Supply Chain Projects Update

Part 5: Initiatives at medical devices and data storage manufacturers, the U.S. Navy, the construction industry and more

Tempe, AZ  March 8, 2002  All this week iSourceOnline has brought you briefs on supply chain and e-business initiatives underway in a variety of companies and industries.

Today's final roundup highlights projects underway in the manufacturing sector (e-marketplace integration for a medical devices manufacturer, and supply chain integration for a data storage company), the U.S. Navy (data integration), the construction industry (e-marketplace platform) and a bevy of projects underway at retailers (supply chain optimization for a clothing chain, supply chain execution for a fabric and crafts retailer, and demand planning for an outdoor sporting goods chain).

·        Medical devices manufacturer Boston Scientific Corp. has signed up to integrate into e-commerce exchange operated by Broadlane, a provider of solutions for the healthcare industry.

The Broadlane Exchange launched last April as an e-marketplace linking hospitals with suppliers of medical goods and services. Currently 284 hospitals are integrated and purchasing through the Exchange.

Boston Scientific, a top supplier for Broadlane's healthcare customer base, is due to begin integrating with the exchange in mid-March, with the first orders from Broadlane customers to Boston Scientific expected to begin flowing by the end of March.

"This agreement with Boston Scientific is a significant step forward in our efforts to conduct e-commerce with direct manufacturers," said Lee Marston, Broadlane's managing director for technology.

·        Data storage manufacturer StorageTek has tapped webMethods for an integration platform to optimize business processes between demand and supply chain management applications.

StorageTek, a $2 billion company, offers a range of storage solutions for digitized data. As part of StorageTek's strategy for managing business operations, the company has adopted a customer-centric approach to product manufacturing and delivery. Instead of producing bulk quantities of data storage products, it aims to deliver products tailored to meet its customers' specific needs. As such, the company needed to gain visibility into the data shared between its back-office applications and supply chain management applications.

webMethods says its integration platform will help StorageTek streamline the flow of business information between supply chain management applications and back-office applications for so-called "end-to-end management" of the supply chain. The integration will also enable StorageTek to collaborate with its partners to manage product manufacturing based on real-time visibility of current inventory and customer demand information, webMethods says.

"webMethods will provide the underlying infrastructure for connecting the business-critical information systems for StorageTek and will decrease the B2B project implementation time," said Jeff Armstrong, manager of supply chain enablement at StorageTek.

·        The Navy Fleet Material Support Office (FMSO) has implemented a data integration platform from solution provider Informatica in support of an integrated data environment (IDE) initiative designed to help the organization obtain better control over its vast data scattered across many different sources.

FMSO, a major field activity of the Naval Supply Systems Command, serves a worldwide customer base for the Navy. Informatica said its data integration platform helps enable upper management at the office to view critical data to ensure the U.S. fleet gets the supplies it needs.

FMSO uses the platform to transport data from the staging environment to an operational datastore database. The organization then uses the Informatica solution to transport the information to the data warehouse for the fleet and industrial supply centers (FISCs), the Naval Inventory Control Point (NAVICP) and Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) headquarters.

The FISCs provide a variety of logistics support services and products to Navy and other military customers around the globe, including material management, contracting, transportation, fuel services, customer service and hazardous materials management.

·        A coalition of six leading British construction contractors and their key suppliers are set to use an online trading exchange from Causeway Technologies to swap invoices and other trading documents.

The six  Alfred McAlpine, AMEC, Carillion, McNicholas Construction, Mowlem and Taylor Woodrow Construction  represent more than $14 billion of construction-related activity annually and trade tens of thousands of paper orders, invoices and other documents with their suppliers every year. Causeway said it developed its Tradex exchange as a way to let supply chain partners in the construction industry to exchange electronic trading documents between their back-office systems.

"The reduction of processing costs and the elimination of inefficient manual processes is a high priority for both Carillion and our suppliers," said Ian Wollam, supply chain director at Carillion. "The Tradex solution offers us an excellent opportunity to trade electronically and to share the benefits with our preferred suppliers. In addition, this proposal provides the opportunity for us to achieve the critical mass necessary to make the project a success by working with other major contractors as well as our suppliers."

Clive Gettins, group IT manager at Alfred McAlpine, noted that his company worked with Causeway to develop Tradex and has been using the system for internal trading for more than a year. "This Tradex initiative represents further progress with our long-term electronic business development plans," Gettins said.

·        Clothing chain Chico's is implementing a suite of sourcing and supply chain planning solutions from STS in an effort to support the company's internal product development organization.

Established in a small store on Sanibel Island, Fla., in 1983, Chico's now operates more than 300 stores in 40 states, offering private-label designs. The company has worked with STS for the past three year, implementing solutions to connect with its customers. Now Chico's is implementing STS' Connected Retailer Sourcing, Merchandising and Planning solutions, as well as a Sales Audit application, at its corporate office.

STS said the Connected Retailer Sourcing Solution streamlines sourcing processes and offers companies flexibility in how they manage and analyze such key processes as ordering, pricing, inventory and margin management. Planning is a decision-support tool that enables manufacturers, distributors and retailers to take into account forecasted sales, history and inventory budgets to monitor performance against plans, help manage inventory control and plan assortments, according to STS. Sales Audit is a head office datamart for managing all transactions captured at the point of sale.

"Our first goal was to find a sourcing solution that supported our internal product development organization," said Charles Klemen, chief financial officer at Chico's. "Not only was STS Sourcing the right choice, it was also integrated with the Merchandising and Planning solutions, which made the decision to replace our legacy system an easy one."

·        Fabric and crafts giant Jo-Ann Stores is implementing EXE Technologies' Exceed fulfillment solution at its Hudson, Ohio distribution center.

Jo-Ann implemented Exceed at its Visalia, Calif. distribution center, a 630,000 square foot facility that serves 316 stores in April 2001, and the Hudson facility is due to go live with the newest upgrade to Exceed Fulfill in mid 2002. The retailer expects the centers  which together will carry up to 40,000 SKUs at one time, with 32 shipping lanes  to reduce both product-shipping costs and shipping time.

"By using the EXE solution, we were able to save on freight costs as well as drop one to two weeks off the lead-time of getting products from our distribution centers to our stores," stated Tim Lemieux, vice president of systems development for Jo-Ann Stores. "We have continued our commitment to the EXE product family in both our Hudson and Visalia centers because of the ability to go with the base product and the added functionality."

Lemieux also said that the retailer is using EXeed Fulfill Analyze to enhance the company's reporting capabilities.

·        Outdoor sporting goods retailer Gander Mountain has signed an agreement to access Impact LR, an Internet-based application that measures the specific effects of future weather on consumer demand by product, location and time. Gander Mountain will use Impact LR to help optimize buying and store allocation of men's outerwear, footwear, fieldwear and ice fishing supplies.

Impact LR, from Planalytics, provides retailers and manufacturers with knowledge of how weather has and will influence their business up to one year in advance in order to support more effective planning and forecasting, product distribution and allocation, and advertising and promotion timing.

"Changes in weather patterns from one year to the next always present surprises to retailers of seasonal products," said Mike Sidders, director of marketing at Gander Mountain. "Planalytics' technology will allow us to better serve our customers by knowing well in advance where and when demand will begin to ramp up and peak for specific product categories."

Gander Mountain, an outdoor retailer that specializes in hunting, fishing and family camping gear, as well as outdoor apparel, operates 55 stores in eight states.