Global Fastener News

1984 FIN – ‘Pac Man’ Purchasing Introduced to Fastener Industry

May 03
00:00 2010

By Dick Callahan, Editor

Fastener Industry News

February 16, 1984 FIN – Electronic fastener procurement has now become a reality in our industry. Just recently, two firms have introduced computer systems designed especially to make your buying job faster and simpler.

One new system is being offered by Pelorus Data Service, a subsidiary of Allmetal Screw Products, Garden City, NY who showed their emptor system at Bossard Int’l Inc., the metric fastener house in Brookfield Center, Conn. to a group of distributors on Jan. 27th and to several members of the press (including FIN).
Both Moe Epstein, president of Allmetal and Kevin Brew, regional sales manager of Pelorus were on hand to give us a look at the future, showing just how industry will be buying and supplying many standard hardware items, including fastener components.

The second system for computerized buying, which is not scheduled to be introduced until April of this year, is being promoted by Fastener Network of Englewood, Colorado.

The Pelorus System which was described at the Bossard meeting was patterned after Allmetal’s successful experience in computerizing their own internal operations some five years ago and refined to permit the extension of their system to direct link their own customers.
The new emptor system is essentially an electronic buying directory. It will be sold to both the vendors and the O.E.M. who will subscribe to the service. Emptor’s central computer will have the capacity to maintain current price information, basic delivery data as well as vendor profiles.

In practice, an O.E.M. will only have to go to the computer, (in this case an I.B.M. PC) which is linked by modem to the central Emptor mainframe.
Using a simple menu format, the user searches by part number for all vendors who can supply these particular items. The screen will show complete pricing – up to eight quantity brackets from each vendor – so that the buyer can make an evaluation of who should get the order.
If the vendor isn’t familiar to the buyer, he can simply call up the vendor profile on his terminal.
Brew told FIN the buyer can also instantaneously transmit the purchase order to the vendor through the system. Moreover, Emptor will store the order in its memory until the shipping date comes up and will automatically expedite it if the parts are not received. There’s even a handy printer that also hooks into the system to provide hard copy if required.

When the order is placed, the vendor must indicate through the system an acceptance, prior to the order being processed.
Moreover, all special instruction, notes and comments that may be part of the order are maintained as part of original order in the computer to avoid the possibility of forgetting or misinformation occurring. This would seem ideal for those cases of “who said what whom about what” when shipments are not made on time or come in wrong.

What Emptor and its promoters are essentially offering is a faster and better means of the buyer finding the right vendor for his requirements.
It can be an effective guide for the new buyers and for those who may be unfamiliar with the components that they are purchasing from vendors other than those who are on their own buy cards.
Emptor is really providing the electronic means of freeing up the industrial buyer from spending large amounts of time to source an RFQ, talking to salesmen, calling back for clarification, and the host of other time consuming details that go into the purchasing function today.

Taken from the vendor’s point of view, Emptor offers the opportunity to make an actual quotation without his even knowing before hand that a particular user is even interested in a specific part.
Moreover, the vendor will get a convenient monthly printout each month from users who have made inquiry through the system. He can better target his selling efforts to either go after inquiries he had lost or remove any items from the system that apparently have little or no interest to the user.

The basic key to Emptor, and one that could possibly be its biggest drawback, is the fact that there is little or no standard terminology in the industry for commercial fasteners. Although, according to Epstein, the system now in use at Allmetal utilizes a numerical code easy enough for anyone to adopt.
But as of now, formats will incorporate ANSI x12 standards nomenclature. And the system will also work perfectly with AN, MS and NAS numbers.
These, as well as vendor part numbers and the user’s own part numbers, can all be crossed over automatically within the system. Which incidentally also has the capacity to offer a closest part number option when the buyer may be looking for an inactive item.

Emptor also will have available a number of other features to make it a convenient tool to access some tens of thousands of items that Brew of Pelorus envisions will ultimately be on the system.
Included are such customers directly imputing his requirements into the computer and is the customer already has contract for the part, the order will go directly to the vendor.
If not an item on contract, the computer will search the multiple vendor price listings, with the buyer merely indicating the vendor of his choice without the need to enter part number, quantity and routing and delivery dates.
Pelorus is also planning a uniform billing procedure for items that are ordered and shipped through the Emptor system. This will feature a single monthly invoice covering such shipments from participating vendors. On the other hand, vendors can receive a single monthly check in payment for all shipments made to participating customers.

If the Emptor system sounds a little far out for you, consider this: according to Epstein, the company is now ready to sign up some large OEMs and several distributors, including Bossard, who have already expressed interest in the electronic procurement system for its own customers.

Fastener Network System for Distributors

Hard on the heels of the introduction of the Emptor system was the announcement by Ronald Quick of Fastener Network of their electronic buying system, which has been especially tailored for the fastener distributor.
Quick told FIN the only requirement will be a RN-232 compatible display terminal and a modem. In fact, according to Quick, any dumb terminal, with the possible exception of IBM, will work to connect with their mainframe which will be housed in Fastener Network’s Englewood, Colorado headquarters.
When the company officially opens for business on April 1st, they will have three offices across the country, in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York.
And right now, some 100 manufacturers and distributors have already subscribed to their service.

Unlike the Emptor, however, there is no ordering or buying feature. If the distributor has a request for an item, he searches the network to find who has parts available. Then it’s getting on the phone to negotiate price and delivery much in the same manner as distributors do today when using the more familiar Nationwide Directory.
In fact, what Quick is offering us is just such a directory, only this one is electronic and has the capacity to be automatically updated; and, therefore much more current for the user.

One of the new features that Quick also explained, was a daily “Want List” feature that the major suppliers can use to quote on items not currently on the system. This works when a distributor who cannot find a specific requirement, enters his request for a quotation into the network. Each following morning a printout will be received by the manufacturers who may elect to quote.
What this offers is the advantage of suppliers, who may be unknown to the distributor, being in a position to offer the product and therefore become a new source of supply.

In further discussing the system with Quick’s partner, Dick Poteau, who will run their Los Angeles operations, Fastener Network is really national inventory information (unlike Emptor, which is more a universal buying system) strictly for distributors and vendors in the fastener industry.
There will not be any OEM’s on the system at all, only vendor talking to vendor and to those distributors who buy and sell from each other. Proteau went on further to tell FIN that after only a few weeks talking about it, such companies ad Banner Socket Screw, Bell L.A. International and Porteous have all expressed interest in the new service.

Just how simple the system is to use is borne out by the fact that no special equipment is needed nor does the buyer have to have any specific computer training. In fact, according to Proteau, the user really doesn’t even need to know how to type and he can start using the system in a matter of minutes.

Right now the company is preparing its formal announcement and getting out the sales literature and technical data. But for now, if you want more information, you can contact Ronald Quick, president, Fastener Network, Englewood Colorado 80155 (303) 773-2808. Dick Proteau in Los Angeles at (213) 949-0555 or Scott Kamin in New York at (212) 748-7700.

For information on the Emptor system mentioned above, contact Kevin Brew, regional sales manager, Pelorous Data Service, 821 Stewart Ave., Garden City New York, 11530. (516) 222-1213.

What we are starting to see now is what can only be called “the tip of an iceberg”. It is only the beginning of the rapidly happening changes in the fastener industry. Such changes will take place as companies look to more efficient ways to meet the growing demands of their own customers for fastener deliveries (while the distributors themselves are being squeezed both by high dollar costs and the longer supplier lead times and shortages that are being felt all around the country as the economy picks up).
Whatever system you opt for, either now or later, you are definitely entering the future with electronic procurement. ©1984/2010 Fastener Industry News

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