Fraser Advanced Information Systems: Delivering Automated Answers to the Distribution Industry1 Jul, 2005 By: Darrell Amy imageSource
Fraser Advanced Information Systems: Delivering Automated Answers to the Distribution Industry
Lentz Milling Company has moved
a lot of cookie dough, bread, cake, and other baking products over the years.
Working for a major distributor of baking supplies in the Atlantic region of the
United States, Lentz Milling’s employees, naturally, have seen massive amounts
of paperwork move through their office.
In fact, more than 200 invoices are generated each day at the distribution
company based in Reading, Pennsylvania. Faye Miller, Lentz Milling’s veteran IT
manager, recognized a need to streamline the shipping and invoicing process.
“We were overloaded with paper,” Miller said. “Retrieving information was very
Around the time of her revelation, Miller ran into Tom Lodato, a sales
representative for Fraser Advanced Information Systems (AIS)—an authorized
Canon, Sharp, HP, and Muratec dealer with five branch offices throughout
Pennsylvania. Lentz Milling had purchased office equipment from Fraser-AIS and
Lodato was making a routine follow up call with the company’s vice president of
finance. Lodato noticed stacks of green-bar reports in a portable filing
“I asked if they had ever considered printing the reports on bond paper or even
outputting the reports to a digital archive,” Lodato explained. “The
conversation expanded to talking about an issue the company was having managing
its delivery receipts.
“We began to discuss how the drivers brought stacks of signed delivery receipts
back to the office at the end of the day,” he added. “When a customer called in
with a question, the accounts receivable representatives had to sort through
drawers of paper trying to find the shipping ticket.”
Lodato realized that an electronic forms solution that Fraser-AIS had
implemented for another client might help. With the blessing of Lentz Milling’s
vice president, he set up an appointment with Miller to explore ways to optimize
the shipping tickets and invoices.
Together, Miller and Lodato crafted a vision to automate the entire process.
This vision included Objectif Lune’s PlanetPress forms software (www.objectiflune.com),
Fraser-AIS’s eArchive document management software, which is a program developed
by Fraser’s IT department, and a Canon scanner.
What issues did this bundled solution need to solve?
For an invoice to be generated, the accounting department at Lentz Milling needs
to have a signed delivery ticket to prove that the goods were delivered. At the
company, delivery tickets were printed every evening on a three-part form.
The first form was signed at the loading dock. The next day delivery slips were
signed by each customer. One copy was left with the customer and the other was
retained by the driver. At the end of the day, the driver returned the signed
slips to the home office. These delivery slips were used to release invoices.
Copies of the invoice and signed delivery tickets were managed in paper format.
With over 200 invoices created each day, working with them became a very
time-intensive process. When customers would call in with questions about their
invoices, accounts receivable representatives would have to put the customer on
hold or take a number while they rifled through filing cabinets trying to find
The information was then faxed to the customer and the representative called
them back. Sometimes the invoicing information could not be located in the paper
file causing customer service issues and potentially resulting in an invoice not
Fraser-AIS recommended Objectif Lune’s PlanetPress Suite of electronic forms
software. For the delivery tickets, the software pulls the invoice number in the
print stream and converts it to a barcode that is printed on the delivery
“One of the benefits of electronic forms technology is that the client typically
does not have to change anything on their back office computer system,”
explained Kelly Jones, marketing manager for Objectif Lune.
At the end of the day, the signed delivery tickets are scanned with a standalone
Canon scanner. The information in the barcode is used to name the file. The
files are then delivered into eArchive.
Since the barcode contains the invoice number, additional indexing information
is retrieved from Lentz Milling’s computer system, allowing invoices to be
indexed and searched by invoice number, customer number, customer name, and
“The majority of the invoices and delivery tickets are matched up automatically
because of the barcode,” Miller said. “When we have late orders that don’t have
the barcode, it takes just a few minutes to manually index them.”
Similar to the delivery tickets, invoices are also routed through PlanetPress to
print on plain paper on a HP 8100 printer. In addition to printing a paper copy,
PlantPress’ image module creates a digital Adobe Acrobat PDF file of the
“After implementing the scanning solution for shipping tickets and the
print-to-PDF solution for invoices, the challenge was that shipping tickets and
invoices were stored in two separate locations,” recalled Lodatao. “It quickly
became evident that it would be more productive to import the invoices into the
eArchive solution so that they could be retrieved along with the delivery
Larry Jones, from Fraser’s IT department, configured PlanetPress to extract
indexing information for the invoices and export them into the eArchive system.
This allowed accounts receivable representatives to see the shipping ticket and
the invoice with one search.
With the delivery ticket and invoice scanning solution in place, Miller helped
Lodato discover additional functionality in the system.
“We found that some of our customers were willing to receive invoices by fax or
email,” Miller said.
PlanetPress was configured to use a fax number or email addresses in the print
stream to send invoices. Faxes are routed through WinFax, a PC fax solution. The
invoice is converted to a PDF and sent as an email attachment.
Currently, about one third of invoices are sent by fax or email. Miller
anticipates this number growing as more clients trust the system.
The Bottom Line
The integrated solution offered several important improvements to Lentz
Milling’s entire work flow process.
• Shipping Tickets are Scanned and Automatically Indexed
Placing the invoice number in a barcode on the shipping tickets allowed the
invoices to be automatically indexed as they were scanned. Using the barcode,
additional information is retrieved from the existing customer database. At the
end of each day, delivery tickets are scanned and entered into the document
management system. This allows accounts receivable representatives to have
instant access to the information.
• Invoices are Electronically Archived
As the invoices print, the PlanetPress server creates an Adobe Acrobat PDF image
of each invoice. These images are stored in the document management system next
to the corresponding shipping ticket. In addition to eliminating paper files,
accounts receivable representatives can view the invoice and the shipping ticket
side-by-side on their computer desktop.
• Invoices are Sent by Fax/Email
By sending some of the invoices by fax or email, the average collection time is
reduced. This improves cash flow and, additionally, it reduces printing and
• Customer Service is Improved
Accounts receivable representatives can instantly access customer information
from their computer desktops. If a delivery or invoice is in question,
information can be faxed or emailed directly to the customer during the phone
conversation. This improves customer service and helps invoices be collected
• Checking System for Documentation
Fraser-AIS implemented a system to ensure all of the delivery tickets and
invoices get scanned. A report lists any invoices that do not have the correct
number of pages of delivery tickets attached.
“Sometimes a driver will accidentally leave a delivery ticket in the truck,”
Miller said. “With this system, we ensure that all of the paperwork is in place
to prove we made a delivery.”
In addition, Miller is already looking forward to moving additional applications
to the system.
“The next project we would like to tackle is our purchase orders,” she said. “We
are very happy with this solution. I don’t know what we would do without it.”
Since the implementation, Fraser-AIS has upgraded an analog copier to a
scan-enabled Sharp Imager to function as an additional scanner.
“They wanted a scan-enabled copier so they could move additional documents into
eArchive,” Lodato said.
Since virtually every company has an invoicing process, Fraser-AIS President
Bill Fraser sees the potential to replicate this solution to help many other
“Over the past five years we have developed competence in integrating electronic
forms with our eArchive solution,” Fraser said. “These bundled solutions have
allowed us to add real value to our clients by automating key business processes
like delivery and invoicing.”
Keys to Solutions Sales Success
Tom Lodato is a 20-year veteran copier sales representative. Having successfully
transitioned to a solutions selling model, Tom offered his advice to other sales
representatives. Here are his keys to solutions success:
1. Look around your customers’ offices. Don’t just look for the copier. Look for
signs like stacks of green bar reports or customer service desks covered in
paper and sticky notes.
2. Study how they are doing business. Pay attention to what your customer does.
Ask questions to help understand how information flows through their business
processes. Discover their points of frustration and pain.
3. Focus your conversation on improving their work flow. Too many copier
salespeople focus only on the hardware. Instead, they should consider the work
flow. Instead of just talking about the copier, steer the discussions to finding
ways to improve their work flow. Focus on real business results like improved
profitability and enhanced customer service.
Hot Selling Points for Electronic
Electronic forms technology is about so much more than replacing pre-printed
forms. It is worth the time to learn the many uses of this technology. Here are
four key applications that add value and generate sales:
1. Electronic Delivery of Invoices
If there is an email address or fax number in the client’s print stream, you may
be able to send the invoice by fax or email instead of printing it. Basically,
the software looks at each customer record and runs a conditional script.
2. Automatic Distribution of Multi-Part Forms
When a customer has a multi-part form, ask them where each part of the form
goes. Using electronic forms software, you can direct print jobs to different
locations. For example, the customer receipt prints at the sales counter, the
shipping ticket prints in the warehouse, and the invoice prints in the
accounting department. This automates the delivery of each of these documents.
3. Export Print Jobs to Digital Format
Electronic forms software can create a digital file for a print job. These files
can be exported into a document management system for archive or later
retrieval. Common formats include PDF and TIFF.
4. Create Barcodes
Most electronic forms packages allow any number in the print stream to be
converted to a barcode. This allows clients to create barcode-enabled documents
without modifying their existing business applications. Barcodes are
particularly useful for indexing documents when they are scanned.