BellHawk Logo

Real-Time Work-in-Process and Materials Tracking Systems

Find Button

How BellHawk Systems Beats its Competition

BellHawk Systems Industry Positioning

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:

  1. Barcode and RFID automated information data capture (AIDC) systems
  2. Work-in-Process and labor tracking systems
  3. Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES)
  4. Warehouse Management Systems (WMS)
  5. Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM)   Systems
  6. Materials Tracking and Traceability Systems
  7. Enterprise Integration through Automated Data Exchange
  8. Supply Chain Integration

The primary competitors to these BellHawk based systems are:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 capabilities.
    • 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 manufacturing operations.
    • 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 development.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 affordable.

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.

Support Information Demo Videos Contact BellHawk Systems Equipment Company Information
Professional Services Data Sheets Frequently Asked Questions Partners White Papers

Copyright © 2000 - 2017 BellHawk Systems Corporation