Danwood engineers link direct to supplier by PDA

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Danwood engineers link direct to supplier by PDA

Karen Gomm
Office equipment supplier Danwood has used mobile technology to link to its suppliers and improve customer service.

The company is trading electronically with printer manufacturer Ricoh using Sonic ESB middleware and handheld devices carried by its engineers.

Danwood's service engineers can use a handheld computer to request spare parts via a system called Eric (Engineers Remote Information Communicator).

An engineer's handheld computer sends purchase order requests via GPRS to Danwood's service management and enterprise resource planning system, supplied by Progress. The purchase order is then converted using the Sonic ESB middleware into a format Ricoh's sales order processing systems can receive over the internet.

Mobile technology has become popular for companies with field engineers who work at customer sites. The main benefit of the technology is that it allows staff direct access to central IT systems such as parts databases or customer records.

Previously Danwood faxed purchase orders to suppliers, who then had to re-key information into their systems. The engineers would also receive information via Eric regarding stock availability. Once the supplier invoice was received, information was again keyed into Danwood's systems, matched with stock receipts, checked and sent for approval for payment.

Darren Wilson, information systems director at Danwood, said, "There was an enormous amount of duplicated effort between ourselves and our suppliers and we decided the best way to improve the process flow was to trade electronically."

The company aims to automate the receipt, matching, approval and payment of 50% of invoices within the next 12 months.

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