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OPERATIONS

Data Storage: Outta Space

A small business learned how it could save warehouse space by converting paper documents to electronic files.
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Problem: Paper overload

Solution: Converting paper documents to electronic files

Payoff: Savings in space, time, and money

The problem seemed to be a shortage of space to store ingredients. Producers Dairy Foods Inc., a manufacturer of dairy products based in Fresno, Calif., was quickly filling up the 10,000 square feet it had allotted for document storage in its warehouse; the files and documents were about to spill over into the space allotted for ingredients. The real problem, according to chief financial officer Frank Sewill, was too much paper. Producers Dairy was keeping hard copies of all its financial records, customer invoices, sales reports, and product information. There were boxes and boxes of paper documents stored in the warehouse, taking up valuable space.

Sewill realized that the company had to find an alternative to paper records. His solution: a DataView laser-disk storage system (MultiProcess Computer Corp.; $15,000 and up; 800-377-5681). Now Producers Dairy stores all its documents -- from financial reports to customer invoices -- on laser optical disks. Records that used to take up nearly 10,000 square feet of storage space today fill an area the size of just two shoe boxes.

Sewill's plan to go paperless did meet with some resistance. Employees were worried they would lose important documents or waste customers' time trying to call up invoices when customers had questions. But those fears disappeared when employees realized how much easier it was to call up a computer file than to search through boxes of paper files.

Sewill expected to save time and space. What he didn't expect was a savings of more than $40,000 a year on paper. Since it began storing information on laser disks, Producers Dairy has cut its paper use from nine boxes a day to less than one box a day. Virtually nothing is printed on paper, not even the many reports the company has to submit to the government in this closely regulated industry.

In just a few years, Sewill predicts, Producers Dairy will be using its warehouse for ingredients only. What about the hundreds of records and reports the company will generate in the future? He's thinking of a space no bigger than a bread box.

-- Sarah Schafer

Last updated: Mar 15, 1996




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