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Food chain builds backbone network, bridges Ethernet LANs.

Wawa Food Markets, a chain of nearly 200 convenience food stores in the northeastern U.S., uses Infotron equipment to provide a backbone corporate network that supports a variety of applications. It also provides network management and bridges two Ethernet LANs.

Wawa needed to update the network as a result of a plan to gain an edge on the competition by computerizing as much of the administrative, marketing, and training functions as possible. The new network allows improvement to the overall operation of the company in five areas:

* Employee Training--It used to be very expensive and time-consuming to bring all new employees to corporate headquarters for training. As a result, many employees were not properly trained.

The new network provides enough capacity to allow access to a training package that resides on a VAX computer at corporate headquarters from terminals located in each store. Now, from any site, employees can learn to use the cash register and be tested on what they have learned. Records also can be kept regarding which employees have been trained.

* Point-of-Sale Reporting--This reporting function allows more accurate and timely tracking information regarding individual store performance.

* Inventory Control--The inventory of the entire operation now can be monitored in real time. This includes the ability to update prices in real time and on a store-by-store basis if needed. It also provides reports to provide timely restocking of each store's inventory.

* Payroll--Each store manager enters time-card information via the store's terminal. This greatly simplifies the payroll process and saves time and paperwork.

* Electronic Mail--This feature is especially useful for stores open 24 hours a day and allows better communication between managers on different shifts.

Network overview

Wawa's network is designed around a backbone of four Infotron 892NP network processors. Each 892NP is fed by several Infotron SM600 statistical multiplexers.

The system is highly fault-tolerant due to the alternate paths available to the 892NPs and the ability of the 892NPs to automatically switch to an alternative path in the case of a link failure. The 892NPs also are fully redundant (power and logic).

The entire network is monitored, configured, and controlled from corporate headquarters by Infotron's Advanced Network Manager (ANM-800). To increase reliability, the network also provides access to corporate mainframe computers (DEC VAXs) located at separate sites.

The network streamlines corporate administration by providing Wawa with a uniform look. From one store to another, all operations are performed in exactly the same way on the same system.

This makes it easy for employees from one store to work at another. Computerized information helps Wawa remain competitive by permitting rapid updating of pricing information.
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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Publication:Communications News
Date:Aug 1, 1991
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