What is COS 2.0?
COS 2.0 is a cloud based container management system.
Designed with packaging engineers, container coordinators, shipping/logistic managers, and purchasing departments in mind, it is an artful combination of all of the moving parts that surround packaging in a supply chain environment. COS 2.0 encompasses the entire lifecycle of packaging from cradle to grave – or more specifically from purchase to retirement and all aspects in between.
There are several core areas of focus within COS 2.0:
· Packaging Specification
· Container Control
All of the core areas work in harmony with one another, but some may also be included or excluded without compromising the value of others. (i.e. Purchasing, Repair, and even Container Control may be optional and a user of COS 2.0 could still gain value form the remaining components.) The only required component of COS 2.0 to exist is the Packaging Specification System.
Additionally, depending on which options are enabled, there are sub-sets of functionality – or more specifically COS 2 versions – for outside suppliers and outside container manufacturers to collaborate with this data and contribute to the overall data management of container flow throughout the supply chain.
If Container Management is enabled, there are two models within COS 2.0 for tracking – RFID and Aggregate. The difference between the two is whether or not unique specific assets within each container type are tracked individually or not. If the RFID model is deployed, each and every asset is tagged with a unique serial number or license plate. These IDs are catalogued and tied back to the container class or type that they belong to. Each trip through a controlled portal is logged and every in/out is tracked. If the aggregate model is deployed, bulk counts are moved in and out of facilities in aggregate. In both cases, the movements may be tied to ASNs and/or specific returns.
The following sections describe the capabilities within each area of focus within COS.
Areas of Focus
a. Packaging Specification
The Packaging Specification is obviously the core of COS 2.0. Without a packaging specification, the rest of the areas of focus have no meaning or context. The Packaging Specification area of COS 2.0 has the following sub-options:
· Packaging Catalogue
The packaging catalogue is where the list of packaging or containers is maintained. COS allows for a set of dynamic attributes to define each container based on its type (Racks, Totes, Pallets, etc). Additionally, each container may be defined by where within a clients’ system it is utilized, where it is purchased (including a purchase history), file attachments (engineering drawings, photos), historical cycle counts, all PFEPs (which parts ship in the container and with what instructions), Min/Max levels by locations (Customer, Supplier, Internal), any dedicated lanes the container is used for, and a notes area.
· Outside Facing System
While accessible from within both packaging records and parts (explained later), PFEPs play such an important role in COS 2.0 that we have made it is own menu option as well. The PFEP is the glue that ties together all of the critical elements to drive container flow throughout the supply chain. Each PFEP connects containers, caps/lids, pallets/bases, parts, shippers and receivers together with a set of rules to control the flows.
Within COS, two distinct types of PFEPs may be declared – Part PFEPs and Packaging Only PFEPS. Part PFEPs facilitate part movement within a container and the corresponding control limits to facilitate returns back to the shipper. Packaging PFEPs only deal with the definition of an empty container flow from one entity to another (suppliers, customers, other internal facilities.)
b. Container Control
Container Control is the central hub for supply chain movement of containers/packaging. All of the logging of activity takes place in the Container Control area of COS 2.0. The menu options and descriptions are as follows:
The Receipts section is utilized in the aggregate tracking model to log containers into a facility. Receipts may be against an ASN supplied by a supplier (the PFEP will aide in translating to specific packaging), internal part shipments from a sister facility, or the movement of empties around the internal facilities layout of an organization. Each transaction completes the transfer of an asset from its origin to its new destination. Once complete, a receipt transaction updates all inventory reports and statuses.
The Shipments area of COS 2.0 allows for the outbound flow of aggregate container movement. Shipments may be a return to a supplier or an outbound part shipment to a customer (internal or external). Shipments may be built in several different manners.
– Build by Pick List
Utilizing the build by pick list, a shipping manager may see a complete list of supplier needs, current on hand levels, and select his desired return quantities, document them, and send a pick list out to the floor to be facilitated. Once complete, the pick list comes back to the manager for the purposes of updating all quantities prior to creating COS 2 generated BOLs.
– Build by Supplier Need
Building by supplier need allow the user to pick a specific supplier, and COS 2.0 will display all of the packages utilized by the supplier, their current inventory levels, and the recommended return quantities as defined by specific PFEPS. The user may then select which packaging is to be placed on the truck, document it, and generate a COS 2.0 BOL for the shipment.
– Build by Packaging
Alternatively, the user may opt to select a specific type of packaging, and see a list of all suppliers who may have a need for that packaging as defined by their current inventory levels and their PFEPs governing the usage of that packaging. In each case, a return quantity may be selected, and the user will have the option to finish filling the truck for the selected supplier by viewing all other packaging needs that they may have right from the same screen.
The final manner of shipping containers out of a facility is handled by documenting and outbound order. This may be done by declaring the quantity of parts that are being sent, and the PFEP will convert it to packaging quantities, or simply going straight to packaging quantity and bypass the part declaration. In either case, recommended quantities are not offered since this is a production quantity being shipped, not a loop balancing amount.
The Re-assign feature is multi-faceted too within COS 2.0 used to manage the counts of packaging based on a number of scenarios. The first is a simple transaction to move a quantity of a particular packaging from one facility to another (TRANSFER) that is NOT a standard return or order. This might be done to adjust inventory levels based on upcoming demand.
The second use of the Re-Assign is to RETIRE assets from a fleet.
The third use of the Re-Assign feature is to set locations count of a specific asset to a specific number. This might be done if a spot audit is done, and the current COS 2.0 inventory quantity is determined to be wrong.
In all cases – inventory levels for all affected locations (internal, supplier, and customers) is adjusted immediately upon committing the transaction.
· Cycle Counts
The Cycle Count area of COS 2.0 may be accessed from multiple access points. As mentioned before, it may be accessed from the Packaging Specification system. It may also be accessed from within the Container Control menu. Each cycle count that is entered is defined by a specific package type and event, and all corresponding locations containing that package type are documented within the event declaring their current inventory levels. This becomes to new baseline starting point for each of those locations. (Reports will document and identify shrink over time based on cycle counts.)
· Lane Assignments
The Lane Assignment System is made of up 4 sections – each with a purpose of managing door activity at a facility. The significance of Lane Assignments comes into play in the RFID tracking model. Being as individual assets are moving through a threshold and being read as they come in or go out, COS 2.0 requires a declaration of who the trading partner is that is receiving or returning the unique assets.* To facilitate this, there are four areas in the Lane Assignment System:
– Lane Entry
Lane Entry allows a dock worker to quickly select a dock door, a trading partner (supplier, customer, other internal location), a carrier, and a few other important data points such as trailer number, loader, etc. and make an assignment. From that point forward until the assignment is cleared, all RFID activity is associated with that assignment/trading partner. To aide in this process, windows may be set up so that the dock door user simply needs to select a window from a list, and make it the current assignment, thereby alleviating the need to make all of the selections necessary for a lane entry assignment.
– All Lane View
This is a summary view of all open doors at a given moment. Front office personnel may use this screen in lieu of calling back or walking to the back of the facility to see what activity is currently going on.
– Lane History
This is a summary of all opened and closed lane assignments for whatever period of time the user wishes to view.
This is the screen utilized to set up and create the windows by day that may be quickly assigned in the Lane Entry screen described above.
There is a feature in COS 2.0 that allows for some RFID based activity to bypass the lane assignment system. If a dedicated lane is declared for a specific asset type, then all traffic in or out for that container is automatically assigned to the dedicated lane (trading partner) and a lane assignment is not necessary to log the activity recorded by the readers.
· Inventory by Location
This is a report that quickly shows a list of all assets and where they are currently distributed throughout the supply chain. This list may be sorted by packaging type, with all the known locations shown for where that packaging exists, or by locations, with the detail showing all of the packaging current housed within a location. This report is positioned within Container Management for quick access, but is also accessible form the Reports menu.
Within COS 2.0, there are a significant number of triggers that will cause alerts centered around container movement. These items include such situations as a supplier has dropped below a minimum level of a certain container type, a door has RFID activity, or a return is has been left in an “Unreceived” status. These are only a few of the alert events. All alerts will be shown in this section of COS 2.0. (NOTE: some alerts are email based as well and will be sent in more than one medium.)
· Locate Inventory
This menu option is a utility to quickly identify and location an RFID based assets. The ID may be entered into the entry box, and the system will kick out all of the details about the specific asset – current location, past activity, etc.
A complete purchasing system is available through COS 2 to manage all packaging/container purchases and their associated release schedules. PO’s may be managed to include all packaging types, their source manufacturers, quantities, and destinations for insertion into the fleets, serialization, and releases. Validation of quantities and serialization is incorporated both at the manufacturer and at the fleet insertion point.
A repair module in COS 2 allows for the documentation of all repair processes that are required to maintain the packaging fleets. This includes an authorization model that is triggered by documented costs for each repair that can automatically approve for repair, move to retire, or hold for higher level review all identified packaging repairs. The COS 2 repair module works on a mobile platform (IOS) and works off of a bar code scanning system. Documentation of all repairs includes digital photos attached to each repair record.
COS 2.0 comes with a suite of reports that is continuing to grow every month. Each report has a set of filters at the top that may be used to limit the data that makes it to the report, and an option to export to MS Excel for additional analysis purposes. The current list of reports in COS 2 is shown below:
The Alerts report shows all issued alerts during a defined window of time and location.
· Inventory Distribution
Container Inventory Distribution shows the container inventory numbers at defined locations with reference to specific dwell times (RFID model only).
The Utilization Report displays the number of containers within a fleet that have been active within a user-defined window of time. (RFID Model Only)
· In/Out Report
The In/Out Report provides a user with the ability to review the net inbound and outbound transactions for a container or location within a user defined window of time.
· Assignment Analysis Report
Assignment Analysis Report provides a user a report detailing manually assigned transactions versus dedicated lane assignments. (RFID Model Only)
· Turn Analysis Report
The Turn Analysis Report shows a user the amount of time – on average – that a particular asset type requires to make a complete loop from an out transaction until the next out transaction for the unique container. (RFID Model Only)
· Partner Dwell Time
Similar to the Turn Analysis Report, the Partner Dwell Time Report measures and reports the average amount of time required for a trading partner to return a specific unique asset. (RFID Model Only)
· Lane Violations
The Lane Violations Report provides users with a report detailing the number of times an asset moves through a door (read portal) that does not have a trading partner assignment via the “Lane Assignment” module. (RFID Model Only)
· Carrier Performance Report
Carrier Window Performance Report displays carrier performance to defined/expected window times.
· Container Rack/Maintenance
Container/Rack Maintenance Log provides users with a history of the maintenance activity for a defined asset or asset family.
· Cycle Count Summary Report
Cycle Count Summary Report gives a historical summary of cycle count activity for a user-defined container.
· Door Transaction Report
Door Transaction Report shows users a list of transactions at a user defined “door” during a user-defined period of time.
· Packaging Micro Dashboard
Packaging MICRO Dashboard a summary screen illustrating many of the data and transactional activities for a specific container type (user defined).
· Packaging Macro Dashboard
Packaging MACRO Dashboard a summary screen showing an overall project view of program specific data points (user defined).
· Container Inventory by Date
Container Inventory by Date provides container inventory for requested locations over a set period of time to identify trends.
The following areas are data management routines that provide the backbone for container management throughout COS 2. They allow for the surrounding business layer of intelligence to drive where and what is moving in the supply chain.
a. Production Data
· My Locations
Within the My Locations area of COS 2.0, our clients may set up all of the different stopping points within their organization that packaging may stop or dwell. These include production facilities, warehouses, DCs, or any other type of facility. Collections of facilities are bound together to form a location – i.e. a Location may have 3 different facilities contained within it.
Suppliers are managed in this area, and each supplier has a home or corporate address with as many “ship from” locations as are necessary to document container flow through the supplier. I.e. a supplier may have two US facilities and one Mexican facility from which they ship to our client location facilities. PFEPs are connected to Supplier Locations and Internal Facilities.
Similar to Suppliers, our clients can create as many customers that they ship to with corresponding receiving locations. Again, PFEPs and outbound activity may be tied to a customer and a specific customer location.
All contacts may be entered in the above three sections, but they are also aggregated here in the Contacts section of the system for one overall system repository. Each contact is qualified by title, company, and one ore more facilities.
· Part, Finished Goods, BOM, Finished Goods, Production Schedule
These areas of COS may receive electronic daily or periodic feeds from MRP systems. The parts are utilized to drive PFEPs which then in tern drive container flow. Parts may be set up to have part classes or families for PFEP purposes but individual parts that break out specifics such as color, orientation, etc.
This is the same as other referenced PFEP areas and is simply repeated under this menu to provide appropriate and redundant access to this data.
· GAP Analysis
The Tools and Resources section of COS 2 is an area to both find reference material and to manage some of the lower level supporting data tables that are used for validation (typically referred to as lookup tables – i.e. carriers, units of measure, etc.)
· User Guides
A complete online user guide is accessible from this menu option.
· Change Password
A basic user password change utility.
· User Forums
A place for users to share ideas, ask questions, read about past experiences.
· Client Prefix
For RFID customers – these are the allowable prefixes for the RFID tags/IDs that are placed on that particular client’s assets.
· Carrier/SCAC Info
A list of all carriers that clients may use when creating outbound shipments is contained in this area. This list may be filtered down for specific clients to limit the number of options.
This is an area to maintain a list of packaging manufacturers that may be chosen during the purchasing process or defined with the packaging specification system to document where containers are sourced.
· User Management
Maintenance of all client users is maintained in this area. Each user may have a custom defined set of permissions as well as custom level system alerts may be defined and generated from the user setup area.
· User Roles
This is a support utility to maintain a list of available user roles to qualify each user by.
· Container Class
Container Classes are maintained in this area (expendable, returnable, etc.)
· Container Types
Within each class, container types are maintained here. (i.e. Packaging, Base/Pallet, Lid/Cap, etc)
· Various Unit of Measure Maintenance Routines
There are several areas of data management that facilitate unit of measure maintenance. They are for consumption units (i.e. each, rolls, lbs, etc), distance, volume, etc. These tables drive various dropdown selections throughout the system.
· Facility Lane Maintenance
This is where Surgere resources set up and manage the doors that are equipped with RFID.
· Count Adjustment Reason Codes
· Program Information
This is where all of the program level drivers are maintained for each Surgere client (i.e. which return recommendation model, which tracking model, etc. etc.)
Suppliers to our customers are granted logins into COS 2 for the purposes of collaborating with our clients. Their user capabilities are restricted to packaging/PFEP reviews, dashboard review, accepting returns, and making packaging return requests.
When a Surgere Client sets up a supplier, they may mark the supplier as automatic receipt or manual receipt. Automatic receipt waits a defined return transit time, and then automatically moves the inventory count the suppliers on hand levels. Manual receipt requires the Suppliers to log in and receive the packaging.
Container Manufacturer Login
Container manufactures have a log in to COS 2 that allows them to receive POs created by our clients and then a fulfillment module to produce and ship the new containers into the fleet. All serialization information of the fleets are entered by the container manufacturers and validated by Surgere.
What you can expect in COS Enterprise:
- A fully integrated system with customized access points for management, workforce, vendors and administrators.
- A forward-looking and intelligent process & alert system
- Internet-based, no special software or hardware requirements
- Automated right-sizing, scheduling and trend anticipation
- Secure Server setup for safe data keeping
- Real-time and accessible information sharing with all points of the packaging supply chain
- Continual monitoring of supplier performance metrics
- Behavior management and reporting of workforce compliance
- Real time reporting of asset distribution and utilization
- PO management & sourcing
- Asset serialization and tracking from inception
- On the spot asset removal/replacement using handheld device
- System-wide dashboard that’s customizable to the user
- Cradle to Grave handing of all packaging assets
- Fully internet-based so no special software or hardware is required
- A complete roles-based security system
- Hosted by an SSAE16 certification Facility
- Daily, off-site backups and system redundancy
- Easily fully integrated with corporate IT and ERP systems
If you’d like to hear more or are interested in a demo – Reach out and tell us here!