Humanitarian Enterprise Logistics Manager (HELM© 2018) is a modular, scalable, web based enterprise software solution. The core of the system is an inventory module that is designed for both purchased and donated (gift in kind) inventory. Several additional modules can be enabled to expand the system to cover a variety of functions from barcoded warehousing, purchasing, receiving, order building, kit building, shipping, to reporting. The system is built on a 30 year evolution of our core Warehouse Management System (WMS) with a focus on meeting the special needs of non-profit organizations.
HELM is a completely web based solution. All you need to get started is a web browser. By default, it is available as a cloud based Software as a Service (SaaS) solution. Optionally, it can be installed locally on in-house servers. The default front end application is written in the PHP and java and is hosted, by default, on the Apache webserver platform. On the back end, our RESTful web services API handles all of the data and transaction processing with the back end database system, which is Oracle by default.
HELM comes with a robust configuration application, the Web Development Framework (WDF). This application allows our technicians, or your administrators to make significant configuration changes to your HELM installation through easy to use click, drag, and drop methods. Examples would include adding, removing, or rearranging fields on a data entry page or table, creating language profiles, or enabling custom functions. This configuration flexibility makes us stand out in our ability to tailor the software to the unique needs of your business, and continue to adjust and scale as your operations grow.
Beyond the ability to build a solution by appropriately adding modules and customize the web user interface, with the WDF, HELM can also be tailored from the data perspective in multiple ways. The WDF design tools handle anything related to the presentation of the data and user interface of HELM – fields and labels can be renamed, hidden, changed, added with ease. The new designer now gives even more functionality beyond tailoring the entry screens and views of data. Now you can add database tables, views, menus and other objects to the system. You can create and edit profiles in different languages and regional data entry nomenclature.
The back end RESTful web services API not only gives a secure engine to handle and process data, it also gives a more open platform to make integration to other systems easier. The sky is the limit with the design and tailoring capabilities of the new HELM and supporting back end systems.
A strong, new addition to the HELM solution offering is our ability to provide modern, easy to use and manage web portals for your remote facilities, customer, partners, donors, etc. We can do this through our Portal Builder product line co-developed and licensed with our sister company, Orange Horse Technology. This powerful portal development platform uses the popular and easy to use WordPress hosting platform on the front end, and our secure Data Engine on the back end.
Our set of low-code development tools and design professionals can not only develop custom portals to not only extend your HELM installation, but also integrate other systems as well. The back end Data Engine will connect to all modern SQL databases and can therefore be the platform to offer a seamless, simple entry point to multiple systems.
Imagine, for example, your field office being able to view and order inventory from HELM, enter employee hours in an HR system, and review a project budget from a financial system – all from one portal, with one consistent user interface, and no knowledge of the higher level back end systems.
The complete Portal Builder Platform includes three main components: WordPress, Portal Builder, and the secure, back end Data Engine. Portal Builder is a set of design, data management, and security management tools that are installed in WordPress in the form of plugins. The back end Data Engine uses a secure API to access and integrate data with the host systems and databases.
The HELM system is developed to be fully responsive and mobile friendly. We test our products regularly to ensure they will operate on virtually all modern devices. Need to check the status of an order on your smartphone? No problem. Want people in the field to be able to do data entry from a tablet? Need a simplified web portal for Partners and fields offices? Consider it done.
With decades of experience providing solutions for clients dealing with highly regulated or valued products, meticulous tracking, traceability and regulatory compliance are built into our designs. Tracing products from inbound packing list to the outbound manifest or customs form, with a full audit trail every step of the way is a key component of our systems. From hazardous materials to the Drug Supply Chain Security Act, we have you covered.
The new HELM solution has a number of features built in that are designed to meet the needs of a non-profit enterprise. Handling donated or gift in kind materials, unexpected receipts, reverse logistics, consignments, international shipping, donation receipts, tax summary data, etc. While HELM has all the common features you would expect in a commercial WMS or ELM, it also has the functionality to help your non-profit run smoothly.
Inventory Control is the central module to HELM. The modular design of the system can be scaled from small and simple to a true enterprise solution. With over 100 available inventory parameters that may be enabled (like lot, serial and expiration date tracking) the detail and sophistication can be adjusted to the needs of your facility. With inventory control enabled as the central module, there are more than a dozen other optional modules that can then be enabled to expand the functionality of the system.
The inventory control module is robust, mature and stable with over 30 years of evolution and implementations. Included are several industry standard features like physical inventory, cycle counting, product zones, special location types, and unlimited warehouses. Returns, quarantines, holds, staging, replenishment… It’s all there.
The Barcoded Warehouse Management module is commonly enabled to add warehouse automation to the inventory control core module. The barcoded warehouse management module includes a RESTful technology webservice and portable transaction computer (scanner) applications. This offers real-time portable radio frequency (RF) barcode scanning equipment, printers, and other devices to manage warehouse operations.
While inventory and warehouse management makeup an important core to the system, HELM offers over a dozen other optional modules that may be enabled to continue expanding the system into a true enterprise solution. Or, in some cases, clients utilize our warehouse management solution in conjunction with an existing legacy financial or ERP system like SAP, Oracle, or Peoplesoft. With a robust API and decades of system integration experience, HELM and HSF can provide a solution tailored to your needs.
The Data Warehouse Module is automatically integrated into the core of HELM. Included in all configurations, but most effective when Purchasing, Inventory, Order Processing, and Shipping are all enabled, the data warehouse is a rich repository of product and logistical information. This store gives end to end movement information in great detail for all products, donors and customers. As an example, this is a great asset for giving your donors detailed reporting on the usage and distribution of their donations.
The Reporting Module is also standard and integrated in HELM. The reporting module has over 300 available standard reports, grouped by module. Each report has an advanced query option to allow you to query on virtually and combination of fields in any table associated with the report. Queries can be changed to give instant data refreshes on the reports, saved, and recalled. Reports are generated with Crystal reports and can generate in a traditional format, or have data exported to Excel, or PDF files.
The Data Miner is another standard (and new) feature in HELM. The Data Miner is designed for advanced users or system administrators. This new and powerful tool allows direct SQL query operations and result set exports to be run against any data tables in the system. This is especially handy for quick, on the fly data query questions.
Offer Management gives your donor relations staff a tool to track donation offers in progress. This centralizes the data of offers in the works for other departments to review and better match needs with offers. Accepted offers can then automatically initiate a purchase order to for product receiving. Offer management also give the ability to report on donor performance and follow-through with donations.
Requisition Management gives a simple, yet centralized system for a controlled procurement process. Materials managers can build requisitions and request quotes from vendors for production, kitting, and inventory replenishment. Employees can input requests for unique purchases. HELM can automatically generate requisitions for low in stock items. The various types of purchase requests are funneled into one path for easier budgeting and approval. Approved requisitions can automatically generate purchase orders and receiving documents.
Inbound Advance Shipment Notifications (ASNs) offer the ability for a timely and accurate expectation and planning of new product arrivals. ASNs are also the first step in the ability to handle pharmaceutical products in compliance with the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA). Having ASN information gives warehouse managers estimated arrival dates, delivery contents, shipper information and other information to facilitate dock and labor planning. When used in conjunction of the EDI module, ASN information can be populated electronically and automatically. Other benefits to ASNs include the feature of having new items automatically setup and ready for receipt upon import of the ASN document.
Because of the importance of pharmaceutical products to the humanitarian aid and disaster relief organizations, compliance with FDA regulations has been integrated throughout HELM. A noticeable part of this is the ASN entry feature. This gives your donor relations team the ability to input missing DSCSA transaction statements or information for donations that arrive with missing or non-electronic information. This feature also gives the ability to tag additional information like a change in ownership of materials that was not in the provided DSCSA data.
Barcoding has been the staple, proven method for warehouse operations for decades now. The optional barcoding module allows for additional flexibility in generating barcoded labels and forms. Along with this module, we also offer a variety of warehouse automation equipment and supplies to address any special needs in your facility’s processes.
Purchase Orders make up one of the largest optional modules in HELM. The key reason is that the purchasing module is designed to handle both traditional purchased goods, and unexpected donated or gift in kind materials. Traditional purchase orders have all the standard features you would expect, like configurable parameters, multiple deliveries, project codes, holds, quarantines, barcoded receiving documents, and more.
The gift in kind (unexpected receipt) side of the purchase order module includes a host of other features and parameters to handle the unique challenges of receiving unexpected items. From the first step, where receiving gift in kind materials automatically populates the purchase order item, lot, serial, expiration, description, and other parameters directly from the warehouse scanning functions. Once the receipt is finished, the PO is flagged for sign off.
Receipt Sign-off is a process designed to help your donor relations team fill in the various missing pieces of the receipt (like values, donor restrictions, DSCSA compliance exceptions, etc.) and then approve or “sign off” on the receipt and make the inventory available for usage and order building. Receipt sign off also gives the ability to flag items for hold or quarantine, assign products for use on specific programs or for using in specific countries. In converse, items can also be blocked from countries, programs, accounts, and projects. Generating tax receipts and other documentation for donors is another feature of the receipt sign-off portion of the purchase order module.
In the gift in kind world, it often seems exceptions are common. With this in mind, the purchasing module also has a purchase order adjust function. This allows for donor relations or inventory control personnel to make adjustments (for example: revaluing product after the original receipt has been completed). This set of adjustment features also allows for changes to item parameters at any point in time, such as updating an incorrect expiration date or lot number discovered after receipt.
Order Processing is the first of the outbound modules. With the complexities of building orders of donated materials, pharmaceutical products, and restricted materials to a variety of partners in need around the globe, HELM stands tall with a variety of complete features. Starting with order entry, the system handles international shipping, building by weight or volume, multiple carrier configurations. Items can be selected with a variety of filters such as expiration dating, specific shipping warehouses, ingredients, WHO categories, and more.
As an order is being built, HELM is checking a configurable and robust set of validations to make sure products are not shipped to blocked countries or programs, donors’ intentions and restrictions are followed, expiration dating and other state or customs regulations are being followed, etc. These backend rules for order building also apply when HELM is augmented by setting up a customer portal for your partners or clinics to “shop” and build their own orders online.
Drop shipping is another feature of the HELM order processing system. Whether shipping purchased goods direct from a vendor, or tracking the shipment of donated goods directly from donor to partner, the drop shipping module provides the capabilities you need.
The order release functions have been greatly enhanced in the 2016 release of HELM. The release functions allow you to release orders to the warehouse for picking and shipping. The release function allows you to do something as simple as release a single order, or do a “what if” series of trial releases of batches or waves of orders. In wave order release mode, the system will automatically pick the most efficient combination of orders to release within the bounds you provide and give you a full preview of the release with statistics such as efficiency rating, orders, cases, pick locations, stages, etc.
The order processing module is also designed to offer an integrated backend to a customer portal front end. For example, when a partner builds and submits a shopping cart in your online portal, the order is automatically queued up as pending review in the order entry function. This gives the order processing department the ability to make any changes or special handling to any order, and to group and release orders for picking in efficient waves.
Order processing also handles a variety of special exception functions unique to the gift in kind model. For example, damaged or expired pharmaceutical products can be placed on destruction orders to be picked and shipped to designated facilities. Also, orders being picked can be recalled, adjusted, and re-released to accommodate last minute changes.
The Picking Module puts control of order picking, packing, palletizing, and shipping into the hands of the warehouse staff. Once orders have been released to the warehouse, all orders appear in a status page, grouped by waves for a high-level view of current warehouse workload. A variety of options are available for picking. At the simplest side is traditional picking by a barcoded pick ticket, or pick by label.
Wave picking is normally setup in a two-stage process with the first pass or “wave” pulling the total quantities of product for all (or all repetitive) items in the wave and transferring them to a staging or packing area. From here the individual order pick tickets are fulfilled. This can be smaller singles or box packing, or larger multi-pallet or sea container orders.
The actual picking methods can be one or more of many, including directed picking, pick by label, traditional pick ticket, etc. Pallet building in the pick process generates unique outbound pallet license plate labels to continue the traceability of all products. Picking can also be directed to different zones or required equipment types, as well as multiple staging areas.
The Shipping Module brings together full details of all inventory, orders, tracking information, carrier information and audit trails as packages leave your facility and head on to your partners and customers. Our unique license plate methodology maintains complete traceability from receipt through shipment of every product, lot, serial, and expiration date.
The module is designed to be flexible and handle small, high volume shipments as well as large sea containers and airlift shipments. For smaller packages we have available interfaces to integrate directly with UPS and Fedex systems to automate the creation of shipping labels and gather tracking number information in link it into the shipments. For larger shipments, HELM will track shipping carriers, sea freight, airlines, direct pickup, drop ships, and about any other method conceivable.
Of course with shipping complex products and configurations comes the demand for detailed shipping manifests, customs forms, bills of lading, etc. HELM offers a variety of proven, standard reports and data export methods to address these needs. The integration of Crystal Reports also give the ability to create or modify shipping reports to meet changing needs.
Outbound Advance Shipment Notifications (ASNs) give you the ability to automatically send shipment details to you partners and customers in advance of shipment arrival. For FDA requirements, this module is integral in the electronic transmission of transaction history data required by DSCSA.
Kitting is one of the new additions to HELM. The kitting module assists in the building of prepackaged “kits” of materials – typically aid relief kits to ship in time of disaster. The kitting module is similar to traditional production assembly building in concept. However, we have enhanced the process to address the reality of having limited quantities of items and one-off donated inventory to work with.
The kitting module allows the definition of “standard” finished good assemblies that are used as a model. Then as the real kit run is created, the system will calculate the ability to create the requested number of kits limited to the lowest common denominator. The process then allows the creation of multiple runs, each with its own production lot number, to allow lot or expiration changes or outright product substitutions per run.
Similar to releasing orders, committed kits can then be released for picking and assembly. As the finished goods are created and scanned, the systems automatically decrements the component items and increments the available finished goods. The finished goods can then be placed on orders and shipped, and still retain a component contents detail that can be printed on shipping manifests or reviewed in other ways.
The design and function of HELM can be significantly tailored and administered with our Web Development Framework (WDF). This application offers tools to allow configuration and customization of several aspects of HELM, including data structure, entry screen layouts, menus, user profiles, dashboards, and more. No coding is needed, all changes are made with setting changes or drag and drop tools. With this tool, your administrator will have significant power to shape and adjust your HELM system as your needs grow and change.
Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) can easily be integrated into your HELM installation with our available EDI processor. Our processor can download or send EDI documents via popular VANs or value added data providers like Tracelink. The EDI processor includes mapping ability and can read and write raw .edi flat file documents, saving you the expense of paying a VAN for mapping. Also supported are XML file formats, automatic email notifications, and ASN, PO, and Item automatic data population.
To make backend, web, or legacy system integration secure and easy, HELM has an available RESTful API Data Engine. This API allows secure https access to all system data and functions. An administrator can setup a login and key to the selected HELM database and then run standard SQL queries against any schema object or call any system process or procedure. Data transmission is via standard JSON.
To further enhance your HELM installation and expand your enterprise offering, we also offer a customer portal builder. This software application integrates with WordPress on the front end, and the HELM Data Engine API on the back end. This tool allows you to integrate data entry, e-commerce, and other functions into the most popular website design tool to give your customers and partners a great experience.