CHICAGO — Thermoplastic resin distributor Polymerland Inc. introduced an upgraded Internet site that enables customers to obtain their individual account information and place orders at any hour.
``We believe Polymerland is the only distribution company with customer information online,'' Peter N. Foss, Polymerland president since January, said in an interview at NPE 1997 in Chicago.
About 15 people in eight Polymerland functions spent six months redesigning and creating the upgraded Web site and bringing it online in the days prior to NPE, said Dick McConnell, advanced technology leader.
``Last year we did customer surveys'' to determine their needs in the major ``move toward productivity,'' McConnell said.
Polymerland preregistered 300 customers to demonstrate the ``extranet'' capability at NPE, said Mark Rohrwasser, information services leader. Via the extranet, a customer interacts online with Polymerland's database and internal business systems. Information is updated hourly.
The site at http://www.polymerland.com has five primary areas: a welcome that includes updates on the company's Six Sigma quality initiatives; a ``what's new'' category for new products, special announcements and press releases; a complete listing of products and services from Polymerland's leading suppliers; a technical assistance source; and the restricted customer information access.
In addition, Polymerland customers can link directly to the CenBase Materials database listing major thermoplastic materials.
CenTor Corp. of Garden Grove, Calif., has sold three-year software licenses allowing a few thousand Polymerland customers to access information on more than 35,000 plastics and metals from more than 300 manufacturers. The licenses were effective June 13, Rohrwasser said.
Customers also can access a Polymerland browser through the CompuServe online service.
Polymerland employs more than 300 and records global resin sales of more than $1 billion annually, mostly in North America and Europe.
The operation will use its presence in Mexico as a way to expand soon into countries in Central and South America, Foss said.
He sees Polymerland as generating ``more volume in five years with less square footage,'' and getting ``more people in front of customers and fewer behind'' the scenes.
``We will productively use the new technologies to eliminate the chance for error'' in dealing with customers, Foss said.
Polymerland, headquartered in Huntersville, N.C., is a wholly owned subsidiary of General Electric Co.
Foss forecast that the Polymerland Custom Compounding Division will account for about 10 percent of the subsidiary's 1997 sales. The business represented about 5-6 percent last year.
Polymerland announced formation of the division May 9. The custom compounding business was established a decade ago at PolyServices.