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1998 FIN – Fastener Software Suppliers Ready for Y2K; But Watch Out for Customers, Vendors & HVAC

July 01
00:00 2009

1998 FIN – Fastener Software Suppliers Ready for Y2K; But Watch Out for Customers, Vendors & HVAC

August 11, 1998 FIN – Most of the fastener industry software may be ready for the Year 2000, but watch out for customers, vendors, telephone systems, banks, HVAC, elevators and extra desktop programs which may not be.

What computers must do to be Year 2000 compliant is be able to read 00 as 2000 instead of 1900.
Though it sounds simple, fixing the Year 2000 bug involves a process that the Federal Reserve has projected will cost U.S. businesses $50 billion, and the worldwide price tag will range from $300 billion to $600 billion.

“Faspac is now 2000 compliant,” operations vice president Dick Wires of LaJolla, CA-based Faspac declared. “We’ve tested our internal programs through 2737.”
“We are 100% compliant,” said Keith Berg of Marlborough, MA-based AXIS Computer Systems Inc. AXIS produces software for metals manufacturers.
“Whether they ask for it or not,” Dennis Cowhey of Computer Insights Inc. responded when asked if his fastener distributor software customers are ready.
“As a normal part of our maintenance agreements we include Year 2000 compatibility at no extra charge,” Cowhey said. “Nobody is left behind.”

In addition to fastener software suppliers providing Year 2000 compliance programs, several fastener associations have been aggressively preparing members for the millennium when unprepared computers would be confused by the switch from ’99 to ’00.

The Specialty Tools & Fasteners Distributors Association, which provided members with several advisories plus a 65-page workbook to deal with Y2K issues.
Though the new century is still 507 days away, STAFDA notes that “experts on Y2K have asserted that the real operating deadline for compliance is January 1, 1999.”
Many customer orders extend out to the next year. And fiscal 1999 has already arrived for some companies and government agencies.

Wires recommended a five-page advisory sent to Los Angeles Fastener Association members. “It is small enough to read, large enough to be of value and clear enough to be understood,” Wires said. “It describes what the problem is and how to go about addressing it.”
LAFA executive director Vickie Lester said the Y2K information was adapted from material provided by the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors.

Internal & External Glitches

A failure in any portion of highly automated manufacturing, warehousing or servicing functions may interrupt some other or all parts of the business.
The first suspect with potential trouble is another computer in a complicated EDI system.
But trouble could begin even with an infrequently used desktop program. When numbers from the desktop program are fed into the company system large-scale problems can be triggered.
“Approach it as a real problem and don’t delegate your destiny,” Wires urged. “You have to get involved. Even the smallest of glitches can create a waterfall effect.”

All of the fastener software designers warn customers to consult with every computer contact they have: customers, suppliers, banks, HAC, elevators, insurance agents, security, fire protection/detection and other electronic systems, employee time clocks, EDI accounts receivable and payable, preventive maintenance, pension planning systems, credit systems, voice mail systems and even handheld bar code readers may be affected.

Legal Problems

“Companies cannot pretend to be compliant,” Wires said. Not only will it catch up as 2000 approaches, but lawyers will be ready, he warned.

Indeed, STAFDA workbook author Steve Epner wrote that “it should not be surprising that the Year 2000 problem is expected to generate a tidal wave of litigation.”

That is one reason why Faspac is “addressing functionality,” Wires said.
Faspac software designers have researched supplier systems for their distributors and in some cases “notified them by certified mail that their equipment cannot be made complaint,” Wires said of efforts to avoid 2000 problems.

A twist in the liability issue is that some companies are afraid to share information with others.
“Assessing your company’s Year 2000 compliance and the compliance of your suppliers and customers is an action plan which will reduce your legal liability exposure to your trading partners and ideally avoid the need for you to seek legal relief for damages and lost profits caused by others,” a STAFDA advisory letter forewarned members.

However Epner encourages an approach of working together. He recommends announcing that you will be conducting tests.
“Be clear that this is not like the one-sided Y2K letters they get from others that are only to transfer liability,” Epner wrote. “Let them know that you consider them your partners and are working to make sure you are successful together.”

STAFDA advises members to assess both internal Y2K readiness and survey such external risks as customers and suppliers for their status.BR>
1. Current and new technology contracts must address the Y2K problem. Fixing or replacing software is not sufficient, STAFDA warned members. The new system must be tested.
“If it’s not tested, it’s not compliant.”
2. If you are not sure if your own software is 2000 compliant, contact your vendor. If the response is “yes,” ask for a signed letter.
“If “no,” in a certified/return receipt letter ask for a free upgrade if you have a maintenance contract.
3. If your company has a Y2K problem, customers should be warned in advance.
4. Just as the U.S. Fastener Quality Act requires documentation, Y2K compliance efforts should be documented. But be cautious in what is written because “an adversary in litigation” may someday be scrutinizing those records, STAFDA warns.
5. Exercise caution in responding to Y2K inquiries to “avoid unintended assurances, representations or guarantees.”
6. Check with your partners in any cooperative alliance.
7. Review insurance coverage.

Taking Action

Fastener companies are taking action. “Star Anchors & Fasteners is well under way with addressing the Year 2000 compliance issue,” information systems manager Edward Jados Jr. wrote.
“Consistent with our commitment, we are asking that you tell us where your company stands with your century compliance efforts. As a supplier to us, it is important that the supply of goods or services you provide us is not interrupted by Year 2000 failures.”
Jados asks suppliers to respond “Yes” or “No” to whether the company already has a century compliance plan in place and a date for completion.
“Will you certify that you will have no interruption in supplying products or services to our company as a result of failure to be Year 2000 complaint?” Jados asks with a circle “Yes” or “No” response.

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