Carpenter Enterprises Ltd., located in
Traverse City, Michigan, serves as an excellent example of the benefits experienced after
automating release accounting.

Carpenter Enterprises supplies vehicle
manufacturers with machining casting services, specializing in over 30 precision engine
and suspension components. The company is a Tier 1 and Tier 2 supplier to four North
American OEMs: Honda, GM, Nissan and Mitsubishi. Carpenter offers customers expertise in
automated machining systems such as CNC technology, dial index machining, and transfer
machining. The privately held supplier employs 380 people and generates $135 million
revenues annually.

In past years, Carpenter Enterprises
processed customer requirements with a standalone translator package running on an IBM
System 36. The company received customer orders via EDI transaction sets or from faxes,
and re-keyed the demand data into an in-house spreadsheet template for production
planning. The materials coordinator then verbally relayed production requirements for
materials planning. In previous years the supplier worked without automated shipping
schedules, thus manually created shippers using a third party vendor.

A significant limitation with the manual
environment was the lack of automated release accounting capabilities. To this end,
Carpenter used contract programmers to support the stand-alone EDI translator. While the
programmers had sufficient RPG skill to maintain the System 36-based applications, they
had no experience with automotive EDI business rules or OEM requirements. This meant that
Carpenter staff had to keep up-to-date with OEM mandates and educate the programmers as to
what was required. When new mandates were issued regarding ASNs, for example, Carpenter
nearly missed deadlines due to the time-consuming process of educating the programmers who
then made the changes.

The past system was also labor-intensive
for Carpenter’s internal employees. The company employed one full-time materials
coordinator for duplicate manual entry and ordering, and the IS Director dedicated nearly
one-third of his time keeping contractors up to date with OEM changes. Another concern was
that Carpenter’s EDI and demand data were not integrated with any MRP or financial

Now, with Future Three’s AutoRelease,
the integrated EDI release accounting and shipping control application processes inbound
trading partner transaction sets and formulates the data into production requirement
schedules. Generating the printed schedules without duplicate data entry significantly
reduces errors associated with past methods. Carpenter utilizes AutoScan’s integrated
RF scanning on the plant floor to automatically generate the ASN.

A key benefit since installing AutoRelease
is that Carpenter no longer uses contract programmers to support and maintain release
accounting. The company eliminated the time and expense needed to keep current with OEM
supply chain mandates and educate outside programmers. Management is confident that
rapidly changing trading partner requirements will be met on time and in some cases,
Carpenter receives trading partner updates long before the requirement deadlines.

Carpenter employees can now turn their
attention to more meaningful tasks. The materials coordinator is freed from manually
entering EDI data into spreadsheets for production schedules.

All in all, replacing the stand-alone
translator made good business sense for Carpenter Enterprises. The supplier recently
tripled their annual revenues, yet added just one staff member to the three-person
shipping and materials department during that same period.