Auction Company Raises Bid for AS/400 Technology

As e-commerce expands, online auctions are becoming a commonplace means to buy and sell goods. A leading used-car auction service is finding that the Web provides an ideal support environment for its nationwide network of auction houses. Backing up this network are four AS/400s that provide data and images for its Web-based information service, which now receives more than a million hits per month.

"In the past, our buyers had to search the Web to find the cars that met their criteria, " says A. Jayson Adair, president of Copart Inc., which processes and sells salvage vehicles for the insurance industry. "Our goal is to drive the vehicles to the buyer, not the buyer to the vehicles."

Copart recently launched a new service -- incorporating daily e-mail notifications -- to notify potential buyers of vehicles that match their pre-established criteria. This service is accomplished with a Lotus Domino-based application running on an AS/400 model S10. The company also runs three other AS/400s -- another S10 for application development, and two 620 models for production and backup.

Previously, six employees were required to handle incoming requests for sale lists via fax. The automated process now provides buyers sale lists via the Web without any manual intervention. Buyers can search for cars on upcoming sales, and print out sales sheets and auction calendars. The Domino application also provides confirmation and bid status.

Through Copart's Web site at, registered buyers enter a profile of their vehicle purchasing criteria, including makes, models, pre-loss values, locations, and title status. The e-mail notifications describe the vehicles, list auction dates, and include hyperlinks.

This matching service represents a new approach to a previously fragmented approach, Adair adds. The move to bidding over the Web has boosted Copart's presence among both vehicle suppliers and buyers. "It is our goal to quickly expand into any area where our suppliers need us," says Adair. "This service will be a great time saver for our buyers."

"With one simple click, the buyer can view vehicle images and other data and enter an online bid on the vehicle," Adair says. The images downloaded to buyers' and sellers' browsers are generated by Real Vision Imaging for the AS/400 from Real Vision Software (Alexandria, La.), recently installed by Copart with assistance from Tamalpais Group (San Rafael, Calif.). The imaging software enables vehicle providers to view receipts and title documents on the Web. Copart is also using Real Vision Imaging to store and retrieve pictures of vehicles for viewing on the Web.