Chicago Ñ March 5, 2003 Ñ With manufacturing executives converging on the Windy City this week to attend the annual National Manufacturing Week conference, supply chain solution providers have been taking advantage of the gathered critical mass of corporate decision-makers to issue a flurry of product- and customer-related announcements.
Following is a roundup of the news to date coming out of the conference from solution providers Datastream Systems, Epicor Software, ePlus, Lilly Software, LogicTools, Made2Manage, nMetric, PeopleSoft, SAP, Sun Microsystems and Vizional Technologies.
Software provider Datastream used the conference to announce its asset performance management strategy. Building on Datastream's core competency in enterprise asset management (EAM), this strategy is based on a foundation of asset transaction and operations data, best practices and key performance indicators, and user-defined analytics, according to the software company. Datastream said that in the coming months it would announce product enhancements to its flagship EAM solution, Datastream 7i, that deliver new capabilities for forecasting and modeling "what if" scenarios so customers can take action to optimize asset performance and make better forward-looking business decisions. Datastream said that with these enhancements, enterprises will be able to extract asset history information to develop projections on equipment uptime and maintenance costs. This information can be used for strategic business planning and for taking corrective action, and customers can compare costs and performance across multiple plants and identify specific asset anomalies within single plants that are impairing performance.
Epicor Software, which offers e-business solutions for mid-market companies, today announced a major upgrade to Vantage, its integrated manufacturing solution. Epicor said that Vantage 6.0, slated for general availability at the end of March, addresses the core business needs of make-to-order (MTO) and mixed-mode manufacturers from front to back office. New features include multiple operating system support (including Microsoft, Linux and Unix), business activity monitoring, KANBAN flow manufacturing and new personalization and customization options. Additionally, Vantage 6.0 features multi-company collaboration and support for global operations aimed at meeting the increasingly global needs of manufacturers, and the solution's "Business Activity Dashboard" provides a holistic view of manufacturing operations, offering real-time visibility of how the business is performing.
ePlus, a provider of enterprise cost management (ECM) solutions, unveiled its roadmap for the next major release of ePlus Enterprise Cost Management (eECM), an integrated suite of solutions intended to help enterprises manage and analyze their full lifecycle of costs. The new software components include spend management analytics and e-sourcing capabilities. ePlus said that it would provide a solution suited for multiple applications in an enterprise and that eECM will now provide functionality throughout the entire domain, including asset management, e-procurement, enterprise resource planning, accounting and legacy applications. As a result, spending data can be collected, reported and analyzed, and maverick spending can be reduced and category spend optimized, according to ePlus. Other enhancements to the new version of eECM are intended to provide public companies with the tools necessary to comply with the internal control and disclosure requirements of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. These requirements include tracking off-balance sheet liabilities (leases), procurement history and current/future purchasing commitments (spend analysis, category management and contract compliance) and capital assets (asset management, software license compliance, and depreciation.) The next generation of eECM will be widely available later this year.
Enterprise software company Lilly Software Associates was set to debut its upcoming wireless solution, VISUAL Mobile, designed to give users access to high-level summary information from VISUAL Enterprise using handheld personal computers. Lilly said it developed the solution by combining the portability and convenience of handheld devices with browser-based Microsoft .NET technology, high-speed networking capabilities of wireless fidelity (Wi-Fi) and direct integration to the VISUAL database without the need for a third-party interface. VISUAL Mobile is intended to let companies stay responsive and agile by connecting them to real-time executive, financial, sales and shop floor data, such as order and shipment volumes, cash flow, work in progress/value-added services, and product and profitability reports. VISUAL Mobile will be available in the second quarter of 2003.
LogicTools, a provider of supply chain decision support solution, rolled out version 2.0 of its Inventory Analyst solution. The provider said that Inventory Analyst is a Web-based inventory planning solution that helps companies improve profitability by strategically positioning inventory across every echelon of the supply chain. The solution allows for optimizing inventory based on the entire supply chain rather than the traditional single-location inventory planning tools. Inventory Analyst also is intended to help manufacturing companies determine the optimal supply chain strategy where parts of the supply chain operate in a make-to-order fashion while other parts operate in a make-to-stock fashion. Further, the solution can help companies determine the optimal inventory levels for each location in the distribution or retail network, and assist a company in evaluating, comparing and selecting suppliers based on their impact on total supply chain cost.
Made2Manage, a provider of solutions for small and midsize manufacturers, released version 5.2 of its Field Service module. The new version of the solution, which is designed to document, track and manage a manufacturer's warranty and service efforts, features improved usability, performance and Microsoft SQL Server scalability. The provider said the Field Service module, which draws from the back-office data of the Made2Manage Enterprise Business System, allows manufacturers to maintain a full warranty and service history of their products all the way down to the part level. In addition, Field Service lets manufacturers quantify their service costs and use the information to focus on product improvements, according to Made2Manage.
nMetric, a provider of solutions for midsize and smaller manufacturers, used the Sun Microsystems booth at the conference to demonstrate how its 4C@Site software suite uses its J2EE architecture to communicate directly with industrial machines and controllers on the plant floor to anticipate potential production and delivery problems. Attendees were able to observe the flow of real-time data between plant floor systems and nMetric's 4C system, which provides manufacturers with live scheduling, monitoring and tracking, messaging updates and analyses so that they can oversee their manufacturing process and proactively supervise the dynamics of their supply chain. Real-time input from programmable logic controllers (PLC) can immediately inform 4C@Site of units completed through a process. 4C will interpret this information and recompute the schedule for down-line operations, if necessary. nMetric ran the demonstration in conjunction with its partner Starthis, a provider of software that allows enterprise applications running on a J2EE applications server to communicate via PLCs with production equipment.
Enterprise software provider PeopleSoft touted strong demand for its supply chain solutions among manufacturers in the fourth quarter of 2002. The provider pointed to customer wins at Nextel Operations, Waste Management, Belvedere International, Compagnie Des Gaz De Petrole Primagaz, Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co. and Environmental Systems Products Holdings. Additional fourth-quarter wins included Alliant Energy, Corning Environmental Technologies, New Era Cap, Navigation Technologies and Acushnet, the manufacturer of Titleist, Cobra and Footjoy products.
German enterprise solution provider SAP rolled out new vertical-industry offerings for small and midsize businesses. The five new mySAP All-in-One vertical solutions, available today, include solutions for consumer packaged goods/cosmetics, consumer packaged goods/food, computer resellers, technical service providers and the semiconductor industries. With these five additional solutions, SAP, through its reseller partners, now offers a total of 20 vertical industry mySAP All-in-One solutions intended to help small and midsize businesses operate more efficiently while also fulfilling their industry-specific business process needs.
In addition, SAP went public with a new book written by Claus Heinrich, a member of the SAP executive board, focusing on strategies that companies can use to transform themselves for success utilizing the principles of adaptive business. Adapt or Die describes a vision for business success in the 21st century based on adaptive business networks, an evolution of company management built upon the concept of adaptive supply chain networks. The adaptive supply chain network marks a change from centralized linear supply chains concentrated within individual companies to a distributed adaptive supply chain supporting a virtual network of supply chain partners. Under this theory, adaptive supply chain networks create visibility of vital data, which provides the flexibility to react in a fast-paced, ever-changing economy. The adaptive supply chain network calls for a network of equal partners who can quickly react to meet the customer's needs in real-time. Adapt or Die, published by John Wiley & Sons, describes how the adaptive business network will help partners in supply chain networks to plan and anticipate demand and supply, how they can execute the plan efficiently and effectively across the network, how they can receive real-time feedback of events as they occur and analyze them, and how they can respond to and learn from ever changing business conditions.
Sun Microsystems launched the Sun iForce Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)/Supply Chain (SC) Network for software companies, systems integrators and reseller partners. Sun's new partner network is intended to provide customers with integrated ERP/SCM solutions based on the Sun Open Net Environment (Sun ONE). Current network members include Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, Stanford Global Supply Chain Forum, MSI, Agile Software, Demand Management, i2, J.D. Edwards, Kadiri, Kronos, Manugistics, OATSystems, Oracle, QAD, SAP, Vizional and Deloitte & Touche.
Software company Vizional released its Adaptive Planning and Execution software suite for real-time global visibility and dynamic supply network optimization. The suite encompasses four distinct standalone applications: Adaptive Demand Management, Adaptive Inventory Management, Adaptive Capacity Management and Adaptive Identification Management. The solutions are designed to help companies bridge the gap between traditional planning and execution systems and dynamically synchronize demand with supply through intelligent inventory, demand, capacity and automatic identification and data collection (AIDC) management. Vizional said that by employing adaptive agent technologies and an event-driven architecture, the suite allows manufacturers, suppliers, distributors and third-party logistics service providers (3PLs) to reduce supply chain uncertainty and intelligently resolve supply chain exceptions.
Also this week, Vizional announced the availability of its RFID Network Enabler module for the provider's Adaptive Identification Management application. The Adaptive Identification Management application is intended to provide companies with improved supply network visibility and security, better inventory, asset and high-volume transaction management, more accurate supply chain execution and shorter times to process shipments of finished goods. The RFID Network Enabler is a radio frequency identification (RFID) solution that allows companies to integrate, manage and secure RFID networks with existing enterprise systems.