Just-in-time, orders and documents management

Thousands of fax and email messages every day for the management of orders to suppliers

"Supermarkets Italiani S.p.a." was born in 1957, and the first supermarket opened in viale Regina Giovanna, Milan.

One of the leading supermarket chains in Italy, with a keen eye to innovation and technology since its foundation.

In 1986, the company gathered some companies in the IT sector for a contest. PRB was among those companies and the goal was solving the issue of sending orders to suppliers. It was the first supermarket chain with digital warehouse management with barcode readers. Orders, divided into single supermarkets, were processed overnight by Main-frames and then printed. Printouts were then handed to several staff members who called suppliers to communicate the right data. Delays and misunderstandings were the norm.

The company turned to a modem based approach in order to improve, simplify and speed up the process. Due to modems and telephone lines being unreliable at the time, PRB offered a different solution: sending orders using Telex and Fax machines.

The project was approved and PRB linked the Pioltello Main-Frame to communication lines using its own Technology: the “Open Channel” hardware equipped with the “GDD – Digital Document Management” software, to handle communications. Results were excellent: suppliers received orders right at the start of their day. Improved efficiency, speed and noticeable cost reduction.

In the following years, the system became bigger and better, with the addition of the Florence Main-Frame and email messages, and implementing the management of different business processes. This, with the known stability and reliability of PRB Technologies: a key aspect with such a large amount of orders (roughly 30.000 a day) and their high priority, especially orders for the fresh department. Carlo Gadda, accountant and IT Director for the company at the time, reckoned that “the PRB application was our most cost-effective investment”. This was later confirmed by his successors. PRB is grateful to this client: their needs were so critical and complex that PRB acquired many organizational and technological skills.

As of 2018, the company is a client and still pleased with PRB’s technology.

supermarket viale zara

Uno dei primi supermercati a Milano, in viale Zara. (Immagine it.wikipedia.org, Dominio Pubblico)


The company needed to:

  • Improve supplying management efficiency
  • Leaner and easier fax management

In 1987, the company decides to adopt PRB's solutions in order to efficiently manage just-in-time supplies. Based on requests coming from single supermarkets, orders to suppliers are quickly delivered with fax and emails.

  • The system, ableto handle thousands of fax messages per day, is composed by GDD and the management system on IBM Mainframe
  • 2 Open Channel control units, in business continuity configuration and with 30 ISDN channels each, assure communications
  • A third Open Channel unit was installed for testing

Annual savings:

  • Reduced times to send orders to suppliers, with the ability to set priority orders for fresh products and to postpone less urgent messages at nighttime.