ASC Software works in partnership with its customers to deliver innovative, mission-critical solutions to their supply chain issues.
By Staci Davidson
Recognized as delivering “best-of-breed” WMS solutions, ASC Software has received awards such as Top 100 IT Solution Providers in the world, Best-in-Class Design for Wireless Infrastructure and the Microsoft Pinnacle Award for Innovation because of its dedication to innovative solutions, and customer service and support. Additionally, ASC has been named as one of the Top 10 Warehouse Management Solution Providers of 2018 and having one of the Most Useful Blogs for the Supply Chain. And while the company is proud of these honors, it is driven by the value it offers its customers.
“From the scientist to the supply chain, we interact in the middle of that,” CEO and President Pete Gilstrap says. “To date, there have been no failures with our solution, and we are very proud of that. We have had the same company name since we started, and we partner with our customers to make sure they succeed; if they fail, we fail. Our support team, which is based here in the United States, knows our customers on a first-name basis.”
Headquartered in Beavercreek, Ohio, ASC is dedicated to providing innovative supply chain software solutions for solving complex challenges. The company takes pride in providing solutions that are made, tested and supported in the United States, serving manufacturers and distributors in all industries. ASC focuses heavily on the pharmaceutical manufacturing and food manufacturing and distribution markets, but it also can handle the consumer packaged goods and automotive sectors. Some of ASC’s solutions are even attached to larger entities like SAP for more complex problem solving that SAP cannot handle.
“If we can serve pharmaceutical sectors, and companies that make wind turbines – we can adapt to just about any vertical industry,” Gilstrap says. “If you can meet the objectives for FDA criteria in pharmaceuticals and food – where they have the strictest supply chain requirements for a software product – everything else is easy. We provide mission-critical solutions to these industries, and they absolutely, positively have to have a product that works.”
He cites an example of one of the largest food manufacturers in the world; ASC had to develop software to help them operate their technology center, research lab, and main distribution hub within strict FDA and GMP guidelines. “We guarantee that they follow those strict guidelines – everything has an exact lot traceability and everything has a complete lot tree backwards and forwards,” he says. “Our system is the system of record if there is a product recall so they can alert their customer base if an action needs to be taken.”
On the Horizon
Gilstrap is a logistics instructor who, after 40 years of experience in the industry, teaches supply chain best practices and is often a keynote speaker on that topic at industry events. He got his start as a manufacturing engineer for a Fortune 100 company, helping to design manufacturing solutions for the company’s challenges. He eventually got into designing barcode systems during that time, and seeing a void in the market, worked with a partner to found ASC in 1989.
ASC works with warehouse, distribution, manufacturing and 3PL operations to innovate their supply chains and improve processes. Its products include the industry-leading ASCTrac® warehouse management system, as well as manufacturing execution solution modules (MES and MRP), ebusiness and ecommerce modules, warehouse control systems (WCS), and embedded electronic data interchange (EDI) and Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) with PLC interfaces. The company combines its vast experience with best practices and cutting-edge technology to remain ahead of its markets.
“We solve problems,” Gilstrap says. “We do that with software, but we have to be pragmatic in our methods, ensuring that we solve something and we’re not creating a different problem. We have to take customers through a paradigm and never assume that we know anything. In life, we are always students and we can always learn something.”
Gilstrap remains deeply involved in his team’s projects, and he gets excited by what he sees coming down the pipe. ASC is realizing objectives in IIoT that it tried to do before the technology existed, he explains, and now that it exists, the company is capitalizing on it. The company is developing a number of new products, and hopes to harness the advancements from 5G and enhanced IIoT manufacturing data capabilities to use predictive analytics to solve even more issues and create efficiencies for customers.
“A human engineer can only handle so much information,” he says. “We have to be able to slice and dice that information, using simpler dashboards to provide the instant information customers need to know because they are managing so many things at once. You can’t manage effectively with information overload.
“I am excited because there are things on the horizon that are phenomenal,” he continues. “We are working with a German company that has an augmented reality product, and that technology is blossoming into something that can help the everyday worker on the floor. This is on the bleeding edge, and we’re testing it to apply it to everyday practical, real-world challenges. That is the part that is critical – pragmatism is the key: we help find a client’s supply chain problem and then fix it.”
Fast and Secure
ASC has been solving manufacturing and supply chain issues for so long that it started years ago with mainframe computers, keyboard data entry in warehouses, and has evolved along with the industry to help its customers put those days in the past. Gilstrap takes pride in the company’s ability to fine tune ASC’s engineered processes, which are then proven at customers’ sites to become the keys to their success.
“For the mobile worker, we have dealt with the early days of narrow-band radio solutions where data was very difficult to get, to where we are today with data so easy to get it is phenomenal,” he says. “All of that in only a short 30-year timespan. Today, we have gigabit internet speeds, exponential amounts of data being transmitted on the internet, IIoT, and tablet apps with sub-second responses on 4G cellular networks. As a software development company, what we are doing is using this technology to solve real-world problems.”
ASC’s focus, he says, is to determine where it can use the new technology to take advantage of it and get the data where it needs to be in the fastest way, but also through the most validated and secure methods.
“We work on that everyday,” Gilstrap stresses. “We take all that information, put it together, analyze it, and it is condensed for a manager so they can get to the information quickly. We connect the dots from the edge to the middle to the beginning to the end so it can all move seamlessly.”
ASC works with a food company, he says, and it has been connecting its trading partners for years. Years ago, the company was communicating using EDI and had many different data sets that were adopted as new standards. ASC has to ensure all of these dots are connected within the supply chain, so it applied the newer coding standards and combined them with trading-partner concepts using internet connections versus a billable network.
“They are now fully connected and it blows my mind with what you can do with all of that technology combined,” Gilstrap says. “It is extremely fast.”
As another example, ASC attempted to optimize the supply chains of different manufacturers in Asia. Manufacturers in each country were providing goods to the United States, but the technology was “incredibly bad,” Gilstrap says, and a lot of the companies were still using faxes to communicate their inbound information. Now that the technology has evolved, the manufacturers can explain which specific goods went into which shipping container in real time, and the recipients can better execute their planned forecasts.
“Now there is much more shared information electronically, and with the next-generation of technology, we have information about goods in real time as they are being manufactured and loaded into the shipping containers,” he explains. “It allows our customers to do analysis of the forecasts for demand, they can do analytics to drive MRP and they can track the shipment with GPS devices on the containers.
“Before active GPS tags on containers, companies were losing containers,” he adds. “They couldn’t handle their goods in an efficient and cost-effective manner. Now, we can monitor each high-dollar item in the containers and even add temperature monitoring, and that information can be fed to master devices on the containers. We can track them on the ground and on the ocean.”
He notes ASC deals with so many systems where there is no room for error, and Gilstrap takes great pride in the company’s team and the solutions they are able to develop. He says ASC deals with extreme situations where responses are critical. For example, let’s say a person goes to a hospital suffering from a snake bite. The hospital’s system said the anti-venom medication was there, but in reality, the stock is out. That is a very critical situation for the patient, and ASC structures its systems to ensure its clients never get to that point.
“We have built an excellent reputation with our client base,” Gilstrap says. “We have never had an implementation failure, and we have to prove that our solution is 100 percent correct in every circumstance, because we are delivering these solutions to mission-critical environments. We do what we say we are going to do. A person only has their reputation – that is paramount and nothing else matters.”