Brass Craft's George Morris (left), supervisor PC systems, and Joshua Jaime, manager/computer operations, worked on the COLD project.

Plumbing products manufacturer Brass Craft has implemented a program that captures and downloads reports to a network and provides online access to employees and customers. The new approach saves the company $90,000 per year that was previously spent to create microfiche copies of the reports for archival purposes. It also has increased the speed at which information flows within the organization.

A continuous improvement team within the company had suggested the paper and microfiche-based report publishing process, which generated more than nine million pages of reports annually, was due for a change. Brass Craft hired a consultant to evaluate the major players in the field of electronically publishing reports, also known as computer output to laser disk (COLD). The consultant targeted 181 reports produced daily, weekly and monthly, including those that summarize sales orders, customer purchase orders, manufacturing schedules and financial reports.

The manufacturer chose to work with software from Metafile, which offered full-text indexing and optional field, structured and Boolean searches. The program works by reading the spool file and converting it to a compact, searchable file that resides on a Windows NT server. No host code changes were required.

A small Brass Craft implementation team did the installation with minimal assistance from the developer. The software was installed on 120 users' desktops at headquarters and 200 at the company's seven manufacturing plants in the United States and Canada.

A wholly owned subsidiary of Masco, Brass Craft provides water supplies; brass flare, compression, pipe and other fittings; connectors for gas appliances and water heaters; showers; decorator plumbing products; and lines of both commercial and industrial supplies.