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MARCH 2013

The European magazine promoting the effective use of IT in supply chain applications

Special Report: ERP Automotive/Logistics special feature: FERRARI

Also in this issue: Fast order from chaos: the High-Tech industry How the West is won back Winning the inventory battle in consumer electronics Retailers require only modest changes to survive

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Walking tall on the development path As a welcome counterpoint to the unrelenting barrage of negativity in the national press concerning the continuing plight of the UK economy, I am delighted to highlight several highly positive, forward-looking announcements put under the spotlight in this edition of Manufacturing & Logistics IT. As referenced in our interview with Matt Parker of Zebra, a recent report by the McKinsey Global Institute, ‘Manufacturing the future: The next era of global growth and innovation’, comments that despite all the woes that have haunted many global economies over the past few years, manufacturing continues to grow worldwide – now accounting for approximately 16 per cent of global GDP and 14 per cent of employment. The report also states that by 2025 a new global consuming class will have emerged, and the majority of consumption will take place in developing economies, creating rich new market opportunities. The report also comments that innovations in materials and processes—from nanomaterials to 3-D printing to advanced robotics – promise to create fresh demand and drive further productivity gains across manufacturing industries and geographies. Parker believes new technologies such as these – together with cutting-edge data capture capabilities – are just the tools needed to boost Western manufacturers’ competitiveness on the world stage – facilitating production closer to home, ensuring greater visibility and traceability throughout the supply chain, and also ensuring a closer, more mutually beneficial relationship with suppliers and consumers. Other bullish news can be seen in our feature on high-end car manufacturer Ferrari. The company is currently busy developing a largely new state-of-the-art IT estate as part of a five-year IT strategy roadmap that kicked-off last year. Ferrari has implemented much of the core functionality of its ERP system, and this is being backed up by other new and complementary IT deployments, including MES, PLM and CAD. As well as undertaking a general ‘spring-clean’ of its IT infrastructure, the company is also focused on ensuring this new technology bedrock will better serve both its existing customer heartlands as well as major new growth markets such as those in the Far East and Middle East. And in terms of IT verticals, the ERP world is doing anything but standing still; as can be witnessed by poring over our Special Report in this issue. One of the overriding ERP development areas is undoubtedly related to Mobility. Jonathan Orme, sales operations & marketing manager at Exel Computer Systems, comments that one of the key trends is extending ERP out into every area within the enterprise and then out into the extended enterprise; especially the increasingly mobile workforce. And Phil Lewis, business consulting director at Infor, believes that with today’s advancements in Cloud and connectivity there is an opportunity to develop applications for mobile devices which extend the workspace of the user. “Enterprise users should be able to participate in business processes and gain access to the information they need, whether they are in the office or on the road, and irrespective of the device they choose to use; desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone,” he said. For Kevin Bull, product strategy director at Columbus, the primary benefits from deploying ERP-connected mobile devices are reduced costs through better use of employees, increased revenue through live up-sell and cross-sell activities and improved cash flow by allowing invoices to be generated sooner.

Ed Holden Editor

One of many other key talking points in the ERP space is improved usability, a theme enthusiastically embraced by Melissa Cook, senior director & global manufacturing industries lead for Microsoft Dynamics. She points out that as the younger generation comes into the workforce with all its technology knowledge gained from the consumer world, expectations of what is available in the working environment are dramatically changing. And this is where the ERP industry is stepping up to the plate. Among the many themes on the radar of Steve Tattum, product manager at Sage ERP X3, is the ‘green’ agenda. He makes the point that this is not just an important consideration from an environmental responsibility perspective, but also something that makes commercial sense insofar as it can save energy costs and reduce paper usage for businesses. In this regard, he comments that ‘green’ is starting to be felt in the environs surrounding ERP. For more enlightenment just turn the pages…

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IT March 2013

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CONTENTS Manufacturing and Logistics IT March 2013 The European magazine promoting the effective use of IT in supply chain applications

Automotive Focus 5

Ferrari

Special Technology Report

Editor: Ed Holden

10

Enterprise Resource Planning

Contributors: Alexander Renz, Infor. Karin Bursa, Logility.

Manufacturing 20

Simon Fowler, Advanced Business Solutions.

Laidlaw builds for the future with Exel EFACS E/8 Crane Pump & Systems deploys LogiXML to improve manufacturing systems and processes Infor: Fast order from chaos – the High-Tech industry

Publisher: Dean Taylor

Romag gains clear benefits from Columbus and Microsoft Dynamics AX.

Designer: Ian Curtis, First Sight Graphics

Marussia F1 in top gear with Sage ERP X3

Microsoft Dynamics is music to the ears of Audio-Technica

Production: Carole Chiesa

Planning

36

Preactor drives planning & scheduling efficiency at Lucas-TVS Logility: Winning the inventory battle in consumer electronics

Circulation: Sarah Schofield IT Manager: Peter West

Printing & Labelling

40

Zebra Technologies Europe: How the West is won back

Accounts: Carolyn Pither

Automatic Data Capture

Published by:

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42

TouchStar launches new field tablet with 4G support Bullitt Mobile/Tweakker: 'New breed' of intelligent and rugged mobile devices

Tel: +44 (0) 1707 664200 Fax: +44 (0) 1707 664800

Motion announces next generation of rugged and flexible tablet PC

Email (publishing): info@logisticsit.com Email (editorial): editor@ibcpub.com Printed by: The Magazine Printing Company plc, www.magprint.co.uk

DAP unveils rugged tablet with 9.7-inch multi-touch display

WMS 46

No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publishers. No liability is accepted for any action arising from the contents of this publication; readers are advised to check any manufacturer’s or supplier’s claim for products. The publishers do not endorse opinions expressed in any article by an outside contributor. While every care is taken over photographs and illustrations, which are returned when requested, no liability can be assumed by the publishers for the loss of such materials.

ISSN:1463-1172

Box: Retailers require only modest changes to survive

Advanced Business Solutions: Choosing the right Warehouse Management System BalloonOne: Food traceability simplified with auto ID tracking

Supply Chain 48

SIBA AB selects EazyStock inventory software to raise customer service levels ediTRACK predicts increased demand for ethical trading compliance and auditing software after horse-meat fiasco Oracle unveils Agile Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) and Agile Product Lifecycle Management for Process

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Ferrari

Automotive

Accelerating IT improvement Manufacturing & Logistics IT spoke with Vittorio Boero, chief information officer at Ferrari, about sports and luxury car manufacture’s intensive five-year IT re-structuring roadmap in the wake of ever greater customer expectation and the increasing demand from newer markets in the Far East and Middle East.

stablished in 1929, Ferrari is a truly iconic Italian sports car manufacturer based in Maranello, Italy with a name known around the world. Originally founded by Enzo Ferrari as Scuderia Ferrari, the company moved into the production of street-legal vehicles in 1947. Throughout its distinguished history, Ferrari has been noted for its continued participation in racing, especially in Formula One, where it has enjoyed great success as well as being an engineering, design and innovation leader in the high-performance automobile market.

E

Away from the race track, 2011 saw sales of just over 7000 cars, generating revenue of €2.2 billion. The company remains at the forefront of sports and luxury car manufacture and has seen year-on-year sales growth of 7 per cent. As Ferrari is known around the globe for high-performance automobiles, its customers demand and expect the absolute

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best in customer responsiveness and service. Faced with increased demands from new markets such as China and the Middle East – where customers are much less willing to wait the standard 12 months for their prized delivery – Ferrari realised that it had to increase production rates in terms of both quantity and speed to meet growing output demand, without compromising on quality.

by agile business software that could help achieve targets for new production output. Vittorio Boero, chief information officer at Ferrari, joined the company a little over a year ago. During 2012 he and his team

Profound challenge This presented a profound challenge because each Ferrari is unique. Every customer has the luxury to customise and tailor their new purchase, from unique paint colours to the materials that cover the seats and interior, as well as many other personalised details on each car. The result is that no two Ferrari cars are the same. Each buyer has a unique vehicle. This led Ferrari to realise it needed a very responsive and flexible manufacturing setup, supported

Vittorio Boero: Greater flexibility.

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Automotive

Ferrari

began an ambitious five-year technology roadmap, which involves the replacement of many of Ferrari’s older IT implementations. Ferrari also put in place a custom development planning regime with its new IT partners in order to ensure the newly sourced solutions were the very best fit for the company’s requirements. Boero explained that the company needed these new solutions to cover many of its internal processes, and also to simplify its application landscape, which had become over-complex. So last year Ferrari kicked-off its multi-implementation plan with the target of adopting state-of-the-art IT systems that also offered cost savings and a substantial reduction in IT complexity. ERP is one of the primary areas covered within Ferrari’s new IT roadmap. Ferrari’s owner, Fiat, operates a centralised IT policy that group companies should standardise on SAP to run the business. But, faced with the challenges of delivering faster

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production in order to capture market share in fast-growing economies, Ferrari quickly proved it should not adopt such a solution. SAP was not going to deliver what was demanded by the company in terms of coverage of the developments done in the past and the business model to be implemented through the ERP.

Speed and agility Confronted by this demand for speed and agility in its production processes, Ferrari undertook an extensive review of its processes and identified a range of targeted improvements. After assessing both customisation and manufacturing speed demands, combined with the need to maintain the quality that is a hallmark of the Ferrari brand, senior management decided to update its existing ERP (Baan IV) software to the latest Infor LN version. The project has been split into

phases covering the industrial (sport car manufacture), Finance & Control, Spare parts and Grand Prix (Formula One) divisions. Last year the company began its implementation of Infor LN, concentrating on Manufacturing and Supply Chain. Senior management at Ferrari places a heavy focus on the Supply Chain and Manufacturing operations because both are of vital importance to both the day-to-day and strategic focus of the organisation. Ferrari has introduced new Supply Chain processes with the target of ‘zero shortages’ along the production line – that is to say no parts missing at any point of the production chain, eliminating the unacceptable delay such a shortage would cause. Much of this Manufacturing and Supply Chain functionality has went live after the first and second waves which were completed in December last year and February this year. But, as Boero explained,

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Ferrari

this is far from the end of the ERP implementation for Ferrari. “In addition to Manufacturing and Supply Chain, the plan over the next two or three years is to also approach other areas such as Finance and Accounting; as these aren’t yet covered by our current ERP implementation,” he said. Also, Boero pointed out that Ferrai is looking to introduce a commercial component to the system; comprising aftersales for technical assistance, and brandrelated functionality etc. LN is well-suited to the organisational and operational model of Ferrari as it provides flexibility and automotive industry-specific functionality in order to handle the complexity of the infinite number of customisations without compromising on either speed of information delivery or finished product quality. LN has the capability to build individual custom configured vehicles in sequence yet maintain high operating line efficiencies and full sequencing with the supply chain. Some other ERP solutions rely on multiple external sequencing and MES systems, which can increase complexity, risk, errors and cost.

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Production grid As part of its manufacturing strategy, Ferrari created a production grid, which takes into account all of the possible combinations of customisation elements. The grid enables Ferrari to have all the right components ready and in the right place at the right time. Cars can then be produced quickly and with

Automotive

between the supply chain and manufacturing technology, driven by a focus on the planned increase in production numbers. This communication has been enabled by Infor ION, Infor’s own Intelligent Open Network which provides connectivity between Infor and non-Infor applications. This has led

With the change encompassing both physical production and the IT supporting it, as well as processes originating at the dealerships, we have been able to establish better relationships between many business departments and IT.” – Vittorio Boero, Ferrari.

precision to the exact requirements of customers, while still making use of the time and efficiency savings of automated processes. As a result, LN is used widely across Ferrari, from manufacturing and the supply chain, taking the orders coming from its commercial network worldwide and providing the finished cars to customers. This demands a very tight connection

to integrated business processes such as order configuration, advanced planning and scheduling, assembly line scheduling and sequencing, and supplier management, increasing control over the Ferrari supply chain and asset maintenance and management. As an example of this control, Ferrari can now freeze engineering changes at the sub-line level while still making changes to the overall bill of materials. The first phase of supply chain changes has

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Automotive

Ferrari

As Ferrari is known around the globe for high-performance automobiles, its customers demand and expect the absolute best in customer responsiveness and service. Faced with increased demands from new markets such as China and the Middle East – where customers are much less willing to wait the standard 12 months for their prized delivery – Ferrari realised that it had to increase production rates in terms of both quantity and speed to meet growing output demand, without compromising on quality.

marked a major development at Ferrari. IT now works hand-in-hand with new physical manufacturing technology with the new setup going live in June 2012. LN currently improves processes and the efficiency of the logistics supply chain at all stages of manufacturing.

Fast delivery

A second relevant step was implemented at the end of 2012 with the application of a new concept for the supply chain management and manufacturing management of a ‘new turbo engine production’. The implementation was successfully executed for the V8/V12 engine family in December 2012 and was then rolledout in February this year for the new V6 engines.

The transition from Baan to LN, supplemented by integration to third-party solutions, in-house applications and ION was delivered in a fraction of the time, compared to the timescale proposed by other vendors. Ferrari is confident that this transition will contribute towards significant rise in annual production volumes expected especially on the Engine production side.

As part of the production technology roadmap, Ferrari has also started the implementation of a Siemens Manufacturing Execution System (MES) for shop floor control. “This fits in with our plan to put in place a very limited number of specialist solutions,” said Boero. “Last December we went live with the first implementation of the MES system, and we are now aiming to replace the old legacy

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application for the other production line by the end of this year. By the beginning of 2014 the plan is to have all the production lines covered by the same MES. We will then have in place one common platform between our ERP and MES systems.” The MES project was followed by the start of an implementation process involving two Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) systems. “We began the PLM implementation in January this year,” explained Boero, “so we are now only a few weeks into this very big project that will probably take two or three years to complete.” Ferrari’s PLM of choice is a mixed solution comprising Windchill FlexPLM from PTC and Enovia V6 from Dassault Systemes. “We have some very special configurations

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Ferrari

that we plan to adopt,” said Boero. “The PTC system will be the main collector of the information and be the official PLM for Ferrari GT, while some of our R&D activities will be covered by the Enovia V6 solution. Once the two PLM systems are fully integrated we will have a system that is unique in the market at this time. To achieve this we are working with both vendors to fully integrate the two platforms.” RFID is another technology that Ferrari has recently introduced. This implementation was focused on managing the new V6 engines produced on the company’s new production line as well as for related warehouse activities. The Infor RFID solution went live in February of this year.

Grand designs On the design front, Ferrari is currently adopting Catia V6, V5 and V4 CAD packages for the design of the cars and uses Pro-E as its preferred solution for engine design. These are used for the design of both the GT and Sport Car ranges. This information is integrated with Ferrari’s Bill of Materials. “What we want to achieve is full PLM integration in order to develop drawings for new products, to develop the designs and to execute our R&D processes as effectively as possible,” said Boero. “At the end of the new process through the implementation of the PLM system our target is to have one single bill of material with one unique description of the product adopted by all the departments within the company.” Ferrari’s all-important data centre is led and managed by Ferrari’s CTO and its internal resources, while also calling on support from local companies for the daily operation management when required. Here, Ferrari houses all the applications needed for the normal planning of the operations of both the GT and Sport Car business units. In addition, the data centre houses Ferrari’s highperformance computers, used for all the calculations related to the Formula One cars, including calculations related to computer fluid dynamics. Within the data centre’s

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technical stack Ferrari has a wide portfolio of systems supplied by leading brands such as HP and AMD.

Automotive

capabilities within Infor LN. The extra capacity that has been realised by the use of LN will also enable Ferrari to make engines for other members of the Fiat group such as Maserati.

Full control In terms of serving new major growth markets such as the Far East and Middle East, the management and supervision is under the control of Ferrari’s internal IT team. “This is because we need to have full control over the demand management,” said Boero. “Therefore what I have required of my team is to lead the activities in terms of business requirement collection; that was fully under our responsibility.” Boero explained that, in

Fewer anomalies “We are much happier with our new IT infrastructure,” said Boero. “As well as improving flexibility, we have reduced the number of anomalies in the system which is streamlining the production process further. It has also been a useful experience for us to make these changes and an opportunity to improve the knowledge all our staff have of

As part of this manufacturing aspect of this strategy, Ferrari created a production grid, which takes into account all of the possible combinations of customisation elements. The grid enables Ferrari to have all the right components ready and in the right place at the right time. Cars can then be produced quickly and with precision to the exact requirements of customers, while still making use of the time and efficiency savings of automated processes.”

terms of technical activity – the translation from business requirements to technical requirements – this was undertaken by Infor and KPMG. “The functional requirements were managed by KPMG and the technical development by Infor,” he elaborated.

our internal processes. With the change encompassing both physical production and the IT supporting it, as well as processes originating at the dealerships, we have been able to establish better relationships between many business departments and IT.”

And how is the new IT regime facilitating greater efficiency speed agility for Ferrari in the world of Formula One? “I believe the most important thing we have provided to the F1 team is support in the R&D area,” said Boero. “During the F1 season we need to react very quickly to new things being developed all the time, and modifications that need to be done quickly. Technical parts need to be updated from one race to the next. This is the most critical area for us, and this is something that we are always focused on.”

As for the lessons Boero and his team have learnt, he reflects that it was the right decision to begin with a careful analysis of Ferrari’s existing processes, identifying the specific weak points and how they could best be tackled. He added that the company is also focused on benchmarking so that it knows it has a system that delivers some of the best manufacturing processes used by high-end car manufacturers.

Returning to the ERP solution, Boero points out that Ferrari will continue to exploit the advanced Planning & Scheduling, Enterprise Asset Management, Assembly Line Aanagement, and Supply Chain Management

Boero also explains that this approach will be also replicated in the next waves planned for the completion of the ERP implementation and other systems. “As we proceed to the next phases of the programme, we believe we have the right ways of working to continue to be highly effective,” he concluded. n

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Special technology report

ERP

ERP spreads its w ings

Manufacturing & Logistics IT spoke to a number of experts from the vendor community about recent shifts within the world of ERP – including those related to Mobility and the Cloud. We also consider what the main spurs for these developments have been, and what further ERP innovation could be headed our way in the near future.

having to join systems together,” he said.

ince our last Special Technology

been the impact of Big Data and social

Report on Enterprise Resource

networking on the ERP world? All these issues

Planning (ERP) in March 2011

and more are surveyed in this report. So, to

Orme adds that the benefits to the end user are

things have moved apace in

begin, let’s take a high-end view of some of

the ability to do business as and where they

terms of scope of functionality,

the key current talking points.

are, and in a much quicker time frame – often in

S

real time. “If the mobile sales/service engineer

increased adaptability and ease of deployment. But they are also joining the

Jonathan Orme, sales operations & marketing

has access to all the live business data when

Mobility party – making it even easier to

manager at Exel Computer Systems,

with the customer, business decisions can be

access the information needed quickly in the

comments that there is a trend for extending

taken there and then in full confidence,” he

field or on the shopfloor on mobile devices –

ERP out into every area within the enterprise

commented. “In the same way, by being able

whether they be tablet PCs, laptops or even

and then out into the extended enterprise;

to push live data out to the mobile sales/service

smartphones. And the influence of the Cloud

especially the increasingly mobile workforce.

engineering workforce, they can have access to

is also beginning to gain traction in the ERP

“For example, you can now have your

the latest customer information which helps

space, having gained much ground in related

engineers and your sales team directly

deliver the most tailored levels of service.”

IT areas – including Customer Relationship

accessing the business system from

Management (CRM) – in the recent past. Then

smartphones and tablets, and you can have

Kevin Bull, product strategy director at

the question needs to be asked: what has

this all from a single supplier, rather than

Columbus, makes the point that the provision of

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Special technology report

tools that provide

and go on courses to learn how to use these

workplace. “Some vendors are just delivering a

access and – more

tools; what they actually want is outcomes. So

messaging engine within the realms of their

importantly deliver

they’re looking for pre-packaged Analytics,

ERP,” he points out. “Other vendors, such as

insight – into the

dashboards etc. and enough flexibility in the

Infor, are delivering true social business which

wealth of business

tools to be able to adapt them easily for their

is in-context to the people, applications,

data in an ERP

own requirement. Therefore, the end game is all

machines, data and documents used in all

system have long

about focusing on the benefits to the end-user.”

enterprises. This approach brings context to every social post, and users can use the

been ‘hot topics’ for Jonathan Orme, sales operations & marketing manager,

users of legacy ERP

Phil Lewis, business consulting director at Infor,

systems. “Most

observes that many current approaches to

managers would

innovation are focused on enhancing ERP core

agree that the value

of Business Intelligence (BI) is difficult to underestimate,” he said. “However, BI tools have traditionally been complicated to deploy, requiring an in-depth understanding of the structure of the underlying data and therefore requiring costly consultancy

context to drill back to the important detail.” According to Lewis, Mobility is now at the

Whether it’s more sophisticated tablets and smartphones, to more intuitive touchscreens on the production floor, getting accurate data into and out of the system will become simpler and more important in maintaining competitive advantage.” – Jonathan Orme, Exel Computer Systems.

services. The initial cost of these tools has also

solutions with tools to improve efficiency and

forefront of enterprise technologies. With

been high.” Furthermore, Bull adds that it is

decision making for end-users. “Social

today’s advancements in Cloud and

usually also necessary to provide end users

Enterprise, Mobility and Contextual Analytics

connectivity, he believes there is an opportunity

with a level of training before they can use

are amongst today’s key technologies, which

to develop applications for mobile devices

them. “The end result? – BI tools are provided

are changing the way work gets done in today’s

which extend the workspace of the user.

to a handful of users in the business and

enterprises,” he said. Lewis adds that Social

“Enterprise users should be able to participate

covering a small section of business

Enterprise takes the mechanisms seen in the

in business processes and gain access to the

information, usually sales analysis only,” he

world of consumer IT and brings it into the

information they need, whether they are in the

said. Bull explains that Microsoft has a different approach to Business Intelligence. “In Dynamics AX all users (subject to security restrictions) are provided with access to a complete suite of pre-defined measures and indicators with coverage across all aspects of the system. Users are able to create securityenhanced reports using drag-and-drop report authoring, and display key performance indicators (KPIs) directly in a management dashboard style view (called Role Centres).” Steve Tattum, product manager, Sage ERP X3, points to the need to accelerate productivity through Business Intelligence/Analytics, and the need to deliver outcomes for customers; not just a ‘toolbox’. He elaborates: “When CRM was first mooted it was really a toolbox that you could do all sorts of things with, but you often had to become an expert in these sets of tools. You had to understand how your data was actually held in the system and then try to translate that into usable information. One of the big trends we’re seeing at the moment is that companies don’t want to invest in toolboxes

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ERP

connectivity of the latest smart phones/tablets. He adds that alongside this has been the seismic shift in people’s expectations of what they can do while mobile. Cook points out that traditional ERP systems were only systems of record. “They had very limited capabilities and could only present back the impact of your business,” she said. “There was a need to be far more forward thinking and allow businesses to take action based on the data. A good ERP system should show organisations what they need to do to improve their business and make it simple to action through integration with other applications.” She continued: “The younger generation is coming into the workforce with all its technology knowledge in the consumer space, and Microsoft understands this consumerisation of office or on the road, and irrespective of the

keeping pace with the needs of a business as it

IT. Users’ expectations of what they going to

device they choose to use; desktop, laptop,

changes and evolves.”

get at work have dramatically changed, so the power of Microsoft is we’ve got our fingers and

tablet or smartphone,” said Lewis. He also believes that Analytics and Business

Cook added that another key talking point is to

all those pies – personal productivity and office

Intelligence are moving into a new era, where

do with making an ERP system as engaging as

productivity. This is in our DNA, and where

these top-end reporting technologies provide

possible. “One point here is about making more

we’ve made a lot of investment over the past 10

value to all members of the enterprise, not just

interesting user information; I’m talking about

years.”

managers, key decision makers, strategists etc.

graphical displays not just data displays that

“Today’s analytical reporting solutions are now

we’re used to in standard ERP systems. It is

Bull explains that studies that have been

giving end-users more and more intelligence

also important to make the information useful in

conducted about the implementation of ERP

exactly when and where they need it,” he said.

context of the users and their individual roles;

systems within a business show a surprising

“Some vendors are even delivering dynamic

so they don’t have to go looking for the

statistic; only a fraction of the employees actual

Analytics to the desktop, which are completely

information that they need – rather, the system

touch and use the ERP system. “In a rapidly

in context to what the user is doing in the

should actually surface the information that they

changing world it is becoming increasingly

enterprise application at that point in time.”

need in the context of who they are and what

difficult to differentiate between competitors

they’re trying to do at any one moment.”

based on product alone – so it is the employees that have increasingly add value to

the customer in terms of service and

Businesses should be making use of the wealth of information that exists externally. To make the most of the opportunity you need a platform that can aggregate those different data sets and help you to make sense of the information that is relevant to your organisation.” – Melissa Cook, Microsoft Dynamics.

performance,” he said. According to Bull, employees need to have insight into information to be able to identify where an opportunity exists – be it an opportunity to decrease costs, to improve service or to

Melissa Cook, senior director & global

provide a different

manufacturing industries lead for Microsoft Dynamics, considers that one of the key talking

Drivers for change

offering to the

points at the moment is usability. “ERP systems

What has driven these changes in the ERP

customer.

by their nature tend to impact upon most

world? With regard to the developments in

people in your business,” she said. “Having a

Mobility, Orme believes this has been driven by

Tattum makes the

straightforward, easy to use application is

the huge growth in web-enabled mobile

point that there has

critical and can save businesses a lot of money

devices, the underlying communications

been a lot of ERP

in training and retraining staff. ERP systems

infrastructure, the ability of the latest generation

consolidation within

also need to be a lot more agile and capable of

of ERP to take advantage of the flexibility and

companies that have

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Melissa Cook, senior director & global manufacturing industries lead,

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ERP

Special technology report

grown significantly by acquisition. “These

interest for Exel, as manufacturers look to take

same time new

companies often find they are running multiple

Product Lifecycle Management seriously.

environmental

systems of different ages and abilities across

“Service and repair costs are increasingly taken

directives are

their satellite businesses. They often carry on

into account by customers, so manufacturers

becoming prevalent;

imposing these central Tier 1 systems on them

need to be able to demonstrate a commitment

including REACH,

whether they like it or not. But one size doesn’t fit all. We are now seeing the need to put in place a Tier 2 ERP strategy where companies can choose a mid-market solution potentially that is of better size and fit for their smaller businesses; a system that’s easier to deploy, one that offers faster results and still has the capability of providing all the various types of information in the right format – SKUs, general ledgers etc. The smaller business can have just as much complexity as a larger business, but probably doesn’t have the same army of people

In the near-future it will be important that ERP systems are capable of being deployed completely Cloud-hosted and as hybrid model – where some elements may be hosted for costeffectiveness and other elements retained for perceived security.” – Kevin Bull, Columbus.

said. “Customers too are becoming increasingly demanding, requiring

Kevin Bull, product strategy director,

evidence of adherence to best environmental practices; including adherence with ISO 14001.” Bull explained that Compliance Management in Microsoft Dynamics AX helps simplify compliance with one central location for viewing, managing, and controlling business

to run the system. So the ERP has to be pretty agile.”

WEEE and RoHS,” he

to this as well as accurately control costs and

process content, internal controls, and

ensure timely delivery,” he said.

reporting. “The Compliance Centre provides easy access to all compliance-related

User productivity is also a key driver for change, according to Tattum. “RoleTailored

Bull reflects that the burden of compliance on

information and activities, and helps keep

design is a key component to improve user

manufacturing business is growing daily.

business information secure with a

productivity in Sage ERP X3. At Sage, we

“Adherence to business practices is coming

comprehensive set of tools to manage and

believe that the key to helping businesses

under increased scrutiny and audit, while at the

control sensitive data and critical KPIs,” he

become more agile and productive in a global economy is to empower individual workers by giving them the information and flexible tools that improve efficiency, and enable them to focus on the highest-value work. Sage ERP X3 and Sage Visual Processes is an excellent example of this.” Lewis considers that end-user expectations relating to enterprise software are now being set by how they use technology at home, in their free time. “Consumer IT – such as social networking and social media, web applications, Cloud services and subscriptions etc. – are driving software vendors to deliver software tools for the workplace which allow people to work the way they live,” he said. “Social and Mobile, for instance, are prime examples of where the consumer world has directly influenced the enterprise software arena, resulting in a new breed of enterprise applications and tools.”

Other trends As regards other trends and changes in the world of ERP, Orme explains that Service Management has become a central area of

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said. “The user can view graphs representing the efficiency and effectiveness of internal controls, manage action items from alerts or workflow, and add links to important external compliance sites.” Tattum considers that, in terms of Enterprise Asset Management, it’s not just about physical assets existing in the financial ledgers and managing their value depreciation; somebody needs to service, upgrade and maintain them. He adds that in some territories there are different rules about depreciation methods according to the value and type of asset. “So actually it’s no longer just an asset register and journal for depreciation; it can be quite complex,” he said. “Many ERP solutions don’t have that degree of functionality. Built into the assets module, Sage ERP X3 has a fullyfledged, comprehensive asset module, which is

delivering industry-specific, loosely coupled

to the OAGIS standard formatted business

fully multi-legislation multi-company, and it’s

application suites, made up of an industry-

documents, which are routed and controlled by

therefore straightforward to have all the

specific ERP core application surrounded with

ION.”

extensions into asset management.”

best-in-class applications, which customers can Cook comments that, given the current

select as required.

economic climate, businesses are required to

Tattum also focused on the ‘green’ agenda, making the point that this is not just important

Lewis provides the detail: “The entire suite is

be more accountable than ever before.

from an environmental responsibility

pre-integrated using Infor ION, Infor’s

“Unsurprisingly then, compliance and

perspective, but also something that makes

information management platform, which

auditability have leaped to the top of the business agenda,” she said. “Businesses need

The Information has to be fully integrated across the entire piece. The majority of business mobile users are in sales & marketing, and they want to have real-time access to current information from the back-office system concerning estimates, product availability and pricing when they’re in front of the customer.” – Steve Tattum, Sage ERP X3.

to make sure they are as transparent as possible and that everything they do is compliant with industry specific regulations. Improvements in Business Intelligence have helped in this regard, giving organisations a helicopter view of everything that is happening across their organisation.”

commercial sense insofar as it can save energy

provides standards-based integration, process

costs and reduce paper usage for businesses.

management and data management

Integration development

In this regard, he comments that ‘green’ is

capabilities. The portfolio of best-in-class

Have ways of best

starting to be felt in the ERP world. Tattum

applications covers the spectrum of industry

integrating ERP with

explains that Sage ERP X3 has a partnership

requirements, including: Asset Management,

other systems

with Verteego, a French-based company that

Supply Chain Management, Corporate

developed to any

specialises in carbon measurement and in

Performance Management, Product Lifecycle

notable degree in the

REACH compliance. “What we’re seeing

Management, Human Capital Management.

recent past? In

increasingly is the need to comply with

Customer can chose the elements of the suite

Tattum’s view the

standards like REACH,” he said.

they need in the business, and have

importance of

confidence that they will be delivered as a

Customer

Lewis reflects that there seems to be a change

single solution, without the traditional costs

Relationship

of direction occurring among enterprises

involved with a multi-application integration

Management (CRM)

towards the selection of industry-specific

project. Infor products are delivered with the

as a key means of

applications, as opposed to generic ‘one size

ability to integrate via ION as standard. They

delivering exceptional

fits all’ monolithic solutions. Infor, for example, is

have been developed to publish and subscribe

customer experience

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Steve Tattum, product manager,

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cannot be

customers know who to come to in order to get

expect to be able to simply download an app

underestimated. He

it resolved. Our job is easier because we’re not

and go look their sales figures, see where their

therefore believes

having to try and liaise with third-party

next site visit is, report a service fault, and so

that having this fully

companies who may or may not be as keen to

on.” Bull adds that the younger generation are

integrated into the

resolve the situation.”

very app centric and expect to be able to download apps for just about anything. He

back-office ERP

Phil Lewis, business consulting director,

system is a winning

Lewis observes that the structure of the Internet

believes this expectation is increasingly coming

formula. But it’s not

is now forming a template for how integrated

to the fore in the workplace as well; not just in

just about the Sales

applications should be delivered. “Standards-

terms of Microsoft products but also third-party

and Marketing

based, loosely-coupled and asynchronous

products where a developer has sought the

experience, in his

integration should become the de facto

opportunity to connect to AX and made an

view. “Perhaps even

approach, and offers far more agility and

approved app available for download from the

more important is the

flexibility when compared to the traditional

online store.

after sales and service element as this drives

point-to-point approaches of the past,” he said.

customer satisfaction, recommendations and

Lewis adds that Infor’s integration platform,

repeat and new business,” he said. Tattum

Infor ION, takes a unique approach to business

Going mobile

adds that Field Service, WMS, SCM etc.

software integration that includes enough

And returning to the Mobility theme in more

continue to be treated as ‘Best of Breed’

breadth and flexibility to support integration

depth, has the increased trend for the

solutions by customers and suppliers alike

services, Cloud services, mobile services, and

integration of mobile/field service devices with

(existing systems in many cases), but the increasing prevalence of web-based and webenabled solutions has eased the integration challenge through the use of Web Services. Cook maintains that integration is key and was one of the focus areas Microsoft had when developing its latest version of Dynamics ERP. “A good ERP system should integrate seamlessly with your existing technology and allow users to make the most of their existing

Consumer IT – such as social networking and social media, web applications, Cloud services and subscriptions etc. – are driving software vendors to deliver software tools for the workplace which allow people to work the way they live,” – Phil Lewis, Infor.

assets,” she said. “We have also been able to

back-office ERP systems provided improved business and operational benefits for the end user? In addition to his earlier comments concerning Open architecture and the way it offers a higher level of integration than older systems reliant on middleware, etc., Orme adds that vendors such as Exel who are at the forefront of mobile ERP cover the entirety of mobile workforce needs; from CRM, Call Management & Scheduling, Transport/Route Planning, Stocks/Spares Management etc. “Again, it’s this completeness of service which

extend Dynamics ERP’s core capabilities

advanced reporting services within a single

manufacturers are increasingly wanting,” he

through deep integration with Office and other

framework. “Rather than trying to ‘bolt’ multiple

said.

Microsoft applications. Customers can easily

applications together with clumsy point-to-point

take action, whether that’s by sending an email

database integrations, Infor ION Connect

For Bull, the primary benefits from deploying

through Outlook or exporting data into Excel.

enables each application to transmit and

ERP-connected mobile devices are reduced

They can more easily collaborate with

receive small OAGIS formatted XML

costs through better use of employees,

colleagues through integrated Sharepoint and

documents, called Business Object Documents

increased revenue through live up-sell and

Lync capabilities and use Business Intelligence

(BODs), into the ION Connect framework,”

cross-sell activities and improved cash flow

to make sense of the data.”

explained Lewis. “Each application can

by allowing invoices to be generated sooner.

‘subscribe’ to the BODs that relate to its task

Something that is a little harder to evaluate, in

Orme comments that Open architecture ERP by

and ignore all others. In that way every

Bull’s view, is the increase in customer

definition offers a higher level of integration than

application gets access to business-critical

service levels.

older systems reliant on cumbersome

information without being slowed down by

middleware were capable of. “It remains our

information that only applies to the work of a

In Cook’s view, the key is allowing users to use

view however, that where you have different

different application.”

whichever device they feel most comfortable

systems from different vendors, there is always

using at any given time. She adds that the rise

the considerable potential for ‘buck passing’

Bull has witnessed that, with the proliferation of

of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) means this

when things go wrong,” he said. “And while

tablet and smartphone devices, we live in an

may not be a business-owned field device, but

vendor A is blaming vendor B or vice versa, the

‘app-centric’ world where we have got used to

rather the individual’s privately owned tablet or

customer is left with a problem that is not being

being able to use any gadget to gain access to

smartphone. “Dynamics ERP provides users

addressed. As Exel supplies a fully integrated

things such as e-mail and social media. “And

with a platform for a range of different devices

system, if there’s ever a problem anywhere, our

it’s the same with ERP,” he said. “Employees

and access to the information they need in

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customers doing this currently – most are still wanting to operate using the on-premises model. Cook reflects that it has improved the level of choice that Microsoft Dynamics can offer customers. “It has allowed us to extend the application beyond its core functionality and build in elements to meet individual business requirements,” she said. “But we can also offer customers more flexibility over how the solution is hosted dependent on their requirements.” Cook’s view is that it is all about offering customers choice. “Cloud computing is an exciting area, but it won’t be right for everyone, at least not in the short term,” she said. “We want to offer customers the best of all worlds and provide them with a solution that suits their business requirements.” whatever way suits them,” she said. Cook also

surrounding Mobility is set to continue,

Lewis maintains that the journey towards the

observes that the manufacturing industry is

especially when more user interfaces convert to

Cloud is well under way, with software vendors

starting to look closely at Mobility. “Of course,

HTML5. This will provide the required coding

enabling applications for the Cloud “at a

manufacturing’s been looking at mobility in a lot

platform for transportable, device independent

considerable rate of knots”. However, he adds

of places – sales force automation, especially

user interfaces, which will run across devices.

that the customer community is not as focused

the front-end retail etc. – but where they have

Couple this with advancements in Cloud

on the shift to the Cloud. “Cloud enablement is

made more recent strides is in mobility on the

technologies and the robustness of fibre

now a common requirement on many user

shop floor. Microsoft’s vision as a device and

networks, and the future looks bright, the future

requirement documents, but often only out of

services company is to take our stack and our

looks mobile.”

interest,” he said. “The current trend seems to be that if it’s a peripheral application or service

DNA about personal and office productivity and bring it to the manufacturing worker. I’m very

For Tattum, the key benefits of Mobility are

– such as CRM or Expense Management – then

excited about what the opportunities are here.

efficiency, speed of response, holistic 360

that’s OK; a bit like dipping a toe in the ocean.

It’s going to include devices and it’s going to

degree views and information at the user’s

But, deploying core ERP solutions in the Cloud

include functionality tied to the role of people

fingertips. “The ideal is ‘one conjoined system’

is still met with an element of caution. This

that are actually working in manufacturing, not

eliminating duplication and providing ‘one

caution will turn to confidence in time as the

sitting in an office.”

truth’,” he said, adding: “Information has to be

Cloud becomes a key technology, which is

fully integrated across the entire piece. The

taken for granted.” Lewis points out that many

Lewis again stresses that Mobility is changing

majority of business mobile users are in sales &

Infor customers use the SaaS model as a proof

the way that people work and utilise information

marketing, and they want to have real-time

of concept vehicle, where they can run their

in the field. “The consumer world is influencing

access to current information from the back-

business processes in a Cloud deployment

people’s expectations of how, when and where

office system concerning estimates, product

before bringing the complete live environment

to access information, and indeed, the richness

availability and pricing when they’re in front of

in-house, on-premise. “This just goes to show

of the information available,” he said. Lewis also

the customer.”

the huge levels of choice and flexibility customers now have. They can decide how

makes the point that field service employees

and where to deploy software, in line with

have had the luxury of mobile access for some time now, although the information they have

The SaaS/Cloud effect

had access to has been somewhat limited; just

Has the Software as a Service (SaaS) model,

enough to process the required transaction.

and the Cloud concept in general, had any

Bull’s perception is that Cloud storage, although

“Today’s approach to Mobility is aiming for

notable level of impact on the ERP market so

it is increasingly penetrating home and

information without boundaries,” he remarked.

far? In Orme’s experience, there is a lot of talk

personal lives, has yet to gain significant

“The ability to work from a mobile device – be it

among vendors with a vested interest in this,

tractions in the world of business systems.

a laptop, tablet or even smartphone – should

and while Exel software can be operated in a

However, he believes it is on the verge of

not be compromised. The innovation

hosted/Cloud environment – and it has some

becoming something much bigger. “In the

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near-future it will be important that ERP systems

need to update their system,” he said. “Even

supportable (both by the customer and

are capable of being deployed completely

when those customers look at it as a system

supplier)?

Cloud-hosted and as hybrid model – where

selection exercise as opposed to an upgrade,

some elements may be hosted for cost-

we find many times they choose to stay with

effectiveness and other elements retained for

EFACS and upgrade because they value the

perceived security,” he said.

relationship with us as a supplier because it’s tried and tested.”

Does it meet current needs and is it flexible/extendable for future needs?

What additional benefits will a new system bring versus the time, cost and pain to

Tattum has witnessed a slow Cloud adoption

implement it?

within the world of ERP systems so far, although

However, adds Orme, with some legacy ERP

he points out that Sage is definitely seeing

systems, not only are you looking at a huge

prospects interested in this deployment model,

lack in functionality, you are also looking at data

Lewis considers that rip-and-replace approach

and observes that businesses have become

that has cumulative accuracy issues and

should not be the ‘top of the list’ strategy for

much better informed over the past 12 to 18

invariably a whole host of workarounds. “And at

companies, although he recognises that it is

months. He considers that most of the benefits

the end of the day, many SMEs don’t have

sometimes the only viable option, due to

customers seek are delivered in hosted or

dedicated IT departments to oversee this

modified and bespoke ERP solutions that could

hybrid solutions with SaaS. Tattum also makes

process and many SMEs cannot afford any

be restricting the business. “This must be the

the point that come companies see Cloud as

level of disruption to their day to day running of

worst-case scenario,” he says, “and if

an opportunity to cut back or discard their IT

the business,” he said. “In such cases, it is

considered, lessons must be learnt so as not to

staff. However, he stresses that very few

often less disruptive to rip and replace. It’s the

end up in the same situation with a new

customers, particularly ERP (non-service)

same where companies also have other aging

product. An industry-specific approach

businesses can eliminate the need for their IT

legacy systems that also need replacing – here

removes the modification risk, as the product is

support teams who maintain PLCs, complex

it can be much more effective to do the

designed to do the job as standard. This is not

plant equipment, scanners, printers, barcode

implementation in one hit, albeit a well-

something that a generic solution can ever

printers etc. And in terms of Internet

managed hit.”

provide.” Lewis added that vendors need to do more to help customers upgrade and migrate

performance, Tattum comments that this is not as global as users might wish, and can it can

Continuing the upgrade or replace theme, Cook

to later versions of product. He maintains that

be expensive to secure high reliability and high

considers that it depends on the individual

there are 2 key areas where things can be

bandwidth for all sites.

situation. “In some instances it is better to ‘rip

improved; putting industry-specific functionality

and replace’ but often this carries with it greater

into the product rather than modifying a generic

Tattum has also seen a trend for people to say

risk; especially in cases where the legacy

solution, and using modern technology to ease

‘why do we have to become experts in running,

system is more than 15 to 20 years old,” she

the process of upgrading.

upgrading and patching your software – can’t

said. “Businesses change year-on-year, so it is

you do it all for us?’ There are other changing

wise to be constantly assessing your

Lewis also makes the point that modern

user expectations too, in his view: “We now

technology requirements to make sure they are

technologies focused around the Cloud can

have a new generation of users that are totally

aligned to your business needs, and updating

play a key role in providing a reduced risk

computer literate due to their experience with

your systems accordingly. In most cases this

upgrade path from an old version of a product

consumer games and mobile devices, so they

will be easier than looking to ‘rip and replace’

to the latest version. “The Cloud can be used to

may not expect to be tied to a desk using an

every 5 to 10 years.”

host sandbox versions of software at the latest version, then use ION as a bridging platform,

old-fashioned desktop necessarily,” he said, Tattum also pointed out that things such as

Bull’s view is that the decision to upgrade

enabling clients to run side-by-side

packaged information BI/Analytics reporting

should be primarily focus on the business

environments, and move functionality and

tailored to a role with the access control is

benefit that can be delivered. “The business

process from old to new,” he said. “Ultimately,

already in place, which helps deliver a fast user

benefit might be increased functionality or it

this gives a mechanism to seamlessly migrate

adoption experience easier.

may be more of a technical nature – the ability

to the latest version on a step-by-step basis.

to integrate to other systems, the ability to be

The leap from old to new can sometimes seem

deployed on mobile devices, the ability to

like a huge jump, whereas the side-by-side

Upgrade or replace?

deliver better business intelligence and so on,”

approach promotes a small steps to the new

Is there still a case for updating/upgrading

he commented.

world solution.”

This depends on the nature of the ERP,

Tattum believes the upgrade or replace

Tattum recommends that users rip and replace

believes Orme. “We have many happy

question revolves around three key factors:

if 1) the current system is unsupportable or 2) it

legacy ERP, or is it better to ‘rip and replace’?

cannot meet needs, or 3) the benefits outweigh

customers who have been using EFACS for 10 to 20 years and they of course periodically

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can now choose to connect their sales history

strong heritage across a number of varied

Big Data

details by locality with regionalised weather

industry sectors,” she said. “It is important to

How can technology trends such as Big Data

records.”

understand the pressures that are unique to each sector, how businesses in those sectors

help to gain the best out of ERP systems? Lewis believes Big Data will be taken to new heights

Tattum believes that while Big Data might not a

operate and their approach to market. Without

once properly managed within the Cloud. “The

central consideration in ERP today, the ERP

that level of understanding, you won’t be able to

ability to process huge amounts of data in the

world is already utilising Intelligent Analytics

provide them with a solution that fits.”

Cloud, via a resource (CPU and Memory) on

with predefined keyword and ‘rule searches’ to

demand approach, will lead to new and

auto-create Statistical Reporting extracts for

Steve Tattum believes functionality

improved information, analysis and strategic

increased performance related to user queries.

differentiators are relatively few as vendors seek

reporting,” he said. Lewis then gave his views

“The challenge is real-time or near-real-time

to broaden their offering by development,

on the benefits of the Infor ION Business Vault.

information delivery, which is one of the

acquisition and partnering. “The Devil lies in the

“Every message that ION processes from

defining characteristics of Big Data Analytics.

detail,” he said, “so vendors’ ability to deliver a

participating applications is also saved in a

Latency is therefore avoided whenever and

common business application module across

single, optimised business repository called the

wherever possible.”

multiple countries and legislations – and to deliver this in a short timescale and to agreed

Business Vault. By providing a secure reservoir for past transaction data, ION gives you an

Cook points out that the rise of Big Data means

easy way to mine your data for more flexible,

that users’ ERP systems are no longer the only

powerful reporting, business intelligence, and

data silo relevant to their organisation.

Bull makes the point that most modern ERP

analytics.” Lewis added that users will also

“Businesses should be making use of the

systems have rich and extensive levels of

have:

wealth of information that exists externally,” she

functionality that have been developed over

said. “To make the most of the opportunity you

time. However, he adds that not all of these

Easier search. When data resides in one

need a platform that can aggregate those

systems have the ability to be deployed in a

place, there’s no need to index your

different data sets and help you to make sense

way that is flexible and agile. “Businesses

transactional systems.

of the information that is relevant to your

change and adapt to market conditions or they

organisation.”

fall by the wayside,” he said. “And having a

budget – is paramount.”

system that is able to react to change – easily

Better reporting. The Business Vault

and effectively – means that opportunities can

features a master data reference to ensure that your data is always consistent and

Differentiators

be quickly responded to and business

relevant across your entire organisation.

What are some of the main functionality

advantage achieved.”

differentiators among the ERP vendor Up-to-date data. The Business Vault uses

community? Orme remarks that while vendors

Phil Lewis considers that the differentiation

event-driven synchronisation to ensure that

may make all manner of claims about their

debate mainly revolves around monolith

data is up-to-date as soon as each

functionality, the reality is that Exel often sees

software versus loosely coupled suites; generic

transaction occurs in the originating

manufacturers who tell us that any number of

software versus industry-specific software; one-

system.

systems could meet their needs from a

size-fits-all versus dedicated applications for a

functionality perspective. “And in those cases,

particular industry sector; and ‘jet planes versus

Bull observes that you often have to visit the IT

they look to more long-term relationship issues

cheese production. Like some of our other

department to find people who have heard of

with the vendor, such as where the vendor is

commentators, he also references the influence

the term Big Data, but nevertheless the concept

based (UK versus US), whether the vendor is a

of the consumer world and the impact of Social

is widely recognised, even if people haven’t

reseller or author, the size and fit of the vendor

Business, which is rewiring the way people

heard the term. He adds that modern Business

and manufacturer,” he said. “And at the end of

create, consume and share information.

Intelligence tools, which in some instance are

the day, often with ERP it’s not what it does, but

embedded deep in ERP systems, are now

how it does it in relation to everything else.

capable of making it easy to join business data

Systems like EFACS have been designed from

Possible future trends

with external data, such as demographics,

the outset to be fully integrated whereas some

What might be the next key developments to

climate and market conditions. “This allows the

systems have essentially evolved over time with

look out for over the next year or two? Bull

business to not only identify what has

different aspects of functionality tacked on.”

believes fully Cloud-hosted solutions are on

happened in the business, but also allows them

their way, with the ERP authors able to host the

to identify the reasons why,” he said. “The

Cook comments that, rather than differentiation

systems on the Internet for a business, or to

increasing availability of web sources, or ‘data-

being an issue of functionality, Microsoft

have the system hosted by hosting partners or

marts’, for external data is driving the way

Dynamics thinks it is more about where

to operate in a hybrid manner with a mix of

forward in this regard. For example, a business

vendors’ industry focuses are. “We have a

elements being managed in different ways. He

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broad range of sectors, to ensure that we can provide a solution that is tailored to suit the needs of individual businesses,” she said. Cook added that ERPs are in transition. We believe we are leading the way with Dynamics because it’s a much more modern architecture,” she said, adding that the market transition is about moving ERP away from the monolithic, slow, expensive, and inflexible representation and into a representation that is about enablement and innovation for manufacturers. “And to enable innovation it has to be able to surface the most relevant information up to all the workers within manufacturing,” said Cook. “In this way, everyone can be engaged in improving processes and product.” Tattum reflects we are now in the third generation of ERP. He elaborates: “All vendors did a good job and automated nearly all also believes integration and cooperation with

organisations with far more meaningful

transactional processes. People spend their

social media services such as Facebook and

analytical results based on massive amounts of

time in managing exceptions and pursuing

Twitter will make their way into the new releases

raw data, something that was unachievable in

opportunities using tools other than their ERP

of the most visionary ERP systems. “A simple

the past,” he said. Lewis also anticipates that

system. The new generation of ‘digital native’

example of social media integration might

user expectations will continue to shape the

users has joined businesses. Their world is

include allowing sales campaigns and

way enterprise application vendors deliver

Web 2.0 tools, user communities, social

promotions to be communicated to prospective

functionality and experiences. He adds that the

networks, mobile working, dashboards etc. ERP

customers, offering discount vouchers and

consumer world will continue to set the way for

systems must become more user-centric and

processes to redeem them,” he said. “A more

how people use software.

relevant to all types of users in the enterprise, rather than continuing to focus on the traditional

complex example might be the identification of negative product coverage and reacting to this

Orme considers that in the near future there will

enterprise users.” He adds that a modern

with managed communications.”

be the continuing evolution and innovation in

business solution taking full advantage of the

the type of devices that people will use to

three Cs of Cloud, Collaboration techniques

In addition, Bull points to the extended

access data in their ERP system. “Whether it’s

and Communities can help business reach the

availability of ERP apps for a wide variety of

more sophisticated tablets and smartphones, to

fourth C of ultimate Connectivity.

device platforms as another trend to watch, as

more intuitive touchscreens on the production

is also the case with increasing power and

floor, getting accurate data into and out of the

As a final word of advice, Orme suggests that

complexity in Business Intelligence tools – not

system will become simpler and more important

users to see any ERP investment as a business

only in the trending of historic data but also in

in maintaining competitive advantage,” he said.

decision first and an IT decision second.

the delivery of predictive information that is

“This will facilitate the ongoing streamlining of

“You’ve got to think it through in terms of how it

based on a wide variety of factors both internal

existing business processes to enable

will affect every element of the company and

and external to the business.

manufacturers to remain leaner, more agile and

then you need to involve every element of the

more responsive to customer need.”

company,” he said, concluding: “Make sure you’re 100 per cent convinced before you

Lewis’s view is that most innovations will continue to be based on today’s key

Cook explains that Microsoft Dynamics is very

commit. If you’ve any doubts, talk them through

technologies – Social, Mobile and Cloud. He

focused on usability and is in the process of

with your prospective vendor. If you’re not

also references Big-Data as something that will

developing a new user interface. She adds that

entirely put at ease, walk away. The relationship

continue to get attention, especially the ability to

Microsoft Dynamics is also looking at how

is key, so why start with anything other than

‘number crunch’ far more raw data than ever

better to deploy its services through the Cloud.

complete assurance you’re dealing with the

before, due to the on-demand resources

“Everything we do will build on our experience

right people?” n

capability of the Cloud. “This will provide

of working with all types of businesses across a

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\\\ Manufacturing \\\

Success story

Laidlaw builds for the future with Exel EFACS E/8 he Laidlaw Interiors Group today

T

numbers with orders ranging from a few

generates sales of £130 million

pounds for individual components through to

and employs around 1500 people

millions for entire solutions. 70 per cent of the

in 35 locations across the UK and

300 daily orders are Make to Order (MTO)

overseas. The group comprises 9

with the remainder being ‘off the shelf’. The

companies that each specialise in aspects of

company also has to deal with a significant

the manufacture, source and supply of

level of inter-group orders. To meet this need,

commercial building interiors, with customers

Komfort currently buys in 70 per cent of all

able to buy anything from individual

components with the remaining 30 per cent

components directly from trade counters up to

being manufactured at its manufacturing sites

fully designed and fitted interior solutions for

based in Birmingham and Leeds. Production

entire buildings. At the heart of the group’s

is conducted via multiple manufacturing and

continued drive to improve efficiency as well

assembly cells and involves a high degree of

as customer service is the on-going rollout of

sub-assembly with up to 200 orders

the EFACS E/8 Enterprise Resource Planning

happening at any one time.

(ERP) system from UK based Exel Computer Systems plc. Leading the way in the group is Komfort, a

A question of balance

£45 million turnover company headquartered

This is far from the only challenge Komfort

in Horsham, West Sussex, with 400 people

faces, as Ian Govier, head of IT & business

working across 6 sites – 3 of which are

systems, explains: “To begin with, our

dedicated manufacturing facilities. While ‘only’

customer lead times are so short we have to

having a range of 13 partitioning systems, this

balance optimum buffer stock levels with an

comprises over 12,000 individual part

accurate daily production plan. Our supplier lead times are longer than our customer lead times so we are reliant on accurate

The Laidlaw Interiors Group comprises 9 companies that each specialise in aspects of the manufacture, source and supply of commercial building interiors. At the heart of the group’s continued drive to improve efficiency as well as customer service is the on-going rollout of the EFACS E/8 Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system from Exel Computer Systems plc.

forecasting as well as the need to obtain

20

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maximum yields from our raw materials. We

actual capacity usage and stock location,

also have a very real need to know exactly

especially problematic when dealing with

what is happening on the shop floor as it’s

inter-company orders. In addition to this, a

happening, especially when we are dealing

condition of the company’s recent acquisition

with company to company orders which need

by the Laidlaw group meant in only had 6-9

to be accurately traced throughout the

months to implement a replacement ERP

group.”

system.

The company had historically relied on an old

Arguably one of the main timesaving points

configuration package as well as a very old,

was that it had already been decided to

green screen ERP system which had no real

implement EFACS E/8 from Exel as this had

manufacturing capabilities. In addition to a

been identified as the best ERP solution, not

large amount of double entry data issues

just for Komfort but for the entire group

these systems couldn’t communicate with any

because of EFACS’ hierarchical framework

other system outside the company and the

structure which makes it ideal for individual

company therefore relied on a comprehensive

companies working within a combined group.

collection of manual/spreadsheet-based

EFACS also provides a built-in workflow

workarounds to keep the business going.

facility that enables companies to

There were also real problems with visibility of

automatically interact with each other while

www.logisticsit.com


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\\\ Manufacturing \\\

Success story

bespoke systems. We

accompanied by a general moving away from

knew our existing

a culture of paper and workarounds.

processes were

the powerful customisation facilities make it

defined by people and

Looking at the company from the perspective

that their workarounds

of ‘systems – people – processes – data’

resulted from the lack

there are early benefits in every one, with

of flexibility of the

much more anticipated each. As a system,

existing system. In

EFACS E/8 is now fully implemented and

terms of data, we

interacting seamlessly with the bespoke

couldn’t get at most of

configurator as well other group-wide

it and what we could

company systems. People are increasingly

get was very difficult to understand.”

using EFACS E/8 more effectively and have

possible for the same solution to be tailored to the specific needs of each company. “Irrespective of what the user sees, everything

benefited from it being tailored very specifically for their own work purposes.

Positive feedback

Processes have not had to be compromised

across the entire group will ultimately be

Despite this, the company successfully went

in order to fit around the system – instead

driven by EFACS E/8 in the backend,”

live on 1 October 2012 and after some

they have been able to be refined and

remarked Govier. “Flexibility is key for us and

expected handholding in the first week, found

improved upon because of EFACS E/8. And

this type of implementation couldn’t be

that by the second week people were starting

when it comes to data, Govier simply says:

accomplished with your typical ERP

to make positive comments about EFACS E/8.

“All present and correct.”

package.”

The first area where real change was noticed was in the marked reduction in double data

From a group perspective, Govier and

Govier and Laidlaw’s business systems

entry. And, whereas previously the only time

Wheatcroft are already drawing up

manager Paul Wheatcroft put together a

the data was completely accurate was

implementation plans to roll out EFACS E/8.

project team comprising key personnel from

immediately after the overnight update, now

Hence Wheatcroft concludes: “The data

different elements of the company and used

everyone had access to accurate, real-time

analysis potential and the sheer flexibility of

the mantra of ‘systems – people – process –

information in EFACS E/8 in a few seconds.

EFACS E/8 across individual companies and

data’ to map out the implementation strategy.

People could also at last see what was going

then the group is huge. Everyone within the

Govier explains: “We knew we were using

on, and where, and could trust the information

business stands to benefit.” n

EFACS E/8 in addition to several other

they were shown. This has been

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Success story

\\\ Manufacturing \\\

Crane Pump & Systems deploys LogiXML to improve manufacturing systems and processes ogiXML, the embedded analytics

forward to build any kind of information-driven

moving into excess and obsolete, while

solutions provider, has announced

application. This allows the company’s

maintaining high on-time delivery standards.

that Crane Pumps & Systems

business to adapt more easily as business

Additionally, the look-ahead logic enables

(CP&S) used Logi Info to provide

requirements and processes evolve over time.

users to see if and how one order will affect

integrated analytics to its

L

Scott Brooks, eCommerce leader, CP&S,

other orders. Logi Info has also empowered

operations and finance departments,

commented: "Our ERP system is the heartbeat

more users to create reports for their

streamlining the company's inventory

of our business, and Logi Info embedded into

respective departments or customer inquiries.

management processes, reducing its IT

it with ease. Like most companies, our IT

This has freed IT from fulfilling each and every

burden, and improving its competitiveness in

team is stretched and we have extensive

data request and has allowed them to work on

the market.

reporting requirements…Logi Info enabled us

development projects that help grow CP&S.

to better explore, analyse, and share our data, CP&S was using a legacy ERP system that

and gave us the edge we needed to expand."

"Because of Logi Info's agility and integration capabilities, companies like CP&S are able to

was vital to the business, but difficult to pull data from. The company needed a solution

Inventory management is a critical part of

quickly create and adapt web applications

that allowed it to embed analytics and reports

CP&S's business. Logi Info helped the

that deliver critical analytics to users within

into its legacy system and also allowed users

company to achieve its ‘Just in Time’

existing operational systems," said Brett

to create their own views of key information.

inventory goals through look-ahead logic.

Jackson, CEO, LogiXML. "Like many of our

CP&S selected Logi Info for its ability to easily

CP&S needs to keep its inventory quantities

customers, CP&S also found that they could

integrate with a variety of systems and data

low, but still adequate enough to deliver on

extend Logi Info in this way to solve multiple

sources, and because it enabled CP&S the

time. Through Logi Info, the company is now

information challenges across their entire

flexibility to extend its deployment moving

able to see what inventory is at risk for

business." n

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\\\ Manufacturing \\\

Insight

Fast order from chaos: the High-Tech industry By Alexander Renz, director of product management, Infor. respondents in the IDC survey said that the

be combined with an agile, flexible supply

key to sustained growth is through product

chain that can respond to changes in

innovation.

demand. Over the next three years, High-Tech manufacturers will be busy identifying how supply chains should be better structured to respond to fluctuating demand at overall lower

Tightening R&D budgets

cost. Supply Chain Segmentation strategies

However, economic turmoil and a lack of

will employ various models optimised for cost,

consumer confidence have forced the industry

flexibility or lead-time depending on the

to tighten R&D budgets. This requires

product and lifecycle stage. Supply Chain

companies to do an even better job at portfolio

Management and Sourcing will become a

management to adequately fund fewer

critical weapon to not only lower costs and

Alexander Renz: Next generation operational ERP fosters collaboration, enables rapid decision-making and coordinated action across on premise and Cloud services by embracing the social enterprise, enterprise mobility and Big Data.

projects with the best market opportunities. It

protect margins, but also leverage margin

also requires better integration of product

improvements resulting from product

development with sales and marketing, supply

innovation and Time-to-Market leadership.

igh-Tech is most probably the

Demand volatility has risen sharply and High-

most dynamic industry to be in.

Tech manufacturers have to cope with

IT systems are critical tools for High-Tech

Over the past few years, firms

increasing market complexity and uncertainty.

manufacturers to manage the increasing

have had to deal with volatile

To counter volatility and improve customer

complexity in their business and deliver

demand as consumers

fulfilment, manufacturers need to find new

against these initiatives. IDC Manufacturing

preferences have rapidly changed in view of

ways to not only better forecast and sense

Insights research indicates that many High-

innovative products and services. Market

changes in demand, but to more proactively

Tech companies have not achieved

velocity is so high in this sector that products

shape demand. According to the research

operational excellence as they struggle with

and entire companies can go from ‘high flier’

more than 40 per cent of high-tech

data accuracy, information silos and

to ‘crash and burn’ very quickly. Even leading

manufacturers will undertake initiatives to

business process integration. Almost 50 per

companies with strong brands have to

improve demand management capabilities

cent of survey respondents find their

continue to develop revolutionary products

over the next three years.

existing ERP system too complex to

H

chain management and sourcing to fully exploit Time-to-Market advantages and design products for supply.

Managing the increasing complexity

and new business models to stay relevant.

customise and too difficult to integrate with Another key initiative in keeping development

The results of a recent IDC Manufacturing

costs under control is to invest in supply chain

other systems.

Insights survey[i] suggest that manufacturers

technologies and optimise sourcing. With the

A large portion of survey respondents

have learned some hard lessons from the

increasing complexity in High-Tech supply

describe their ERP systems as ‘Financial

chaotic market conditions of the past few

chains, more than 60 per cent of respondents

ERP’ systems that mainly serve as a system

years. Cost containment initiatives are

are focusing their cost containment initiatives

of record and do little to support the core

important, but they are not sufficient. Being

outside the four walls of their enterprise. The

operational needs of the business. A lack of

lean and mean on its own does not make you

key strategy is to reduce the number of

industry specific capabilities is cited as the

a winner. Investment in product innovation is at

suppliers, next to sourcing components from

main reason companies have to heavily

the core of these growth strategies. No

lower cost regions.

customise their systems and interface them

manufacturing industry segment spends more

to complementary systems. This results in a

on research and development than High Tech.

However, low cost is not enough in the hyper

complex system landscape that is difficult to

Nearly 80 per cent of the High-Tech

competitive High-Tech industry and it needs to

manage and maintain, let alone upgrade.

[i] IDC Manufacturing Insights ‘In Pursuit of Operational Excellence: Accelerating Business Change Through Next-Generation ERP (IDC #IDCWP47T) 2012’. 378 interviews were carried out across the automotive, aerospace, industrial machinery, and High Tech industries in United States, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Brazil, Australia, China, India, Japan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Russia.

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\\\ Manufacturing \\\

Insight

mentioned the inability of their current ERP system to support fast decision making when asked about major limitations of their current systems. Almost 50 per cent cited a lack of support for collaboration and social networking capabilities. Unlike traditional ERP systems, which have treated reporting and analysis as an after-thought, next generation solutions deliver in-context Business Intelligence and collaboration built into the process. Next generation solutions take a holistic view of business processes beyond planning and transaction management by providing insight for every role in the organisation.

Overcoming fragmentation High-Tech manufacturers believe the major

Some 63 per cent of survey respondents plan to consolidate their ERP system landscape and support their global business through a single global instance.

barrier to effective decision making comes from the inaccessibility of accurate data, as it is stored in too many different IT systems and

In view of these results it is not surprising that

operational needs of the High-Tech industry

locked up behind rigid organisation and

close to 80 per cent of High-Tech companies

without compromising on financial

information silos. They want to overcome

feel that their current ERP system does not

management and compliance. Because such

current system fragmentation and encourage

allow them to react quickly enough to

applications come with High-Tech Industry

a more collaborative environment with greater

changing business needs. But companies

best practice built in, they can be

visibility and easier access to the right

seem determined to fixing the issue given its

implemented faster with fewer customisations,

information.

strategic importance. Nearly 50 per cent of the

require far fewer integrations and can be

High-Tech respondents expect their company

rapidly reconfigured to enable business

As a result they recognise the importance of

will undertake specific initiatives aimed at

process change and innovation.

modernising traditional IT, leveraging what IDC

better aligning IT with the business over the next three years.

calls the ‘four IT forces’: Cloud computing, Some 63 per cent of survey respondents plan

social business, mobility, and Big Data. Next

to consolidate their ERP system landscape

generation operational ERP fosters

But how do you get there? Our research has

and support their global business through a

collaboration, enables rapid decision-making

shown that Financial ERP systems improve IT

single global instance. Why? Because

and coordinated action across on premise and

efficiency over custom developed systems,

operations require multi-site planning and

Cloud services by embracing the social

but do little to support the needs of the

execution capabilities to orchestrate

enterprise, enterprise mobility and Big Data.

business. Best-of-Breed applications can help

increasingly complex processes. Strategic

Nearly 95 per cent of respondents believe

with improved business alignment, but

sourcing and shared services promise

these four forces will change the way they

typically result in inconsistent data, information

significant cost savings across organisational

work in the near future, and more than 40 per

silos and a lack of process integration.

boundaries. Global visibility and the sharing of

cent believe these will completely change the

best practices in pursuit of Operational

way the business is managed.

Excellence become a reality. But even more

Supporting specific operational needs

importantly, a single global instance of

IDC Manufacturing Insights expects High-Tech

Operational ERP is a key foundation for growth

manufacturers to make foundational

strategies.

investments in these technologies to improve

But there is a better option: ‘Operational ERP’ systems built to support the specific

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the value of their IT systems and in particular Over 60 per cent of survey respondents

their ERP. n

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Success story

\\\ Manufacturing \\\

Clear benefits Urgently needing to boost on-time delivery performance, glass processor Romag turned to Columbus and Microsoft Dynamics AX. hen North of England

W

social housing company Gentoo Group acquired specialist glass processor and photovoltaic

manufacturer Romag, the priorities for the new management team were clear: re-engage staff, re-open the factory – and put in place a comprehensive new ERP system in order to put the business on a sound financial footing, going forward. “Under our previous ownership, there had been a lack of visibility,” said ‘Dex’ Rimington, Consett, County Durham-based Romag’s systems coordinator. “We’d been using an old DOS-based system, which was no longer supported, and not fit for purpose.” It was clear, too, that a number of operational improvements could be made.

Romag realised Dynamics AX would deliver solid functionality in respect of sales order processing, financial accounting and production planning and scheduling. It also turned out to be able to solve a number of other headaches that troubled the business.

On-time delivery, for example, was an important business requirement, and was

for transport applications, a product range of

technology. And with specialist teams of third-

one where the business’s performance left

architectural and security glass is a major line

party installation contractors pre-positioned

something to be desired.

of business for the company – including

on building sites ready to install Romag’s

bullet-proof glass, and blast-resistant glass

glass the moment it arrived, the ability to

utilising glass polycarbonate laminating

promise a reliable delivery date – and keep to

As well as solar photovoltaic glass and glass

it – was an important competitive differentiator. “There wasn’t really a formal production planning system,” explained Rimington. “We were relying on the experience of long-serving staff in order to schedule production and promise deliveries to customers: it was all based on ‘gut feel’ and experience, rather than on a detailed understanding of the factory’s workload and each customer order’s individual work content.”

Exhaustive search Therefore, in the Summer of 2011 Romag’s management team began surveying the ERP market, looking for a solution that would be a

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\\\ Manufacturing \\\

Success story

and production planning and scheduling – but undeniably, it also turned out to be able to neatly solve a number of other headaches that troubled the business. “As our implementation team began working with their counterparts within Romag’s management, we quickly saw other opportunities to add value,” said Columbus project manager Rosalind Dechant. “Monthend accounting was labour-intensive, for instance, material shortages were a problem, and work-in-progress tracking was a challenge.” Dechant added that actionable management information was in short supply – holding out the prospect that Dynamics AX’s embedded analytic and reporting tools could deliver good fit for their needs. Moreover, Rimington

been around for a long time, and which

valuable business intelligence to in order to

stressed that those needs were fairly precisely

showed every sign of continuing in business

boost productivity, profitability, and material

specified. Glass processing, he explained, is

for the foreseeable future: longevity was very

utilisation.

a fairly specialised business, and obviously

important to us. And then, we wanted to

the solution selected would need to be able to

establish how much experience they had of

conform to the business’s technical

working with our kind of manufacturing

requirements in this respect. Just as

operation, the support that they offered, and

important, though, was the calibre of the ERP

how in particular they went about the

And so it has proved, says Rimington, with the

vendor in question, and the skills and

implementation process.”

new system going live in July 2012, after a

Time-to-benefit

capabilities of the implementation partner

short but intensive implementation process,

selected to deliver the solution.

structured around Columbus’ proprietary

“We had some very specific questions to ask

implementation methodology SureStep+.

Solution of choice

“Yes, the timescale was tight,” he conceded.

of each potential supplier,” said Rimington.

By September 2011 the decision had been

“And did we get every last detail correct,

“How long had they been in the ERP

reached. The solution selected: Microsoft

down to the very last bill of material? No: in

business? What was the technology

Dynamics AX , implemented by Columbus, a

any implementation, there will always be small niggles remaining after you’ve gone ‘live’. But

the bigger picture was about putting in place

We were relying on the experience of long-serving staff in order to schedule production and promise deliveries to customers: it was all based on ‘gut feel’ and experience...” – Dex Rimington, Romag.

a controlled manufacturing process, alongside back office functions to match – and there, we’ve been extremely successful.” And what of the system’s ROI? It is, as yet, too early to say.

roadmap? And how was the product

‘Top 3' world-leading specialist in

“The approach that we’ve taken is to provide

supported? And all of that was before getting

implementing Dynamics AX in manufacturing

the business with much-needed functionality,

into the specifics of how the solution

industry, with more than 6000 successful

rather than trying to calculate savings,”

addressed our particular manufacturing

implementations over a 22-year history.

concludes Rimington. “There have been savings, and we’ll calculate them in due

requirements, and what benefits we could expect.”

Rimington said it soon became clear that the

course. But the bigger benefits are clear: how

combination of Columbus and Dynamics AX

do you put a value on reliable delivery dates,

Similarly, he relates, a separate set of

was a solution that was readily capable of

financial accounting, and instant visibility into

questions probed the capability and suitability

exceeding expectations. Yes, Dynamics AX

work-in-progress?” n

of potential implementation partners. “Again, it

would deliver solid functionality in respect of

was important to go with a business that had

sales order processing, financial accounting

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\\\ Manufacturing \\\

Success story

Microsoft Dynamics is music to the ears of Audio-Technica Audio equipment firm Audio-Technica recognised that it needed cutting-edge customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions to manage inventory and boost productivity. An investment in Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Dynamics AX – implemented by eBECS – gave the business the capabilities it needed. As a result, the firm has seen performance improve, with detailed insights helping managers make better business decisions.

ased in Leeds, Audio-Technica is

B

the European arm of Japanese audio equipment firm AudioTechnica Corporation, a manufacturer of high-end

headphones and microphones. In addition to supplying a network of around 500 dealers across the UK the business also acts as a central inventory holding for the European operations of Audio-Technica – ordering stock from Japan, repackaging products for European market requirements and shipping them to dealers across Europe. In late 2010, the business realised that both its standalone contact management system and third-tier distribution business system were acting as barriers to growth. Adrian Rooke, managing director, Audio-Technica, said: “We wanted to make CRM central to everything we do, helping to differentiate our offering in a competitive market. But we also

It was quickly clear that the combination of Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Dynamics AX gives us a powerful, integrated solution. New customers would begin as prospects in Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and seamlessly transition to a customer relationship within Microsoft Dynamics AX.”

recognised that not only did our core business system need upgrading to a full ERP

embraced more than just distribution.

important in terms of customer service and

system, but it also needed to be integrated

Routinely, for instance, products were

efficient inventory management.”

with a comprehensive CRM system.”

repackaged, combined together with other products to be sold as bundled sets, and

But the firm’s requirements were complicated.

shipped with localisation options specific to

The existing contact management system

particular markets.

Solution The search began for a solution and Audio-

provided sales representatives with an offline copy of the CRM database. This meant they

“It’s ‘assemble-to-order’ rather than true

Technica identified only four offerings that met

could consult it while on the road and prepare

manufacturing – but with an extended supply

the majority of its requirements, and just one –

post-visit reports shortly after leaving a

chain stretching back to Japan,” says Rooke.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM – that met the firm’s

customer’s premises. And while the business

“Increasingly, visibility into incoming

need for offline access. However Audio-

wasn’t a traditional manufacturer, its functions

shipments was becoming more and more

Technica wasn’t prepared to compromise.

30

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\\\ Manufacturing \\\

Success story

“CRM was going to be critical in helping us

and assembly processes that fulfil those

significant productivity gains, with people no

deliver a sustainable high-quality service,”

orders.”

longer maintaining standalone spreadsheets

remarked Rooke. “We knew that being able

and similar tools.

to deliver this would keep customers coming

eBECS played a critical role, not only in

back. What’s more, delivering a sustainable

helping Audio-Technica understand what

But, more importantly, the combined solution

high-quality service would help to change

Microsoft Dynamics AX and Microsoft

has delivered on its promise of transforming

the conversation with customers from a

Dynamics CRM could deliver, but also how

the firm’s customer-facing and inventory-

price-based discussion to one that revolves

best to deploy and use them for maximum

management processes, helping to fuel

around the total package that we offer. But achieving this is difficult without a CRM system, because so much information is in the salesperson’s head – which, of course, is then lost when the salesperson moves on.” With the CRM solution chosen, the decision regarding which business system to deploy was also quickly made. The firm chose

It was quickly clear that the combination of Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Dynamics AX gives us a powerful, integrated solution. New customers would begin as prospects in Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and seamlessly transition to a customer relationship within Microsoft Dynamics AX.” – Adrian Rooke, Audio-Technica.

Microsoft Dynamics AX sourced from and implemented by eBECS – Microsoft Gold

benefit. “eBECS gave us what we wanted to

business growth. Rooke explained: “We

Partner and Microsoft Dynamics Reseller of

achieve,” said Rooke. “The result is a solution

wanted more accurate information, with which

the Year in 2012 – which also provided data

that’s completely ours and that meets our

to make better decisions – and we’ve got it.”

mapping and integration services.

specific requirements.”

“It was quickly clear that the combination of Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Dynamics AX gives us a powerful,

Cutting-edge technology and expert support give peace of mind

Benefits

integrated solution,” said Rooke. “New

In place since early 2012, the combined ERP

customers would begin as prospects in

and CRM solution has delivered significant

The company now has the reassurance of

Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and seamlessly

benefits to Audio-Technica, such as more

knowing that it is using state-of-the-art

transition to a customer relationship within

accurate information, helping it make well-

technology sourced from a major vendor, and

Microsoft Dynamics AX. We’d get a 360-

informed decisions that keep it ahead of its

supported by one of the UK’s leading

degree view of not only the sales order

competitors. The integrated nature of the

specialists in Microsoft Dynamics AX and

process, but also the inventory management

solution has enabled Audio-Technica to make

Microsoft Dynamics CRM. n

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Interview

\\\ Manufacturing \\\

Marussia F1 in top gear with Sage ERP X3 In this special Question & Answer interview, Marussia F1 operations director, Kevin Lee, provides some fascinating first-hand insight into the world of Formula One and the benefits Marussia F1 has gained through its ERP system of choice – Sage ERP X3.

W

ith a successful and

Kevin Lee: “…we raise every order and control the life cycle of the car parts with Sage ERP X3.”

normal car manufacturing?

varied career in the motorsport industry

A: Formula One design is

spanning over 30 years,

year-on-year quite cyclic.

Kevin Lee now holds the

We build a completely

position of operations manager at the

brand new car every

Marussia F1 Team. In his role with the team

season. Whereas some

Lee oversees day-to-day team processes

of the main motor

and procedures, which includes

manufacturers take

procurement, stock control, facilities

five, six or more years to

management, inspection and factory-based

introduce a new model,

assembly. He was integral in the introduction

we do it every 12 months.

and integration of the Sage ERP X3 solution into the heart of the team’s operations. In this

A modern F1 car is made up

Q&A Lee offers his views on F1 and

of many, many highly

Marussia F1’s ERP system of choice - Sage

engineered specialised parts,

ERP X3.

the current part count is something like 4500

Q: How does F1 car manufacturing differ from

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components. But in reality the

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\\\ Manufacturing \\\

Interview

Sage ERP X3 at a glance Sage ERP X3 is Sage Group’s global ERP solution for mid-sized companies and subsidiaries of large groups with international demands. For over 10 years Sage ERP X3 has been a proven and comprehensive ERP solution addressing mid-market companies’ specific requirements and challenges in industries from manufacturing and services, to distribution and many more. Over 3700 customers in 58 countries worldwide have chosen Sage ERP X3 because it is easy to use, rapid to deploy, and cost effective. For further information, visit www.sage.co.uk/X3 or phone one of the team’s ERP specialists on 0845 111 99 88.

The Marussia F1 Team number of drawings we receive from the

A: As part of the implementation process we

design office is many, many more than that.

looked at importing existing data that we had

We need to create all the patterns, moulds

elsewhere – the import function allowed us to

and tooling components that we need to make

quickly and easily import data. On the first day

the car in the first place as well as the 4500

we imported over 5000 product codes and part

parts that make up the car.

masters, and also 1500 purchase order lines – to date we have well over 17,000 records in the

Q: Why did you need an ERP System?

system, and counting.

A: We put the call into Sage as the Marussia

Q: Why did you need an integrated system?

F1 Team didn’t have an integrated ERP solution when I first started at the company.

A: We needed a solution that would give us

Once we had identified the need for an ERP

visibility of the car parts, from release of design

solution we contacted Sage and had various

drawings, through to parts on the car and

demos of the product, following this process

invoices in the finance system.

we then committed to it as our chosen solution.

Q: How do you use the system now?

Q: What were your timescales for

A: Sage ERP X3 is used to control the product

implementation?

lifecycle of each component on the car, with the process beginning as soon as the designer

A: We set ourselves, and Sage, very

finishes the CAD drawing design. The design is

aggressive time scales. We wanted the

released to the production department who

system in and up and running before we

create the part master record on the Sage ERP

started the 2012 car build. That gave us an 8

X3 system. From then on Sage ERP X3 is used

week deadline from first scoping to a running

to track purchase orders or works orders, all the

system. I think this was pretty challenging for

way through to receipt, QC and onto inventory.

both parties, but we worked together with

With the support of Sage we can control the

Sage UK and achieved great things. We hit

stock levels of the car build and the race cars.

the deadline and got Sage ERP X3 up and running on the day that we said we would.

In summary we raise every order and control the life cycle of the car parts with Sage ERP X3. F1

Q: How did you manage the transition from

is the cutting edge of motorsport. It’s all about

your old system and spreadsheets to Sage

fine margins and developing the car to make it

ERP X3?

as fast as you possibly can on the circuit. n

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Small is beautiful. That’s certainly the premise of the Marussia F1 Team, a young and ambitious Anglo-Russian challenger competing in the FIA Formula 1 World Championship. Founded in 2009, the team set out to demonstrate that, with the same passion and determination as the long-established Championship-leading constructors, but a fraction of the personnel and operating cost, it could succeed in the tough and highly competitive environment of Formula 1. 2013 is the team’s fourth season of competition, which means the Marussia F1 Team has not only survived its challenging initiation period, it is also here to stay. Headquartered at the Marussia Technical Centre in Banbury, UK, the team is majority-owned by the Russian supercar marque, Marussia, based in Moscow. The Formula 1 operation also benefits from a Technical Partnership with McLaren Applied Technologies, which has contributed to its ability to produce increasingly competitive racing cars. In 2012 the Marussia F1 Team made clear the strength of its determination to progress towards the mid-field by holding the crucial 10th place in the Constructors’ Championship for most of the season. This year, with the benefit of KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) and the further promising design step that its new MR02 race car represents, the team will be pushing harder than ever in pursuit of its long-term ambitions. These include being in a position to compete successfully on home asphalt at the inaugural Russian Grand Prix in 2014 in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

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P

lanning Success story

Preactor drives

planning & scheduling efficiency at Lucas-TVS ucas-TVS was established in1961

L

as a joint venture between Lucas industries, UK, and TVS Sundram Iyengar and Sons India to manufacture automotive electrical

systems. Lucas TVS is the leader in auto electricals in India today with 50 years’ experience in design and manufacturing. Four out of every five vehicles rolled out daily are fitted with Lucas-TVS products. The company has revenues in excess of 375 million USD and is ISO/TS 16490, TSO 14001 Quality Management System Certified. It has plants in Chennai, Rewari, Puducherry, Pune and Uttarkhand.

Extensive range Lucas-TVS’s products range from gear reduction starter motors, pre-engaged starter motors, diesel, tractor, gasoline, CV, PC and UV, internal and external fan alternators, front

Lucas-TVS relies on Preactor 300 FCS, which meets the exact requirements of the tool room.

and rear wiper motors, window lift motors and ignition systems. The company’s main

commercial and commercial vehicles,

wheelers. Customers include TATA, Ashok

markets are in engine and tractors, light

passenger cars, utility vehicles and 2/3

Leyland, Ford India, Greaves, Yamaha, Hyundai and Honda. When Lucas-TVS sought a system to schedule its tool making facility in the Chennai (Padi) plant it came across Preactor and Preactor Software India based in Bangalore. Like in any tool room each tool undertakes various process steps; including tuning and milling operations, jig boring, wire and spark EDM, heat treatment, surface/cylindrical grinding and inspection. Mr. Sushil Rajanala, senior engineer for the tool room and responsible for the Preactor project, explained the background behind Lucas-TVS’s decision to source s scheduling software solution: “When we started the project there was no exact theoretical value of the capacity of the tool-making department. All priorities were handled manually and there

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P

lanning Success story

was no visibility of operator efficiency.

improved and monthly output increased by 25

save a lot of time because it is both a

Allocation of resources was done manually

per cent. We can now control throughput at

qualitative and quantitative tool with useful

and there was no control over scrap and re-

the project level and we know where we need

reports that helps us make the right decisions

work.”

to increase priority if tool falls behind. Our on-

on resources required. It has also helped to

time delivery performance has increased from

make operators more self-disciplined in the

60 per cent to 80 per cent and this will

work they do.”

Visibility

improve further as we have complete visibility

Lucas-TVS’s general aim was

Lucas-TVS relies on

to utilise its resources and

Preactor 300 FCS, which

operators more efficiently and have proper visibility on the progress of each project so that the company could confirm its ability to meet its commitment dates. “We first

We save a lot of time because [Preactor] is both a qualitative and quantitative tool with useful reports that helps us make the right decisions on resources required. It has also helped to make operators more self-disciplined in the work they do.” – Mr. G Sadanandam, Lucas-TVS.

meets the exact requirements of the tool room. P J Yogesh again: “We tested the solution with the data they provided and this proved to be a success. Preactor runs

did a study of the requirements in the tool room; then configured Preactor to

of the progress on each tool as it moves

standalone and has no integration

meet that,” explained P J Yogesh, COO of

through the various process steps.”

requirements at this stage.”

Right decisions

The future

Preactor Software India.” We started off with an entry level version of Preactor but there was a gap in the functionality they needed.”

Mr. G Sadanandam, the general manager for

In terms of future plans, Lucas-TVS is looking

Mr. Sushil Rajanala outlined some of the

the tool room, also commented on the

to expand the use of Preactor to the press line

benefits Lucas-TVS has achieved since going

success of the project: “We cannot live

and yoke manufacturing facilities at its

live with Preactor: "Operator efficiency has

without Preactor and do scheduling daily. We

Chennai plant. n

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P

lanning Opinion

Winning

the inventory battle in consumer electronics By Karin Bursa, vice president, Logility. Mastering demand planning and inventory

lives and differing specifications for capacity,

optimisation can yield big benefits. According

capability, performance, and feature sets.

to Gartner, companies that do a better job forecasting demand carry 15 per cent less

New products, however, with long lead times

inventory, have 17 per cent stronger order

and short shelf lives pose a challenge.

fulfillment, and 35 per cent shorter cash-to-

Planners are navigating without a map and

cash cycle times. The reward is clear.

have very little time for mid-course corrections

Companies must continually drive their

between product launch and end-of-life.

demand planning and inventory optimisation

Quantitative forecasts based on insufficient

expertise to new levels of effectiveness.

historical data fall short, and experiencedriven qualitative models are only as good as the subjective inputs of personnel such as

Better forecasting sets the stage for success

salespeople and account managers.

Forecasting over the lifetime of long-lived

To meet this challenge the key is to turn to

products can be optimised by using

hybrid forecasting methods that draw insights

multiple forecasting methods to tune

from historical demand information for related

performance at different phases the

products, as well as predictive models based

n the electronics industry product shelf

product life cycle. The goal is to pick

on product attribute profiles. Additionally it is

lives are short. As consumer electronics

effective models and shift between them as

important to look at collaborative forecasting

SKUs proliferate, so too are the

the product life cycle progresses to keep

with key suppliers to build both consensus

channels, customers and locations

forecast accuracy at its peak.

and trust regarding safety stock requirements

Karin Bursa: Demand planners should adopt hybrid forecasting methods that mix related historical demand with real-time empirical data to tune forecasts to market demand.

I

through which these products must be

to achieve contracted service levels.

distributed. The cold reality is 50 per cent of

By contrast, in the consumer electronics

new product introductions fail to achieve

industry missing the market by even one

success and almost half of these failures are

quarter may mean missing it permanently. It

due to initial misreads of market

often takes longer to design, develop and

expectations. The battle for profitability turns

manufacture a new product than the item’s

Multi-Echelon Inventory Optimisation sets targets better than people do

largely on two key disciplines: accurate

entire life cycle. Sales predictions may span

Modelling inventory behaviour across the

demand planning and effective inventory

thousands of SKUs with wide-ranging shelf

end-to-end supply chain—from suppliers to

optimisation. The threats to success are significant in an industry where the most profitable period of a product’s lifespan may be as short as three months. Forecasts are often generated with insufficient information. Launching products into conditions of uncertain demand can result in too much safety stock and overreactive inventory adjustments that drain profitability. These and other factors make it difficult to optimise inventory levels for every SKU location in the network. There is seldom a chance to ‘make it up later’ because short product life spans leave less time for error correction. This is why planners must hit it Figure 1: MEIO inventory target performance compared to single-stage optimisation.

right from the start.

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P

lanning Opinion

distribution centres—is a core benefit of Multi-

After product launch, a crucial factor in

hybrid forecasting methods that mix related

Echelon Inventory Optimisation (MEIO). MEIO

maximising lifetime profitability is continually

historical demand with real-time empirical

looks at all safety stocks throughout the

right-sizing inventory. Too much inventory

data to tune forecasts to market demand. To

stages and locations of the supply chain and

creates excessive discounting, obsolescence,

maximise profitability, consumer electronics

analyses lead times, costs, and many other

and write-offs. Too little inventory, or inventory

companies must also arm themselves with

factors. The MEIO system recommends

in the wrong location, causes missed sales.

the right inventory optimisation strategies.

amounts and placement of inventory buffers

To prevail over demand uncertainty, planners

MEIO-driven inventory targets outperform

to minimise inventory cost while achieving

must be confident they know the best amount

rules of thumb, and dramatically exceed the

required service levels at launch and

of inventory to build and just where to position

service level performance of single-stage

throughout the lifespan of the product.

it. By recognising the interrelationships

inventory optimisation. n

Postponement strategies allow more stock to

between supply chain stages, MEIO can react

be held at lower-cost stages of

more quickly to real-time demand signals and

manufacturing, before major value-add steps

recommend holistic inventory adjustments

are performed.

across the entire network.

About the Author MEIO-driven inventory targets outperform results achieved using single-stage inventory

Two weapons to battle excess inventory

optimisation. Figure 1 shows how a major

Consumer electronics, with their short life

electronics manufacturer developed and

cycles, demand uncertainty, and forecasting

successfully implemented a single-stage

difficulties, pose a challenge to supply chain

optimisation programme dramatically

teams. Today’s supply chain teams must be

improved service level performance by

able to get in front of these issues, anticipate

turning to MEIO.

market changes and optimise their networks

rules of thumb, and also significantly surpass

Karin L. Bursa is vice president of marketing at Logility, a provider of collaborative supply chain management solutions. She has 25 years of experience in the development, support and marketing of software solutions to improve and automate enterprise-wide operations. You can follow her industry insights at www.logility.com/blog.

for success. Demand planners should adopt

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Printing & Labelling

In the steel manufacturing sector base components are made at one facility, and are then shipped to another area where they are hot- or cold-rolled. A lot of activity happens during that transitionary period between shipment from one site to another. Being able to fully interrogate, gather and extract information related to the whole process involves seeing what’s happening during this transitionary stage.

Interview

How the West is won back Manufacturing & Logistics IT spoke with Matt Parker, head of market development, Zebra Technologies Europe, about how a number of current and bourgeoning technologies provide Western manufacturers with a golden opportunity to return to their former glory days.

A

recent report by the McKinsey Global Institute, ‘Manufacturing the future: The next era of global growth and innovation’, highlights that despite the turmoil that has beset many global economies over the past few years, manufacturing continues to grow worldwide – now accounting for approximately 16 per cent of global GDP and 14 per cent of employment. The report also states that by 2025 a new global consuming class will have emerged, and the majority of consumption will take place in developing economies, creating rich new market opportunities. In established markets, meanwhile, the report observes that demand is fragmenting as customers want greater variation and more types of aftersales service. The report also comments that innovations in materials and processes—from nanomaterials to 3-D printing to advanced robotics – also promise to create fresh demand and drive further productivity gains across manufacturing industries and geographies.

Zebra’s Matt Parker believes new technologies such as these are just the tools needed to boost Western manufacturers’ competitiveness on the world stage – facilitating production closer 40

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to home, ensuring greater visibility and traceability throughout the supply chain, and also ensuring a closer, more mutually beneficial relationship with suppliers and consumers.

technologies too – will help bring back a number of processes and procedures away from offshore/third party production.”

Primary driver Parker comments that manufacturing is, and will continue to be, the primary driver of GDP globally. And although there has been a major shift away from traditional core western manufacturing economies, he believes we are going to see that pendulum start to swing back as new technologies allow organisations to bring back in-house some of the core skills and competencies that they had moved to other geographies, such as the Far East, over the past few years. “3-D printing is one example of this,” says Parker. “If we look at prototype construction there’s no need to offshore that anymore; 3D printers continue to grow in their competence and ability, and I believe we’re not for away from seeing 3-D printers being able to embed and include electronics. Indeed, there are already 3-D printers in operation today that can overlay products with gold leaf and gold-plate metals. So the technology and what it can bring forward – not just 3-D printing but other High-Tech production

Parker also maintains that the information revolution will play an increasingly prevalent role in the growth of manufacturing strength returning to the West. “We hear a lot about Big Data, and if utilised effectively, this has the potential to transform industry,” he said. “There is a huge amount of information that manufacturers and retailers are now able to gather from consumers who are spontaneously creating information through mobility and social media platforms. This can tell manufacturers a lot about customers’ purchasing dynamic and behaviour patterns. Equally, machine to machine interactions give us a new insight into previously invisible or disconnected processes and procedures. By harnessing this data manufacturers in all industry subsectors can make better design, production and volume decisions, which in turn create value.” “If we look at some of the leading automotive manufacturers in the UK much of their upstream supply chain is locally based, whereas as recently as three or four years ago most of it would have been offshore,” he said. “There has been a

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Interview

desire to bring that back because it allows greater ownership and flexibility within the production process. It also allows greater transparency within the supply chain because the core manufacturer is better able to control and mandate what components are used, in what quantities, within what timescales etc. This process is made much more effective because production is taking place on the manufacturer’s doorstep and not thousands of miles away. Taking all of this into consideration, if analytics based on realtime spontaneous data suggest a bottleneck is likely, upstream and downstream interactions can be adjusted and modified to maximise efficiency and create a more seamless experience. Having the supply chain on the doorstep means that decisions based on real time data can be implemented far more quickly.” In terms of High-Tech innovations such as 3-D printing, Parker believes we will see some major technological leaps over the next few years, pushing the manufacturing envelope ever further. “We are already significantly more advanced than we were only a year to 18 months ago, so something major has already begun; something that I believe is going to be a game changer for the manufacturing sector,” he said.

Improved visibility And what of advances in the world of data capture? Parker points out that relatively recent developments in Auto ID are empowering manufacturers, allowing them to make more informed business and operational decisions. “This all hinges on Auto ID being able to connect what previously had been very disparate processes, sometimes involving distant locations,” said Parker. “If we look at the steel manufacturing sector, for example, base components are made at one facility, and are then shipped to another area where they are hot- or cold-rolled. A lot of activity happens during that transitionary period between shipment from one site to another. Being able to fully interrogate, gather and extract information related to the whole process involves also being able

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to see what’s happening during this transitionary stage which, before recent developments in data capture technology, had been largely invisible. Auto ID, passive and active RFID, right the way up to GPS, gives organisations this level of visibility. It’s giving otherwise inanimate objects a digital voice, and this is the value that companies such as Zebra bring to the table.” According to Parker, the other technological leap we will see happening very quickly, and which is already starting to be deployed, is that of Machine Vision. “Where there are the constants of barcode technology, together with and passive and active RFID technology, the platform on which all of this is built – the Machine Vision element – is a natural step on from that,” explained Parker. “This technology facilitates more interaction between devices and objects without human intervention. Of course, certain manufacturing sectors are further down the deployment path than others. In High-Tech manufacturing there is already very little human intervention, but Machine Vision can even benefit labour-intensive manufacturing processes where there will always be a need for a skilled and highly specialised workforce. So this not about the elimination of the workforce; rather, it again focuses on harnessing data more effectively and getting visibility into the previously invisible areas of operations and processes.”

Printing & Labelling

Parker added that Zebra’s platform is the constant on which everything else is constructed. “We are the gateway to information, ensuring all this information – including the information captured in those transitionary points mentioned earlier – can be carried up into a centralised ERP system or decision-making system to allow for actionable analytics to take place. And through such analytics companies will be able to improve their overall operations. For example, it could allow them to engage much more keenly with their upstream and downstream supply chain partners. It could even point to potential improvements in terms of their manufacturing layouts.” And because users are able to make decisions in real time, Parker points out that this can also enhance relationships with customers and suppliers. “For instance, through Auto ID and through Machine Vision a company might detect an existing or potential delay or bottleneck in the process. Rather than jeopardise your business relationship with partners or customers, you can inform them in advance and reset their expectation. In this way you can keep their experience positive by ensuring they are fully informed as to the progress of a particular order. And this has never been more important in an age where the consumer can drive the value of the brand through their ability to create information spontaneously within the social media sphere.” n

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AUTOMATIC DATA CAPTURE

Company news

Retailers require only modest changes to survive Box re-brands and urges retailers to review technology systems before opting for a complete transformation. igh street retailers often need

H

Key driver

only minor tweaks to their technology systems and

Box chairman, Russell Willcox, commented:

modest investments to survive

“Technology is, undoubtedly, the key driver of

the tough economy, according

change and growth during this difficult trading

to one of the sector’s leading IT providers.

environment, and it will be the answer for the

The recent collapse of Blockbuster, HMV and

majority of retailers’ pinch points moving

Jessops has highlighted the difficulties

forward. But, I believe technology can also

facing the sector, but British technology

get in the way of business. Sometimes, IT

solutions provider, Box

decision makers look to implement systems

(www.boxtechnologies.com) – which works

which are not always well aligned with a

with leading retailers, banks and public

company’s growth plans, and a large

sector organisations – is not advocating

investment has been made.”

huge changes for high street shops. Instead, Russell Willcox: “If [retailers] talk to us, we can often suggest changes that will make a real difference to their business at a low

Box believes that engaging customers and

Willcox continued: “When we meet with

making them want to shop in a store can be

clients, we ask them to look at the systems

a relatively simple and cheap process.

they already have in place, and how they can

Happy and engaged customers will spend longer in store making purchases.

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Company news

AUTOMATIC DATA CAPTURE

achieve what the retailer ultimately needs.

the customer experience to life – which can

need to work with experts in the business to

From there, we gauge whether a complete

often be achieved through low-level and

attract customers, rather than trying to work in

transformation or just a few simple tweaks are

careful investment.”

isolation,” he said. “If they talk to us, we can

required. Too many times, we have seen businesses investing in, and implementing whole new systems, only to later regret the

Many retailers have already invested in a large number of shops and they need to work with experts in the business to attract customers, rather than trying to work in isolation.” – Russell Willcox, Box.

decision that was made. At the end of the day a store needs to be somewhere that the customer wants to visit. A happy and engaged customer will spend longer in store making purchases. Technology needs to bring

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often suggest changes that will make a real

Big future

difference to their business at a low cost.”

The move highlights how retailers are coming

Box retail solutions address a wide range of

under increasing pressure from web sales,

retail challenges and opportunities including

but Willcox believes that they still have a big

store design and merchandising, augmented

future if they can communicate effectively with

reality solutions, often known as ‘magic mirror’

their clients. “Many retailers have already

or ‘digital wardrobe’. n

invested in a large number of shops and they

Box at a glance Box works with leading retailers, banks and post offices to provide the technology solutions for them to communicate with their customers in-store, on mobiles and via the web. Box’s mantra is to make the store somewhere the customer wants to go to. A happy and engaged customer will spend longer in a store making purchases. Box is focused on creating the right solution for its customers, even if that means working with, or improving upon the legacy offering – as opposed to completely replacing it. The company provides a consultative approach to business challenges. Box has built up a wide portfolio of products, which include: EPoS technology, banking solutions, payment systems, mobile tablets and digital display devices. Its solutions address a wide number of retail challenges including loss prevention, cash counting and reconciliation, digital signage, queue management and kiosk/self-service.

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AUTOMATIC DATA CAPTURE

Product news

TouchStar launches new field tablet with 4G support ouchStar Technologies has

T

logistics, retail and hospitality sectors. The

Magnesium alloy frame is 20

launched another 'military

times stronger than ABS plastic

specification' field tablet with 4G

and provides superior light weight.

support. CA10, a semi-rugged tablet PC, is designed specifically

for mobile workers in the field service,

Compliant with IP43 for water and dust.

CA10 runs the Genuine Windows 7

Compliant with MIL-STD-810G for drop and vibration.

Professional operating system, and at its heart

Resistive touch screen.

is the Intel Atom Processor N2600 running at

Sunlight readable display.

1.6GHz, supported by 2GB of DDRIII memory

Digitiser.

and an mSATA SSD of 64GB or 128GB.

Ambient light sensor.

1D/2D barcode scanner.

Key features

Payment terminal solutions

Some of the many other key features of the

Pin-pad, magnetic stripe reader.

connectivity, CA10 also support GPS and

CA10 include:

RFID reader.

WWAN with Gobi 3000 for 3G connections

Dual-camera.

or LTE for ultra-fast 4G connections. n

‘New breed’

through smart card reader.

Besides standard WLAN and Bluetooth

of intelligent and rugged mobile devices

ullitt Mobile, global licensee of

The preloaded app communicates with the

Cat phones for Caterpillar Inc.,

SIM and the Network, and gathers intelligence

has teamed up with mobile

that it feeds into the algorithm. Based on the

connectivity specialist Tweakker

result of the algorithm, the app inserts the

to launch the first of a new family

right connectivity setting on the device. By

B

of intelligent, rugged Android smartphones

embedding the app, the Cat B15 eliminates

under the Cat brand. The Cat B15

the costly need for call centres to provide

smartphone is designed for those of us who

customer care on connectivity issues, saving

lead an active lifestyle and who need a phone

network operators who offer this phone up to

that can handle drops, shocks, scrapes, dust

US$15 per call. brand promise of being Born Tough Made

and immersion in water. Tweakker has the largest database of

Smart," commented Richard Wharton, head of

This new breed of smartphone is capable of

connectivity settings for mobile phones in the

marketing, Bullitt Mobile. "Tweakker's

detecting operator subscriptions for networks

world. The launch of this unique app, the

connectivity app ticked all the boxes and

all around the world, meaning that customers

result of over five year's development,

users will be online from power-up wherever

will reportedly no longer struggle, or incur call

demonstrates the increasing role of Tweakker

they are in the world right out of the box."

centre charges to get their mobile data

to get the device world online from power-up

network up and running.

and using revenue-generating Internet

"This app represents the future of Android

services.

devices," said Dennis Juul Poulsen, CEO of Tweakker. "By utilising Tweakker's unique

The new Cat B15 will all have Tweakker's

network intelligence technology, Cat can now

system. The preloaded Tweakker app detects

Simplifying the customer experience

and enables the correct setting on the device

"In launching the new Cat B15 Android phone,

unique and other Android manufacturers will

by using complex algorithms based on

one of our goals was to simplify our customer

soon also embrace this app enabling device

connectivity data collected globally over the

experience for data and Internet services

users to enjoy the sheer power of their

past five years.

therefore ensuring we deliver on the Cat's

devices from power-up." n

unique network intelligence technology embedded directly into the Android OS

44

IT March 2013

MANUFACTURING

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guarantee easy mobile data access on a global scale to customers. This technology is

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Product news

AUTOMATIC DATA CAPTURE

Motion announces next generation of rugged and flexible tablet PC otion Computing, the global

Peter Poulin, VP marketing, Motion Computing.

provider of mobility solutions,

"Motion's entire suite of solutions is

has announced the release of

meticulously designed to workflows that rely on

the Motion J3600 Tablet PC,

the powerful combination of advanced

the next generation in the J-

technology features, complemented by tailored

M

Series line of tablet PCs. The dual touch,

accessories, services and partner offerings

rugged J3600 offers improved power,

that complete workflows and drive productivity."

performance and connectivity, helping mobile workers stay productive throughout the day.

Extended battery life

From navigating and updating building

Featuring the latest Intel i7 vPro processor, or

information models (BIM) on a construction

i5 or i3 Core processors, the J3600 extends

site, to managing utility assets and automating

both battery life and performance. Combined

field inspections or accessing and updating

with up to a 256GB SSD and available 16GB of

with a set of accessories and peripherals to

complete patient information through the

RAM, the J3600 offers virtually unlimited

optimise workflows across environments. From

electronic health record (EHR) solution, the

productivity. Additionally, enhanced Bluetooth,

the Work Anywhere Kit for extra screen

J3600 optimises mobile productivity. This

USB and Wi-Fi connectivity enable improved

protection and battery storage option, to the

enables users to more quickly and seamlessly

data acquisition, collaboration and

external battery charger or locking mobile

gather and document data results in improved

documentation. All enhancements are targeted

dock, J-Series users have options to streamline

productivity and overall job performance.

to mobile workflows that require advanced

mobile tasks and extend all-day usability. For

performance.

more information on accessories available for

"Enabling mobility to improve work performance is what we are all about," said

The dual touch, rugged J3600 offers improved power, performance and connectivity, helping mobile workers stay productive throughout the day.

the J-Series line of tablet PCs visit Peripherals The J-Series line of tablet PCs are available

and Accessories Page. n

DAP unveils rugged tablet with 9.7-inch multi-touch display AP Technologies has launched

many enterprise applications, they are neither

an enterprise-ready, rugged

rugged enough nor compatible with existing

Windows tablet with 9.7-inch

networks," said Simon Bowe, managing

multi-touch display ideal for

director of DAP Technologies EMEA. "The

logistics and transport

M9700 offers a solution that combines the

D

operations. The M9700 is the newest addition

best-loved features of consumer models with

to DAP's tablet line-up and offers a solution

a rugged design and the Windows-based

for enterprise customers who need

operating system needed for seamless

the screen size and lightweight

migration into existing

features of a consumer

Windows-based

tablet, but also require a

networks."

more rugged solution that runs a

Protected against water,

Windows operating

dust and 1.2 metre drops

system compatible with

to concrete, the IP54-rated

existing networks. Weighing less than 1kg and around 2cm thick, the DAP M9700

M9700 meets MIL-STD810F and therefore offers a

The M9700 offers a solution for enterprise customers who need the screen size and lightweight features of a consumer tablet, but also require a more rugged solution that runs a Windows operating system compatible with existing networks.

delivers lightweight mobility in a rugged tablet

more durable solution than consumer tablets,

with a full 9.7-inch multi-touch display for pan

enabling its use in a variety of environments.

and zoom functions.

The M9700 offers reliable communication, with

The M9700 ships with Windows Embedded

options for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and optional 3G

Standard 7 and a 32 GB solid state drive.

Seamless migration

and GPS. An autofocus 2 MP camera with flash

Available accessories include various

allows mobile workers to document issues and

adapters, vehicle charger, desktop dock,

"Consumer tablets have their appeal, but for

communicate with the home office in real time.

charging station and a hand strap. n

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MANUFACTURING

March 2013

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45


Warehouse Management

n

Opinion

Choosing the right WMS Simon Fowler, managing director of Advanced Business Solutions (Advanced), offers his top ten tips on sourcing the correct warehouse management system for your organisation.

Assess the need for a warehouse management system (WMS) Just because you are building a warehouse does not necessarily mean that you will need a warehouse management system. To embark on a WMS project you must be confident you are going to achieve significant business benefits.

Consider the long-term Look to the long-term future and have a clear vision of what your warehouse could look like as this will ensure you choose a solution that is sufficiently scale-able, flexible and functional. the need for improved traceability and customer service.

Examine your options Consider the WMS module of your existing ERP / business system provider or – if your warehouse is highly automated – the WMS provided by your automation systems company. Look at the option of in-house WMS development if the overall requirements are particularly specialised. However, in most cases a packaged, configurable solution will perfectly match your requirements.

Predict your potential Return on Investment

IT

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The costs of a WMS can be broken up into licences, professional services (project management, training and go-live support), custom development costs and annual support costs. Ensure any suppliers you approach give you costs for the all the above, indicating if prices are variable. Watch out for hidden costs such as travel costs, travel time and project management time. Take hardware and infrastructure costs into account.

Look at the size of the supplier and that of their customers to ensure that you are dealing with a company that is used to working with companies of your size.”

A WMS is very much a tactical 'execution' system and is therefore a lot easier to justify than many IT projects. The key areas to consider are: the potential for a WMS to give you improved stock accuracy, the likelihood for increased productivity and cost savings,

46

Review the costs of a WMS

March 2013

priority, making a good WMS, well implemented and supported (both internally and externally) essential. In turn labour productivity, warehouse utilisation and efficient equipment performance is of great interest. A WMS could also be an essential tool in monitoring performance against any Service Level Agreements (SLAs).

Agree a process to select the right supplier A recommended process is as follows: • •

• • •

Ensure the WMS adds value to a 3PL • As a 3PL is responsible for third party stock, accurate stock quantity and location is a

Prepare a short request for information document - no more than a few pages. Produce a list of 3 to 5 suppliers, then organise an informal meeting – it will help you get a feel for their company. Ask for a few reference sites. Request a tailored demonstration. Get them to take you to a reference site, if possible, this will allow you to shorten the list to 2 or 3 suppliers. If you have identified any gaps in functionality then get these specified and costed.

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Warehouse Management

Research potential suppliers It is relatively easy to identify potential suppliers, word of mouth and industry contacts are a good source, as are trade exhibitions. Search engine research will also give you some names. Choose a WMS supplier who can demonstrate significant track record in your type of warehousing operation.

Involve key members of your team Identify a project champion in your organisation, build a team of logistics people around them and get them to own the WMS.

Make sure you also involve your IT team in ensuring the WMS vendor can work with you to provide solid interfaces with your other business systems.

Remember: this will be a long-term partnership Look at the size of the supplier and that of their customers to ensure that you are dealing with a company that is used to working with companies of your size. Examine support cover, development plans and track record. It is also very important to achieve a good 'people' fit with any organisation you select. n

n

Opinion

Advanced Business Solutions at a glance Advanced Business Solutions (Advanced) provides integrated business applications and services that enable public, private and third sector organisations to retain control, improve visibility and gain efficiencies while continually improving corporate performance. Advanced’s software systems comprise core accounting/financial management, procurement, human resource and payroll systems, integrated with a range of collaborative, document management and business intelligence solutions to extend the value and effectiveness of the finance, human resource and payroll departments. These can be delivered as a managed or bureau service. Advanced Business Solutions is a division of Advanced Computer Software Group plc., supplier of software and IT services to the health, care and business services sectors.

Warehouse Management

n

Product news

Food traceability simplified with auto ID tracking he latest version of the Accellos warehouse management system (WMS) from BalloonOne is said to simplify traceability for food processors and distributors. The system provides full visibility of raw material coming into the food warehouse, monitors the movement of finished goods, and tracks products going through the production and packaging area. This removes the difficulty and cost of managing time consuming paper documentation.

T

The automatic identification of barcodes on raw materials and finished products ensures a complete electronic trail that can be interrogated instantly whenever required. Saving both time and money through efficiency improvements, the WMS interfaces easily with existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems and order management systems – such as SAP Business One, sharing the same database and eliminating the need for data duplication. Accellos provides comprehensive traceability for food companies using UK sourced raw material and for business that import food stuffs from overseas. Using the system to zone the warehouse allows companies to see exactly what is happening in each area of the building, eliminating information black holes.

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Meeting individual requirements

industry; 68 per cent of the Food and Drink Federation membership are such companies.

Although UK Food Standard Agency rules govern all food companies, no two food warehouses are alike. The WMS has been developed for maximum flexibility to meet these different, individual requirements and is, therefore, very flexible and scaleable. It provides batch and serial number traceability, so that any and all items can be identified quickly back to their source without the need to search through paper records. This makes it a good fit for SME businesses in the food

With more than 1000 configuration switches, the WMS can provide a wealth of functionality without modifying the software. It uses an XML interface to communicate real-time information from the warehouse to the back office system. Features include multi-bin, advanced allocation and barcode auto ID using wireless scanners for accuracy, speed and no unnecessary paperwork. n

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47


Supply Chain

Success story

SIBA AB selects EazyStock inventory software to raise customer service levels azyStock, the Cloud-based inventory management solution, has been selected by one of Scandinavia’s leading home electronics retailers, SIBA AB, to support improved inventory optimisation. SIBA operates retail stores across Sweden, Norway and in Denmark under its sub brand ComputerCity.

E

The software will be implemented at SIBA’s central warehouse in Borås in the coming weeks to optimise inventory levels and raise customer service levels for products distributed to its 32 retail stores throughout the Nordics.

our customers throughout the stores as well as on our websites, at all time. EazyStock will help us improve customer service levels from our central warehouse to the stores which will improve our inventory availability.”

The exciting thing about Cloudbased inventory software is that businesses can leverage sophisticated inventory capabilities at low-cost securely over the Internet; software that was previously only affordable to very large, multinational enterprises.” – Daniel Martinsson, EazyStock.

reduce inventory carrying costs, improve customer service levels and eliminate repetitive inventory management tasks.

Combination of benefits Sandra Bexell, supply chain manager at SIBA AB, commented: “Our commitment is to offer a combination of lower prices and better service for the consumer electronics market, which means having the right products available for

Supply Chain

EazyStock is a Cloud-based inventory management solution developed by Syncron, the global supply chain software vendor. It provides small to midsize businesses with lowcost, high-performance inventory forecasting, planning and optimisation capabilities to

“We are extremely happy to add such a renowned company like SIBA to our growing customer base” said Daniel Martinsson, EazyStock’s business manager. “The exciting thing about Cloud-based inventory software is that businesses can leverage sophisticated inventory capabilities at low-cost securely over the Internet; software that was previously only affordable to very large, multinational enterprises.” n

Opinion

ediTRACK predicts increased demand for ethical trading compliance and auditing software after horse-meat fiasco upply chain management software provider ediTRACK is predicting an upsurge in demand for solutions that enhance supply chain traceability. ediTRACK expects to see increased need from businesses operating in the retail and grocery trades following the widespread findings of horse-meat contamination throughout the European food chain.

S

“The recent horse meat disaster has highlighted the need for improved visibility of supply chains,” says Julian Clay, managing director of ediTRACK. “You can never fully eliminate the risk of fraudulent activity, but you can minimise it by implementing real-time traceability into your supply chain. Supermarkets are suffering – consumer confidence has been shaken, and

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March 2013

with tests still on-going, it seems that no retailer can be totally confident in their products, sales and reputation. The industry is under a great deal of pressure to ensure ethical supply chains by obtaining greater visibility of all processes from ‘farm to fork’.”

“We are already working with forward-looking clients who understand the need to closely monitor their supply chains to protect their brands,” said Clay. “We expect to see a significant increase in demand for solutions that can help businesses to trade ethically by providing greater visibility of checks and audits.”

Damaged the reputations Clay’s comments come as the horsemeat scandal, which has seen some products testing positive for up to 100 per cent horse meat, hits a fifth European country. Tests for equine DNA in products ranging from ready meals to children’s sweets are on-going. The furore has damaged the reputations of retailers that have stocked the tainted products, and will have serious repercussions for manufacturers.

In the wake of the scandal, Clay comments that businesses are seeking to track the relationships between their factories and suppliers, document findings from audits and highlight areas of the supply chain that need urgent attention. He adds that those businesses using the correct supply chain software are able to move towards more secure, visible and accountable supply chains without compromising lead times. n

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Product news

Supply Chain

Agile PLM enables organisations to accelerate innovation, design for supply and rapidly commercialise by optimising all aspects of designing, developing, launching, servicing and disposing of products.

Oracle unveils Agile Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) and Agile Product Lifecycle Management for Process To help organisations of all sizes and types innovate profitably, Oracle has announced new releases of Oracle's Agile Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) and Oracle's Agile Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) for Process. xtending Oracle’s enterprise PLM solution, Agile PLM 9.3.2 enhances usability and streamlines processes, while also introducing a range of new features within Agile PLM modules including Oracle's Agile Product Governance and Compliance, Oracle's Agile Product Cost Management and Oracle's Agile Product Quality Management.

E

• Delivering additional PLM capabilities designed specifically for companies in process industries, Oracle Agile PLM for Process release 6.1.1 offers significant improvements in the areas of formula modelling and compliance and also introduces a new module, Oracle's Agile Product Quality Management (PQM) for Process. This new module makes quality information and issues visible to all stakeholders within an organisation and across the Value Chain by providing a collaborative environment to aggregate and track information related to product quality within the product record. Agile PLM enables organisations to accelerate innovation, design for supply and rapidly commercialise by optimising all aspects of designing, developing, launching, servicing and disposing of products. Enhancements and innovations in the latest release of Agile PLM include: •

New compliance engine that enhances our Design for REACH capability and provides support for the new Conflict Mineral regulation within the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

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Improved approval matrix capability – New workflow related features eliminate the need for process extensions by improving the management of the typical approval matrix needs of customers. User experience improvements – Further enhance user productivity by introducing an improved audit screen, enhanced navigator and two column title block. Product Portfolio Management (PPM) features – Help with program management in PPM by introducing stationary gates, GANTT locking options, expanded PLM references attributes, GANTT enhanced snap to times and new capabilities that enable users to replicate inter-project dependencies. Product Cost Management (PCM) and Product Quality Management (PQM) Improvements – Assist with integrating supply chain users by adding an option for RFQ responses and better enabling automation when interacting with PCM. In addition, to enhance PQM the latest release adds the QCR table to Supplier and Customer objects. Integration with Oracle Enterprise Data Quality – Enables use cases around data validation and enrichment that ensure the cleanliness of the enterprise product record.

Agile PLM for Process is an integrated solution that manages all aspects of innovation, such as product and portfolio management, specification management, supplier management, formulation and BOM management, packaging and labelling management, compliance and quality management, and data syndication.

Enhancements in the latest release of Agile PLM for Process include a number of improvements to formula modelling and compliance such as extensions to allow real time visibility of key metrics in a formula model and functional tagging to aid in regulatory and quality analysis of a design. With the new addition of Agile PQM for Process, customers can: •

Create a corporate culture of quality by making quality information and issues visible to all of the stakeholders in the product lifecycle from product development through end of life. Seamlessly identify and analyse reported product deficiencies, take corrective action, and improve next-generation products. Improve regulatory compliance, improve customer satisfaction and save money by effectively managing audits and recalls.

"One of the most complex challenges that organisations of all sizes and types face is how to innovate profitably," said John Kelley, vice president of product value chain strategy, Oracle. "With the enhancements to Oracle's Agile PLM and Oracle's Agile PLM for Process as well as the introduction of innovative new modules like Oracle's Agile Product Quality Management (PQM) for Process, Oracle is able to help organisations further shorten cycle times, increase sales, lower costs and reduce risks associated with innovation. This combination helps organisations cost-effectively reach their innovation goals." n

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Manufacturing and Logistics IT - March 2013  

The European magazine promoting the effective use of IT in supply chain applications

Manufacturing and Logistics IT - March 2013  

The European magazine promoting the effective use of IT in supply chain applications