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Just What the Customer Ordered

Jan. 1, 2007
Lewmar Marine uses software to meet customer order requirements.

Meeting order compliance rules can be difficult for manufacturers or distributors that have to cope with many different requirements for many different customers. One way to comply with such customer requirements is to use a third-party service provider.

"We can bring consistency to an operation where multiple customers are involved," says Tim Merkel, senior v.p., Supplier Systems, McHenry, Ill. ( Supplier Systems specializes in designing systems to help reduce human errors in customer compliance environments.

Not long ago one of Supplier Systems' clients had a compliance problem. Lewmar Marine (, a supplier of control-related equipment for boaters based in Havant, U.K., has distribution centers in 50 countries and deals with more than 5,000 parts ranging in weight from a half-ounce to a 500-pound anchor system. Its customers wanted bar code labels on packages and pallets, and they wanted to receive shipment information via EDI.

"Failure to comply with customer EDI requirements can result in rejected shipments, stiff fines for noncompliance and the end of Lewmar's relationship with some major customers," says Linda Cavanaugh, v.p. of operations and finance. "To meet the needs of our customers, we needed to be EDI compliant."

Pitney Bowes (Stamford, Conn., and Supplier Systems formed an alliance that provides companies like Lewmar with a pick-and-pack labeling system that meets the demand for fully customer compliant order filling and shipping.

To meet such demands Supplier Systems installed its orderfilling system at Lewmar's distribution center in Guilford, Conn., in conjunction with a web-based transportation management systems (TMS) from Pitney Bowes . Today when Lewmar receives orders and puts them into the ERP system, either electronically or manually, those orders are passed electronically to the Supplier System 856Express order filling system.

"When the employee scans the product bar code," says Cavanaugh, "we know the product is tied back to the order."

For Lewmar's larger customers, the system provides carton and pallet compliance labels and enables Lewmar to transmit accurate advanced shipping notices. As each package is processed for shipping at the Pitney Bowes TMS workstations, it automatically retrieves order data and customer delivery preferences and updates the Supplier Systems' software with scale weights, shipping costs and tracking numbers.

"It's a simple method for us to pick, pack, verify, label and ship the products," says Cavanaugh. The integrated order-fulfillment programs have eliminated order-filling errors, increased productivity, reduced shipping costs and enabled Lewmar to meet all customer requirements.

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