Like it or not, computers are a fact of life. Nowadays, it seems like they’re everywhere, and depending on which one you run into, they’re either a great help or a headache. Our experience here at Moss is probably similar to many of yours.
We jumped into the computer age with both feet in 1970 with an IBM punchcard when a computer was not a household appliance (and barely a business one!).We then acquired a Burroughs 1800, and a software package that more or less met our needs. The business grew, and we acquired a second 1800, then a third computer, a Burroughs A3. The software was modified as much as possible to fit our requirements, but eventually we hit the limits of the technology. The 1800 was a powerful machine in its day, but rapid advances in computer technology made it obsolete. Its specs today make it sound like a cheap laptop, less than a meg of memory, and no internal disc space. We added 10 external disc drives, and with all the external disc paks loaded, there is only about 65 megs of disc space.
A growing business, with ever increasing demands for data processing and online information, was simply more than the machines could handle. Even with three systems operational, we had run out of computer. It is not surprising that development of a state-of-the-art computer system has been a priority at Moss for the last several years.
We spent a lot of time and effort looking at software and hardware before we made a decision. With the future of Moss riding on the outcome, It was a difficult process. We settled on a powerful multi-processor machine made by NCR, the 850 Tower. Fully configured, the Tower will support over 500 online users, with not much difference in response time than with a load of 250 users. The software was developed for Moss based on our unique requirements, and additional sections are still being completed.
But what does this really mean, to Moss and to you, the customer? In the first place, no interruptions in service. The Tower (as well as the phone system and the terminals in sales) is wired into an Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS), which means knocking out our electric power will have no effect. We have tried this out (unintentionally) several times, and it performs as advertised.
We have managed to “crash” the system a time or two, but the recovery time has been minutes, not the hours or days we have come to accept with the Burroughs. Recovery from a major system failure on the Burroughs meant re-entering data; the Tower recovers to the last keystroke. When the system comes backup, your terminal is right where you left off.
The most obvious benefit is the improvement in processing time. Because the system is “real-time”, we don’t have to print orders and invoices in a “batch”. On the Burroughs is system, all the orders entered in the computer before 9:00 a.m. printed in a batch around 10:00 a.m. These orders were sent to the warehouse for processing. The order was pulled, checked by quality control, and then the paper work was sent up for “invoice entry”. If the invoice entry could be completed before 11:30 a.m., an invoice would print in the afternoon batch, and the order could be shipped that day. In practice, processing time was usually 24 hours. On the Tower, an order can be entered, printed, pulled, packed and invoiced quickly because we don’t have to shut down to print a batch. As a direct result, the number of orders entered and shipped the same day is quite high. While we presently ship all guaranteed next day orders entered by noon the same day, we hope to eventually ship all orders entered by 10:00 a.m. P.S.T. the same day. Of course larger orders take more time, and the work load on Mondays affects our ability to meet this goal. Our processing time at our facility in New Jersey is now a day quicker, for the same the new system makes it easy for us to find you. If you don’t have your customer number, we can quickly search our data base using your name, zip code, or phone number. And in addition to the home address information, we can store multiple “ship to”addresses; if you have your parts sent to a shop instead of your home, we’ll keep that address on file.
Access to Inventory Information is better; our stock in our various warehouse is displayed on screen as the order is being entered. Although not yet 100% accurate, we will be able to tell you if a particular item is likely to be in stock.
Another major plus is the ability to recall an order to the screen. This means as soon as it has been invoiced, anyone in sales or customer service can tell you what was shipped, where from, how it was shipped, and the invoice total. We can review all the orders placed since we began operations on the Tower,and this will save a good deal of paper shuffling.
Those of you with parts books other than Moss catalogs will be glad to know that we’ve loaded about 56,000 cross reference numbers into the Tower. This means you can often give us a factory part number, or the number off that old Lockheed box and see if we stock the item. It’s still quicker and more accurate to use our part numbers, but if you can’t find a Moss number, let us try to cross-reference the number you do have.
One thing high on the priority list is back-order information. We don’t have the ability to tell you when we expect to ship a back-ordered item, but we intend to develop this feature as soon as possible.
All in all, the new system is a giant step for Moss. We’ve been working on this for some time, and we will continue to improve it in the future. We intend to provide our staff the best system we can, so that they can provide you with the best service possible.
Moss Motors, Ltd.