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

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Frequently asked Questions

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About BellHawk Systems:

  1. What makes BellHawk Systems special? Our capability to rapidly implement proven, cost saving, real-time operations tracking and management systems  for manufacturers, food and pharmaceutical processors, engineering and other industrial organizations.

  2. Do you have a special focus? We specialize in assisting make-to-order and quick-turn batch manufacturers, engineer-to-order and other industrial organizations that need to produce a wide variety of custom or semi-custom products with short delivery times

  3.  Do you have special capabilities? We have a lot of experience with implementing work-in-process and materials traceability systems. Assisting our clients to implement automated data exchange interfaces between systems is also a rapidly growing part of our services operation, including assisting clients with supply chain integration. We also have in-depth experience with incorporating Artificial Intelligence (AI) into our systems to make them easy to use and quick to deploy.

  4. How do you sell your BellHawk software? We rent the usage of our BellHawk software platform, as well as Bell-Connector and RTX,  for installation on each client's own Windows Server computer. Alternately clients can use our simple, low-cost Work-in-Progress (WIPS) and Barcode Inventory Tracking Systems (BITS) in the "Cloud" on a software-as-a-service subscription basis. 

  5. Do you sell Directly to Clients or through Partners? We sell our software and services directly to clients and also through our nationwide network of  partners. We also work with our wide range of technology and reseller partners to provide the best-of-breed equipment and supplies needed for each system.

  6. What support services do you provide? We provide a complete set of services to assist our clients to rapidly and affordably implement real-time operations tracking and management solutions. These include using our expertise to advise our clients how best to solve their operations tracking and management issues and writing standard operating procedures for each system to facilitate training and validation. They include performing installation, configuration,  customization and integration of the BellHawk software with other systems. We  also provide assistance with the procurement of the barcode scanning and mobile computing equipment, plus procurement assistance with needed specialty labels, as well as providing guidance to IT support organizations for computer and networking equipment that is needed . In addition, we provide on-site and off-site training  and implementation support.

  7. Do you make on-site sales calls? Usually the answer is no, as we try to provide our solutions at an affordable cost. Having direct sales people on the road would be a major expense that is incompatible with keeping our prices down. These days we do most of our selling over the Internet using technologies such as GoToMeeting. There are exceptions, of course, where the project is large and complex with expected expenditures in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. But these are the rarity, as our initial sale is typically for a few thousand or tens of thousands of dollars. This is in contrast to the cost of most ERP/MES systems or the cost of developing a custom solution "from-scratch", which can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

  8. Do you arrange for visits to other users of the BellHawk software so we can see it in operation? Regretfully no. Our clients are all way too busy running their own businesses to host site visits. If they do have spare time they would rather spend it with friends and family. We provide an extensive set of training materials and white papers on-line for prospective clients. For those prospective users who would like to learn more about inventory and production tracking methods, we can provide an introduction to a local APICS chapter that runs educational courses on this subject.

  9. Do you provide lists of References? No, we jealously guard our clients' privacy. When a prospective client has decided that they wish to use BellHawk and is doing their final due diligence then we will personally introduce them to one or two existing clients. At this time our existing clients are more than willing to share their experiences and challenges over the telephone with a new member of the BellHawk community.

  10. Do You Offer Free Trials of Your Software? We provide demonstration websites through which prospective clients and partners can try using WIPS and BITS with pre-prepared data at no cost. This enables clients to quickly get a feel for using the software and also enables testing out the software with different data collection devices.

  11. Do you provide demonstrations of your software with our data?  Regrettably no. At the prices we charge for our software, we cannot afford to spend the time setting up the data for prospective client applications in the BellHawk software. For those organizations that wish to try out the software with their data in an operational setting then we recommend a 3 month trial rental or subscription which enables organizations to do an in-depth evaluation of the software at minimal cost.

  12. What is the Cost-Benefit Trade-off for a BellHawk system?  Most of our clients have been able to save the cost of one or more full-time equivalent people at a loaded labor cost of $5,000 or more a month.  Others have been able to increase sales through improved customer service. In each case, the BellHawk based barcode tracking system rapidly pays for itself in labor savings and improved operational efficiency. Some of our clients have been able to save over a hundred thousand dollars a month in operating costs through the use of a BellHawk based system. This is in contrast to a typical cost of $30/user/month for using BITS or WIPS on-line or under $1,000/month for renting the use of the BellHawk software platform.

  13. BellHawk Systems Corporation is only a small software company. What will happen if you go out of business? We have been in business for over 25 years and have seen many much larger competitors come and go. We have elected to stay small because we enjoy working on an individual basis with our clients and solving their really interesting systems problems. This personal service has enabled us to survive the ups and downs of the US economy. But to ensure that our clients are not put at risk,  we will provide the source code, on an escrow basis,  to the BellHawk software for our US based clients who rent BellHawk licenses, upon request. We now have the second generation of the family who are the principal owners of the company taking increasingly important roles within the company and look forward to serving our clients for many years to come.

  14. Can a small company such as BellHawk provide the range of equipment, software and services that my organization needs? BellHawk Systems may be small but it is an important part of a large web of partners that work together to implement real-time operations tracking and monitoring solutions for clients.  In some cases, such as for projects requiring BellHawk Systems' special expertise in real-time intelligent operations tracking and management, BellHawk Systems takes the lead and acts as the project manager. In other projects, such as those requiring extensive on-site support for equipment installation, one of our solution integration partners will act as project manager.

  15. What about installation, configuration, setup, training and support? We can provide these services remotely over the Internet and also on-site. Wherever possible we provide these services remotely and encourage our clients to do as much of the work themselves as possible in order to save our clients money. We also have an extensive set of training videos, user manuals and white papers on our website to enable clients to train themselves in the use of the BellHawk software, thereby reducing the cost of system's deployment. We also work remotely with the IT staff of client organizations or through our partners to provide support where needed.

  16. Do you run a 24x7 Help Desk? No, the designated client support manager, for each of our clients, works directly with the client's project manager within their BellHawk team. As all of our technical support team members primarily work out of their own home offices, help is always available 24x7 in a crisis. We expect that the client's BellHawk IT support person or project manager will handle most of the day to day issues, with the BellHawk Systems team providing critical behind the scenes support services when needed. If you need help desk services, to support your material handlers and shop-floor workers, then we recommend that you work with one of our BellHawk Solution Partners who operate such a help desk for both the equipment (where most of the failures occur) as well as the BellHawk software.

About the BellHawk Software

  1. You refer to BellHawk as a software platform and WIPS and BITS as applications; what is the difference? WIPS and BITS are stand alone applications, based on the BellHawk software platform, that can be configured but not customized to provide a limited set of operations tracking capabilities. The BellHawk software platform is designed to be tailored to meet a wide-range of operations tracking and management needs. Also, by using the Bell-Connector software platform, it can exchange data with a wide variety of other systems.

  2. Can BellHawk do real-time operations monitoring and send an Email or text message to the appropriate person within my organization when problems occur?  Yes, with RTX, your managers can switch from after-the fact reporting about problems that occurred yesterday to getting real-time alerts about problems that are about to happen today.

  3. BellHawk appears to be a "Cadillac" tracking system but I just want a simple, low-cost work-in-process or inventory tracking solution. Does it make sense to use BellHawk? With WIPS and BITS clients can start out using BellHawk for under $30/month/user. Clients can then easily upgrade to the BellHawk platform, and get a much wider range of capabilities,  for under a thousand dollars a month. At the same time, clients can be confident that BellHawk can support their operational tracking and management needs, no matter how large they grow or how complex their operations become.

  4. Can I use BellHawk  with my existing barcode tracking equipment or do I need to buy new equipment? BellHawk uses a web-browser interface so it will work on any device supporting the equivalent of Internet Explorer 6 or later. This includes PCs with keyboard "wedge" scanners and Windows CE and mobile 5 and 6 based mobile computers.  Older and refurbished equipment meeting these requirements can be reused with the BellHawk software.

  5. You focus on barcode data collection using mobile computers and PCs. Do you collect data using other devices? Yes, our BellHawk software can also collect data using RFID data portals, weighing scales. and other IOT (Internet of Things) sensors. It also can exchange data with PLCs that control process and test equipment.

  6. Can BellHawk be used as a Quality Control (QC) Tracking System? Yes, BellHawk tracks the quality control inspection status of containers of materials and makes sure that materials are not used before they are inspected. It does not include the statistical analysis capabilities of other QC systems, with which it is sometimes integrated. 

  7. Can BellHawk be used as an Asset Tracking System? Yes, BellHawk is especially well suited for tracking those assets that are mission critical, subject to pilferage, or related to health and safety, or need maintaining at regular intervals.

  8. Is BellHawk a Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS)? No: BellHawk can track the progress of samples through testing as well as the reagents used in their testing. But it does not capture or analyze clinical trial data. It can, however, be used as the data collection tracking component of a LIMS system.

  9. Can BellHawk be used as or integrated with a Document Management System? BellHawk can be used to track physical documents, just like any other asset. It can also associate electronic documents, such as certificates of compliance or performance, with specific containers of materials. For more complex document management requirements, we recommend that BellHawk be integrated with a document management system designed for that purpose.

  10. Can BellHawk be used as a Maintenance Management System? BellHawk can track maintenance inventory in multiple stock-rooms and locations. It can track the issuance and return of tools to people. It can also be used to initiate and track maintenance tasks.  For more complex maintenance management tasks, such as maintenance scheduling, then it is recommended that BellHawk be integrated with a CMMS maintenance management system.

  11. My ERP system tracks inventory and production data, why can't I use my ERP system as a real-time operations tracking and monitoring system ? ERP systems perform a combination of accounting and materials requirements planning. This is a very different set of requirements from that needed for real-time operations tracking and management. BellHawk can, however, be used in conjunction with ERP systems to add real-time operations tracking and management capabilities to an ERP system at an affordable cost.

  12. Can BellHawk automatically exchange data with other systems to eliminate the need for duplicate data entry? Yes, through its Bell-Connector automated data exchange interface. This includes automatically exchanging data with  ERP, accounting, engineering design, formula management, CRM, E-Commerce, process control and test systems.

  13. Can the BellHawk software be configured or customized to meet my specific data collection requirements? BellHawk can be configured by its users for most standard materials tracking data collection applications. BellHawk Systems can also customize the software for specialized data collection requirements.

  14. What about reports? BellHawk produces a set of standard reports and Excel exports that our clients have found are useful for real-time operational tracking. Users can directly access the BellHawk SQL database through its ODBC interface to create custom reports and exports using a wide variety of reporting tools. BellHawk clients with programming skills can also modify the standard BellHawk reports using the Microsoft Visual Studio IDE.

  15. Can we use BellHawk to replace our time-clocks for labor tracking? BellHawk is not a time-and attendance system But it can be used to collect labor data that can be exported for use by human resources management and payroll systems.

  16. Can we use BellHawk to just track materials  and/or jobs in one limited area of our facility or do we need to deploy it to the whole plant at the same time? We encourage our clients to start in one area, to solve an immediately pressing problem. Then clients can incrementally expand their use of BellHawk to cover other areas as they gain experience with using the capabilities of BellHawk.

  17. Do I need to purchase a barcode printer to use WIPS, BITS, or BellHawk? No WIPS prints its barcoded traveler on an office printer and BITS uses pre-printed rolls of "license-plate" tracking barcodes. While BellHawk has extensive barcode label printing capabilities, the methods used by WIPS and BITS can be used with the BellHawk platform software.

 

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