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EDI speeds orders, saves time for auto packaging supplier.

Electronic data interchange (EDI) is a rapidly growing computer technology that has blossomed within the auto industry and its suppliers. Because of the faster turnaround provided for Just-In-Time manufacturing, EDI was mandated for all production parts suppliers. Now non-production parts suppliers are beginning to come on board as well.

When the Detroit office of Zellerbach, a Mead company, was asked to begin doing business using EDI for its automotive packaging products, the company responded immediately. Management's selection of EDI software from Supply Tech, Inc., Ann Arbor, Mich., gave them the range of transactions they were looking for and the ease of use to get up and running quickly.

Zellerbach is one of the largest distribution companies in the country, with 70 locations throughout the U.S. The firm's products consist of three cores: fine paper, packaging products, and supplies including towels, tissues, and the like.

The Detroit office's Automotive Group was established six years ago to do business with the Big Three automakers as well as the Japanese transplant automakers. The Automotive Group primarily supplies packaging solutions for the OEM automotive manufacturers including products for paint quality improvement, damage prevention, and safe movement of production parts.

EDI was initiated by the Zellerbach Detroit office in November of 1988. U.S. automakers requested preferred suppliers begin sending and receiving business transactions using EDI. Zellerbach was to use AIAG (Automotive Industry Action Group) standards to communicate computer-to-computer with the auto plants.

Zellerbach considred several EDI software vendors to provide a PC-based EDI software package. Factors that went into the decision to select Supply Tech included the flexibility and ease of use of the software, called STX12 for the Microcomputer. Also, since Ford was a major customer, Supply Tech was an approved supplier to Ford, and Ford uses STX12, Zellerbach considered Ford's experience.

According to Jack Hoogendyk, national sales marketing manager of Zellerbach's Automotive Group, "We wanted to be one of the first non-production parts suppliers to interconnect with the automakers. Ford's recommendation convinced us to go with the STX12 software."

Zellerbach Detroit is currently exchanging EDI transactions with Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler. In the near future they will link with the Honda, Toyota, and Mazda U.S. plants. The STX12 software is being run on an IBM-compatible PC.

It is designed to run on the IBM PC/AT, PS/2, and compatible microcomputers. It is a general-purpose program which supports the ANSI ASC X12, TDCC, and UCS standards as well as industry-specific implementations such as AIAG, VICS, TALC, EDX, WINS, and CIDX.

Menu-driven operation makes the software user-friendly. Dynamic help windows provide operator assistance as needed. The software also enables the creation of unlimited EDI transaction formats for use with different trading partners.

Transactions being used at Zellerbach Detroit include the Purchase Order, Production Release, Advance Ship Notice, Request for Quote, Response to Request for Quote, Blanket Order, and Receipt Advice. A new transaction just initiated is the Evaluated Receipt Settlement.

Being conducted with Ford, this transaction "streamlines the payment process," said Hoogendyk, "allowing for electronic payment of orders."

Notes Katherine Murphy, automotive EDI coordinator for Zellerbach Detroit, the benefits provided by the EDI system include the receipt of orders faster and faster turnaround.

"Before EDI," Murphy said, "everything was done through the mail. It would take up to three days mail time for a document to go from the auto customer to Zellerbach. Now, we receive documents the same day they're prepared."

Hoogendyk added, "EDI has also provided a reduction in paperwork. We've gained more uniformity of documents. And the documents are easier to handle since they come in all on the same day from each customer."

Operators found the software easy to use. In-house training by Supply Tech enabled Zellerbach Detroit to get the system running right away.

Due to the flexibility of the software, transactions are tailored to meet Zellerbach Detroit's particular needs. The system has been modified to handle the variety of products that the company sells.

Bart Reits, manager, Business Systems Marketing with overall EDI responsibility at Zellerbach headquarters, Miamisburg, Ohio, points out that Zellerbach's Detroit branch is just one of a number of locations across the country to implement EDI trading partnerships using a local personal computer. In addition, Zellerbach has installed EDI translation software on its mainframe computer in Dayton, Ohio, and recently completed integrating the EDI data with its order entry and purchasing system, called Access.

After a test period with early trading partners, including customers and suppliers, Zellerbach plans to establish more partnerships with EDI-capable customers. For customers who do not have EDI capability, the company also offers online terminals to its Access System.

Another area where EDi is integrated at Zellerbach is with the Detroit branch's bar coding system. Bar code labels are generated and attached to all outgoing shipments. Bar code scanning enables product information to be dumped directly into the EDi system's Advance Ship Notice.

By applying EDI, the Zellerbach Detroit office has been able to meet the business transaction needs of its automotive customers and gain efficiencies. With the new mainframe interface with its order entry/purchasing system, the company is gaining eve greater efficiencies.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:electronic data interchange
Publication:Communications News
Date:Aug 1, 1991
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