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Jan 29, 2013
Avanti partners with the University of Waterloo to upgrade its on-campus retail stores
The University of Waterloo has been an integral part of Canada’s high-tech community for decades with advanced research and teaching in science, engineering, health, environment, arts and social sciences. In fact, Waterloo has been chosen as the most innovative university every year for the past 20 years by the Maclean’s Annual Canadian University Survey. So it was no surprise that university officials chose Canadian print MIS innovator Avanti to streamline and upgrade its outdated on-campus retail store operations.

“Avanti was the only company with cost accounting built into their program,” said May Yan, Waterloo’s Director of Retail Services. “That was one key factor. Avanti is also a stand-alone company – we know that we don’t need to go through another firm or supplier to get advice or technical support. To actually work with the owners of the company has resulted in an entirely new level of support. Their customer service has been exceptional.”

The University has several on-campus retail stores catering to various student needs – such as its Book Store (academic and on-demand books), Write Stuff (school supplies), E Smart (mobile and technology devices), Campus Tech (technology products) and Waterloo Store (crested gifts and emblematic apparel). In 2008, the uWaterloo Book Store purchased an Espresso Book Printer and became one of the first University bookstores in Canada to produce perfect-bound, print-on-demand books in-store.

The challenges

Randy Dauphin is Operations Administrator, Retail, University of Waterloo. “My role is to manage the Retail Services IT Department, Shipping/Receiving Department, Digital Production and the four Media.doc locations which offered walk-in printing services,” he said. “Two years ago when we took over management of the printing services on campus, it quickly became evident that the print systems needed an overhaul – especially when it came to managing information and updating software.”

In brief:
  • Print Management Information software had not been upgraded for about 10 years.
  • Customized software modules formerly created in-house were difficult to support and maintain.
  • The computer systems were unstable and crashed frequently – slowing down the service, causing downtime and many other inefficiencies.
  • With the old applications, it was very difficult to determine job cost and ROI.
  • In addition to being inefficient, the old print management system represented a security risk on campus.
The solutions and the benefits

From purchase of raw materials, to order processing, inventory control and final shipping, Avanti’s user-friendly print shop Management Information Systems (MIS) allow the University of Waterloo to track all jobs in real time, providing all necessary details so that management and staff alike see exactly where problems are occurring. More importantly, the modules show specifically in what areas business is growing and vice versa. Avanti’s advanced solutions include:

  • Job Manager

    Gives Waterloo real-time information on job costs and tracking, profitability, invoicing, scheduling, shipping and change-order information.

  • Order Entry/Job Costing
    • Calculates cost and price as the job is entered.
    • Saves templates for jobs, products and kits so Waterloo staff can quickly enter pre-defined types of jobs or combinations of items.
    • Allows staff to enter combinations of different products and inventory all on one, easy-to-read screen.
    • Generates both job tickets and inventory pick lists from one module.
    • Dynamic Job Jacket technology allows all information from the Job/Order Entry module to be transferred to a number of Job Jacket formats. The Job Jacket becomes the actual tracking ticket that is printed by the system and is used on the shop floor.
    • Shop Floor Data Collection allows real-time data for input by shop staff.
    • A full screen is available for data verification and easy messaging. This valuable technology tracks labour, productivity, equipment utilization, spoiled items and production rates.
  • Purchasing

    • Records and tracks requisitions, purchase orders and receipts.
    • Produces regular and blanket orders for raw materials for either a specific job or for inventory items.
    • Generates a Purchase Order specific to a job directly from the Job/Order entry screen.
  • Inventory Management

    • This module provides comprehensive materials management capabilities for both raw materials and finished goods in real time.
    • Tracks costs by last cost and average cost.
    • Paper is tracked by type, brand, size and weight.
    • Tracks materials’ usage and provides a full history of commitments, orders, receipts, adjustments, moves and other issues.
  • Shipping

    Provides all necessary information and documentation in order to ship products. Packing slips, carton/skid labels and courier waybills are printed at the end of the job and the technology outlines what is shipped and where. Information is accessed automatically from other modules.

  • Reporting

    Hundreds of pre-formatted reports are available in Avanti’s standard system. The reports may be used as is or modified by Waterloo. Reporting provides extensive costing information, job tracking, work-in-process, efficiency information and productivity information. Reports may be viewed on-screen or printed.

  • Customized Chargeback Reporting

    Avanti provides hardcopy and/or electronic usage reporting to the University’s internal accounting systems. Avanti customized the reporting and the file layout to Waterloo’s specific needs so that custom chargeback software integrates smoothly with the University’s current Oracle system.

  • eAccess Web-to-Print

    With Avanti’s eAccess capabilities, authorized users have a link to the system via the internet that provides easy, inexpensive and secure anytime/anywhere access for submission of jobs, as well as a valuable job history review through the eAccess interface. The university intends to add this system in 2013.

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