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Alinta Gas Automates Invoice Processing with Kofax Intelligent Capture and Exchange

Published 14 January 2010 | By Kofax

Kofax technology enables leading energy company to automatically process invoices from over 3,000 suppliers.

The situation

Alinta is one of Australia's leading energy infrastructure organizations. The company supplies gas and electricity to businesses and residents. It has built its reputation on providing innovative energy solutions, competitive pricing and excellent service to customers.

Alinta is centrally managed from the organisation's corporate headquarters in Perth, Australia, and its network management operations are based in Melbourne. Alinta operates and manages over 20,000 kilometers of gas pipes and 12,000km of electricity lines in Western Australia and the southeastern Australian state of Victoria.

The challenge

Alinta has been rapidly expanding operations in the transmission and supply of both gas and electricity throughout Australia. Alinta recently acquired the assets of Duke Energy in Australia and New Zealand. The company expansion significantly increased the number of invoices coming into the accounting department, and made it difficult for accounts payable employees to process the forms in a timely manner. Alinta prided itself on customer service and realised that the company needed an automated invoice processing system to manage the added volume of documents, without having to add the extra cost of additional employees.

Alinta processes invoices from thousands of suppliers. The structure of the invoices varies greatly, including the format, tabular data, fields and number of pages. The existing company technology required templates for each different invoice structure, and Alinta realised that it would be impossible to set up a template for the volume and variety of invoices that were now being received.

"The set-up and maintenance efforts involved with processing the additional incoming invoices with our previous system would have been difficult and uneconomical," said Patsy McCauley, Alinta's Accounts Payable Manager.

The solution

McCauley discovered new invoice processing technology during a visit to a trade show. It was at this trade show that McCauley came across Kofax Intelligent Capture and Exchange, the foundation for Kofax's strategy to help organisations streamline business processes. She realized that the Kofax solution was the ideal solution to automate invoice processing for Alinta.

The Kofax solution included:

  • Kofax Capture, the world’s leading automated information capture platform
  • Kofax Transformation Modules (KTM), which streamline the transformation of business documents into structured electronic information by automating the processes of document classification and data extraction

The Kofax solution captures all incoming invoices as soon as they enter the organization. The solution uses unique and powerful learn-by-example artificial intelligence to teach itself document classification and extraction. It looks for relevant keywords such as "Total" and "Final Amount", and automatically finds the corresponding values. This allows new invoices to be added and identified quickly and easily, without laborious template definition.

The Kofax solution automatically extracts data from both structured and unstructured paper invoices. The data is then released into Alinta’s SAP back-end system, along with an image of the invoice. An email is then sent to the authorizer of the invoice, who will then approve the information in the SAP system. The solution gives the authorizer the ability to pull up an image of the original invoice, if necessary.

The results

"Having the images available on screen is a major efficiency for our employees," said McCauley. "We no longer have to go searching through physical paper in response to questions since everything is on the screen in an instant. We have saved money from not having to hire more accounting personnel, and at the same time, we are providing faster and more accurate service to both our suppliers and our own approval and accounts payable employees."