OMNI MULTIMEDIA GROUP: A CASE STUDY IN MULTI-CARRIER SUCCESS
Handle a big daily swing in shipping volume; maximize throughput; integrate reporting; minimize training.
Those were the challenges facing Omni Multimedia Group, a Massachusetts-based software finisher. Omni manufactures software packages for its customers; they reproduce magnetic and CD-ROM software, and audio CDs, as well as complete software packages.
Omni offers its customers a variety of shipping options, from bulk shipping to single units - what it calls distribution and fulfillment. For example, for one customer, they distribute skids of modems from inventory to the customer's retailers; another customer has Omni manufacture CD-ROM editions of their magazine and fulfill orders by shipping copies to each subscriber on a regular basis.
After 15 years in business, Omni had grown to 150,000 square feet of warehouse space and over 500 customers, and had outgrown their scale-based mailing system. The company uses virtually every carrier available, including Federal Express, UPS, DHL, Airborne, Emery, USPS, and a number of trucking concerns. Until January, 1995, they were using several carrier-based manifest systems, but that was causing problems.
"We were using a mish-mash of carrier systems - UPS, Fedex, DHL, and several others," said Richard Pilotte, Omni's vice president of operations. "Our shipping people had to learn all those different systems, plus our own host computer system. It was a nightmare."
Pilotte had been working with Pitney Bowes mailing systems for years, so when Beth Clark, then Pitney Bowes carrier management product manager, and product specialist Christie Rose, suggested that Pilotte look into a multi-carrier manifest system, Pilotte was receptive to the idea. After attending a presentation by Bruce Beatty, director, marketing for shipping and weighing systems, and visiting a site that was already using a multi-carrier system, Pilotte was sold.
"We chose Pitney Bowes, in large part, because of their technical expertise and the ability of the system to tie into our host computer," Pilotte said. "We also felt that their after-sale support would be superior."
Omni eliminated all of its carrier-based systems and installed a 4-station STAR 700 network, which integrates into their host system in real time. Pilotte describes a typical shipping operation using the multi-carrier system:
"A package comes from manufacturing, boxed and ready for shipment. The shipping person can either read the shipping order with a bar code gun, or enter the sales order numbers, quantities, etc., by hand. That's all he does. From that point the Pitney Bowes system takes over: it handles all the transactions for the carrier, for the shipping department, for the customer, and reports to the Omni corporate computer system as well, all in real time. The multi-carrier system gets the 'Ship To' address and 'Ship Via' information from the host system, puts all the information on labels and the records the number of packages, the freight charges, all the details, so that someone in the sales department can access the information literally seconds after the package has been shipped. It's absolutely incredible."
As with any new system, some changes have been necessary since the system was installed in January, but Pilotte reports that the modifications were made in a timely manner.
For Omni Multimedia Group, the net result of installing the multi-carrier system has been a significant reduction in the time it takes for training, and meaningful cost savings realized through the integration of the system with the company's host system. The entire shipping operation has been streamlined, allowing Omni to handle its continuing growth comfortably.
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