BuildNet, parent company to HVAConline and PLUMBINGon-line, launched BuildNet Express, a tool to synchronize the supply chain by allowing trading partners to share critical information.

BuildNet, parent company to HVAConline and PLUMBINGonline, launched a new Internet-based collaboration and procurement tool at the 2001 Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration show in Atlanta. BuildNet Express was developed to synchronize the supply chain by allowing trading partners to share critical information, said Jamie Henderson, director/BuildNet Express products.

"BuildNet Express is a secure repository for all documents associated with a construction project: blueprints, specs, change orders, etc.," he explained. "It was designed to facilitate communication throughout the entire building community. Our mission was to make BuildNet Express as easy to use as voice mail."

The value of this tool for distributors is the notification process, he said. When a general contractor builds his job schedule in BuildNet Express, the system automatically notifies the distributor when to get material prepped or when to deliver product to the jobsite.

If a drop-ship date or location is changed, the system alerts the wholesaler via e-mail. The wholesaler can access the project link from the e-mail message and see exactly what was modified.

All appointments and tasks for a project can be tracked in the project management module. The procurement and bid management module allows contractors and distributors to engage in e-commerce.

"With the BuildNet Express worksheets, purchasing material and bidding on a job are automated," Henderson said. "Contractors can create a worksheet with the products he buys most frequently, and either purchase those items or turn the worksheet into a request for quote. The process of answering queries is automated for the distributor."

Trading partners can preserve their relationships, yet see the benefits of e-commerce immediately

BuildNet Wireless is the third module. "Information needs to get into the hands of the people on the jobsite," Henderson said. "With the wireless application, site supervisors or sub-contractors can have real-time posting of changes from the field to the project plan."