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BAR CODE & DATA MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGIES

Alpha Systems is a leading solutions provider of Bar Code Technology, Automated Data Collection, Mobile Computing, IT Support, and Label Media. At Alpha Systems, our sole focus is helping clients improve their performance, cost controls, and global competitiveness. Great ideas happen every day at Alpha.

 

News

 

Concerntrak, Inc. and Alpha Systems Partner to
Provide Food Safety Compliance Solutions


ConcernTrak Inc. Announces

Strategic Partnership with Alpha Systems

Richmond, Virginia
December 15, 2014

Concerntrak, Inc., a food safety solutions company, announces the formation of a strategic partnership with Alpha Systems, a leader in the distribution and implementation of bar code and data capture technology.  The partnership promises to make food safety compliance easier and more cost effective.

With the rising demand from legislators and retailers for improved food safety protocol, food manufacturers are required to have comprehensive record keeping systems to monitor their daily food safety compliance. At present, most manufacturers still use paper-based systems to log the required data. In the event of a food safety incident, many discover that their paper systems are prone to errors and incomplete information that put businesses, jobs and consumers at risk.

Concerntrak and Alpha Systems, both headquartered in the Richmond, Virginia area, provide solutions and services to customers nationwide.  “Having a partner like Alpha Systems so close by is an added benefit for us.  There’s no substitute for meeting face-to-face over a cup of coffee to perfect the integration of our services.  That enhances the comfort level for both our companies,” said David Rosenthal, CEO and founder of Concerntrak, Inc.

ConcernTrak's C-Shield and C-Trace technologies automate the record-keeping and lot tracking processes, significantly reducing potential for errors, eliminating redundant data entry. “C-Shield also allows for real-time monitoring to compliance information. As a result, a company using our technology can take corrective actions if and when violations to protocol are identified.  C-Trace, Concerntrak’s lot tracking technology, focuses on tracking raw materials within the manufacturer’s four walls and maintains lot traceability during the manufacturing process,” continued David Rosenthal.

Alpha Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hunkar Technologies, Inc., is a leading solutions provider of bar code technology, automated data collection, mobile computing and label media.  “Our sole focus is helping clients improve their performance, cost controls, and global competitiveness.  Concerntrak opens up an underserved market for us. Basically, Concerntrak has the technology solution and Alpha Systems provides the implementation tools on the front line,” said Robert Cook of Alpha Systems.

Together, Concerntrak, Inc. and Alpha Systems will partner with food companies to make their businesses more efficient and more responsive to new compliance requirements.  A cost-effective food safety compliance solution will make food manufacturers more profitable, will protect their brands and reputations and will enhance food safety for their customers.

Concerntrak, Inc.
804-745-2848

Alpha Systems Virginia
804-744-9870

 



Patience Pays Off In The Healthcare Vertical

By Brian Albright, Business Solutions magazine - April 21, 2014

For Alpha Systems, reliable printers and a solutions-based approach have helped grow its healthcare business.

Joe Panella Alpha Systems

When it comes to selling automated data collection solutions, casting a wide net across a number of verticals can help balance your revenue streams as different industries experience upswings and downswings. That’s been part of the guiding philosophy at Alpha Systems, a Midlothian, VA-based integrator that specializes in bar code technology data collection systems, mobile computing IT support, and label media.

Whether the company is working with a frozen food distributor, a warehouse, a military installation, a transportation company, or a hospital, vice president of sales Joe Panella says the Alpha team leverages its data collection knowledge to solve each client’s business problems. “I come in with a blank pad of paper, and I want to hear what their business problems are,” Panella says. “We start off at a white board conversation, and we end up testing a solution.”

Like many other integrators in the space, Alpha launched in 1989 focusing on providing bar-coding solutions for warehouses and manufacturing facilities. But as those traditional markets contracted, Alpha expanded its reach into the mobile work space, including field order entry, vehicle maintenance, direct store delivery applications, as well as vision and laser-etching applications for manufacturers. The company also shifted its approach from a product-based to a solutions-based pitch. Alpha expects to see sales growth of 10 percent this year thanks to this solutions-focused, multivertical approach.

According to Panella, this solutions focus and the company’s ability to deliver the right technology for the job has helped it expand into other verticals, including healthcare. Currently, Alpha provides labeling and scanning solutions for pharmacies, laboratories, hospitals, and other facilities. Over time, healthcare has grown to account for roughly 10 percent of the company’s business.

Panella says that he sees the most demand for pharmacy and blood bag labeling, asset management and tracking, medication administration, blood transfusion verification, patient wristbands, and specimen tracking. There are other opportunities as well, including fixed mount bar code scanners and vision inspection solutions for labs and pharmacies to assist in robotic sampling and sorting systems. “We’re also seeing demand for mobile carts for nurses, emergency and disaster recovery systems for the wireless infrastructure throughout a hospital, and even tablet computers for the nursing staff and the doctors,” Panella says. On the wireless side, Alpha also provides Motorola’s AirDefense WLAN management and security solutions to many of its healthcare clients.

Healthcare IT: Who To Sell To, And When Sales cycles in healthcare vary based on the type of facility and funding. “You’d think hospitals and doctors offices would have a lot of money on hand, but they have more budget problems than I’ve seen in any other vertical,” Panella says. “For smaller projects in this market, you’re looking at three to six months or more than a year for larger deployments.”

The laboratory or pharmacy manager is the key decision maker for traditional labeling solutions at a hospital. “I’ve got to have three people in my buy cycle,” Panella says. “You need the IT director, the manager, and the purchasing agent. The IT director is crucial to me because what we deploy has to interface with whatever other systems they are running.”

Even in cases where there is a clear benefit to both patient safety and operational costs, it can be challenging for healthcare facilities to pull the trigger on funding. As a result, financing and lease options can be attractive for customers in the healthcare market. Even then, VARs may find themselves developing client opportunities for more than a year. (http://www.bsminfo.com/subscription/subscribe? src=magbutton)

“For example, we’re talking to a large doctor's office in Northern Virginia, and they need a variety of scanning technology to manage their immunization and pharmaceutical tracking,” Panella says. “They are looking at this for 2015, even though they know they are making mistakes in their inventory and buying too much supply. Vaccines are expiring on the shelf, but they can’t do it any sooner. The ROI is there, but they can’t put it on the books for another year.”

The cost justification in this instance (and in most similar deployments) comes in avoiding errors. “They are entering the wrong information constantly,” Panella says. “The NDC [National Drug Code] number on the side of a test tube is 11 digits long, and they have five or six pages of forms to fill out before they can give the immunization. The path they travel on the form is not direct either, so there are plenty of opportunities for mistakes.”

Using bar code scanning and automated forms on a mobile device would speed that process and eliminate errors. “There’s also the dollar amount of what they carry on the shelves,” Panella says. “If they over order, it expires, and they don’t really have any way to know what they’ve got on the shelf without good inventory tracking.”


  “We’re also seeing demand for mobile carts for nurses, emergency and disaster recovery systems for the wireless infrastructure throughout a hospital, and even tablet computers for the nursing staff and the doctors.”

Joe Panella, Alpha Systems


Error avoidance is also at the heart of patient safety and medication administration applications. “They want to make sure they get the right patient, the right dose at the right time, throughout the hospital,” Panella says. “We also do a lot of work with IV bag tracking.” In those applications, label selection and printer selection are critical, because the labels have to work in different temperatures. “A lot of times I’ll see other companies select the wrong label material, and it falls off or the ink doesn’t adhere properly, which causes smearing,” Panella says. “Or they size the label too small, and it’s difficult to read. Legibility of those labels is extremely important in these facilities, even with bar code scanning. I always make sure our hospital clients have spare print heads on-site, because the print head is the typical culprit when they have label quality problems.”

Alpha also sells patient wristband and mobile cart solutions to healthcare clients, as well as some 802.11-based RFID tracking systems. Hardware requirements for healthcare are highly specific, and Alpha offers a variety of purpose-built hardware from multiple vendors. “With the hardware, you want devices that have germ-free or antimicrobial materials and that are resistant to the cleaning chemicals they use at a medical facility, which can be quite harsh,” Panella says. “In some cases, they are also looking for silent scanners that don’t beep, because it disturbs the patients.”

End-To-End Support

Panella attributes much of Alpha’s success to its ability to work closely with clients to develop a technology solution on the front end and to provide hands-on support after the deployment. The team lets the client see exactly how the new data collection system will work as early as possible, so they can see what the benefits will be and work through any design challenges.

“We write some software and prototype a system to show them how the data will flow,” Panella says. “Prototyping is big with our customers because they want to try before they buy, and we can usually accommodate that on a small scale.”

Panella and the sales team also keep in close contact with clients after the installation. “We do a great job of working with our clients,” Panella says. “If they call me up on Friday afternoon at 2 p.m., I can be there at 2:30 because we’re close. If we need to, we can service printers on-site when someone is having a problem and it’s urgent. They know we are going to be there for them.”

Excerpt from http://www.bsminfo.com/doc/patience-pays-off-in-the-healthcare-vertical-0001

 


 

How Your Data Collection Experience Can Nullify Online Competitors

October 18, 2012

By Gennifer Biggs, Business Solutions Magazine

This data collection and management integrator retooled its value proposition to overcome Internet competition and position itself for future growth.

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Alpha Systems has been in the business of data collection for nearly three decades, but recently it had to adjust its approach to sales to overcome some barriers presented by customers who know just enough about technology to be dangerous, as the old adage goes. When you cross technologysavvy customers with the Internet and lowcost component vendors marketing “turnkey” solutions, integrators such as Alpha Systems are faced with a conundrum. The integrator was challenged to sell its own expertise rather than pitching technology.

Communicate Value Of Data Capture Expertise To Win Sales Alpha Systems, which is part of the Hunkar Technology family of services providers, is a data capture and management integrator that has seen a clear shift in its business during the last several years. Joe Panella, VP of sales for Alpha Systems, and Robert Cook, president and CIO for the integrator, say it was a year or so ago that their sales team noticed that, more and more often, the sales conversation with customers was focusing on the value offered by Alpha Systems, not individual components in a data collection solution. “As time went on, we started to see more plug and play devices, and our customers were getting increasingly comfortable with turning to the Internet for solutions; they didn’t think they needed our help,” explains Cook. “And as our customers became more educated, it changed the way we do business.”

Those customers started asking, “Why am I paying Alpha Systems a premium for a solution that I think I can put together myself?” and Cook and Panella realized they needed an answer for that question. “In the early days of data capture, our customers were just happy to find someone who knew anything about bar coding. Today, so many people feel they can buy technology on the Internet and don’t need additional help that we had to learn how to showcase our value,” says Cook.

Overcome Capital Expense Objections Panella and Cook agree that the type of customer the integrator serves is one reason why their company needed to better articulate their expertise and the cost savings they can drive. Alpha Systems is particularly effective when working with midmarket customers, those with $50 million to a half billion dollars in annual sales. The reason is simple — those midsize businesses are large enough to have sophisticated data collection and management needs, but don’t have the internal resources to develop and manage a full-fledged solution. They are also under tight cost constraints, which make those alleged “all-in-one” Internet deals alluring. One way Alpha Systems helps overcome capital expense objections is to raise customers’ awareness of the hidden time and resource costs of an in-house solution. “We focus on making the customer understand the unforeseen overhead it faces — time and resources needed for configuration of devices, troubleshooting of the infrastructure and connectivity, and management of the entire system,” explains Cook. “We explain to them that we know what questions to ask and what issues to anticipate. We’ve done deployments in their vertical before, with this same equipment, and we can save them from an expensive learning curve.”

Convey The Value Of Customized Turnkey Solutions The integrator found itself doing some soul searching and ultimately took action to better define its value proposition and then accurately communicate that value and the company’s philosophy to customers. “We focused on ways we can reach customers before they make a purchase, and we educate them on the pitfalls [e.g. deployment/configuration time, learning curve] of blind purchases over the Internet,” explains Cook. The sales team started brainstorming every month, highlighting a new success story and working together through the steps to that win. “We talk about how we found the opportunity, what was in the proposal, what objections we had to overcome, and how we did that. That process helped us develop concrete examples of our value to share with our customers,” says Panella.

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Part of that new customer communication strategy involved a revamp of the company’s website. “We offer solutions that are A to Z, everything from the products to create and print bar code labels to the hardware to collect the data and the software to manage it — all integrated together seamlessly. That is our value proposition for customers, but our website was muddying the water,” he adds. Alpha Systems decided the existing version of its website, which looked more like a product catalog, wasn’t reinforcing its message of comprehensive and custom data capture solutions. An overhaul eliminated that problem, and today, the website communicates the vision of Alpha Systems, presenting information on the integrator’s experience with verticals such as education, healthcare, and manufacturing and establishing how its valuable expertise leads to turnkey solutions custom-built for each customer.

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The Search For A New Type Of Vendor And Customer Another change the integrator made was to limit its vendor partnerships, building expertise around vendor product lines that offered clear differentiators when it comes to sales proposals. “We work with vendor partners that offer full product families that can meet the needs of all our customers,” explains Cook. Key to that relationship, he adds, is a willingness on the vendor’s part to create a close partnership that ensures growth for both sides.

The effort to build deep relationships with a limited number of vendors paid off as new food tracking regulations started to impact small food preparation businesses. Those businesses appealed to industry-leading vendors in the barcoding space for guidance. References from those vendor partners led to several engagements for Alpha Systems, business the integrator might have missed if it was just one more partner on a large vendor’s shipping list.

With those changes in place, Alpha Systems started pursuing a new breed of customers. “We looked at our marketplace and understood that those places where decisions were made on the basis of price were not the kind of customers we wanted,” says Cook. Instead, the integrator started identifying customers and verticals where more sophisticated solutions were in demand and focused its efforts there. One market opportunity it has identified is wireless mobility. Not only can Alpha Systems offer insight into the choice between smartphones and purpose-built rugged data collection handhelds, but if it loses that battle, the integrator typically finds a wireless infrastructure win remains.

BYOD And Big Data Offer Lucrative Future Sales Like many other solutions providers, Alpha Systems is not only adjusting and maturing to take advantage of changes in the data collection landscape, it is seeking ways to soften the ebb of revenue between projects. There again, Cook is looking at the impact of mobility and the growing “bring your own devices” (BYOD) trend. “We’re hoping to create a recurring stream helping our customers prepare for BYOD, especially when those devices are used to gather and store data. We can help guide them toward best practices for managing those devices. They will need help with security, connectivity, data management, and managing the volume of traffic on the network, which again is where our experience comes into play.”

Cook also sees opportunity on the horizon when it comes to a growing interest in Big Data. Alpha Systems is preparing to show its customers how to turn all the data they’ve collected and stored into usable information that can reveal potential areas for improvement within the business. “We will offer services to help our customers get that data consolidated and then mine it,” explains Cook. “All of that is a value we can add because we have a specific focus on data collection, every aspect of it, and we can offer expertise our customers could never afford in-house. The key is to communicate to them how that expertise translates into cost savings and increased productivity.”

For Alpha Systems, a willingness to look hard at its own value proposition has paid off. The integrator is on track to achieve a 25% revenue jump by the end of 2012, much of which is built off wins with those midmarket customers willing to pay a little extra for solutions that deliver on a promise to cut costs and increase efficiencies. The next trick will be for Alpha Systems to mature those relationships into ongoing engagements about BYOD and Big Data, an opportunity many integrators will miss if they don’t stay forward focused like this team has done so successfully.

Story copied from: http://www.bsminfo.com/doc.mvc/how-your-data-collection-experience-can-nullify-online-competitors-0001?sectionCode=MainStory&templateCode=BusinessSolutions&user=2654374&source=nl:35491

Alpha Systems, a Hunkar Technologies company

Founded: 1989 2011 sales revenue: $8 million 2011 sales growth rate: 35% 2012 projected sales revenue: $10 million 2012 projected sales growth rate: 25% Verticals: education, energy and power utilities, food packaging, healthcare, manufacturing/distribution Vendors: Accellos, Cognex, Datalogic, Datamax-O’Neil, HighJump, Honeywell, Intermec, Microscan, Motorola, Psion, RF Smart, Zebra Technologies Distributors: BlueStar, Ingram Micro, ScanSource, SYNNEX Website: www.alphasystemsva.com Phone: (804) 744-9870

 


 

One Way To Improve Efficiency, Reduce Service And Support Time, Increase Margins

From the day Alpha Systems opened its doors in 1989, the data collection and business management solutions provider has been partnering with Datamax-O’Neil. Alpha Systems has leveraged the full Datamax-O’Neil portfolio of bar code printers — both stationary and mobile — in a majority of its customer installations for the past 20+ years and is quick to point out a high level of satisfaction with the product line. “Obviously, we know by now that we can rely on Datamax-O’Neil for printers that will do the job every time,” says Joe Panella, VP of sales for Alpha Systems. In today’s world of quickly shifting business alliances, that kind of longevity is unique, but Panella says the reasons behind the loyalty are simple.

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First, both companies are dedicated to investing in each other’s success. Panella says Alpha Systems has learned that Datamax-O’Neil is willing to spend time and resources to help his company bring in new business. “When they identify new market opportunities, they share that information with us,” says Panella, who uses healthcare as an example. “They not only educate us about the drivers and value propositions for that opportunity, they visit our offices and share their intelligence with our whole team, as well as offer training around that opportunity.” In return, as Alpha Systems has grown, it has taken Datamax-O’Neil products into as many installations as possible, a choice empowered by the vendor’s wide and deep product line. “Their line of printers ranges from desktop to heavy-duty industrial, and that variety helps us place the right printer for the customer need without investing in training over multiple vendor lines,” says Panella.

Alpha Systems also has found Datamax-O’Neil willing to innovate. “We’ve discovered that if we have a customer with a unique need and the opportunity warrants it, Datamax-O’Neil will go to R&D and resolve the issue,” says Panella. “That isn’t something most vendors are willing to do.” He says that kind of dedication is reflected as well in the support Datamax-O’Neil offers. For example, during a recent rollout of a new printer fleet with a national customer, an interoperability issue was discovered. Rather than cross their fingers and hope nothing went wrong, Datamax-O’Neil supported Alpha Systems by coordinating with the solutions provider to swap out the printers, en masse, before any glitches happened that might inconvenience the customer and put future sales at risk. Overall, Panella says that having a vendor partner with such a broad portfolio enables his company to build a deep competency with that single vendor, which leads to improved efficiency, reduced service and support time, and ultimately, increased margins.

www.datamax-oneil.com

 


 

Alpha Systems announces the acquisition of Point of Activity, Inc.

January 10, 2011

Midlothian, Virginia - Today, Hunkar Data and Barcode, Inc., a subsidiary of Hunkar Technologies, Inc., announced that its Alpha Systems barcode division acquired certain assets of Point of Activity, Inc. based in Richmond, Virginia. The acquisition was an asset purchase transaction. Point of Activity, Inc. was founded in 1990 and is a premier value added reseller of bar code equipment, labels, mobile and stationary inventory and asset tracking systems, programming and repair support services. Mr. Robert H. Cook, Jr. General Manager of Alpha Systems stated: “The knowledgeable and talented people that this transaction places togethor will no doubt yield significant support benefits to our mutual client base. This deal furthers our efforts to achieve our primary goal as a technology business, relentlessly help all of our clients improve their respective profitability and competitive position through innovation.” Mr. Wayne Brown II, President of Point of Activity, Inc. added: “This is an exciting day, Point of Activity, Inc. clients will most certainly benefit by the tremendous reach and resources that Alpha Systems and Hunkar brings them in the fields of data management and automation.. All of us are looking forward to working closely with and supporting the loyal clients who have blessed us with their business and confidence over the years.”

Mr. Wayne Brown II will join Alpha Systems as Vice President- business development and report to Mr. Cook . Mr. Joseph Panella, a long time senior executive at Alpha Systems has been promoted to Vice President of Sales and will continue to report to Mr. Cook. For more information please contact Mr. Robert H. Cook Jr. at 804-744-9870 Ext. 201 rcook@alphasystemsva.com or Mr. Wayne Brown II at 804-744-9870 Ext. 203 or wbrown@pointactivity.com. Hunkar Technologies is a leading international supplier and manufacturer of data & barcode solutions, label application & packaging systems, metal storage containers & material handling equipment and automation controls & sensors.