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Distributor of Sewing Products Uses Fax to Cut Delivery Delays.

Distributor of Sewing Products Uses Fax to Cut Delivery Delays

A sale is not completed when the order is written; the selling effort continues until the product is delivered. By switching from use of the mail to facsimile, Sunbrand, a leading distributor of industrial sewing products to the apparel industry, has managed not only to improve turnaround time from order to shipment by two to three weeks, it has reduced orderentry error rates by 60 percent and brought inventory accurate to within 24 hours. Fax gives the company an automatic document delivery system that uses ordinary phone lines to transmit written, printed or graphic material.

Sunbrand, a division of Wilcox and Gibbs, sells such items as pressing, cutting and sewing machine parts to dealers and clothing manufacturers around the world. It competes in an extremely aggressive and price-sensitive business requiring efficient and swift response to customers. Therefore, the company is constantly seeking ways to improve its services.

The changes in its order/delivery cycle began back in 1981, when the company installed six facsimile machines in five of its offices around the country. Brenda Garrett, order-entry department manager and branch coordinator, says that initially the machines were used for inventory control.

Prior to 1981, all the branch offices mailed their sales and purchase orders to the headquarters office in Atlanta, which meant that inventory records were at least one week behind. With fax, the branches transmit their sales data to headquarters in a matter of minutes, so the stock-level records are now within one day of being current.

Uses Floor and Desktop Units

Garrett works out of the Atlanta office, where she has two machines--an MV-3000 and a UF-520, both from Panafax, Melville, New York. In Sunbrand's branch sales offices, there are 3000s in Miami and El Paso, and 520s in Los Angeles and Fall River, Massachusetts.

The UF-520 is a digital transceiver, meeting Consultative Committee for International Telegraph and Telephone standards for Groups II and III. It can transmit or receive a page of copy in 20 seconds. The MV-3000 is a desktop transceiver that also meets Group II and III standards and is compatible with the slower six-minute models still in use today. Like the 520, it can transmit or receive a page of copy as fast as 20 seconds, in the Group III mode.

Garrett says, that in the three years that the machines have been in use, their original applications have become more sophisticated because the machines are so popular. The branch offices are now polled for sales orders by the MV-3000 in Atlanta. In addition, Garrett has created special order forms with non-scannable ink that save paper and transmission time if a particular order runs less than a full page.

Other advantages of fax versus mail for sales order entry include savings on mail and courier costs, a faster accounts-receivable cycle because the orders are filled sooner, and lower error rates because the copy clarity eliminates retyping or rekeying of data.

Response to the machines has been excellent. A good indicator is the increased usage. In Atlanta alone, approximately 1500 pages of fax data are received each week, up from 1200 when the equipment was first installed. The increase also reflects recognition of the machines' versatility. Exclaims Garrett: "We can't run out of ways to use it.'

On a day-to-day basis, the machines are used for a variety of purposes. Urgent correspondence between offices or orders for new supplies from headquarters are routinely faxed. Because the machines handle graphics as well as print, the advertising department transmits creative copy or artwork to the appropriate parties for quick approval. In addition to order entry, sales personnel submit specs on prospects to obtain accurate quotes for bids when deadlines are running tight. Garrett claims that the daily applications are limited only by the demands and imagination of the staff.

On a monthly basis, the accounting department now receives all closing data by fax. The copy clarity possible with the equipment is ideal for financial reporting because of the accuracy required for the numbers, punctuation and graphs involved. The speed and ease of transmitting has helped to shorten the reporting process for each period.

Garrett says, that since the facsimile units have been in place, the company has installed a computer system that puts all the branch offices on line to headquarters. This capability, and the hourly reports faxed in by the branches, enable her to monitor stock levels more precisely. As a result, customer service has improved and business has increased. She considers these features--customer service and inventory control--the most important contributions of the fax equipment. However, there's every indication that as awareness of the equipment and its versatility grows, its importance to other areas of administrative management will increase accordingly.

Photo: Sunbrand's Brenda Garrett at her desktop facsimile machine.
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
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