Working on Interoperability

AIAG enlists QAD to participate in industry project to simplify supply chain interactions

Orlando, FL — May 20, 2003 — The enterprise application provider QAD Inc. this week announced that it would participate in an Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) project initiated to solve supply chain interoperability issues and facilitate communication to the lower-tier suppliers in the automotive industry.

QAD said it has offered resources to assist with the definition and test of interoperability standards. All participating companies are supposed to help finalize the standard.

Sponsored by AIAG, the Original Equipment Supplier Association (OESA) and Odette, an industry association of European automotive manufacturers, the Inventory Visibility and Interoperability project is part of an industry effort to drive effective collaboration among manufacturers and suppliers, as well as to eliminate the need to maintain multiple proprietary applications for inventory visibility.

In a recent survey of tier-1 automotive suppliers conducted by MBA students at the University of Michigan, more than half of respondents named inventory visibility a top priority for automation. Furthermore, the one-time savings in inventory and working capital was perceived as justifying the cost of an interoperable platform. However, nearly three-quarters of respondents cited the need for industry-wide interoperability standards as a factor in their timing for deployment of related technology. The AIAG project, according to QAD, will lead to protocols that comply with the Open Application Group Inc. (OAGI) Business Object Document (BOD) specifications and enable competing inventory visibility products to interoperate.

The Inventory Visibility and Interoperability Project will impact trading partner interactions, such as inventory replenishment signals, and help reduce lead-time in the supply chain.

The initial phase will focus on defining the business processes related to MIN/MAX inventory levels, in which suppliers may access customers' inventory data to ascertain whether materials on hand are within acceptable levels according to schedule and respond accordingly.

Work efforts will include identification of all the data elements exchanged through MIN/MAX process; mapping that data to XML standards; mapping the infrastructure — such as security protocols — for the movement of data from one system to another; and finally, proof-of-concept testing. The National Institute of Standards and Technologies (NIST) Interoperability test bed will be used for the last phase this fall.

"Fragmentation along software application lines is a significant hurdle for the adoption of technology in the automotive industry, most notably in inventory visibility," explained Kevin Prouty, research director, Gartner G2. "By combining automotive-centric software vendors, multiple industry organizations and significant user commitment, the AIAG's interoperability initiative will benefit the majority of tier-1 manufacturers immediately on conclusion of the project. It also shows why the road to any major standard in automotive needs to begin with open specifications endorsed by the AIAG."