How BellHawk Systems Beats its Competition
BellHawk Systems specializes in assisting manufacturers to implement real-time operations tracking and management
systems using its BellHawk software. These systems integrate the following capabilities:
- Barcode and RFID automated information data capture (AIDC) systems
- Work-in-Process and labor tracking systems
- Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES)
- Warehouse Management Systems (WMS)
- Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM) Systems
- Materials Tracking and Traceability Systems
- Enterprise Integration through Automated Data Exchange
- Supply Chain Integration
The primary competitors to these BellHawk based systems are:
- The use of pencil and paper and manual keyboard data entry. This has traditionally been used by small to
mid-sized manufacturers in conjunction with Excel spreadsheets for tracking their manufacturing operations. With
the introduction of BellHawk Systems' "Cloud" based services, the advantages of automated data capture and
real-time viewing of production and inventory status are now available to even the smallest of manufacturers.
- ERP Systems that have integrated MES capability. The advantages of BellHawk are:
- Most of these ERP systems are much more expensive than using BellHawk with an existing legacy ERP system
or a low cost accounting system such as QuickBooks.
- You have to use the ERP system that comes integrated with the MES system and not the one that suits your
specific business needs. With BellHawk you can choose the accounting system that best suits your needs
- With an integrated ERP + MES system you have to upgrade the operations tracking software every time
there is a change to the accounting rules. With BellHawk, operations is separated from Finance so each
can be upgraded incrementally when needed.
- ERP based MES systems were designed primarily for the benefit of accountants not operational personnel.
Their barcode mobile data capture capabilities are either non-existent or not designed for use by material
handlers and shop-floor personnel who may have limited computer skills. BellHawk is specifically designed
for data capture by factory floor employees with extensive error detection and mistake prevention
- The scheduling and materials planning capabilities that come with most of these ERP systems are designed
for use by large long-run manufacturing organizations, such as Toyota. BellHawk's real-time scheduling and
materials planning capabilities are specifically designed for use by small to mid-sized manufacturers who do
short-run and/or make-to-order manufacturing.
- The cost accounting capabilities of most of these ERP + MES systems is designed for the structured world
of large manufacturers with fixed routes and BOMs. BellHawk captures the actual materials, labor and
equipment costs including rework, substitute parts, and use of different equipment from that originally
planned. BellHawk also handles cost allocation over multiple jobs run on the same machine at the same time,
which most ERP + MES systems do not.
- BellHawk tracks materials by nested container and not just by physical location. This enables
BellHawk to track the same item at different locations by lot and serial number, expiration date, and by
attributes such as length, width, thickness, size and color. ERP + MES systems only track items by location,
which is an accounting view of inventory and not very useful for the much more dynamic world of operations
where the same item may be in the stock room, as floor stock, in KanBan bins, in kits, and as replaceable
components in an assembly or sub-assembly.
- Data capture in BellHawk is user configurable. With most ERP + MES systems there is very limited
flexibility because of the need to GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Procedures). ERP systems are
accounting systems at their core, whereas BellHawk was designed from the ground up to meet the needs of
- BellHawk comes with an integrated Warehouse Management System (WMS) to enable operational tracking of
inventory from the receiving dock, through its transformation into finished products, and the picking,
packing and shipping of those products. ERP + MES systems require the integration of an external WMS system
and so not have the container tracking that is essential for end-to-end materials traceability.
- BellHawk is based on the latest web-browser technology enabling it to be installed either in your
manufacturing plant or used on a server managed by BellHawk Systems at a secure data center in the "Cloud".
This enables the BellHawk software to be used for data capture and viewing anywhere there is an internet
connection on a wide variety of Android, Windows, Linux and IOS based devices. Most ERP +MES systems are
still based on legacy client-server technologies which preclude their effective use in the Cloud.
Alternately you have systems such as PLEX that are only available in the Cloud and cannot be customized to
the specific needs of each manufacturing operation.
- BellHawk comes with a full set of interfacing tools to enable easy integration with RFID data capture as
well as with process control lines, devices such as weighing scales, and Industrial Internet of Things
(IIOT) devices. ERP + MES systems do not have this capability without a large amount of custom software
- MES and work-in-process tracking systems not integrated with an ERP system. These include systems such as
those from JobBoss, E2, and MISys. These are much more direct competition to BellHawk. Here BellHawk leads
on technology and its extensive operations tracking capabilities. Many of these MES systems still use legacy
client-server technology and have not rewritten their software to transition to a modern web-browser,
Cloud-based, architecture like BellHawk. Most of these competitive systems do not have an integrated WMS system,
nor do they perform capture of electronic traceability records. They also do not have the barcode mobile data
capture, RFID or barcode label printing capabilities of BellHawk. They also do not perform real-time
scheduling and materials requirements planning for short-run and make-to-order manufacturers.
- IT Departments and their consultants that attempt to write their own real-time operations tracking systems.
BellHawk Systems has invested several million dollars in its BellHawk and Bell-Connector software and any
organization developing their own tracking solution can expect to spend a good fraction of this and several
years of hard work in development their own real-time operations tracking and management solution. While
developing these systems in-house may work for large organizations, to gain a unique competitive advantage, this
is not a very cost-effective approach for small and mid-sized organizations.
- Point solution software such as are used for work-order and labor tracking, inventory tracking, and
warehouse management. BellHawk Systems provides a very comprehensive integrated real-time operations
tracking solution that works at multiple geographic locations. But, where the client only wants a simple
inventory or work order and labor tracking solution, for use within a single plant, then there are other lower
cost solutions available, such as from WASP. But these are not expandable as the needs of the organization grow.
Some organizations attempt to use their accounting and ERP systems for real-time operations management but these
cannot effectively perform this function because:
- The primary function of accounting and ERP systems is after the fact financial reporting, to which ERP
systems add materials requirements planning. While these are essential management functions, the data in these
systems typically represent what happened days or weeks ago not what is happening right now.
- These system do not have the real-time data capture capabilities using technologies such as mobile
computers, barcode scanning and RFID that are needed to capture and interpret the complexities of today's
operational environments and to present the operational status information in a manner that is immediately
useful to managers. Some of these systems do have limited barcode scanning but not needed functionality such as
providing real-time point-of-action warnings when employees are about to make operational mistakes.
- These systems do not have the ability to monitor and analyze the operations information data stream in
real-time and to generate warnings and alerts, delivered to the mobile phones of managers and other employees,
whenever intervention is required.
Some of the functions of the BellHawk software can be performed by separate Inventory tracking, Warehouse
Management, and Manufacturing Execution Systems. What BellHawk provides, in contrast, is a real-time
operations tracking and management solution that includes all this functionality in one integrated solution so as to
give operations managers a holistic view of all their operations through one system. This also enables BellHawk to
use the end-to-end tracking information as the basis of real-time operational alerts for mangers about the
interaction of inventory and production operations.
BellHawk does not include functions such as accounting, finance, long range materials planning, customer
relations management or human resources management as these are separate disciplines from the needs of real-time
operations management. The BellHawk software can, however, automatically exchange data with systems that perform
these functions to avoid duplicate data entry and to integrate data from these systems into the information that it
presents to operations managers and into its real-time alert decision making.
In contrast to ERP systems that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to implement, BellHawk is intended to
be affordable for small and mid-sized manufacturers and other industrial organizations. Smaller clients can
start out using BellHawk for a few hundred dollars a month on a subscription basis over the Internet and add
functionality as their needs grow. Mid-sized clients, with their own IT departments, can install BellHawk on
their own server, often starting at under $10,000 for a perpetual license, and can perform most of the installation,
integration, training and support functions using their own staff, thereby making total cost of ownership very
One major cost advantage of BellHawk is that the cost per user seat for managers and staff members is $25/month
or less, which is a fraction of what a "seat" costs for an ERP system. Production workers and material handlers can
share device licenses while retaining full tracking of labor time and who did what down to the individual user
level, which further reduces licensing cost. Also, for those clients hosting BellHawk on their own server,
view-only logins are free. These view only logins enable clients to selectively provide inventory, receipt,
production, and shipment information to their own personnel, as well as to customers and suppliers, at no additional
cost for licenses.
As a result, many users of BellHawk find it cost effective to do as much work as possible in BellHawk and as
little as possible in their ERP system, where per-user "seats" are much more expensive.
Finally BellHawk Systems has a proven process for rapidly implementing these systems at an affordable cost
with minimal risk based on many successful implementations over the past decade. This makes BellHawk the
competitive choice for those organizations that wants to work with a team that has in-depth knowledge of
manufacturing and the latest information technology to support manufacturing operations.