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Construction Products Distribution Takes a Deliberate Approach to Upgrading Its Systems


Keith Bellingham, director of IT for Construction Products Distribution - Photo by Curtis Comeau

UP CLOSE

Customer: Construction Products Distribution, a division of Superior Plus LP
Headquarters: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Business: Distributor of construction supplies to building contractors
Challenge: Ensuring right-sized systems for the job
Solution: Working with partners that understand its software and processing requirements to make sure it can use new systems well into the future
Hardware: Two IBM Power Systems 750s, soon to be upgraded to two newer IBM Power Systems
Software: Infor Distribution SX.e, Infor’s Total Warehouse Logistics (TWL) and Infor’s Unform Document Archiving & Management Solution

Desktop computer users know the drill. As soon as they buy a new computer, take it out of the box, read the instruction manual and plug it in, it’s already out of date. Companies of every size face a similar situation—albeit with a higher price tag.

They get the latest and greatest system, install their applications and databases, run tests on it and put it into production. Then, splashed across the page of an industry journal, comes news of next-gen breakthroughs in processors, memory and automation.

Rather than reading the headline and shaking their heads in dismay, however, clever organizations know they should be good for at least three years. That’s because they right-sized their systems for the long haul and beefed up their storage, memory and CPU with the future in mind.

9 hrs Run jobs for CPD’s daily sales registers are now completing 9 hours faster.

One company that adopted this mindset is Canadian-based Construction Products Distribution (CPD)—a division of Superior Plus LP—which conducts business under the names Winroc and Specialty Products and Insulation (SPI). Faced with slow report- generation times, the organization worked with one of its ERP vendor’s sales channels to make sure its new systems would keep up with processing loads. And now, three years later, it’s doing the same thing, even though its current systems are running fine.

As CPD’s Director of IT Keith Bellingham explains, this is simply a matter of being prudent. “As our business grows, so do our processing needs. We’re just keeping that in check by making sure our systems—including software—are somewhat future-proof. Yes, new systems might come out, but because we’ve worked closely with our primary software vendor, we’re pretty confident we won’t be left behind,” he says. “They know what we need, we know what we need, and we carefully craft the IT to support it.”

An Extra Step

Combined, Winroc and SPI have 118 distribution centers (including 14 fabrication facilities) across North America, with a presence in 31 U.S. states and five Canadian provinces.

Although they serve different markets—gypsum specialty and distribution in the case of Winroc, and commercial and industrial insulation on the part of SPI—they have very similar business models. Winroc, for example, which distributes ceiling and wall products like drywall, studs, and ceiling tiles and grids, will deliver its products to contractors’ sites, stack them where needed and even organize them in the order in which they’re going to be used.

Jim Utsler, IBM Systems Magazine senior writer, has been covering the technology field for more than a decade. Jim can be reached at jjutsler@provide.net.


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