When a provider of telecommunications technology decides to streamline its manifest and shipping process, it cant put its customers on hold while making internal process improvements. Fujitsu Network Communications, Inc., (FNC), headquartered in Richardson, Texas, recently encountered that challenge.


One of about 500 group companies comprising Fujitsu Limited, FNC produces connectivity components for customers like Qwest (formerly US West), WorldCom and other telecommunications operating companies. The equipment is installed in customers central offices and directs e-mail, video and voice traffic from telecommunications platforms.


Business is good, and its only getting better. Three shifts are working in FNCs manifesting and processing area to handle over 13,000 orders each month about $225 million worth of circuit boards and related products. And FNC plans to ship more than $2 billion in products over the next six months.


As Jonathan Henson, senior distribution manager, notes, Rapid growth was threatening our old way of handling product distribution. We needed to bring our distribution system on board with our world-class manufacturing to make it a competitive weapon in the marketplace.


Today, FNC is beginning to realize those goals. It surveyed logistics solutions from a variety of vendors before selecting Pitney Bowes. We use SAP enterprise applications, and the fact that Pitney Bowes is an SAP partner was important in our choice, explains Zack Butler, information systems manager.


Record-setting numbers

FNC installed the Pitney Bowes Ascent manifesting software and In-Motion module in its manifesting and processing area. Almost immediately, the company began setting records for the number of packages processed. We went from processing one package in five minutes on average to 20 seconds per package, says Henson. Thats a huge difference. Not only has our productivity increased, but our accuracy has climbed to over 99.9%.


The integrated shipping management software forms the core of FNCs new manifesting process. This Windows-based software is a multi-carrier system that integrates shipping information with users existing enterprise systems in FNCs case, a UNIX operating system, SAP enterprise applications and a Windows NT server.


To leverage the full potential of automation, FNC uses Pitney Bowes In-Motion module to interface with Ascent, thereby optimizing its existing material handling system. The In-Motion module utilizes conveyors, scanners and scales, a printer/applicator and advanced software to achieve rapid, unattended manifesting of parcel shipments. Depending upon the configuration, the system is capable of processing and manifesting as many as 30 parcels per minute( equiv-alent to over 14,000 parcels per shift). Consolidating all our carrier and shipping data into one system is a huge advantage in time and efficiency, adds Henson. Now we deal with one streamlined system instead of multiple peripheral components from Airborne, UPS and other carriers. And we get a single report with all manifest and shipment information right there.


Realizing the benefits

The new system eliminates over 90% of manual data entry involved in shipping. Butler comments, Before, we had to do a subsequent transaction on our host system, relying on manual data entry. That was time consuming and left a lot of room for error. Now, its all done at once by the In-Motion software. In fact, once an order is picked, the shipping staff rarely needs to touch the order again.


Immediate invoicing is another benefit offered by the Pitney Bowes solution. Henson states, In-Motion sends the freight costs and tracking numbers for each order to a file in our host system, so we can invoice as soon as an order ships. That really helps cashflow.


Implementing new processes and systems is never easy. But FNC is benefiting every day from its decision to streamline both its shipping and processing systems