IT news

Posted on 11 May 2011 by The Manufacturer

The latest news in the IT sector.

Takeover rush hits enterprise application sector
Consolidation continues apace in the enterprise applications sector with two major mid-tier software companies agreeing to be bought during the past four weeks.

In separate moves, both Epicor Software and Lawson Software fell to acquisitive venture capitalists – Epicor to Apax Partners, one of the world’s leading private equity firms with a strong heritage of technology investment; and Lawson to Infor, via Golden Gate Capital, its backers. Both acquiring parties were keen to stress their intention to develop the companies.

“Infor and Lawson will create a rich, integrated enterprise application suite. We have a long list of ideas to improve the customer experience and deliver value through a singular focus on enterprise applications, accelerated investment, and a strong incentive to challenge convention,” said Charles Phillips, Infor’s CEO and the former number two at Oracle.

For its part, in a parallel move, Apax also acquired privately-held mid– market retail and wholesale distribution company Activant Solutions, and intends to combine Activant and Epicor to create a single provider of enterprise applications, focused on the manufacturing, distribution, services and retail sectors, operating under the Epicor brand.

“This merger is extremely positive for Epicor’s customers, employees and shareholders alike,” said George Klaus, Epicor chairman, president and CEO. “It offers great value to our current stockholders and represents an endorsement of the business strategy, products and technology leadership we have established in the market.”

SAP helps midsize businesses run e-commerce in the cloud
Enterprise software giant SAP has joined forces with two German SAP partners to launch a cloud based e-commerce solution for small and midsize enterprises running SAP’s Business All in One solution.

The solution sets up a company with an e-commerce site that is hosted in the cloud, with web orders processed alongside traditional sales channels in the SAP Business All in One solution’s back end.

The on demand webshop has been developed by ePages GmbH, one of the world’s foremost providers of e commerce cloud service platforms, while integration of the pre-configured online shop with SAP Business All in One is enabled by HONICO eBusiness GmbH, a specialist for SAP system management products.

The offer is available to SAP Business All in One customers in two versions. The base version, priced at $539 per month, supports up to 10,000 products in a maximum of 1,000 categories, while with the ‘flex’ version, costing $949 per month, customers can sell up to 200,000 products in up to 2,000 different categories.

“With the integration of our on demand shops, we are making the entrance into professional e commerce much easier for SAP Business All in One users – with straightforward monthly costs and little technical effort,” says Wilfried Beeck, CEO, ePages.

Setup is easy, adds SAP. Companies that run SAP Business All in One can order the new software packages ePages Base for SAP Business All in One or ePages Flex for SAP Business All in One online and either install it themselves, or have a partner, such as ePages, do the set up and configuration.

Brazilian Preactor users earn rapid ROI
Brazil’s manufacturing industry is now the world’s sixth largest – two places ahead of the UK. And the country is no less interested in advanced planning and scheduling, it seems. According to Preactor, customers speaking at recent Preactor seminars in São Paulo and Porto Alegre have claimed significant business benefits.

Unicasa, a manufacturer of kitchen and living room furniture, delivered a $4m inventory saving and $2.5m in increased production achieved in a matter of months, it reported. Preactor has helped increase productivity by nine per cent, which represents $2.5m in additional production, while simultaneously reducing inventory by over 50%, from a value of $6.5m to $2.5m.

Susin Fransecutti, a manufacturer and supplier of camshafts, crankshafts, axles and other parts to the automotive sector, has gone further. Benefits include a 25% increase in productivity, a 50% reduction in delivery delays, a 40% reduction in lead times, and a 15% reduction in work in progress which has freed up 30% of space within the factory.

“South America is a growing market for us,” says Preactor chief executive Mike Novels. “Not only do these results prove how effective Preactor advanced planning and scheduling solutions are in the real world, they also show that Preactor solutions leverage any existing investment in ERP.”

Jobshop delivers growth and productivity
120 year-old Aish Technologies, based in Poole, Dorset, has become the latest small manufacturer to sing the praises of Planit’s Jobshop ERP and advanced production planning and control system.

“We’ve increased turnover by more than £5m – with no increase in overheads or staff,” says operations director Nigel Barnes. “We’ve increased turnover to £12m, and we haven’t needed to increase our headcount.” Put another way, he adds, the company used to process around 4,000 work orders a year. Now, since bringing in Jobshop, the same number of staff manage 10,000.

Aish, which develops and manufactures purpose built, multi function consoles, cabinets and electronic racks for the protection of electronic equipment in harsh environments, first introduced Jobshop three years ago, says Barnes.

“We recognised that the business was heavily dependent on non added value staff to make it work,” he explains.

“We were carrying a high burden of overheads to make the company function as it did. Our long term solution was to say that if we’re going to implement Jobshop it had to provide the capacity to grow the business without increasing this overhead burden.” Accordingly, Aish makes full use of many of Jobshop’s extensive suite of functions, including Sales Order Processing, Material Requirements Planning, Purchase Orders, Work Orders, Scheduling, Shop Floor Data Capture, Materials Control, Costing, and System Management.

“It’s made a monumental contribution to our recent success,” sums up Barnes. “We couldn’t have grown the business without the step change improvements in both procurement and progressing the scheduling work load without Jobshop.”

Siemens PLM adds SharePoint-based social networking capabilities
Siemens PLM Software has announced that the community collaboration capabilities built into its market-leading Teamcenter software now support Microsoft SharePoint 2010, further expanding popular social networking concepts into the product development process.

Using such tools, teams can increase their productivity by coordinating their daily activities through shared project workspaces enhanced with social networking tools such as wikis, blogs, profiles, surveys and more.

“Through its strong alliance with Microsoft, and its own internal development, Siemens PLM Software is introducing the next generation of social product development to its users, and helping manufacturers enhance collaboration among their employees, suppliers and customers to streamline the introduction of new products using corporate social networks,” says the company.

“Companies are applying the concepts and lessons learned from social networking to connect people and enhance business interaction,” notes Jim Brown, president and founder of Tech Clarity, an independent research and consulting firm. “This shift towards corporate social networks promises significant business value, particularly as social computing technologies are applied to PLM.” “Working side by side with our own development team, Siemens PLM Software has done an outstanding job of weaving Teamcenter into the fabric of SharePoint 2010 in a way that feels seamless and natural to the end user,” adds Sanjay Ravi, managing director for worldwide discrete manufacturing industry at Microsoft.

“As a result, manufacturing companies using Teamcenter with SharePoint 2010 can boost productivity in all departments – not just engineering – while they use social networking technology to collaborate with clients.”