Electrical Distributors need to have access to a database of product dimensions (length, width, height), as well as product weights to meet their material handling, freight, quality control, and warehousing needs.
While the IDEA Connector enables manufacturers to provide all necessary weights and measures information (e.g., eaches, packages, cartons, boxes, and pallet), a number of electrical manufacturers are unable to provide much data beyond eaches. To help address this, IDEA has completed several distributor interviews to assess demand, potential applications and value, and funding support for an independent project to accumulate this product data. By volunteering to oversee and own the project, IDEA is both fulfilling its mission to be a single source of data for the electrical industry and eliminating the unnecessary duplication of effort and expense that would occur if distributors were to undertake this project on their own.
Naturally, the most expeditious path forward would be for manufacturers to provide IDEA with as much of the weights and measure data as they have available. As a result, IDEA will continue to reach out to manufacturers to secure the information. However, since a number of manufacturers are unable to provide distributors with the weights and measures needed, a secondary path forward calls for IDEA to secure a portable scanning machine and work with NAED and IDEA’s mutual distributors to begin the process of gathering the data.
On Monday, August 9, 2021, NAED’s Board of Directors unanimously approved the recommendation that IDEA begin the effort to include weights and measures in the item record for each product in its database and fully supports the effort to acquire the data.
As noted above, IDEA has conducted interviews with several NAED member distributors, and each distributor interviewed stressed the need for more precise dimensioning data for all products. The group of distributors has either previously attempted to accumulate the data or plan to make this investment individually. They told IDEA they see an immediate need for the data to interface with shipping-system software providers for freight calculation or for using advanced warehousing systems for automated handling and cubing decisions. One distributor mentioned the need for an improved quality process that would verify that packing slips had been picked correctly by comparing total weight measured against system calculated weight for the ticket. In most cases, having access to accurate data will improve operations quality, lower handling costs, and make distributor eCommerce applications more competitive.
IDEA has actively begun reaching out to manufacturers to supply the weights and measures data and plans to reach out to interested distributors to help develop the program and launch the service.
Interested parties are encouraged to contact Mike Wentz, IDEA’s VP of Sales, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703.562.4675.