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Digital Facsimile Generates Savings Gusher for Oil Firm.

Digital Facsimile Generates Savings Gusher for Oil Firm

Since the oil embargo of 1973, petroleum drilling, refining and distributing companies have sought to increase their employees' productivity and efficiency while decreasing operational costs. One such firm, Zapata Corporation, headquartered in Houston, found cost and time-saving potential in its communication message center, which housed telex and analog facsimile equipment. In 1983, with the acquisition of digital facsimile equipment, Zapata was able to substantially cut its communications costs while increasing its employees' productivity.

"The oil business is an extremely competitive business. We need to be able to monitor our markets both efficiently and cost-effectively. A strong, quick communications network is vital to our land and sea operations throughout the world,' stated Don Summitt, vice president of administration for the Zapata Marine Services subsidiary.

Zapata Corporation is a diversified oil and gas exploration firm co-founded by Vice President George Bush in 1954. It maintains an international network of 35 offices, employs 5,000 employees and has revenues in excess of $400 million. The company provides offshore drilling and marine support services, participates in oil and gas exploration and development, and conducts fishing and related processing activities.

Zapata's management decision to convert its communications network to highspeed digital facsimile came at the conclusion of an extensive internal survey. The study advised that a new generation of subminute facsimile equipment would be beneficial in meeting the company's increasing international communications demands.

A Rapicom 6300 digital transceiver from Ricoh of West Caldwell, New Jersey, was installed at Zapata's Houston office as the "hub' of its international facsimile network. Seven Rapicom 3300 desktop machines were located in Singapore, Great Britain, Indonesia and other major operating sites for the company's offshore drilling rigs and marine service vessels. In the United States, Zapata also installed Model 3300s at its corporate office in Houston, its major fishing and processing site in Reedville, Virginia, and its large equipment warehouse, just outside Houston.

System Exceeds Expectations

After four months of problem-free operation, Zapata's management began to see marked improvements in efficiency and productivity, and to realize cost savings with its new communications network. Using an industry-standard formula for comparing the costs of telex transmission, Zapata found that the results far exceeded its original expectations. Zapata calculated its operational costs to be down 88.2 percent in May 1983, 88.7 percent in June, 89.2 percent in July and 88.5 percent in August.

Lavone McEntire, mail-telex administrator for Zapata, said of the new system, "At first, I thought we had miscalculated our estimates, but we soon realized that the digital machines were even more costefficient than originally expected.'

Zapata's most-dramatic decrease in operational costs was found in the fax transmissions from Houston to its overseas sites. After 18 months of digital faxing, Zapata saw its more-costly telex transmissions dip by 33 percent. The company also dropped its telex operators' overtime and lowered international long-distance phone bills.

The marked decrease in Zapata's telex transmissions has matched a corresponding increase in its daily facsimile usage. Currently, Zapata's Houston office averages the receipt of 85 pages per day and the transmission of over 60 pages per day.

Although cost effectiveness was the primary benefit motivating Zapata's conversion to high-speed subminute digital facsimile, the Zapata staff is also pleased with the network's simplicity, diversity, dependability and high-quality photocopying capabilities. "There is little this high-tech system can't do for us,' said McEntire. "We now look for ways to maximize our usage of fax in lieu of the complicated and time-consuming telex system and costly air-courier services.'

Zapata's use of the facsimile system at all points in its international network is extensive. Aside from the daily administrative communications, the transceivers are also used to tender invitations and marketing bids; to receive and transmit vitally important insurance and claims documents, and payroll and offshore drilling reports; and to secure and sign contracts, a task enhanced and streamlined by the system's photocopying features.

The company's fishing and processing subsidiary, Zapata Haynie, has found its Model 3300 to be particularly useful in the instantaneous exchange of daily fishing reports from Atlantic and Gulf Coast locations to the home office. These reports have a direct impact on the sale of fish meal and oil byproducts.

Zapata's marine engineers have found the high-speed, high-resolution equipment indispensable in their daily operations. With the equipment's ability to handle any size document, the engineers first photocopy their blueprints, cut them into numbered sections, and then transmit them to their destination.

Facsimile Speeds Responses

"Projects that would have taken us two or three weeks to complete now take a day or two at the most, says, Don Summitt. "We may receive an invitation to bid on a contract for one of our service boats from our London office, but the bidding procedure needs to be explored in Houston, perhaps for engineering computations or new equipment purchases. With facsimile, we can easily receive the invitation, provide the necessary information, and send it back quickly without missing a valuable opportunity, as we often did with telex and air courier.'

With the digital machine's operational simplicity, operatorerrorless transmission and cost effectiveness, Zapata's contracts, marketing research and corporate risk-management departments have grown to depend upon facsimile for the timely support of their daily responsibilities.

Carolyn Greaser, claims coordinator in the risk-management department in Houston, says her job is a lot easier due to digital facsimile. "It's part of my daily routine in dealing with people and with documents in and outside of the United States,' she says. "Routinely, I handle detailed accident and claims forms, surveys and loss reports, diagrams and sketches--all of which need to be processed quickly and correctly.

"Our new fax network has significantly reduced our operator involvement, has increased staff productivity, and most importantly, has boosted our employees' morale,' adds McEntire. "No longer are our executives, managers or secretaries bogged down with frustrating time restraints on sending their responses to bids, contracts and payroll information requests.'
COPYRIGHT 1985 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1985 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Communications News
Date:Jan 1, 1985
Words:990
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