Pacer Group is a leading distributor of wire, cable and electrical parts with a reputation for outstanding customer service. So when it came time to move to a cloud-based data management solution, the leadership team was determined to keep the shift transparent to its customers.
Along with its modern data-management solution came a modern data-management challenge. Suddenly, the Pacer Group didn’t have the same fast access to raw data it had prior to its move to the cloud.
The transition slowed several key processes, some more critically than others. For specific products with user interfaces blocking their path to raw data, the cloud-based solution actually halted productivity entirely.
Joseph Swiatkowski, Head of Engineering at Pacer Group, found himself asking, “How hard is it to make a label?” Without ready access to raw data, this part of the production process was proving to be virtually impossible. Simple tasks—like creating barcodes for individual products—were suddenly not so simple. The company needed to find an alternate solution, and do so quickly.
Following its move to the cloud, the Pacer Group looked to Progress® DataDirect® for its data integration needs.
Swiatkowski will be the first to tell you, “I’m not a programmer.” But in just a couple of months, he was able to set up DataDirect and use it to create time- and money-saving solutions for both Pacer Group and its customers.
It was a matter of getting “behind the user interface” of the cloud-based products in his configuration. Among the solutions were Salesforce and Rootstock along with Microsoft’s SQL Server. And although these products were all benefiting the company for various reasons, Swiatkowski felt blocked by the limited access to raw data with these tools. “If I could just get to the data,” he kept saying. “That’s how we’d be able to quickly produce labels and barcodes for the nearly 4,000 products in our inventory.”
DataDirect functionality gives Swiatkowski and the others at Pacer Group the ability to access data and use it in whatever way they choose. This year they use it for labels and barcodes, next year perhaps something else. The access to the raw data is what’s really exciting to someone like Swiatkowski. He recalls, “When I found your product, it was like gold.”
Customers get what they need—an easy-to-understand labeling system, so when they receive products they can get them into the system quickly.
There were other benefits to accessing product data using DataDirect.
“The problem with cloud solutions is they’re not that fast,” Swiatkowski says. “Some have limits on the amount of queries you can run at one time and the amount of throughput you can use.
“If we’re sitting with a customer and have 20 to 30 items that we need to process, there’s a latency issue,” he adds. “In some cases, you don’t want to wait five minutes to produce a report or a barcode packing slip for a customer.”
With DataDirect, Swiatkowski was able to get all the data out of his Microsoft Access databases and link it with his atomic systems and ERP systems to expedite label production, making life better for his customers.
With wire cable and circuit breakers, labeling becomes very important. By getting “behind the user interface” the Pacer Group was able to make the experience better for its customers.
The DataDirect solution enables employees to connect to the systems producing the barcodes and labels so they can grab what they need at any time. And this access is critical. Swiatkowski estimates its anywhere from 25 to 50 percent faster with DataDirect.
Getting data quickly and having fast access to labels for products is more important in an industry where you can’t always see the difference between products with the naked eye.
“You get a spool of wire in and unless you have a magnifying glass, you really don’t know if you’re pulling 14-gauge or 16-gauge, or if it’s automotive grade or boat cable grade,” Swiatkowski says. ”Labeling becomes very important to ensure proper identification of the product.”
The financial benefits are considerable as well. DataDirect connectivity produced significant savings for the Pacer Group. How? Autonomy. “When you can avoid bringing in a consultant, you’re saving huge money,” Swiatkowski says. “We’ve easily saved $100,000 already with DataDirect.”By enabling the Pacer Group to access data in a way rivaling their former in-house solution, DataDirect helps them save time and money. It also enables them to stay flexible enough to provide the excellent customer experience they’re known for—today, tomorrow and into the data-rich future.