Cannock, Staffordshire-based Compower Ltd, British Coal Corp’s wholly owned subsidiary is a computer service bureau that is intent on raising its profile. British Coal, however, says it has no plans to sell this UKP7m turnover business, rather it simply wants to raise its image in the public consciousness. Consequently, the promotion of a new managing […]
Cannock, Staffordshire-based Compower Ltd, British Coal Corp’s wholly owned subsidiary is a computer service bureau that is intent on raising its profile. British Coal, however, says it has no plans to sell this UKP7m turnover business, rather it simply wants to raise its image in the public consciousness. Consequently, the promotion of a new managing director, Peter Gloyne, seemed as good an occasion as any to outline the company’s history. Its roots go all the way back to 1958 when the National Coal Board first installed computers. In 1973 Compower was set up as a separate organisation, becoming part of British Coal’s Information Technology Department after the 1984 85 National Union of Miners’ Strike. The computer bureau service uses IBM mainframes. Compower has both a 3081 and a 3090 at Cannock as well as a 3083 at its offices in Doncaster. It has a customer base of 1,700 companies for its three main services: Supplyline, Midnight Express and Dovetail. The first of these is Supplyline, an electronic data interchange system first developed in 1987 because British Coal wanted to trade electronically with its suppliers. It now has over 100 users (especially in the health and transport sectors), and is design-ed around an IBM or compatible micro. It communicates with Istel’s Edict value added network and caters for a range of document standards including Tradacoms and Odette. Midnight Express is an EFTPoS service originally developed for petrol stations, but in allegiance with some high street banks, it is now being offered to other retailers. The service is so called because it uses British Telecom Midnight Lines to dial each terminal and collect its data. In May Compower also introduced its Local Account Card service which enables retailers to issue their Own Label cards to customers. At present this service is being offered only to garages and service stations but in the long run it is expected to be more generally available. Finally, there is Dovetail, an integrated computerised employee information service with four main components. It is a payroll service that processes information within 24 hours and pays employees at pre-determined intervals through BACS. Dovetail also uses Percom’s PMS system for personnel records, and has a pension administration system Pensad as well as an interface to electronic time recording systems which can link the payroll service to provide integrated wages and attendance information. As for the future, Compower is planning to expand, adding more regional offices to the 12 it already has in place, developing its computer services, and looking for joint ventures with complementary organisations.