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Osaka Gas Co. To Give Suppliers, Manufacturers Access To Internet

Osaka Gas Co., a leading domestic provider of gas and gas equipment in Japan's Kansai region (Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto, Nara), plans to allow suppliers and manufacturers to access and update inventory via the Internet.

A total of 11 million yen ($97,345) will be invested, including 6 million yen ($53,0970) ear-marked for hardware and 5 million yen ($44,247) for application software, according to company representatives.

The technology behind the service will include the use of an "integrated-circuit" card or IC card for the companies involved.

"In Japan, the term IC card is used which is equivalent to your 'smart card.' The card contains data for access verification and control, amounting to 500 bytes," said Toyoshi Matsumoto, of Osaka Gas' Corporate Planning Dept.

"The Internet has been used within the company primarily for non-routine activities of the staff, but the expanded use of the Internet is expected to increase efficiency of business transactions, reduction of logistics costs, and to support retailing activities through integration of the gas appliance supply chain," he added.

Participating suppliers will be able to purchase the IC card for 50,000 yen ($442) and then have an account, including user name and password, set up to allow them to check order status, delivery orders, Osaka Gas inventory, and sales forecasts. In addition suppliers can update their own delivery response and production plans.

Suppliers currently involved would include New Cosmos Electric, with plans to ultimately extend this to 23 other companies, 15 of which will be made up of small to medium sized suppliers.

Another 8 are to be transferred from Osaka Gas Company's current network to the newly created one. Among these eight are some of the largest corporate entities in Japan: Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Rinnai Corp. and Noritz Corp.

The Internet inventory control system will be overseen by the Information & Communications Dept. of Osaka Gas.