P.L. Porter Controls, Inc. (Porter), based in the US, is the global leader in position control systems for aircraft seating, healthcare, transportation seating and other industries. A majority of the airlines worldwide specify Porter products for their aircraft seats when ordering seats.
Porter extended its BPCS system with LANSA Commerce Edition - for BPCS, a self-service eCommerce solution for BPCS users, pre-built with LANSA. Now airlines, seat makers and other customers can use Porter's Web site to view product catalogs, order items and follow the status of their order online.
Frank Fedeli, Information Technology Manager for Porter says, "We have basically taken away the reasons to make a phone call. Almost all the information our customers need is now available online. I expect a 75% reduction of inquiry phone calls to our call center and a significant reduction in phone and fax orders as well. The LANSA Commerce Edition – for BPCS solution has considerably improved our service to the customer and streamlined our operations."
Cheryl Doberman, Customer Service Supervisor, explains, "We get questions and orders from customers by phone, fax, or e-mail. If by phone, customers leave a message on voice mail. Questions could be about pricing, availability, order status or technical information. We try to call everybody back within the same day, but unfortunately that doesn't always happen. For example yesterday I had one of my staff working on a task that took her half a day and kept her away from contacting other customers."
"Once we call the customer back, the person we need to talk to may not be at his or her desk, so we can play phone tag for a while."
"Moreover, we have customers all over the world and we can't always accommodate the time differences in our call center. Even with our US based customers we may have up to 3 hours time difference."
Frank adds, "The majority of our high volume customers use EDI or SPEC2000, which is a kind of EDI system used in the airline industry, to send their orders. But EDI is not efficient for our smaller customers. Also, EDI only removes the order entry task, it doesn't give any inquiry access."
"So we were looking for a way to make our BPCS sales orders and accounting data available to our customers in a secure way over the Internet. We did not want to duplicate our BPCS data. We were looking for a fully integrated iSeries Web solution."
"In 2000 I went to Fall COMMON and saw a LANSA Commerce Edition - for BPCS presentation," says Frank. "I had already considered LANSA for the Web to build our own Web extension, but with LANSA Commerce Edition - for BPCS nearly 100% of the logic came pre-built. It was an easy choice."
"We signed the agreements towards the end of September of last year, started with the customization and integration in October, went live for a small pilot group in January, and offered the Web site to all our customers from mid February of this year. That's very quick."
"LANSA did a terrific job, we were very impressed. LANSA business partner Network Services Group did some of the Web design. LANSA staff did the actual building and integration work. Meanwhile, I have sent a few of our own staff to LANSA training and we are now able to make our own additions and customizations."
"The Web site allows for a Product catalog with price and availability information, order entry and inquiry, shipping information with links to carrier details, account information, engineer's drawings and component maintenance manuals. Basically we have developed a full service capability for our customers to have online without having to make a phone call."
"Within the first month of implementation we had 40 customers actively using the system. These are mainly the airlines and airline seat manufacturers, our top volume customers. We expect to get another 300 customers to come on board during the year."
Frank continues, "Customers can get almost all the information they need on line, including shipping information and Web links to FedEx and other carriers. In a year's time, I expect our customer service staff to get 75% less inquiries. The Web site will give them more time to service our customers more effectively."
"Some customers still find it easier to pick up the phone," says Cheryl. "But now they have a choice. Customers see it as an additional service and most customers have discovered that our Web site gives answers instantly, which is a lot quicker than having to wait for one of our representatives to call back. The time saving is an enormous benefit to our customers."
"We don't have staff available around the clock, but our Web site is available 24 hours a day. This is especially beneficial to our overseas customers."
"Most of our goods are made to order, but we have a quick ship program that works specifically for the airlines and the parts they may need. This program guarantees an immediate response and delivery within 24 hours. So the sooner the order gets entered, the sooner the clock starts ticking. I expect that Web orders will be especially useful for urgent quick ship deliveries."
"The other advantage is that customers get a sales order number right away and they can print their order. Instant confirmation that their order has been accepted streamlines operations on their side and is regarded as a major efficiency. They don't have to wait for us to send them a confirmation."
"Last but not least, our own staff is very happy with the LANSA Commerce Edition - for BPCS extension. Before we didn't have enough hours in the day. We were not going to recruit extra staff. Now the workload is starting to slow down. It is still very new, but we're all very positive about it and look forward to the day that more of our customers will use the system," concludes Cheryl.
I expect a 75% reduction of inquiry phone calls and a significant reduction in phone and fax orders
Frank summarizes, "We have been a long time AS/400 user. The AS/400 has proven itself a very reliable computer that is easy and low cost to maintain and program. We wanted to stay with the AS/400 as a Web server because in a Web environment availability, reliability and security are important issues."
"We have also been a long time BPCS user. Over the years we have made modifications to our BPCS implementation to suit our exact needs. We have the skill set in house to maintain this system."
"LANSA and LANSA Commerce Edition - for BPCS offer a totally integrated solution for iSeries BPCS customers. It preserves and extends our investment BPCS, without having to reinvest a lot of time or money."
"If I take away the time that we spent on Web design issues and the look-and-feel of the site, the solution really took only a few weeks to customize and implement."
"I highly value the BPCS and business knowledge our staff has built up over the years. LANSA was easy to learn and allows us to maintain the solution ourselves, with a focus on business issues rather than technical issues."
LANSA and LANSA Commerce Edition - for BPCS preserve and extend our investment in BPCS
Company and System Information
- Porter pioneered the Hydrolok®, the first hydraulic aircraft seat recline device, in the 1940's. Since then, Porter has continued to provide innovative solutions with new position control technologies. P.L. Porter Controls is privately owned, with a modern 100,000 square foot (10,000 square meter) facility in Woodland Hills, California.
- Porter uses an iSeries model 270 for the Web server and a model 500 for BPCS and other business applications. PLP uses BPCS CD.
- For more information visit www.plporter.com
- Network Services Group is a LANSA business partner and IBM® Premier Business Partner based in Southern California.
- BPCS or Business Planning and Control System from SSA Global, is one of the popular iSeries (AS/400) solutions that address the core system needs of industrial sector companies.
- LANSA Commerce Edition - for BPCS was developed by LANSA and is available for BPCS CD, BPCS 6 and BPCS 8.