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Brown Metals

Brown Metals Company boasts the largest inventory of thin-gauge stainless steel coil on the West Coast. Thanks to an efficient supply chain and a highly-skilled workforce, Brown Metals can quickly process and ship orders of any size, from those weighing less than a pound to those that exceed ten tons. But as the company grew, keeping track of order-related paperwork became increasingly challenging—and had an adverse impact on employee productivity.

When an order shipped, the accompanying paperwork first went to the company’s accounting and quality assurance departments for review. It then went to the file room. When a customer called with an order-related question, staff had to leave their desks and visit each of these locations in turn to search for the relevant document, while the customer waited on the phone. If the document was sitting on someone’s desk or had been misfiled, staff would have to undertake a more exhaustive search and return the customer’s call once they’d found the necessary information.

Recognizing that staff needed instant access to order-related documentation from their desktops, Brown’s CIO, Justin Lasley, began researching digital document management in 2004. Although Lasley and his colleagues quickly saw the benefits of scanning order-related paperwork, they had doubts about the manual data entry processes most systems relied on. “Our biggest concern was how to accurately associate metadata—such as invoice number and purchase order number—with each scanned image,” Lasley explains. “Most document management systems require manual entry of those values. This increases costs and does not necessarily guarantee a high level of accuracy.” With Laserfiche the metadata is filled in automatically relieving those concerns and enhancing productivity.

Laserfiche® quickly put these doubts to rest. When staff scan order-related documents into the Laserfiche repository, the Quick Fields™ module reads a bar code printed on each document. Quick Fields then uses this information to automatically populate the document’s template fields with the relevant metadata, which is retrieved from the company’s orders database. Thanks to this process, customer service staff can now quickly locate a document using any piece of information they have, including customer name, invoice number, sales order number, purchase order number, part number or ship date—without leaving their desks. “Now, our orders are easy to locate and retrieve, and important information can be relayed to customers more quickly,” Lasley says. “We’ve built our business on our ability to quickly respond to customer inquiries. Laserfiche helps us maintain that edge over our competitors.”

For over 10 years ECS Imaging has helped Brown Metals with their competitive edge of digital solutions.  Recently Brown Metals is harnessing the potential of Laserfiche’s automated Workflow capability in the quality control process. Integration between Laserfiche Forms, QuickFields and Brown Metal’s proprietary intranet system completely automates the order process – from the moment a Purchase Order is received until the product is approved for delivery.

“Customers take notice when you can respond to an inquiry in minutes instead of hours or days,” Lasley said. “Once we had this system in place we’re about 30 percent more efficient in handling our order paperwork and customer inquiries.”

By rolling out Workflow in the most complicated area of operations—quality assurance testing—Lasley automated one of Brown’s more complex manufacturing processes. Repeating the success in other departments should prove much simpler, Lasley said. Moreover, the in-house intranet Brown used before Laserfiche required constant maintenance and reconfiguring. Laserfiche’s off-the-shelf solutions will eliminate much of that, reducing demand on Lasley’s department while allowing Brown to more readily take advantage of new technologies, like Laserfiche Mobile.

Another automated improvement is in the outbound shipment process of capturing photos of the shipments. When Sales Orders are scanned in the, Workflow looks for the Sales Order and merges the photos with the Sales Order. If the Sales Order is not present, it renames the photo file and allows it to sit until the Sales Order appears in Laserfiche.

Brown Metals has selected CMA Integrated Email program to auto-import customer emails and correspondence into Laserfiche. This integration with Outlook/Exchange and Laserfiche provides a seamless way to collect this correspondence and have it located all in one place in Laserfiche with the Sales order information.

Brown Metals Company is a recipient of the Laserfiche Run Smarter Award in 2008.

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