Making ERP Wireless

Made2Manage aims to provide mobile users with shop-floor access to enterprise resource planning system

Tempe, AZ  October 28, 2002  Software provider Made2Manage Systems today unveiled its new wireless solution designed to provide users at mid-market manufacturers with "always-on" mobile access to enterprise systems.

Sixteen-year-old Made2Manage targets discrete manufacturers with revenues of $5 million to $250 million, as well as divisions of larger organizations. The provider said that its Mobile Manager helps move the office to the shop floor and beyond, giving end users access to information contained in Made2Manage's Enterprise Business System product suite, a mid-market enterprise resource planning solution that includes supply chain management, customer relationship management and business intelligence functionality.

Traditionally, workers wanting to access warehouse management data have had to run paper-based reports at the start of each day. The problem was that those reports might quickly become outdated. The alternative was to continually log in and out of a land-locked warehouse management system.

Based on 802.11b standards, Mobile Manager is intended to provide access, in real time, to such back-office information as shop floor schedules, inventory levels, customer information, and job and quote orders using a pocket PC, tablet PC or vehicle-mounted device. User-role-based templates allow an enterprise to define the information that individual users can access through their mobile devices.

Made2Manage said that by moving the office desktop onto the shop floor, manufacturers can retrieve and enter mission-critical information from anywhere in the facility at anytime. "The idea is to make information a couple of stylus taps away," said Chris Lenzo, director of product management for Made2Manage.

"A lot of times, the people using Made2Manage are asked questions and very quickly have to say when an order shipped, when it arrived, why it was late," Lenzon continued. "These are answers that they can get to very quickly [by using Mobile Manager] without having to walk back to the office and log into the system."

The potential benefits of using the solution include higher efficiency on the shop floor and better decision-making by providing rapid access to current information.

"By literally putting the enterprise business system in a worker's back pocket, Made2Manage is bringing the industry one step closer to paperless manufacturing," said Gary Rush, chief technology officer at Made2Manage Systems. "The new offering is especially targeted at helping manufacturers with revenues of less than $250 million compete against growing global competition by improving performance across the enterprise and better communicating with business partners throughout the supply chain."

Twelve companies have been piloting the solution, and Made2Manage is preparing to do a full-fledged rollout of the software.

One company lining up to use the new solution is University Loft Co., a provider of dormitory furniture to colleges and universities, hotels and military facilities. The company is looking to Mobile Manager to improve customer service levels, communicate with suppliers overseas and streamline processes within its warehouse facilities.

"Deploying Mobile Manager will enable us to deliver a higher level of performance and customer satisfaction," said Ken Craft, director of information technology at the company. "Because our sales force will be armed with real-time access to inventory data, customers benefit from having immediate knowledge of what's in stock, when product is available or what orders are already in production. Secondly, we expect our distribution operations to improve substantially due to the automation of inventory tracking at the warehouse level."

Mobile Manager requires the use of any portable data assistant (PDA) that is equipped with a Compact Flash Type II slot to accept the (WiFi) 802.11b network card, for example a Microsoft Pocket PC. For the worker who requires a device that is built to withstand rugged factory environments, industrial handheld units are available from companies such as Intermec, Symbol and Percon.

Made2Manage said that because the application is browser based and built entirely on the Microsoft .NET platform, Mobile Manager is able to support and develop device-independent capabilities to extend the functionality of the product even further.