Concrete plans to save travel costs

New Zealand vehicle dealers are being saved the expense and hassles of travelling to Japan, or using an agent, when buying their used imports.

New Zealand vehicle dealers are being saved the expense and hassles of travelling to Japan, or using an agent, when buying their used imports.

Auto Auction Network (Aucsat), a finalist in the “Excellence in e-business: business to business” category of the Computerworld Excellence Awards, allows dealers to take part in vehicle auctions in Japan.

The network was started in 1998 but substantially redeveloped and relaunched early this year to offer each of its 300 dealer-customers a more personalised service.

Business development manager Daniel Matthews says Aucsat offers a fully integrated service for dealers that runs from bidding for cars to handling the paperwork and arranging delivery.

Some 6000 cars go through the system every day. Dealers can view the cars online and receive details about their condition and roadworthiness through a grading system. Logistics and accounting functions detail the price and delivery details of the vehicle. When an auction starts, the system keeps the customer up to date on bids. A shopping trolley function allows dealers to add vehicles to their shopping cart for later viewing and appraisal.

Created by Auckland-based ITMS, Aucsat was developed in VB6, SQL 2000 and XML and runs on Windows 2000 servers.

Cost and time-savings are the promise of Serko Online, an online corporate booking engine that gained the second finalist spot.

Developed in Auckland by Signature Travel and launched last June, it gives customers an interface to the travel industry’s Amadeus global reservation system — the same as that used by Signature’s consultants.

Signature Travel Auckland manager Terry Tirrell says once a user is trained in the system — a task he says takes less than 90 minutes — an order for flight, accommodation and car can be made in two minutes. Firms are saved the time of phoning or emailing details and they can ensure bookings follow company policies.

Tirrell says about a dozen corporates use Serko Online including ABB, the Land Transport Safety Authority and Alcatel.

The system was developed using Microsoft’s .Net platform, using SOAP2, Visual Basic, Com+ and JavaScript.

Helping customers buy cement is Smart-Stock.net, an interactive website from Milburn New Zealand.

Some 90,000 tonnes of the 250,000 tonnes of cement supplied into the mid/upper North Island through Milburn’s Onehunga depot — about 36% of the total — comes through the web-based system.

Milburn plans to implement Smart-Stock.net at its Wellington and Christchurch depots and will make greater use of the system’s ability to manage other concrete component products held in the back-end data system such as aggregates, sand and chemical additives.

Developed and supported by Auckland-based systems integrator gen-i and launched last year, Smart-Net was built using Microsoft technologies and XML.

It serves two types of users — those with area-specific responsibilities (for example, Auckland) or product-specific responsibilities (all those using product A). Personalisation is possible, as is the production of graphics and tables.

The range of cements is listed online, while users can drill down for more detail or configure orders and delivery. The clickCrete online concrete ordering system was also developed through the system.

Milburn says Smart-Stock.net introduces internet technology into a previously “PC-free” environment, shifting the firm from customer driven replenishment to vendor-managed inventory.

The company says online ordering has improved efficiency and accuracy, as less error-prone verbal communication takes place.

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