SCHNUCKS ROLLS OUT CASH-TALLY DEVICE

ST. LOUIS -- Seeking to automate the traditionally manual process of counting its cash and coins, Schnuck Markets here has rolled out electronic counting machines at its 100 stores, one per store.The TY R300 counting machine, a small, portable device from Tellermate, Atlanta, uses a weight-based method rather than mechanical technology. It has no moving parts, thereby requiring less maintenance, said

ST. LOUIS -- Seeking to automate the traditionally manual process of counting its cash and coins, Schnuck Markets here has rolled out electronic counting machines at its 100 stores, one per store.

The TY R300 counting machine, a small, portable device from Tellermate, Atlanta, uses a weight-based method rather than mechanical technology. It has no moving parts, thereby requiring less maintenance, said Tellermate.

"We are very pleased with the system, which in fact hastened the rollout," Bill Frank, manager of industrial engineering, Schnucks, told SN. "We used to spend a lot of time with small errors, hunting nickels and dimes. Since we began using [the device], our customer service managers have learned to trust the technology. It has made their jobs of counting money much easier."

Frank also said in a prepared statement that by streamlining office cash handling, the device has allowed store associates "to focus more time on customer service."

The complete rollout of the technology was completed six weeks ago in all Schnuck stores, and so far has been running smoothly, Frank said. "Actually, it's been a much easier rollout than first anticipated," he noted. "On a couple occasions, we pulled a machine out of the box that was not calibrated correctly or not functioning but that was less than 5% of all the machines ordered."

Schnucks is also using the Tellecom K, an application that automatically transfers data from the TY R300 to a computer using a direct, secure line, eliminating employee mistakes during data input. It can reduce cash drawer closeout to less than a minute, said Tellermate.

Schnucks has found that the unit can be used to conduct random spot audits of cash registers in less than a minute, thereby enhancing loss prevention efforts, according to Tellermate. Frank said in a statement that the "portability and accuracy" of the unit made these audits possible.

The TY R300 has an alphanumeric keypad that allows users to handle non-cash items such as checks, gift certificates, credit cards and coupons. It also has separate operations for change recycling and preparing a bank deposit.

The unit also has a third operating mode to facilitate register counts during the day and adding them into individual accounts, and it offers two RS232 ports that can be simultaneously linked to a printer or a computer.

On average, the return on investment for the technology comes within four to six months, based on saving more than 360 employee hours per store within the first year of use, said Tellermate. Schnucks officials would not disclose how much they spent on the device, or how much they expect to save while using it. However, each unit is expected to lower cash processing costs by reducing operating costs, standardizing auditing procedures and eliminating paperwork.

"The lesson is that there is always room for continuous improvement of most processes," said Frank.

Other grocery retailers using Tellermate devices include A&P, Kroger, Piggly Wiggly, Pathmark, Roundy's, Safeway and Wal-Mart.