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Case Study: Nutech Systems' Screen Mapper

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The effectiveness of a company's inventory management processes is often a major determinant of profitability. Using barcode or RFID technology can certainly help to better manage inventory by automating the collection of inventory data. However, the captured data must still be integrated into existing applications and/or databases. That has to be done in one of three ways: manually keying the data, modifying the application, or using a data collection software program to transfer the data. The first alternative, manual keying, can be costly and error-prone. The effort required to modify an application can also be costly and, possibly worse, it can jeopardize the integrity of the code. Betson Enterprises, a Carlstadt, New Jersey-based company that manufactures, distributes, and supplies parts and provides services for coin-operated vending and amusement machines, wanted to find a more flexible and efficient approach to its existing manual inventory system. Its search led Betson to Nutech Systems' Viewpoint data collection product and, in particular, Nutech's Screen Mapper.

In business for more than 70 years, H. Betti Industries, Inc. and its distribution arm, Betson Enterprises, are headquartered in an 82,000 sq. ft. facility in Carlstadt. The company also operates more than a dozen distribution outlets throughout the United States. Betson has a complex inventory system that supports the service and repair functions within each of its facilities. The company runs much of its operations on a highly customized version of ASW enterprise software from International Business Systems (IBS).

Viewpoint is a suite of barcode and RFID data collection solutions designed to integrate with ERP and other business systems. The suite consists of Warehouse Management, Manufacturing Inventory, Time and Production System (TAPS), and the Nutech Screen Mapper. To speed its integration with the most popular ERPs on the market, Viewpoint comes with out-of-the box transactions for System21 Aurora, SSA BPCS, MAC-PAC XE, IFS, and JD Edwards World. If a customer wants transactions that are more in line with its unique way of operating its business, Screen Mapper, which is available either independently or as a component of Viewpoint, is a fast and safe way to develop these transactions.

Screen Mapper Simplifies Integration

With the objective of automating its inventory management data entry tasks, Betson evaluated a number of data collection vendors. It settled on Nutech in large part because of the Screen Mapper technology. Screen Mapper is a series of RPG callable APIs that allow an RPG program to send keyboard input to another iSeries program. Screen Mapper updates target applications by calling existing programs and simulating keyboard input. Because this approach does not require modifying the receiving application's code, the application's checks and balances remain intact, thereby safeguarding the integrity of the database. In addition, by avoiding the need to rewrite any of the business application's program logic, Screen Mapper does not void the application's software warranties or the ability to upgrade in the future. These features were a major consideration for Betson.

"Nutech was the only company we found that had mapping software," explained Bill Seibert, Vice President of Operations at Betson. "What caught my eye about Screen Mapper was that we wouldn't have to do any modification to our current ERP. That was big. Our current software is highly modified. It would have been prohibitively expensive to create the necessary interfaces if we went with another alternative."

Nutech begins each of its implementation projects with a System Requirements Definition (SRD) phase, which includes a detailed needs analysis. Betson found significant value in the SRD. Before the company even began to use Viewpoint and the Screen Mapper, Betson learned more about the product's capabilities and how they could be applied to Betson's business. Consequently, Betson found that it could extend the original planned use of Viewpoint to incorporate more business processes and, therefore, increase the return that it received on its investment.

The ability to extend the original intended use of Viewpoint was largely due to the flexibility of Screen Mapper. Service billing was one such area that Betson had not initially planned to include in its data collection project. Whereas Betson's staff used to perform the various steps involved in billing for services manually, Viewpoint now completes each of these tasks automatically behind the scenes. The result has been fewer errors, lower labor costs, and the elimination of the lag that existed between the time products were scanned and the time the information was keyed into Betson's system.

Return on Investment

Nutech has adopted a marketing tagline of "Collect your data. Unleash your enterprise." What it means by this slogan can best be illustrated by Betson's experience when it deployed Viewpoint.

"As we got into the development of the SRD and learned more about Viewpoint, we saw all of the options and creative things that the Viewpoint software could do," said Seibert. He went on to explain that, as a result of what they found during the SRD phase, Betson was able to streamline its operations. "Our ROI came from the redefining of our business processes and our production line because of what we learned about what Viewpoint could do."

The ROI has been substantial. Betson calculates that just the reduction in labor costs resulting from the streamlining of its operations will pay back the costs of implementing Viewpoint in approximately two years. And those were not the only benefits that Betson achieved.

Not only did the company reduce the number of inventory pickers from four to two, but those same pickers are more efficient and have increased their output by 40%. They are also able to turn orders around much faster than in the past. Before implementing Viewpoint, it usually took two or three days to ship an order to a customer after it was entered into Betson's systems. Most orders now ship in just three to five hours.

Customers have noticed the improvement in service. In fact, shortly after implementation of the Viewpoint system, there were instances in which customers calling in the afternoon to cancel or change the order they'd placed in the morning were surprised to hear, "It's too late. The order has already shipped." As a result of the faster service, customer satisfaction has increased, and Betson now processes fewer calls from customers inquiring about the status of their orders.

Building on the success of the implementation of Viewpoint in one facility in July 2004, Betson has now rolled it out in a second facility and plans to eventually install it in all of its locations.

Joel Klebanoff is a consultant, a writer, and president of Klebanoff Associates, Inc., a Toronto, Canada-based marketing communications firm. Joel has 25 years experience working in IT, first as a programmer/analyst and then as a marketer. He holds a Bachelor of Science in computer science and an MBA, both from the University of Toronto. Contact Joel at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Nutech Systems
2976 Ivanrest Street
Suite 200
Grandville, Michigan  49418
Tel: 800.830.8058 or 616.530.9393
Fax: 616.530.6311

5800 Ambler Drive
Suite 230
Mississauga, ON  L4W 4J4
Tel: 877.891.0211 or 905.238.0575
Fax: 905.238.6748

Web: www.nutechsystems.com/screenmapper
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Joel Klebanoff

Joel Klebanoff is a consultant, writer, and formerly president of Klebanoff Associates, Inc., a Toronto-based marketing communications firm. He has 30 years' experience in various IT capacities and now specializes in writing articles, white papers, and case studies for IT vendors and publications across North America. Joel is also the author of BYTE-ing Satire, a compilation of a year's worth of his columns. He holds a BS in computer science and an MBA, both from the University of Toronto.

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