Some of our clients
RadioShack International s Remke's Markets s Avenor s EMX Universal Health Card s First Choice s Honeywell-Measurex s Duro Bag s USMA/Stores Protective Association s Aero Instruments and Avionics s York Building Products s Merchants Security Exchange
Some of our work
Custom interfaces s Retail/POS systems s Inventory control s Warehousing systems s Automated pricing systems sProcess control s Database management s Barcoding systems s Secure Internet communication s Forms development s Radio-frequency communication s Preferred Shopper programs s Sculptor Web Interface
Half-million dollar savings with KDC upgrade
Avenor is one of North America's largest manufacturers of newsprint and a leading exporter of market pulp. Its Dryden mill, located in northwestern Ontario, is part of the company's White Paper Group. The Dryden mill has a total production capacity of 310,000 metric tons.Part of Avenor's mill system wraps and labels massive paper rolls for shipment. A weak link in this wrap component occasionally would overheat and crash the roll line--about 100 hours downtime per year. Every crash would in turn affect the paper machines, with downtime there averaging 12 hours per year. And every lost paper machine hour cost $40,000!
Honeywell-Measurex, provider of mill systems, awarded KD Consulting the contract to upgrade Dryden's wrapper interface and prevent the expensive downtime.
KDC staff first met with Avenor staff to learn exactly what they wanted to accomplish. With the goal firmly in mind, KDC consultants removed the existing wrapper interface and integrated its functionality on the host processor. This included rewriting all communications to the satellite devices, including the wrapper PLC, scale, bar code scanner, label printer, and label applicator. They designed, wrote, and installed the wrapper upgrade, a set of routines that now handles all data flow directly from the mill's central controller.
The upgrade was performed in one day--albeit a long day--and now the wrapper not only stays online, it's 5% faster than before.
So the paper machines keep running--and Avenor saves half a million dollars every year. Return to top of page
Paper or plastic? The choice is Duro Bag
You're likely to find the "Duro Bag" imprint on any fast food, grocery, or shopping bag you bring home. The Kentucky-based company manufactures paper and plastic bags and sacks for mass merchant retailers, grocery chains, and department stores across the U.S. Founded in 1953 and still family-owned, the company has continually expanded its manufacturing and distribution capabilities and product line. Duro Bag employs 1400 people in Kentucky, Texas, Virginia, Florida, and Wisconsin in the U.S., and in Rio Bravo in Mexico.Retained by Duro Bag, KD Consulting is on call to provide support and programming services to the manufacturer's computer systems staff. Return to top of page
EMX Universal Health Card
New York, New York
KDC designs complex health care network
Headquartered in New York City, EMX offers health and information services including private maintenance of personal medical, insurance, and demographic information in a secure database; worldwide emergency assistance services including medical air transportation; health credit billing; express registration; and a global network for the transmission of medical and related administrative information among providers.KD Consulting has provided programming services for EMX since the company's inception. A highly detailed complex system of integrated programs, the EMX system requires rapid retrieval and secure transmission of member information. Members or their appointees can access their information by telephone, fax, standard credit card terminal, or a secure, internal Web network. KDC has worked with EMX from the beginning to enable each route.
KD Consulting's own Web Interface links a database server with a Web server to form the MEDBANK Health Data Network. Validated log-ins and passwords guard entry into the system. Once inside, users input members' ID numbers and PINs to trigger release of the data from the database to the Web server.
To futher ensure data accuracy, each document prepared and printed through the MEDBANK Health Data Network displays a unique barcode, which identifies and ties that specific document with a specific account.
In addition to programming the Network itself, KDC also designed and prepared a Web-based help system and an online version of the company's Member Services Guide to answer questions about the Network. Help information is tailored individually for various authorized users on a need-to-know basis; users see only their authorized options, and don't even know other options exist.
The EMX system is SCO Unix-based.Return to top of page
First Choice IGA
First Choice IGA
Provençiales Island, British West Indies
POS updating in the Caribbean sunshine--a tough job for KDC!
First Choice IGA is one of 4600 grocery stores across the Americas supplied by food and warehousing giant SuperValu of Eden Prairie, Minnesota.In December 1996, KDC systems engineer Cliff Ward flew to Provençiales Island in the Caribbean to install a POS pricing, updating, and reporting system for First Choice IGA. The system, written by Cliff, allows a grocery store chain to update prices in all its stores simultaneously by way of in-store processors that link the warehouse and the store. Without the system, an employee has to travel from store to store, entering updates in each store's POS controller individually. The system lets the chain monitor prices as many times a week as it likes. First Choice decided to update just once each week, when a shipment arrives from SuperValu's warehouse in Miami, Florida.
The system calculates shipping costs per item based on displacement, whether the item is shipped cool or dry, and any applicable customs duties. The shipping cost plus SuperValu's item cost equals First Choice's landed cost. So First Choice can watch out for its margins by changing prices right away if landed costs go up. If costs go down, the store might choose to run a special. The system suggests a new price, but the operator can override that suggestion. Local control is always protected.
The store also sells items produced on the island. Since they're not imported, those items don't need duty calculations. Operators enter them manually into the system.
Once a price is set, the system prints a new shelf label and then downloads the new price to the cash registers.
And as a bonus, the system also produces import documentation based on duty calculations.
First Choice IGA works smart with this KDC system. And everybody wants to work smarter when the beach is right outside the door!Return to top of page
Leader in paper machine control systems calls on KDC
Measurex, acquired by Honeywell in 1997, is the market leader in paper machine integrated control systems. Measurex systems, used in paper mills around the world, are based on sensors and actuators that measure and control nearly every facet of paper quality during production. Measurex customers include Champion International, Abitibi-Consolidated, Georgia-Pacific, International Paper, Kimberly Clark, Mead Paper, Stora Group, and Weyerhaeuser.Measurex customers span not only the globe, but also the years. As a result, some mills run older Measurex systems, some run brand-new systems, and others run a mix of old and new. The company has called on KD Consulting to serve its mills running Sculptor-based systems. On an as-needed basis, KDC: Performed system audits in Montana and Washington
Directed platform changeovers in the U.S., Sweden, and Canada
Rewrote programs, upgraded software, and added new capabilities for U.S. and Canadian mills
Designed interfaces between system components
Provided general troubleshooting for various mills
The mills run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and simply cannot afford delays and downtime. Several of KDC's consultants draw on direct work experience with the paper mill industry, including process control programming and barcoded labeling. That expertise makes a difference.Return to top of page
Fort Worth, Texas
Electronics retail giant says, "Connect our international operation."
A division of Tandy Corporation, RadioShack stakes a claim as America's ultimate electronics service store. Its aggressive marketing focus and strategic alliances with IBM, RCA, ADP, Sprint, and others puts the company on a straight line to its goal of 1500 new stores in the next five years. RadioShack already has more than 6800 outlets worldwide and serves 55 million customers every year.RadioShack International selected KD Consulting to tie together its franchise locations throughout the world. The system will enable communications from RSI corporate headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas, to national headquarters in countries around the world, and to individual stores within those countries. KDC is building a complete order handling strategy for the electronics retailing giant. The design will facilitate order creation and movement from each country to corporate headquarters and back. The system also will handle each country's complete inventory for all items in each store, in warehouses, and on order.
Upon successful completion of the pilot program in Manila, Philippines, the system will be implemented in each of the 30 countries outside the U.S. where RSI currently maintains a national headquarters. New sites will be added as the company expands its international presence.
RSI also asked KDC to prepare a presentation the company could use to introduce the new system to its overseas dealers.Return to top of page
Preferred Customer program builds loyalty, sales
Remke's, a four-store grocery chain operating in Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati, recently celebrated its 100th anniversary. The family-owned business plans to open a fifth store in 1998.In a market crowded with industry leaders and national chains, Remke has carved its niche with its Preferred Customer program, written by Cliff Ward. Based on information captured and tracked by the stores' registers, Remke sends its loyal shoppers special offers and coupons customized according to their buying habits. The more a customer spends, the more he/she receives. And increased loyalty translates to increased sales.
In addition to the Preferred Customer program, Cliff designed Remke's custom system to collect cost information from suppliers and competitive information from rival stores; control retail pricing; monitor store performance; and link to the corporate general ledger. One intricate application simultaneously enables up to 16 radio-controlled, hand-held scanners to monitor and change prices right from the store aisles. KDC continues to provide technical support to Remke's as needed, and looks forward to the next 100 years!Return to top of page
Stores Protective Association
USMA/Stores Protective Association
Simi Valley, California
Companies fight fraud and theft with SPA's deep databases
According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, employee dishonesty costs American business more than $50 billion annually. And a family of four can expect to pay $500 to $1000 every year to cover retail losses to shoplifting. Since 1929, Stores Protective Association (SPA) has been fighting back. The company recently joined with several other affiliates to found United States Merchants Association (USMA).The relationship between Stores Protective Association and KD Consulting goes back to KDC's first day in business. KD Consulting works regularly with SPA to update its programs, add new products and services, expand its system, and move to new, faster hardware and operating systems.
SPA's customers can query the company's massive databases to answer questions about potential employees, track shoplifters, and recoup losses from retail theft and abuse of return privileges. Customers are permitted to access various programs and search databases depending on their contracts with SPA.
KDC's most recent work for SPA involves using the Sculptor Web Interface to power on-line data entry and query submission. Other interfaces allow communication among SPA's affiliates and nationwide court record databases.Return to top of page
Merchants Security Exchange
Merchants Security Exchange
Interface connects database to central data repository
One of the United States Merchants Association affiliates, Merchants Security Exchange works in conjunction with SPA and other organizations to stem employee fraud and retail theft.Merchants Security Exchange turned to KD Consulting to interface its system with the USMA data repository. The interface permits MSE's customers direct access to the repository, giving them the real-time response they require and eliminating the need for batch processing and reporting.
The interface identifies the user and authorizes access to the system. A request from MSE is then received, decoded for use by the repository, and submitted. Next, the repository reponse is formatted for use by MSE and sent on its way. In the meantime, the system generates a billing record and submits it to USMA for accounting.Return to top of page
Aero Instruments and Avionics
Aero Instruments and Avionics
North Tonawanda, New York
Customers get info when they need it--without calling
Founded in 1968, Aero is a leader in aviation instrument repair. The company is both FAA and JAA approved, and specializes in heavy jet instrumentation. It services virtually every international freight handler, including UPS, FedEx, DHL, and Emery, and is expanding into the commuter market as well. Aero lists more than 39,000 parts and stocks more than 15,000 items.How does Aero provide customer service 24 hours a day without 24-hour staffing? By offering customers direct access to information via KD Consulting's Sculptor Web Interface. Customers go to Aero's web site and click to a special Customer Page. There they log in with secure IDs and passwords. To date, Aero has issued 20 passwords and log-ins to customers, who can access only data they have permission to see.
Aero's airline quality control department keeps three years of history on component failures as well as the aircraft the component was removed from. Customers download these files into a spreadsheet and insert them into a permanent database. Over time, this data homes in on parts with a high failure rate, so Aero's customers can avoid those parts and save money. Customers also track orders and shipments via the Web.
Aero's president describes his customers' satisfaction: "When customers have a part in the shop and they are out of a spare, that's when they start calling. That's where the Web Interface comes in handy. Even on Saturdays and Sundays, the customer has access to it. They can find everything that shipped to them the prior week, including tracking numbers. For work in progress, they can check on specific components to see if there is a holdup due to parts delivery."One customer commented that we are ahead of the 'Big Boys,' meaning some of the Fortune 500 manufacturers who also are in the service business.
"About a year ago we installed a second computer and set up a dial-in system, but it was pain--long distance calls, data transfer was slow, and phone lines were not always in the best shape. I was talking to Kurt [Johnson, president of KDC], and he mentioned your Internet interface to Sculptor data files. Several months ago, KD Consulting had the software written and installed on our system. After about a week of debugging, it has worked perfectly ever since."Aero's system includes SCO Unix 5.0.4 and Netscape. In addition to providing the Sculptor Web Interface, KDC consultants configured Netscape, set up programs, arguments, users, and groups for permissions, and provided training and customized manuals.
KDC most recently designed a companion logging system for Aero that allows the company to know who accessed the Customer Service system, when they logged on, and what information they viewed and/or downloaded.Return to top of page
York Building Products
York Building Products
KDC ties together remote locations, upgrades system
The foundation of York Building Products rests on the vast limestone deposits laid down when south-central Pennsylvania was covered by seawater. Millennia later, York's quarries, block factories, sand and gravel plants, and asphalt factories supply material for construction and roads across the region. Its customers range from concrete companies to general contractors to Pennsylvania's Department of Transportation. Do-it-yourselfers make up a strong secondary market. Among York's locations in Pennsylvania and northern Maryland are three asphalt factories, five concrete block plants, two stone quarries, two sand and gravel plants, and two stand-alone sales centers.At York's corporate offices, an OS-9 system connected to printers and terminals. Its satellite locations were linked to headquarters via multiplexers connected to 56K phone lines. The satellites and corporate offices both were running Windows 95 on PCs. Although networked by Novell, the PCs did not connect to the main OS-9 system.
York's goals were clear: Eliminate dependence on OS-9; connect the PCs to the data at headquarters; increase the speed of its communications; and retain the existing Novell system.
KDC's consultants discussed various options with the York team. Together they settled on a solution that gave York the connectivity and speed it needed at the best possible cost. York's programs, written in Sculptor, were moved from OS-9 to a KDC-built UnixWare system. Because Sculptor is transparently portable, the programs and data were simply copied and run on the new target--no rewriting required.
Then KDC added a new Java-based scale interface to connect nine remote locations that use truck scales. These socket-based Java programs handle all scale communications and transmit them in real-time to the UnixWare system over the TCP/IP network.
KDC's most recent work for York was delivered in July 1998. Two of York's asphalt plants are powered by an industrial computer from Wisconsin Electrical Manufacturing (WEM). This system already efficiently manages the mix of ingredients and prints an order ticket. The slowdown came in getting the data from the order ticket to the corporate billing system--tickets had to be hand-carried to the corporate system and the data manually entered. This cumbersome process provided customer, job, and order numbers and quantities. For billing, York combined the data with pricing information from a Sculptor database.
Conversations with York's MIS Director established the goals: Eliminate the manual entry and retrieve data in real time.
KDC designed an interface that intercepts data on its way from the WEM machine to the ticket printer. This order data is sent directly to the host system in real time, where it is integrated with the billing system. To power an interface at each asphalt plant, KDC built a basic Unix operating system, Linux Slakware 2.0.0. The OS runs a set of routines to capture, store, and transmit data to programs on the host machine. The interface depends on Java programs that read incoming data and write to designated files. Another Java program monitors the status of each interface and also provides a summary of all interface activity. A final Java program launches only on error conditions and works to reopen a lost connection.
Although these projects are completed--on time and on budget--KDC continues communication with York. A key component our work for York is our ongoing dialogue about its business, its future, and what this thriving regional company needs from its systems. Return to top of page