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Computer update: today's hardware & software for wholesalers.

Micro Vane releases Version 8.3 of dBEV, announces customer service improvements Micro Vane Inc. released version 8.3 of its dBEV software program late in 1993, a year that also saw the Kalamazoo, MI, company take several steps to strengthen what it calls its first priority--customer service.

"We added three more people who will be responsible for contacting our customers on a regular basis, we enhanced our internal software program that governs customer support services, and we made a commitment to greatly expanding the number of regional seminars we offer for customers," says Bob Pursel, vice president of marketing for Micro Vane, one of the country's largest producers of microcomputer software for the beverage industry.

"Many of our customers don't have the need to call us for software/hardware support so we have implemented a program to contact each of them regularly to ensure they're getting the fullest utilization of their system. We are replacing about 50 competitive systems per year, so adding three new people has strengthened the program," Pursel says.

Micro Vane says its track record for customer service earned it recognition in the competition for the Norand VAR Quality Award. Because no VAR may win the Quality Award in two consecutive years, Norand created a new award for previous winners who continue to improve customer satisfaction. Micro Vane says that it is the sole member of the new Norand Quality Winner's Club.

Micro Vane reports that it has enhanced its internally-developed customer support system by adding an "expert" module that helps customer service representatives handle customer inquiries more efficiently.

Micro Vane says that the new module includes a great deal of additional technical data about the customers' computer setup, "giving Micro Vane representatives the ability to immediately answer a much wider array of complex questions pertaining to brewery software, networking, Route Commanders, etc." Also in 1993, Micro Vane hosted three regional operator seminars and one management seminar to help customers get the maximum benefit from new software features and to solicit suggestions for future enhancements. Micro Vane says that the seminars have been so well received that the company will expand the format, offering 9-12 smaller regional seminars in '94.

On the subject of dBEV, Micro Vane says Version 8.3 incorporates hundreds TABULAR DATA OMITTED of new reporting enhancements. One new report that the company cites has been tailored to make it easy for customers to adhere to state-specific reporting requirements. In addition, Micro Vane says, the point-of-sale tracker module has been updated to allow distributors to identify the best possible locations for point-of-purchase displays at each of their customer sites and to track data on product displays.

According to Micro Vane, interest in Route-Commander portable data systems reached an all-time high in 1993. Fifty distributors added Route-Commander units to their existing dBEV systems, whether for driver-sell, pre-sell or both. Approximately one-fourth of Micro Vane's 800+ dBEV customers are now using hand-held data systems. One reason, according to Micro Vane: wholesalers generally can avoid the expense of a new computer system by adding hand-helds to their present system, regardless of whether their micro-computer is a 286, 386 or 486.

Micro Vane says it also enhanced its hand-held interface software to handle the DEX/UCS capabilities inherent in the Route--Commander portable systems.

Also added were Routebook capabilities for driver-sell and pre-sell and the ability to download pre-sold orders into a delivery person's portable unit for on-site adjustments at the point-of-sale.

Plus, the company reports that new multi-user capabilities allow several operators to access data on the interface software simultaneously--especially useful for larger wholesalers on networks, the vendor says.

"I would say that 1993 was the best of our 11 years in business," Pursel says. "We are working to help our customers have their best year ever in '94."

For more information, contact Micro Vane, Inc. 8135 Cox's Drive, Kalamazoo, MI, 49002. Tel: (800) 222-0677.

Insight announces successful introduction for Sales Manager

Insight Distribution Systems of Hunt Valley, MD, has announced a successful introduction for Insight Sales Manager this past summer.

"It's a product that was over two years in the making," says Insight president Max Landman, "and it has gotten a fantastic reception from our customers."

Landman says that Sales Manager was designed from scratch to integrate well with PC's, since any report can be transferred to another computer as a delimited ASCII file.

"It's designed to be usable by normal distributorship sales and office staffs," Landman reports, "A couple of hours of phone training is all that is required to learn how to create reports."

The company reports that the Insight Sales Manager can make "endless reporting possibilities" available to the user.

Features of the package include a flexible time period reporting capability. Using this feature, wholesalers can get reports for any time period: days, weeks, months, years or any combination. As an addition, ranking reports are offered for any item on the database: dollars, units; sales or profit information.

Exception reports can also be printed, and the program allows for varying report formats.

The Sales Manager can generate reports by customer, product, salesperson or route, region or chain; for unit and dollar sales, discounted cases and dollars. Items such as number of stops, profit per stop and percent profit are available by customer for any time period.

Insight says that the Sales Manager can instantly access invoice information by customer, date, route or company, allowing managers to see at a glance if an invoice was pre-sold, rending or driver-sale.

The report can show each product on the ticket, along with units ordered, sold, returned, and discounted; dollar sales, discount, deposit, cost; and the cash or charge account and amount.

The program contains over 120 sales and master items for reporting, including: units, dollars, per unit dollars, percentages, percentage of subtotal, distribution, comparison reports and promotional reporting.

Landman says that Insight has developed and packaged over 100 reports with Sales Manager, including: Top ranking customer report by salesperson or company; chain store reports--ranking and product sales reports; salesperson 12-month comparison; dollar sales by chain; ten-week unit sales and discount; route sales profit and stop reporting by customer; period sales and new placements--by route and by salesperson; unit sales comparison by region and customer; product ranking by case equivalents with pre unit profit; brand distribution by premise for 12 months and year-to-date; customer master reports and product master reports.

The company also points to several additional capabilities for Sales Manager: Help screens that can be printed or spooled; creation of standard ASCII files for use with other software and a page width feature.

For more information, contact Insight, 222 Schilling Circle, Hunt Valley, MD 21031. Tel: (410) 329-1100.

New Truckstops 2

According to Micro Analytics, of Arlington, VA, the new Truckstops 2 Fleet Routing System represents a major advance in computerized routing technology. The company reports that the system provides improved performance; new data elements and data transfer capabilities; new custom reports; enhanced help; a new mouse interface; better mapping; updated StreetNet location databases and an interface to on-board computers.

"The new TruckStops is the next generation in routing software; it's not just another release," says J. Michael Hooban, president of Micro Analytics.

For more information, contact Micro Analytics, 2300 Clarendon Boulevard, Suite 404, Arlington, VA 22201. Tel: (703) 841-0414.

Beverage Systems, Inc. adds new features to Route Distribution System

Beverage Systems, Inc. of San Diego, CA says it has continued to add new features to its Route Distribution System (RDS), a software package designed expressly for beverage wholesalers. The RDS driver settlement procedure is now completely automated with the addition of Norand Driver-Sale hand-held computers, BSI says.

According to the company, these devices present the driver with an electronic routebook, from which he can enter sales. The hand-held then prints an invoice on the spot, ready for the customer's signature. In addition, the driver's cash and load sheet are automatically balanced and the sales are automatically transmitted to the RDS host computer which updates the customer's sale history and accounts receivable.

According to BSI, using these driver-sales hand-held units saves wholesalers money by eliminating driver computational errors, automating the maintenance of the driver route book, and eliminating the manual key-in of invoice and load sheet information by the clerical staff.

BSI says it also has a similar application wherein Norand terminals and printers are used by the delivery driver in a pre-sale environment. The actual invoice is resident in the hand-held terminal, and after any/all cuts and/or adds are made to the order the driver actually prints the invoice on the spot at the time of delivery.

In response to Miller Brewing's marketshare achievement plan (MAP), BSI has added new software to track point-of-sale items, displays, cooler sets, draft service and tap handles. A new report warns the wholesaler of products that are nearing the pull date.

Also new to the RDS are X-terminals. These graphics-capable terminals increase productivity of both management and clerical personnel by allowing several functions to be performed simultaneously at a single station. The X-terminal presents a set of windows, each of which can run an application as though it was a separate terminal. The operator uses a mouse to select (click on) a window, and then starts an application such as a sales report. While that application is running, the operator selects another window and initiates another report or function. Additional windows may be left at inquiry screens to handle incoming phone calls.

BSI says that yet another recently added feature to RDS fully automates the customer walk-in side of the wholesale business. A clerk at the counter or loading dock enters the sales order as it is being given verbally by the customer. An invoice is printed immediately, as are pick-up documents for the warehouse. Warehouse personnel who will fill the order may be assigned electronically by the order taker. Call-in and will-call orders are also supported. Cash register drawers can also be integrated to terminals and printers located in the warehouse or dock sale area to complete the transaction. Complete reconciliation is automatic at the end of each day. Sales history etc. is also retained.

BSI says that it is currently engaged in a joint effort with Norand, developing a new "Pen View' system for pre-sales, collection P.O.S. and survey information. The first installation is scheduled for February 1994, in San Diego, CA. In addition to taking orders, the new "Pen View" has numerous other capabilities, and can do the following:

* Maintain customer profiles

* Keep track of sales quotes

* New placements

* Remote up-load and down-load

* Daily to MTD sales list

* Sales goals

* Calculate discounts

* Complete route --book capability

* Post-offs

In addition, BSI says the unit includes an optional auto calculation feature that can suggest new order quantities on hand, plus myriad other features.

For more information, contact Beverage Systems, Inc., 4930 Naples Street, San Diego, CA, 9211O.

Roadnet introduces new software system

Roadnet Technologies, Inc., a United Parcel Service company based in Timonium, MD, has announced the release of its territory planner software system.

According to Roadnet, Territory Planner is a strategic tool that allows mute managers to configure mutes in cooperation with sales management to equitably balance territories. Roadnet says the system provides flexibility for route review and modification for continual improvement in sales performance and distribution productivity.

Roadnet says that the system "functions to support the route manager in the decision-making process."

Territory Planner provides "exceptional flexibility," Roadnet says, allowing the route manager to do the following:

* Reconfigure routes--combining or resequencing them for optimum efficiency.

* Rearrange stops to create the most desirable selling and service patterns.

* Review existing multi-day and multi-week muting structures.

* Isolate individual areas of the existing route structure for "what-it" analysis of fleet and route configurations.

* Geographically cluster and balance territories, weeks and days.

* Isolate and automatically restructure routes by account type.

* Do depot planning and logistics decision making.

* Work with sales management to adjust territories for the long term.

* Objectively evaluate driver productivity levels.

* Offer new perspectives and decision support for territory development, capital investment and staffing.

For more information, contact Roadnet, 23 11 York Road, Timonium, MD 21093. Tel: (800) ROADNET.

ICS adds Award enhancements

Intelligent Computer Systems, Inc. of Mountville, PA added several new features to its AWARD software in 1993.

For starters, the company reports that the Order Entry module now allows the user to fully customize invoices. Virtually any combination of customer and/or pricing information my be formatted by the user. Thus distributors who want to show items like suggested and/or extended retails, sub-totals by brand or class, etc., can easily set up a custom invoice format to do so. Invoice formats can even vary by customer so that individuals and/or groups of customers (i.e. chains) can have custom formats.

Also incorporated into the Order Entry driver settlement function is the ability to track driver expenses, tolls, and/or cash receipts throughout the day. In addition, detailed driver/truck inventory accountability/control is now available, ICS says.

ICS reports that the AWARD file maintenance system was also enhanced. In the product and customer files "Power FM" provides a new tool for quickly changing repetitive information. Using it, the user selects a field to be changed once and the group of customers or products to be modified. The system will then automatically either globally insert a new value, or prompt the user to insert new values. As opposed to selecting each product or customer record, the field to be changed, and entering the new value, ICS says "Power FM" can save a lot of time on routine file maintenance.

A new inventory management report is also available, ICS says. It gives a detailed analysis, not only of main warehouse inventory, but also inventory at other warehouses/locations; committed to customers; in transit either from the brewery or to other warehouses, on delivery trucks, etc.

ICS also notes that it provides inventory aging analysis and allows the user to track inventory below or above definable levels.

In addition to Normal Distribution and New and Lost Placement reporting, distribution analysis has been enhanced to include Effective Distribution. Thus, ICS says it is now possible to examine product, brand and/or supplier distribution that only takes into account the possible products that a given account or account group could buy.

New open systems hardware technology is available to run AWARD, ICS reports. "Sophisticated architecture and the advanced UNIX operating system have made it possible to install multi-processing computers offering unprecedented levels of price and performance," ICS states.

The company says that the Pentium, a new generation processor now available from Intel, offers 100 MIPS (million instructions per second) performance on a CPU chip about two inches square.

Using multi-processing technology, up to four Pentium CPUs can work simultaneously to satisfy system demand. According to Andy Hodge, sales manager for ICS, "The beauty of these new multi-processing machines is that they're scalable. By this I mean that a distributor can start off with a single-processor computer, and add processors as their business grows or their computing requirements increase via an inexpensive board upgrade. Thus multi-processing computers offer an outstanding growth path."

Hodge says that enhancements to the integrated accounting system are planned for '94.

For more information, contact ICS, 315 Primrose Lane, Mountville, PA, 17554. Tel: (717) 285-7977.
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Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Date:Jan 31, 1994
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