How Bay Copy Used Software and Copier Upgrades to Sace a Customer Thousands18 Jun, 2004 By: Jim Farrell imageSource
How Bay Copy Used Software and Copier Upgrades to Sace a Customer Thousands
As the purchasing
agent for a manufacturing facility, imagine discovering that you could save 50
percent of the total costs of mailing and printing without having to scale back
any of your workforce. Belknap White Alcco, one of the nation’s largest
distributors of flooring supplies, was able to achieve such a feat through the
use of software and copier solutions.
Belknap’s client base
includes hardware giants Home Depot, Loew’s and a number of other high-volume,
high-traffic conglomerates. From their headquarters in Mansfield, Mass.,
Belknap generates and mails 400 invoices a day to its distributors. At one
time, its system of producing and mailing invoices cost as much as $11,000 per
month, excluding postage.
Management at the
company viewed the costs as excessive and had attempted several different
methods to reduce costs and streamline the process. The system used by Belknap
to generate invoices was a midframe AS400 and tractor-fed paper. In the words
of Belknap’s IT Director Garry Jones, “it was a very labor-intensive process.”
The company’s AS400
midframe ran the flooring distribution system, floor vision system and
operations, including data entry, inventory warehouse duties, barcoding,
transportation, and logistics—but not the accounting function.
achieve compatibility of the invoicing system with its existing equipment,
Belknap used pre-printed forms that were tractor fed. Not only were the actual
forms costly, but because they were sent in duplicate, there was excessive
handling time due to the bursting requirement. Additionally, the business faced
high costs and labor associated with printing some of its reports. All of the
Belknap reports were originally printed on greenbar paper, which is heavyweight,
hard to handle and fairly expensive.
Jones noted: "Our
sales force of 25 had to run the reports, split them up, reduce them, and then
mail them out. Because the greenbar paper is a heavier stock, the postage costs
were often high as well."
All invoices and
reports were produced via outdated line printers. "It was very expensive.
Every page required a duplicate," Jones added. "Just the upkeep on the printers
was phenomenal. Supplies and service contracts cost us more than $15,000
annually for the three printers."
To streamline the
invoicing practice, a transition to customized forms had become crucial for
Belknap. That alone would eliminate the need to purchase pre-printed forms and
greatly reduce mailing costs and handling time. In addition, eliminating the
need to generate reports on greenbar paper would save on both time and money.
That was the point at
which an equipment upgrade and connectivity solution would help pave a new
approach for the company. Garry Jones, IT director for Belknap, set out to find
Originally, a major
dealer was brought in to create solutions, but the project failed. Rockland,
Mass. firm Bay Copy had been working with Belknap for some time, but only in the
area of supplying facsimile equipment and related service. Bay Copy’s first
venture into upgrading printing and copying equipment for an industry giant did
not go well, but it was invited to propose a solution, nevertheless.
Believing that the
answer to Belknap’s dilemma was a combination of newer copier/printer equipment
and software that would make its midframe compatible with the system, Bay Copy
worked with its main supplier, Konica Business Technologies of Windsor, Conn.,
to create a solution.
equipment and software alone are not enough to solve a problem. For a company
such as Belknap, frequent invoices are its lifeblood. The company needed not
only a solution that would work, but a “partner” that would be with them until
everything was running smoothly. An “off the shelf” solution wasn’t what Belknap
Bay Copy’s top IT
person assessed and evaluated the situation—taking into account what had been
tried and discarded earlier—and engaged in ongoing dialogue with Belknap’s IT
person. The common goal was to help Belknap convert its invoicing system to
function without requiring expensive pre-printed invoices. This step enabled
the department to customize invoice forms, reduce handling time and pre-sort its
mailings to take advantage of lower postal rates.
IT-related solutions demand “buy-in” from the IT person at the client’s
location, Bay Copy’s method of winning this bid was working directly with the IT
person, who in turn obtained the go-ahead from his company for the project to
The Pieces of the
The solution that reduced Belknap’s expenses so significantly included a
software conversion package that would allow the AS400 to "talk to" its new
printers. The "solution set" included Konica printer/copiers 7035, 7045,7075,
and 7065. Additionally, the solution set included the Compleo software that
translates the AS400 data stream; and Objectif Lune software to incorporate the
needed data into custom-made forms. In essence, the first piece of the puzzle
was an upgrade to the digital technology supplied by the Konica products. Bay
Copy’s technicians worked with Belknap to provide the solution.
copier/printers all run on the network with a dual identity. The hardware can
run on the AS400 platform and talk to PC/lan servers as well. The conversion
software can take material from the AS400 and convert to a text file, as well as
to an Excel spreadsheet, Access database, PDF, word document, and Web
page—enabling Belknap to run a report that can be sent out in a variety of
formats. This flexible, multi-purpose software permitted the company to use
traditional, single-sheet, lighter weight invoices, and use its Konica
high-speed copier/printer units to generate the documents.
This also allowed
Belknap to custom-create print invoices, eliminating the need for pre-printed
forms. Further, there is greater flexibility for customizing and reducing
handling time, since there are no further needs for tractor-fed forms.
Belknap is now able
to produce original invoice documents in whatever quantity is needed and route
them to whatever location is required. All of this has translated into an
opportunity to save $40,000 each year in printing and mailing costs for the
company. And, of course, everyone kept their jobs.
The savings, realized
through a combination of special software and innovative use of digital
printer/copiers, represents a full 50 percent cost reduction in the mailing and
printing department and an estimated 70 percent reduction in handling time. The
software component of the solution not only enabled the invoices to be
customized and printed directly to the Konica machines, it also allowed Belknap
to save on postage costs.
Part of the software
program, First Logic, sorts mailings according to zip code and permitted
Belknap to reduce its cost from 37 cents apiece to as low as 28 cents through a
presort first class. Because the lower rate requires a minimum number of
pieces, the firm has begun mailing every other day instead of every day. The
savings in the mailing alone is $200 per week just on the single rate versus the
invoicing are a big part of the business of the Mansfield, MA office for
Belknap, which handles all of New England, Orange County in New York and west to
For the invoice form
alone, the software and new printers have saved the company $30,000 per year.
The company’s goal is to find other areas within where similar savings can be
This is a great
example of what digital technology partnered with the right software can do.
The system Belknap had in place worked well for many years, however, its new
program gives it new equipment and mailing/postage savings. It's a triumph for
Belknap on a number of levels, and it points to what solutions digital
technology can provide.
digital technology enables original quality documents each time. In the case of
Belknap, not only did the company save significantly on time, labor and costs,
it obtained a better quality document generation.
“It’s where we think
the future is heading,” said Bay Copy CEO Ray Belanger, referring to bundling
hardware and software for customers. “Our mission is beyond just connectivity,
but also finding business applications that help differentiate ourselves while
saving customers money.”
Sometimes it is easy
to lose track of the benefits that upgraded technology can provide. What is
available sometimes happens so quickly that companies get left behind because
“we’ve always done it this way.” Belknap White Alcco is a company that looked
beyond the traditional means of doing business to find a newer, streamlined
method. It is worth every company’s time to do an “efficiency audit” to see if
there are savings that can be achieved simply by leveraging the benefits of
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Jim Farrell is a president of PR First, a public
relations firm Hanover, Mass. To learn more, visit