Vindex revolutionises distribution

Wholly owned by the Metal Manufacturers Group, Vinidex is Australia’s leading manufacturer of thermoplastic pipe systems for the transportation of fluid, data and energy.

A major national employer, Vinidex has eleven distribution centres across Australia that form a national manufacturing, warehousing and distribution network.

The network was developed by Vinidex to effectively distribute the company’s products and those of its national and international suppliers.

Vinidex produces high value invoices for goods that are shipped around the country.

Often deliveries were disputed, which made proof of delivery (POD) documentation crucial to ensure invoices were paid.

An employee was dedicated full time to manage POD documents, which were manually stored in a cumbersome hard copy filing system.

The process was costly and time consuming — even the space consumed by paper alone was causing concern.

Secondly, Vinidex Chief Operations Officer Trevor Batten shouldered the burden of maintaining a widely distributed and ageing fleet of printers in eight locations across Australia.

“The logistics of internally managing the supply, maintenance and replacement of all our printers was expensive and complex,” Batten explains.

“At the end of the day our core business is not printers, and I didn’t want to have to waste resources looking after them.”

Finally, as most printers were dot matrix, they were not only hard to maintain but required pre-printed stationary to produce forms and corporate documents.

Each time a pre-printed form had to be updated, however minor, all old forms were thrown away and new versions brought in.

“The forms just cost too much; they were wasteful and gave us an unnecessary administrative hassle,” says Batten.

Vinidex engagec Upstream Print Solutions to overhaul its printing processes, including the POD system and forms production.

Upstream designed a new POD docket that includes two encrypted barcodes; one on each half of the docket.

Upon delivery of goods, the truck driver leaves one half of the docket with the customer, and returns the other with the customer’s signature to the local Vinidex branch warehouse.

There it is scanned, recognised, indexed and compressed to be uploaded to the central head office document storage server.

POD documents are made available to head office within minutes and archived electronically for ease of retrieval and storage.

“The new system means we have instant recall of PODs, which couldn’t be lost once filed on our server,” Batten says.

“And because truck drivers are only paid once they return the signed POD docket to the local warehouse, we don’t have a problem with missing documentation.”

Upstream also created a custom forms solution that has eliminated the need for pre-printed stationary.

Each different form layout is loaded directly onto the new printers, so that when a job is sent the printer recognises the type of document and automatically prints it with the correct information and layout — without clogging up the network by sending that formatting information each time.

For example, a document containing invoicing data is automatically formatted and printed with company letterhead, contact details and terms and conditions of payment.

At the same time, Upstream rationalised Vinidex’s printer fleet, replacing old dot matrix printers with the most suitable stand alone laser or multifunctional network devices for each location. All machines are now supplied and managed by Upstream under one agreement that coveres all service calls and consumables.

“We had wanted to bring in new laser printers, but the concept of a mass replacement through acquisition was just not economic for us,“ says Batten.

“But the Upstream solution enabled Vinidex to upgrade its equipment while still lowering its overall print spend.”

“We saw significant cost savings across the board, but particularly with our forms.”

“The new form design is much better and more efficient. We don’t have to reprint if we want to update a detail.”

By consolidating paper forms, the POD application alone helped Vinidex reduce printing by more than 256,000 pages per year.

Upstream’s POD electronic archiving system improved the reliability and accountability of POD recall so greatly that Vinidex was able to redeploy the employee previously assigned to manage the process.

“In fact, now that Upstream manages the supply and maintenance of our entire national printer fleet, we don’t dedicate any internal resources to that area,” adds Batten.

“The main benefits for us are not just cost, but a massive reduction in administration time and improved service to our customers.”

“Our forms look cleaner and more professional, and the POD system allows us to quickly bring up information for customers without having to dig through old filing cabinets,” he says.

Importantly, faster POD production means Vinidex can collect payment faster as well.

The overhaul of Vinidex’s printer fleet and document management system was so successful that it was also rolled out to other members of Metal Manufacturers Group.

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