Supply Chain Projects Update

Part 4: Initiatives in public utilities, manufacturing, food services, the automotive industry and more

Tempe, AZ  March 7, 2002  This week iSourceOnline is bringing you briefs on supply chain and e-business initiatives underway in a variety of companies and industries.

Today's roundup highlights projects underway in the public utilities and manufacturing sectors (CRM integration to back-office applications and manufacturing planning and scheduling), electrical contracting and food services (IT help desk automation and online ordering and supply chain management), computer equipment distribution (e-logistics) and the automotive industry (supplier integration).

  • AEM Milano, a top Italian multi-utility, is set to use an enterprise application integration (EAI) solution from SeeBeyond to connect its customer relationship management (CRM) systems to its back-office applications.

AEM produces and distributes electricity and gas throughout Northern Italy and manages a telecommunications network in addition to other services  such as urban and artistic lighting  for the city of Milan. In anticipation of the 2003 deregulation of the Italian energy market, AEM has created AEM Service, a shared service center that provides call center and billing among other services to its residential and corporate customers, as well as to smaller utilities throughout Italy. A key element of this shared service center is the company's integrated call center.

AEM chose SeeBeyond to connect the utility's call center applications  based on Siebel Energy 2000 and a CTI/IVR telephone suite from Avaya  with AEM's back-office systems. SeeBeyond has also been deployed within AEM for its Citizen Portal integration solution, providing services specifically to corporate customers. In addition, the SeeBeyond infrastructure will also be leveraged by e-utile, the new services company created by AEM and Siemens Informatica, to offer services and solutions to the utilities.

"We want to be able to offer a completely integrated service to our customers," said Giovanni Hoz, chief operating officer of e-utile and former information technology (IT) manager of AEM. "This requires us to provide a call center that is seamlessly integrated with our back office applications, helping us to achieve a single view of our customers, as well as visibility across all of the services that they use, in real time."

  •  Fabrica Nacional de Lija, S.A. de C.V. (Fandeli) is using a manufacturing planning and scheduling solution from Manugistics Group to improve customer service, reduce finished goods inventory and enhance inventory visibility.

Fandeli is the leading manufacturer of coated abrasives in Mexico. The company is highly integrated and manufactures a comprehensive array of sanding and polishing products that it sells to metal and automotive industry clients.

Pulling data from Fandeli's enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, the Manugistics solution provides the manufacturer with visibility into its existing inventory and available production capacity, as well as the relative value of customers to the company. Using this data, Fandeli can create optimized finished goods production plans that can meet customer demands in a more timely and effective way, according to Manugistics. Fandeli's success with the solution to date has prompted the company to extend the solution down to the continuous process level in order to schedule manufacturing sequences that can minimize changeover, maximize throughput, reduce waste and increase asset utilization.

"Using the Manugistics solution, we have already slashed our order cycle time in half and expect to significantly add to these customer service gains over the coming months," Javier Perez Olagaray, Fandeli's CEO, said. "Inventory levels continue to drop, especially at our manufacturing plants. In addition, productivity has increased as planning and scheduling processes previously done manually become automated."

In addition to Manugistics, Fandeli has worked with PricewaterhouseCoopers on the project.

  • Cupertino Electric, one of the largest privately held electrical contracting companies in the United States, has tapped a solution from Epicor Software to automate its internal IT operations.

From 1999 to 2000 Cupertino Electric more than doubled its revenues, and in anticipation of continued growth, the company brought on additional employees. With these extra employees came an onslaught of new and unfamiliar IT issues, leaving the company's IT department struggling to stay on top of every issue and assure all problems were resolved in a timely manner for the more than 2,700 nationwide employees.

Now the contractor is using Epicor's Clientele HelpDesk software, which allows Cupertino Electric employees to log a desktop, network, printer, e-mail or phone issue by calling, sending an email or going to the company's intranet. The new system has reduced issue-resolution cycles, with most problems being addressed the same day rather than on a next-day basis.

Epicor installed the software and had it running in less than five days, and the system was fully operational in just one month, a factor that Brent Jenkins, assistant IT director at Cupertino Electric, cites as a key factor in his company's selection of the solution provider. "Our company could not afford to spend any extra time or money on the project, so a fast implementation was very important to us," he said. "Because of the ease with which Clientele HelpDesk can be installed, the short learning curve and Epicor's personalized consulting, we were up and running faster than we had expected and without disrupting service to our customers."

  • Restaurant Services Inc. (RSI), the exclusive purchasing agent for 8,300 Burger King restaurants in the United States, has chosen software from Amphire Solutions to optimize purchasing processes and communications within the supply chain between Burger King suppliers, distributors and restaurant operators.

RSI, based in Coral Gables, Fla., is an independent, member-owned purchasing cooperative that has been the exclusive purchasing agent for the U.S. Burger King system since 1991, handling more than $3 billion in purchases annually.

"In the past, there has been no unification among the disparate supply chain ordering and inventory processes to allow the seamless movement of products from our suppliers to our distributors and into the restaurants," explained Mike Burk, RSI's vice president for distribution and logistics. "We recognized the need to establish a consistent process to achieve maximum cost reductions and efficiencies for our restaurants and suppliers."

Amphire says its solution will enable Burger King suppliers, distributors and restaurant operators to transact from a single source, a Web-based order management system, rather than using multiple solutions and standards. RSI's distributors will use Amphire's supply chain management application, Amphire Access, which will provide Burger King restaurant operators and the distributors with online ordering and replenishment capabilities.

  • Computer monitor maker Envision Peripherals Inc. (EPI) has signed up for a private logistics network to be built by solution provider GT Nexus.

Operating in a fast-paced industry, where products become obsolete quickly and new products must be brought to market rapidly, EPI has a complex supply chain that encompasses more than 100 product models, two manufacturing sites in China, six ocean carriers, and multiple distribution centers in the United States. "Delays in the supply chain mean added inventory costs, lost revenues and negative impact on customer satisfaction," noted Tak Shimizu, executive vice president at EPI.

Under the new contract, GT Nexus will design and deploy a platform of software solutions and a secure data repository for EPI to centrally manage shipment information and automate the company's interactions with logistics providers. GT Nexus said the network, operated as a hosted service, will allow EPI to deploy a single data repository that facilitates the collection and standardization of shipment information from multiple transportation providers.

According to the solution provider, the system should help EPI avoid unplanned costs, such as expedited services and penalties, through more accurate and timely visibility to global shipments as they progress through the supply chain. EPI is also looking to the system to reduce supply chain delays by allowing the company to collaborate and transact with logistics providers through standardized processes on a single platform.

The system also provides for better reporting and decision support tools for continual improvement of global transportation performance, according to GT Nexus.

Terms of the contract were not disclosed. Implementation work is underway, with deployment planned for late March.

  • Auto supplier Tesma International is currently utilizing BRAIN International's SupplyWEB software to link four plants with more than 150 of its own suppliers, with plans to bring additional plants into the system this month.

Tesma International designs and manufactures components and systems for the world's automotive sector. With operations in North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific, Tesma employs over 4,500 employees in 22 manufacturing facilities and 2 research centers.

While the company has been able to establish electronic data interchange (EDI) connections with larger suppliers, 60 percent of Tesma's suppliers are smaller firms that could not afford to set up traditional EDI. SupplyWEB allowed Tesma to connect to these smaller suppliers to send releases, defective material notices (DMNs) and delivery performance reviews (DPRs), as well as to receive advanced shipping notices (ASNs), corrective action responses and other responses.

"Supplier communication is key to managing your suppliers and ultimately meeting your customer's shipment requirements," said Kurt Siegl, a manufacturing systems analyst at Tesma. "SupplyWEB allows us to better manage the quantity and quality of inventory from our suppliers. We can post information immediately and get immediate responses."

Siegl said that, among other reasons, Tesma chose SupplyWEB because the solution interfaces with the company's existing ERP systems; Tesma wanted to own the software, not rent it; and SupplyWEB's functionality met OEM requirements.

Companies in this article