Electrical company upgrades B2B trading platform

In a bid to streamline business processes and reduce operational costs by expanding its data transaction capabilities, MM Electrical Merchandising is implementing an upgraded EDI gateway solution.

MM upgraded its existing data translation and message management system Gentran from Sterling Commerce to translate EDI, XML and proprietary formatted information. It went live with the $100,000 upgrade, a modular integration broker solution known as Sterling Integrator, in late September, MM Electrical's IT manager Peter Nimmo said.

The new solution is open standards-based, allowing MM Electrical's trading partners to send purchase order documents in XML format. Nimmo said the software tool manages communications, routes, and transforms data between B2B partners and MM Electrical's internal applications, namely its ERP system (UniBis).

For example, Sterling Integrator transforms XML documents into internal flat files so they can be processed in UniBis, which is based on a Progress Software database. UniBis translates purchase orders in flat file format into XML format for transmission back to business partners. He said this flexibility reduces the need for maintenance and having to verify the company's internal transactions.

"In most of our relationships with partners and customers, [the new tool] equips us to facilitate their evolving data transmission needs such as EB-XML," he said.

Through a new business process management module within Sterling Integrator, Nimmo said staff can monitor the flow of the order process more proactively with trading partners by ensuring its product inventory has the right items on file at a given time.

Nimmo expects the tool to help lower business risk in MM Electrical's order process by identifying errors in the keying process. "The pay-off of that functionality lies in operational savings through less human intervention, and also savings in capital expenditure by taking advantage of existing investments in software," he said.

Sydney-based MM Electrical distributes electrical products for suppliers such as 3M, Clipsal, Philips, HPM and Pirelli to commercial, industrial and government customers and also electrical contractors. Some of MM's wholesale customers include Rio Tinto and Telstra. The company has around 1000 employees across 145 branches in Australia.

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More about 3M AustraliaData TranslationGatewayPhilipsPirelliProgress SoftwareRIO TINTOSterling CommerceTelstra CorporationUnibis

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