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A good e-procurement system – such as the multi-functioning Tradcom from Eriks – can save companies more than just administrative costs.

A good system can also help to find competitive prices or discounts and streamline the purchasing process.

It will automatically improve process efficiencies, simultaneously eliminating the need for paperwork and minimising human intervention, while also allowing individual employees to make necessary purchases at the touch of a button.

By allocating individual employees with purchasing guidelines tailored to their needs, they can make orders without the risk of unnecessary or unauthorised purchasing.

E-procurement should enable users to find an item via electronic catalogues and then make the order at the touch of a button.

A good system should have a wide selection of products and contain information and prices in order to let buyers compare similar items and make the most suitable purchase.

The system should also maintain accurate information on past purchases and provide reports on request to allow procurement managers to scrutinise buying patterns.

The system should have a powerful search engine that can quickly find a required product by broad category, part description or part number; it should provide customised supplier lists that can be grouped by department and purchase level to ensure that employees make approved purchases only.

Offering comparative prices and hyperlinks to supplier websites will also allow users to make a well-informed choice.

With the right system installed, e-procurement is designed to create cost savings in two key respects.

Firstly it reduces the direct cost of the purchase: by eliminating paperwork and human intervention; and by reducing transaction costs, as users can easily compare prices.

Secondly, indirect savings are made.

Lead times are reduced, which in turn reduces costly potential downtime and, by allowing employees that need equipment to purchase it directly, it eliminates the risk of error by going through a middleman.

Tradcom is an e-procurement system that began life and development in 2001; a second-generation version has now been released that features a range of functions that allow users to control their purchasing and stock levels, generate invoices, and link to and communicate with other software systems.

Tradcom operates in a similar manner to RSS; it is a web-based portal to a catalogue of more than 500,000 products.

Tradcom allows users to set up individual order and stock-management systems tailored to specific requirements.

The catalogue has a wide range of items spanning from engineering parts to office supplies and even product-training programmes.

Each user has their own level of access, which allows them to view and buy only products that are approved to them.

One of Tradcom’s key features is the availability of a system-enabled barcode scanner; this performs a range of functions including quick and efficient replacement stock ordering.

Product barcode labels can easily be generated in-house by any permitted user in accordance to their requirement.

The Tradcom barcode scanner can also be used to improve store management; the stock-management function provides a fully automated management system.

Users can set stock parameters to ensure that products are never over ordered or run out.

This level of management means orders can be tracked from purchase to arrival and through to their final use and installation.

The system has been designed to communicate with other software and is compatible with a number of ordering and ERP systems used around the world.

Standard links have been developed for various purchasing packages such as SAP, Ariba, Oracle Iprocurement and other, smaller packages.

Orders generated from an existing purchasing system can be sent electronically via the Tradcom communications platform using the most widely accepted formats (EDI, XML) and communication protocols.

Tradcom uses a powerful search engine with a 500,000+ range.

It has extensive information and images supplied to enable the user to be sure they are buying the correct product for any given application.

Users can be given a personalised budget and authorised product list, which can be checked and altered by the procurement manager.

One large air-compressor manufacturer recently employed the use of Tradcom in a bid to make the procurement of supplies more efficient.

By giving the technicians access to simple ordering, the company has seen dramatic reductions in both costs and maintenance lead times.

The company’s service department has 80 technicians that are all positioned in different locations; each technician is responsible for the day-to-day maintenance of industrial compressors in a particular area.

Before moving to Tradcom any purchases had to be made using a traditional paper-based system that meant there was an average lead time of seven days for any parts ordered.

As each technician already had a laptop with internet connection – with which they received work schedules and drew up maintenance reports – it decided to use e-procurement to streamline and optimise the purchasing process.

Eriks recommended the use of Tradcom, as it is a collaboration of several market leaders in industrial supplies that, together, offer a well varied and balanced range of stock.

From the large product range, it was easy for the company to create a subset of relevant stock that could be easily browsed and tailored to each technician’s personal needs.

Each supplier keeps its product range up-to-date in the catalogue, including any current offers and discounts; the technicians can search, order and track the order themselves, from any location where they have internet access.

The purchasing department is still responsible for choosing suppliers, commercial negotiations and updating each technician’s product subset, but no longer has to decipher order-request forms or authorise each purchase.

Each of the technicians was given an annual budget and a set limit per order.

If a limit is exceeded then the purchasing department is notified to give approval to ensure there is no maverick buying.

The purchase manager can also generate order reports, which makes it easier for the purchasing department to keep track on what has been ordered.

The move to Tradcom was extremely smooth: within a year the system was fully integrated within the company.

There were immediate reductions in job turnaround time as essential orders could be dispatched immediately; the general stock management has also improved, which has reduced costs caused by over ordering.

E-procurement is a realistic tool for reducing costs and creating efficiency throughout a company.

Tradcom is ideal for MRO purchasing for manufacturing and processing companies.

ERIKS’ know-how and passion for technology are at your disposal: how you want them, where you want them, when you want them. From the simplest level of product supply and logistics, to the highest level of long-term strategic planning – through project consultancy, training, management and engineering – we have the expertise available for you to call on, on your own terms.

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ERIKS Integrated Solutions provides a tailored parts procurement, supply and stores management solution, deployed at your site.      

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