CTC Analytical Services - Information Technology for the New Millenium

Tags: oil analysis

CTC Analytical Services (CTC) is the largest independent supplier of fluid analysis services in North America. They have a network of 11 commercial laboratories located throughout the United States and Canada and 19 contract laboratories operated on-site for specific customers. Since 1961, CTC has offered its customers routine spectrographic, physical analysis and over 100 different ASTM tests for oil, fuel, and coolant.

CTC is active in various lubricant, fuel and coolant research projects. Most recently, they were involved in a one-year study to determine how extending oil drains affects the engine and the oil. CTC was also contracted to study fuel soot related issues using Thermogravometric Analysis (TGA). CTC’s relationship with major OEMs, filter and lubricant companies keeps them up-to-date on the latest industry developments relating to fluid analysis.

New Technologies
The delivery of test result data in the used oil/lubricant analysis industry has changed very slowly over the past twenty years. Business “as usual” at an oil analysis laboratory requires the enrollment of customers, order taking, sample analysis and reporting of the results. CTC Analytical Services, however, is moving rapidly to change business as usual with information technology enabling services.

Two years ago CTC began to develop a software program designed to transform the way customer sample handling and billing information is managed. This new data environment centralizes all business information into a single corporate data warehouse for ease of querying and reporting. Each CTC laboratory is linked to the data warehouse through a frame relay using high bandwidth T1 communication circuits. This means that each laboratory will be working “on-line” in near real-time with the data warehouse using a single database.

CTC has designed a number of unique modules that accomplish specific tasks to enhance customer service and improve the labs operational efficiency. The first of these modules, called OrderLink, is a tool to set up and maintain all customer ordering, pricing, billing and reporting. In addition to all standard customer information (ship to, bill to, report to, etc.), OrderLink can automatically e-mail, fax and generate hard copies of fluid analysis reports the moment the testing and evaluation is complete. During account set up, the customer can specify how they want to receive their oil analysis information. For example, the system can be programmed for CTC to e-mail or auto-fax all abnormal and critical reports and mail hard copy reports for normal results.

The different ways in which information can be delivered provides flexibility to the customer so he or she can make timely and effective decisions. The system employs a unique sample tracking system to monitor how many unused kits remain in the field. Every bottle shipped will include a bar-code label that informs the laboratory who ordered the sample kit, what service was purchased if the sample is prepaid or if the service is to be invoiced at month end. When the laboratory receives the sample the bar code is scanned into the computer to retrieve the order information. The result is faster sample processing and more accurate data. The bar coding capability, working in conjunction with the previously discussed inventory tracking system, will create the capability to automate the kit reorder process if the customer so desires. A user version of OrderLink is scheduled for release in early 2000. A web-based application, OrderLink enables the customer to perform these program management functions on-line via the Internet.

A new application that is currently available allows customers to access the CTC data warehouse to view, print, e-mail or fax their sample information via the Internet. The user can select all new data, all data in a specific date range, single customer data or all data in their hierarchy. The data can then be imported into a number of different application software programs like Excel, Access, and 10 commercial oil analysis programs including CTC’s SamLink 2000. The program is multi-tiered so that national customers with multiple locations can access all data while restricting access to individual dealers, distributors and end users to their data only. CTC will continue to add features and functionality to this application as the market’s requirements become clearer.

CTC is using innovative technology in the design of the new customer information management and support system. Because all the CTC laboratories will be linked on-line, service to the customer will be seamless regardless of the location of the CTC laboratory to which the sample was sent for analysis. Customers can move equipment anywhere in the U.S. or Canada and the nearest CTC lab can provide uninterrupted service.

CTC Analytical Services is fully committed to the delivery of state-of-the art services and quality information to its customers.

For additional information call 800-726-5400.