Mascioni S.p.A, based in North Italy, is one of the world's leading fabric finishing companies. Mascioni uses a LANSA-based multilingual customer service Web solution that lets customers order raw fabrics, view and select print patterns and colours, follow work in progress and view real-time inventory and shipping information online 24 hours a day.
Alberto Mascioni, Chairman and CEO, says, "Customers using 'Mascioni on your Desk' find that deliveries are up to 30 percent faster. There's no time consuming paperwork to deal with on the customer side, or on ours. The Web site bridges time zones and languages and provides a convenient 24x7 service to our overseas and local customers. The site helps us to offer the best possible product and service quality and to stay a leader in a very competitive market."
Deliveries are up to 30 percent faster and we don't have double telephone shifts anymore
Nello Radice, IT Manager at Mascioni, says, "One of the majors challenges for an Italian company operating in the textile printing industry, is to stay competitive with low cost Asian businesses."
"Our market consists of only small number of big players and just cutting costs is not the answer to stay competitive. In order to keep a strong image we need to offer the best possible product and service."
"One area where we could improve service and save costs was our double shift customer service department. To cater for customers in the American and European time zones we had our staff organized in two shifts. Operating with two shifts of knowledgeable and multilingual employees is very costly and not easy to organize."
"Another area for improvement was to reduce the error rate on material configuration and transformation. We have a very graphical product and many variations in material quality, material width, colour and print. Even with the best possible language skills, it is easy to introduce errors when you take orders by fax or phone."
"We started to look at an Internet-based service for our customers. We wanted to offer our customers something more than just order entry and inquiry. We wanted to offer a true extension to our ERP system and give customers an inside view of the production and logistics of their inventory, from raw material through transformation to shipping."
"We have a good view of this information using our textile-specific iSeries ERP solution that we developed in-house using RPG. We wanted to extend this solution to our customers and give them real-time access to the same data, without any data duplication."
Mascioni evaluated several Web development tools, including WebSphere and LANSA.
"Our fabric finishing operation is very complex and specific," continues Radice. "When Var Sidim built a custom-made working eBusiness prototype with LANSA in two days, we were convinced that LANSA was the right solution for us."
"Var Sidim trained our two 5250 skilled developers in less than a week in LANSA and the Web project started immediately. The conversion from RPG to LANSA was simple. We had a first stage ready after three months. Now, a year later, the solution is still growing based on feedback of customers and our management."
The solution, called Mascioni on your Desk, was developed in strong collaboration with Mascioni's management, because the very specific needs of textile industry. The project began in September 2000 and it's still growing. Two people are still working four days per week to continually enhance the Web Solution, based on customer feedback.
The customer service solution Mascioni built is different from the traditional catalogue and order entry solution. Mascioni provides an ERP extension that offers extensive logistic and technical information, based on reuse of validations and logic of Mascioni's core ERP system. Keywords and filters allow customers to access Mascioni's warehouse quickly and easily to check up on the status of their deliveries, see fabric or pattern stock levels or search for print color variations.
The Web solution provides a complete view on the production schedule of the Italian plant and the system calculates an accurate time and quantity table for the customer's material transformation.
The data, rules and calculations are mostly reused from Mascioni's RPG solution. There are less than 50 new LANSA functions in the Web solution.
Mascioni's uses a single IBM iSeries for its ERP core system and for the Web solution database and application server with a Windows 2000 system as the Web HTTP Server.
'Mascioni on your Desk' is now the main interface between Mascioni and its local and overseas customers and provides 24x7 multilingual customer service.
"The immediate and obvious benefit of the multilingual Web site is that it overcomes language misunderstandings and that it bridges time differences," says Radice. "But far more important is that the site has boosted our image, because it mirrors our internal process efficiency and quality."
"Customers find it easier to configure their material transformation over the Web than on paper or by phone. The Web site acts as an expert technical interlocutor that ensures customers will configure reliable transformations of the fabric. Customer satisfaction has gone up while the error rate has gone down."
"We didn't set out to save costs, but transaction costs have gone down anyhow, both for us and for our customers. We have significant labour savings as well, since we do not have to operate with double telephone shifts anymore."
"Our management looks at the IT infrastructure as an opportunity to improve business rather than reduce costs. The most important benefit of the Web site is improved customer service and as a result great customer loyalty. This loyalty is important in our industry with many low-cost competitors."
"LANSA has proven its power by providing a very productive and easy-to-learn Web development tool for our very demanding and complex industry."
"Currently our IT strategy is IBM iSeries, but the fact that LANSA supports multiple platforms is very important to us," concludes Radice.
"LANSA let us build a multilingual and very complete solution for a very low cost and with our own team. Needless to say, LANSA isn't just popular in our IT department, our management is very convinced and supportive of our IT strategy too."
"We are enhancing and extending the Web site every day. One of the planned enhancements is to offer our customers a cost effective XML integration as alternative to EDI. Although this is a completely new technology for us, with LANSA Integrator we can handle the project with our existing staff and skills."
LANSA provides a very productive and easy-to-learn Web development tool
Company and System Information
- Mascioni S.p.A. has a revenue near 120 million Euro, with 500 people working in an industrial area of 450,000 square meters located in Cuvio in the north of Italy. Mascioni also has a marketing office in New York, America.
- Mascioni's has a multiple platform production environment with an IBM iSeries 9406-820 as the data/application server, and a Windows 2000 HTTP server for SSL encryption and user authentication. There are five people in the IT department.
- For more information visit: www.mascioni.it
- At the time of the case study, Var Sidim was the Italian-based distributor of LANSA. More recently Var Sidim has merged with VAR ONE. For more information visit: www.var-one.it