Raw eProcurement

fobs ProSource tackles raw materials

CHICAGO, October 26, 2000  Aimed at filling the void in raw materials procurement solutions for industrial buyers, fob, recently announced plans to launch version 3.0 of its Internet-based procurement system. Named ProSource, the companys platform e-procurement solution addresses raw material needs head-on. ProSource combines technology and human-touch services to automate time-intensive procurement processes such as ordering, tracking purchase orders and monitoring shipments. Currently in beta testing, the system is expected to launch in January 2001.

Unlike other technology companies attacking electronic procurement from the maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) side of the purchasing spectrum, fob is the only company starting from the more mission-critical raw-materials side, said Patrick Blake, CEO of fob. Were enabling companies to buy all of their raw materials through a single web-enabled interface  no other service currently available does that.

ProSource is an evolution of the companys original proof-of-concept and prototype B2B web sites, fobchemicals.com, fobpaper.com and fobplastics.com, which transacted individual product sales in select raw materials markets. fob has migrated and consolidated the features and functionality of the three sites into ProSource, which is offered strictly as a hosted application. fob has shut off the commerce capabilities on its original sites to focus its efforts on building and launching ProSource.

Turning off our sites was a strategic decision and a natural evolution for fob, based on direct feedback from our users, said Blake. Many customers told us they place a significantly higher value on the technology we are designing versus the money we potentially could save them through aggregating product demand.

The Challenge of Raw Materials Purchasing
For many large manufacturing and service process businesses, purchasing raw materials is a time-intensive, decentralized process that often involves many people. Most businesses use paper-based systems, which use phones and fax machines to create inquiries, send orders, track shipments, record receipts, manage invoices, coordinate accounts payable and generate reports detailing procurement activity. ProSource brings the entire procurement process online, allowing for a centralized purchasing environment with total transparency throughout the organization. The benefits include lower transaction costs, greater control throughout the enterprise, more efficient utilization of resources and better access to information.

Built for Purchasers By Purchasers
ProSource is built on a foundation of industry expertise in critical raw material markets and leading-edge technology. The platform is designed with input from fobs original customers as well as in-house experts who have more than millennium of combined experience sourcing and selling in key raw materials markets such as chemicals, paper and plastics.

In addition, the system uses key technology components from partners such as InterWorld and webMethods. Its technology platform is based on an open architecture for easy integration into buyers existing systems and supports standards-based communications protocol, such as HTML, EDI and XML, for supply-chain connectivity.

Weve designed ProSource for maximum flexibility and easy integration into our customers existing technology environments, said Dan Blake, CTO of fob. Were combining leading packaged solutions for areas such as e-commerce, back-end integration and financial transactions, with our own internal development efforts.

The system is designed to support many-to-many connectivity, providing fob customers a single view into their entire supply chain, including e-marketplaces and exchanges. Through the ProSource platform, suppliers will receive better access to demand information, providing a better road map to plan more effectively and increase responsiveness. Moreover, fob will provide system-to-system links to create communications efficiencies between buyers, suppliers and logistics/service providers.

The Extras
As a complete raw materials solution, ProSource also offers a host of value-added services that bridge the gap between buyers and their suppliers using offline processes such as phone and fax systems. The company offers a scaled group of industry professionals who provide technical support, assistance around managing exceptions and consulting services aimed at improving process efficiencies.