Keeping up with the quickly changing landscapes of both software development and the produce industry is not easy, but F. Charles Waud, company president of Waudware, enjoys the challenge.
The Brampton-based software development company has two flagship products — Produce Inventory Control System and Produce Inventory Control System for the Web. Specifically designed for the produce industry, the software is particularly adept at handling traceability issues, including case labeling.
Case labeling recently hit the news when Walmart announced on May 29 to fresh produce suppliers that it would reject case labels which don’t comply with the Produce Traceability Initiative case labeling standards by Jan. 1, 2014. Walmart’s requirement only applies so far to the United States and to distribution centres rather than individual stores, but it will accelerate change in the industry as other major retailers follow the retail giant’s lead.
“Canadians generally follow a little behind the Americans, so I would expect Walmart Canada will probably follow suit hopefully sometime in 2014 or maybe 2015,” Waud said. Canadian suppliers are already keeping a close eye on the situation south of the border, and many already have achieved or are taking steps toward full PTI compliance.
“A lot of Canadian companies do sell into the U.S., so we have several customers who are affected by this because they are selling their product across the border. We have a few customers in the U.S. who are also affected by this as they obviously sell into Walmart direct.” Waud noted that PICS is able to handle all of the PTI’s traceability requirements.
PICS is Waudware’s main product, and it is designed to run on desktop-type computers and servers. It has everything on it needed to run a business, including buying, selling, production and accounting. WebPICS is an optional add-on which allows the inventory modules to be used on hand-held scanners.
“Everybody has to have PICS to start, but we’re getting more and more customers who are adding on WebPICS because it lets them move data entry components right to where they happen out at the plant, as opposed to producing pieces of paper, sending them out to the plant, having people write on them and then bring them back to the office to be entered in. It makes it a little more real time, a little less labor intensive and cuts out mistakes,” said Waud.
Other useful PICS’ features include document imaging, which allows the user to scan copies of paperwork so they are electronically filed and can be easily accessed, and signature copies, which scans signed delivery copies so they can be attached to the orders in the system.
Waudware has three full time developers and is looking to hire another to keep up with the fast changing industry and customer demand. The company is constantly updating its product and is currently in the middle of a large project. The company president noted, “We are actually rewriting the entire suite of software in Java. We’ve been in business 23 years and the early part of the software goes back to then, so we’ve been thinking about re-engineering it to bring it all up, using the latest tools for development and testing and deployment.”
The project is expected to be completed in 2014, and one goal is to upgrade the product’s current ability to customize the language of reports into full multi-lingual capability. Users will be able to select a language in their profile and everything will be rendered in that language.
Waudware’s mission includes giving back to the community. Waud was president of the Brampton Board of Trade and is currently a director of the Ontario Produce Marketing Association. On Aug. 1, the company will sponsor the 6th annual Waudware Invitational Golf Tournament.
“It’s a nine hole format with a really great dinner afterwards at a popular restaurant in Brampton,” Waud said. “We raise money for the Brampton and Area Community Foundation. This year we’ll pass $30,000.”