Council's eTrading solution buys time

Carmarthenshire Council's new stock ordering system saves staff precious time, writes Ross Bentley

Carmarthenshire Council's new stock ordering system saves staff precious time, writes Ross Bentley.

Carmarthenshire County Council in Wales has implemented an electronic supply chain system with one of its main suppliers that it hopes will result in significant savings and free up council workers to complete more jobs.

The eTrading solution, developed in partnership with Consilium Technologies, has enabled the council to close its central stores and instead source building materials and supplies from the Travis Perkins chain under a five-year contract. There are also plans to roll out the system to smaller, local suppliers at a later stage.

The pilot project links Carmarthenshire County Council and Travis Perkins with an electronic ordering, invoicing and stock control solution using Consilium Technologies' Task software platform. Council workers use Compaq iPaq personal digital assistants to communicate with the system, which can also be accessed by suppliers via a simple e-mail interface.

The council says the pilot has already resulted in a number of benefits, including reduced waiting times for repairs, elimination of paperwork, reduced waste and over-ordering, better cost control, and improved quality of service.

Covering more than 1,000 square miles, the Carmarthenshire operations team is called on to complete more than 35,000 jobs each year to maintain the council's housing stock and public buildings. The eTrading system is already popular because more jobs can be completed in a day.

Previously, a lot of time was lost returning to the council's central stores to source materials required to complete repairs. The Consilium solution allows the orders to be remotely dispatched and collection is requested from the nearest Travis Perkins store.

Future phases of the project will support electronic invoicing and automatic updating of the Task financial system running in the operations department.

Owen Bowen, group accountant for the operations department in Carmarthenshire County Council, says, "It is a win-win situation for the suppliers and the council. Using electronic ordering and removing the need for a central store means our workers can be much more efficient, and our suppliers win more business. I expect the £50,000 development costs of the project to be recouped just in the savings made on diesel fuel."

By summer 2003 Carmarthenshire County Council aims to have 80% of its 140 workers on the Consilium system, all using iPaq PDAs to conduct transactions online with the various contractors in the scheme.

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