Trucking Company Gears Up With Document Imaging
Research shows the typical business stores 95% of its information in paper form. While computers and networks have inundated the workplace, generally they contain less than 5% of a company's total information. That was the case of the Bennett International Group - before imaging.
Bennett Motor Express, a nationwide trucking company (McDonough, GA) and subsidiary of Bennett International Group, had too many documents on paper. Because the trucking industry is heavily regulated, records must be retained and produced for audits by the U.S. Department of Transportation to verify safety regulations, vehicle maintenance and driver-rest periods. Bennett tracks vast amounts of information, including drivers' logs, bills of lading and various other forms originating from more than 70 locations across the nation. With every square foot of space in Bennett's buildings used to house sales, marketing and accounting departments, Bennett was running out of space for more administrative people and paper. The company would print and distribute reams of daily reports to various departments. Printing and distribution costs were in the thousands.
Something had to be done to relieve the waves of paper that were swamping the company. Bennett's customer service personnel alone were spending between 70 and 80 percent of their time looking for information. "Transportation is an on-time business," says Bennett founder and CEO Marcia Taylor. "Drivers are always in the field waiting to pick up the next load and waiting to be paid, so it's important we work in real-time with all of our information."
Imaging Solution Delivers Answer
Taylor decided to try document imaging as a means of helping the company maintain its growth within its present infrastructure. For ease of use, Bennett selected a system which required no custom programming. The system consisted of FileClerk® and Mirror Image software from Inter-American Data (Lawrenceville, GA), A RAID subsystem, an AS/400 mainframe, an NT server running Optical Technology Group's DiskExtender, and an HP jukebox.
The system allows Bennett to index and file drivers' logs, fuel tickets, safety and maintenance reports, bills of lading, etc. - all as a byproduct of data entry. Invoices, accounts payable checks and business reports generated on Bennett's AS/400 are automatically captured, indexed and filed as well. "There was no custom programming needed," says Taylor. "This system is user-friendly. Within thirty days of installation, the system was implemented and all the users were trained and operating."
Taylor liked the system because the installation did not require additional code to be written for pre-existing programs on the AS/400. With an extra mouse click or keystroke, Bennett employees can either grab an image or digitize a document from within existing software applications.
Archiving Saves Company Thousand Of Dollars
FileClerk allows Bennett to capture 100% of all inbound information instead of just a portion - giving the AS/400 a photographic memory. Original documents are scanned at high speed, indexed, compressed and stored on RAID disks or DASD (Direct Access Storage Device) on the AS/400.
Mirror Image, the sister product of FileClerk, is used to archive anything the AS/400 prints. "We anticipate saving between $4,000 and $5,000 a month on copy machine and fax paper alone," says Taylor.
The Imaging Process At Bennett
When trip tickets are received in the imaging department at Bennett, all fuel tickets, driver's logs and delivery receipts are scanned in batches and indexed immediately. This enables the settlement department to pay drivers right away. The driver logs are routed to the driver log department where the logs are auto-filed as a by-product of data entry. The audit department can immediately check to be sure that each driver is not spending too many hours behind the wheel. The accounts payable department uses the system to more efficiently store and retrieve invoices pertaining to maintenance performed on truck trailers.
No Custom Programming Needed
High speed filing and indexing does not have to be managed by the Bennett AS/400. Since its imaging application is a true client-server application, the images and their corresponding indices are mapped to an NT server running Microsoft SQL as a database and Optical Technology Group's (OTG) DiskExtender software for proper caching and permanent filing to optical disks in an HP jukebox.
Bennett's entire installation was very fast by industry standards. The workstations were upgraded to Pentium status with 32 megs of RAM and minimum 17-inch SVGA monitors added. Bennett's MIS department time stamps each electronically-filed document by department. Different periods of retention are allowed on the NT server's RAID drives for the fastest possible response time. The software knows which platters in the jukebox belong to which department. At night, it files documents or copies them from the cache to the corresponding optical disks. Immediate access is simultaneously available to all users because of the software's management of the disk cache on the NT server's RAID drives. The file is held in the cache for a predetermined amount of time and the jukebox is searched only when that file is not found in the cache. Bennett's imaging system responds in less than one second to a maximum of five seconds.