  1. Every item number should be counted over a planned time period.
  2. Some item numbers may be counted more frequently than others depending on their value and usage.
  3. Inventory is material, piece parts, sub-assemblies, and products waiting to be used in production or to be sold to customers.
  4. Inventory is identified by item number carried in warehouses, in inventory locations and by production orders for work-in-process.
  5. Inventory accuracy relies on timely processing of transactions in the Dynamics AX system.
  6. An initial goal should be to have inventory be at a 90% accuracy level. Over time, this goal should ultimately reach 99% accuracy.

What Makes Up Accurate Inventory?

In the following table is item number 5140 really accurate? Actually, No. When using locations, the actual quantity on hand in each location should agree with the system quantity.

cycle count table a

Inventory Tolerances

Error tolerances can be used to accommodate counting errors on small non-critical, inexpensive items. These tolerances represent the acceptable differences when or when not to post cycle count transactions. If a low cost item is within its acceptable tolerance, then the cycle count will not be posted. The table below illustrates an example of a low cost item that might have a procedural tolerance and therefore would not be considered to be inaccurate.cycle count table 2The following table represents a suggested policy for acceptable tolerances according to ABC classifications (Described later)

cycle count table b

ABC Classifications

An assumption based on Pareto’s law suggests 20% of the parts represent 80% of the inventory value. The “ABC” classification method classifies items according to certain characteristics, like historical usage in costs for the last 6 to 12 months. Pareto’s law suggests that 80% of any characteristic is represented by approximately 20% of the items in that characteristic. Applying that to inventory, 80% of the total dollar value is represented by 20% of the item numbers. Therefore, a suggested approach to determining ABC percentages might be:

  • A Items = 20%
  • B Items = 30%
  • C Items = 50%

Sample Cycle Count Plan

Because of personnel time constraints, every item cannot be counted every day. In order to accommodate this, the frequency of counting an item should be set up according to the example in the table below.

cycle count table 3

Based on the plan you could expect to make the following counts. By doing this ahead of time you can evaluate the feasibility of the cycle count.

cycle count table 4

Setting Up a 30-Day Control Group

The 30-day control group is a proven method to begin a cycle count program. To begin select 20 -30 item numbers that are used most frequently to manufacture products. These items should represent a cross section of the typical item numbers used in your company. These items are going to be your audit base. Remember, the goal is to identify and correct reasons for inventory in-accuracies.

Day One

  • Determine the target item numbers and establish those items as an inventory control group.
  • On the first cycle count select only this control group and cycle count each item number.
  • Compare the cycle count values to the perpetual inventory values in the system and determine if each item number is accurate.
  • For those items that are not accurate, make an inventory adjustment and make a note of your overall inventory accuracy.

Day Two

  • Count the same 20-30 item numbers. The number of item numbers with errors should be dramatically reduced.
  • The item numbers that have in-accuracies were caused by errors in yesterday’s transactions. Finding the cause of errors is a simple activity of looking at yesterday’s transactions.

Next 30 Days

Count these same 20-30 items for the next 30 days. When an inaccuracy is found, it’s always a result of an error caused by yesterday’s transactions. The objective is to find the cause and correct it as quickly as possible.The purpose of the 30-day control group audit is to find and repair the most frequently caused transaction errors. It also provides a fast start with quick results to begin a cycle count program. By the end of the 30 days, the most frequently occurring errors are usually identified and repaired.

The purpose of the 30 day control group audit is to find and repair the most frequently caused transaction errors. It also provides a fast start with quick results to begin a cycle count program. By the end of the 30 days, the most frequently occurring errors are usually identified and repaired.

Cycle Count Considerations

The following are normal considerations to allow for when setting up your cycle count program:

  • If you have 10,000 items in the system only 7,500 may have inventory balances.
  • Usually inventory is stored in two locations.
  • One partially dedicated person (2 hours per day) can usually count 15,000 items a year or 60 counts per day.

Cycle Count Cut-off

In order to minimize disruptions, specific times for completing the cycle count should be followed. In addition, you should verify that all transactions have been submitted and processed before beginning the cycle count. We recommend that you count during low production activity times and complete counts and reconciliation as soon as possible

Cycle Count Analyst

In order to ensure a sound cycle count program, you should identify a cycle count analyst. Usually this person will spend about 90 minutes a day counting and processing adjustments to inventory.

Stay tuned … In the next Cycle Count blog, we will show you how to setup and manage a cycle count program in Microsoft Dynamics AX.

Top 5 Challenges Facing Specialty Chemical Manufacturers and How to Solve Them

Regulatory updates, modifications, new compliance requirements and the need to continuously make adjustments for OSHA, DHS, HCS, CFATS, REACH, FDA requirements are some of the unique challenges specialty chemical manufacturers face every day. We understand these challenges because we’ve spent over 20 years working with specialty chemical manufacturing customers.

What are the top five challenges specialty chemical manufacturers face?

  1. By far, the number one challenge our specialty chemical customers talk about is the regulatory changes and requirements placed on them daily. These changes come at a very rapid speed, and include all sorts of associated costs and efforts.
  2. The second challenge is the increasing cost of raw materials and products and the way the marketplace is changing and affecting those costs.
  3. Global competition and the push for higher quality at lower cost margins form the third challenge.
  4. Our customers tell us that mergers and acquisitions are the fourth challenge. Questions we hear “Are the right business systems in place to accommodate a new merger or acquisition? Is the existing business system scalable?”
  5. Finally, the fifth challenge our specialty chemical manufacturing customers are concerned about is new product development. Executives wonder “Are the right products being developed? What are the associated costs? What are the time constraints?”

Addressing Top 5 Specialty Chemical Challenges with Technology

Is your company struggling with any of these challenges? Selecting the right technology platform, including an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, is the optimal place to start. Here are four traits to consider in an ERP solution:

Consider a business system that is compliant with global regulations. The system should provide documentation of standard processes, track and log operations and results, lot traceability and track items from cradle to grave providing confidence in your ability to implement an effective recall procedure. Look at a system that offers visibility and cost control. The new system should offer real-time inventory tracking so you can adjust forecasts and inventory to help ensure adequate supply for demand. Make sure the new system is flexible and scalable to accommodate organic and merger and acquisition growth and offers multi-currency and multi-language functionality so your company can compete globally.

If you want to start addressing some of these challenges now or in the future, let us help. We are one of the largest resellers of Microsoft Dynamics AX ERP, one of the fastest growing ERP solutions from the world’s leading software company. Sold only by partners, Dynamics AX is now available in the cloud or on premise. We have more than 20 years of experience helping specialty chemical manufacturers tackle industry-specific challenges including meeting regulatory compliance requirements and providing real-time insights into product costs. With AX, we can help you:

  • Manage product compliance, including Material Safety Data Sheets
  • Provide real-time insights into cost trends
  • Make proactive decisions using data analytics
  • Provide complete batch attribute tracking

Additional Information

Take a look at these additional resources for specialty chemical manufacturers:

New Video: Top Five Challenges Facing Specialty Chemical Manufacturers and How to Solve Them

Quick Product Demo Video

Chemical Fact Sheet