Company: EC-GateCustomer: EC-BouwSubmitted by: Golin/HarrisThe Dutch construction industry is one of the largest industries in The Netherlands. It comprises 1000 suppliers, 600 distributors and 20,000 contractors. There are many well-organized businesses and trading groups within the industry. But as a complete supply chain, they lacked the seamless operation that would release their true earning potential.

No standards

The industry depends on manual transactions over the telephone and fax machine to communicate between suppliers, distributors and contractors. As a result, transactions often get lost, are misunderstood or mistaken.

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These errors add up to around 8% of the total turnover.In an industry where a distributor’s net profit margins can be as low as 1-3%, these errors have a tremendous financial impact.But any solution to these barriers would have to recognize that the industry is comprised of many different types of companies that greatly differ in size and operation. The level of computer savvy ranges from the very limited knowledge of some of the smaller companies to the latest in IT innovations at many of larger ones.To unite everyone would require a simple and relatively inexpensive system.

20,000 companies, 1 way to do business

In 1998, five major industry distributors and EC-Gate tackled this issue.

They initiated the development of a marketplace for the Dutch construction industry.With the input of the industry, EC-Gate built and managed the marketplace that caters to the diversity of the industry, gathering industry players under one electronic roof. It was named EC-Bouw —”Bouw” is the Dutch word for construction.EC-Bouw is a portal or virtual destination where industry participants come to trade. The web-based application allows subscribers to get quotes, place orders and track invoicing without ever having to write on a piece of paper or make a phone call.

EC-Bouw acknowledges the industry’s limited technological sophistication while still meeting its demanding supply chain needs.The service can be customized and scaled according to the needs of each subscriber. So it allows all subscribers to do business with each other regardless of their IT sophistication. Subscribers need only a computer and Internet access to get into EC-Bouw.EC-Bouw also handles Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) messaging. So businesses that have made investments in EDI are able to get a significantly better return on their investment.

Effective collaboration across the supply chain

The inception of EC-Bouw helped standardize how the entire Dutch construction industry manages its supply chains. This significantly reduces the number of errors created during traditional transactions, in some cases by up to 90%.The result? Increased profit for EC-Bouw subscribers for a limited investment.It also reduces the purchasing cycle time by up to 15%. This frees up much needed time, previously wasted on paper chases.

Now businesses can concentrate on fulfilling more orders with greater attention to detail and to customer satisfaction.

Keeping up with the future by going wireless

Construction is very much a mobile industry where more time is spent on-site than at the desk. EC-Bouw subscribers were not able to fully exploit the benefits of this marketplace when they were away from the office.Once again EC-Gate developed a solution to help solve this problem. With the assistance of partners, Ericsson and Telfort (a division of British Telecom), EC-Gate developed wireless access for EC-Bouw’s applications using WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) technology. EC-Bouw Mobile combines the power of the Internet with the continuous reach and versatility of wireless communications.

It allows EC-Bouw’s subscribers to do business with one another in real-time. No matter where they are.