IT News

Posted on 13 Jun 2011 by The Manufacturer

The latest news from the IT sector.

New release of Dynamics AX offers ‘mixed mode’ and better handling of lean
Anticipated to be released in August, the latest version of Microsoft’s popular AX-badged Dynamics ERP system— Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012—is expected to contain a number of features likely to be of great interest to manufacturers.

With the release just weeks away, Microsoft White Papers and blog postings from the company’s executives are providing tantalising glimpses of what the future holds. So what do we know? According to insiders, Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 will allow companies to run process and discrete manufacturing models in a single solution. What’s more, the mixed mode capability will also permit manufacturers to better model the implementation of lean manufacturing practices in the way best suited to their own individual circumstances.

Specifically, they will be able to model and execute lean manufacturing production flows so as to reduce delivery lead times, trim excess inventory between work centres, treat contract labour as a service—not a Bill of Materials component—and better define kanban rules to view, plan, and run kanban jobs.

A new operations resource model will also enable companies to efficiently use resources at multiple locations. What’s more, they will be able to schedule the resources—vendors, people, machines, tools, or locations—that are particular to individual jobs and operations based on their capabilities, with a scheduling engine handling resource selection.

Other features include pricing enhancements to manage mass changes, smart rounding rules based on currency and amount, and translation of prices in multiple currencies based on a reference price list.

When exactly in August will it be released? Now that we don’t know.

Plex Systems continues to achieve in cloud computing
The provider of the Plex Online service was awarded the top prize in the ‘Best Operations Management Solution’ supercategory at the annual Software & Information Industry Association awards evening.

Plex Online was also awarded ‘Best Business/Competitive Intelligence Solution’, and was named a finalist in the Best Cloud Management Solution and the Best Supply Chain Management Solution categories.

The CODiE Awards are presented annually by the Software & Information Industry Association to showcase the industry’s finest products and services, while honouring excellence in corporate achievement. CODiE is an acronym that combines CODE with the symbol for information (‘i’), and represents the event’s focus on the software and digital industries.

Plex Systems CEO and president Mark Symonds was present to accept the awards on behalf of the company. On receiving them, he said: “We are extremely proud to receive the top recognition in the ‘Best Operations Management Solution’ category, given the strong nominees in all the CODiEs categories, [and] we are especially pleased to have been recognized in four separate categories as Plex Online is designed to assist manufacturers in meeting business needs across all departments and business functions.”

Relationship between Siemens PLM and Daimler AG renewed
Siemens PLM has announced a new 10-year contract with car manufacturer Daimler AG. It entails a commitment to Siemens PLM Software and its products a pledge to an extensive rollout for the replacement of its current computer-aided design (CAD) environment with new NX software.

As part of the worldwide 10-year agreement, Daimler AG will begin using Siemens PLM Software’s technology in its first vehicle series beginning in 2012. Siemens PLM Software will begin enabling Daimler’s network of suppliers in July 2011. Daimler’s overall objective is to improve the support of its business processes by implementing a seamlessly integrated CAD suite.

Professor Alfred Katzenbach, information technology management research and development at Mercedes Benz Cars said: “Our 10- year agreement reinforces the clear objective of Daimler AG to use the most advanced technology in the industry to deliver unsurpassed quality products to our customers.” “Our objective is to further improve the support of our business processes by implementing a seamlessly integrated CAD suite,” he added.

“Daimler’s clear commitment and implementation plan for NX highlights the enhanced strategic relationship we initially announced in November 2010 and underscores the long-term relationship that we’re both looking for in this union,” said Chuck Grindstaff, president and chief technology officer, Siemens PLM Software.

Tower Automotive benefits from Preactor’s APS technology
Preactor has announced that that is has helped to deliver significant benefits Tower Automotive’s Malacky plant.

A significant part of the Tower Group’s growth has been the Preactor Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS) system first implemented by Preactor and QAD partner Minerva.

Minerva representatives in the Czech Republic and Slovakia recommended Preactor to the Tower Automotive plant in Malacky to accompany its new QAD ERP system. This system was also implemented by Minerva.

Previously the company had been using Microsoft Excel to make plans, which had numerous disadvantages including involving a highly labour intensive process.

Tower Automotive planning and purchasing manager Marian Szabo said: “In retrospect, I see the fact that production was launched along with the planning as very positive. It was a great advantage for us in terms of time saved, with the preparation of data for planning and launching of new items being evenly distributed in time.” Previously the planner used to spend up to 10 hours per day with the preparation of just one plan. Now the complete planning process takes only one hour a day. The most impressive benefit has been the reduction in stock turnover, which used to be 25 days and is now only nine days.

Mike Novels, Preactor CEO, commented on the long term success achieved at the plant: “A key strength of Preactor is its ability to enable and enhance existing investments in ERP and this is an excellent example of Preactor working in harmony with QAD to deliver sustained, combined benefits. We share the company’s optimism looking to its future and expanded use of Preactor.”

Planit releases software to help users with their MRP data
The latest release of the Javelin advanced production planning and control software from Planit marks the beginning of a drive to help users make even better use of their MRP information.

Javelin general manager Paul Holmes said that while all users of the MRP engine generally agree it’s a powerful tool, the introduction of the MRP tree view and the latest addition of the MRP Action Plan (MAP) in Javelin takes the concept even further.

“When you’re on a sales order line within Sales Order Maintenance, you can use the MAP button to simply drill down into how that sales line is planned to be fulfilled. It not only displays the works orders that will provide the product, but can drill further to see where the materials or components for those orders are expected to come from,” he explained.

Other features of the new software include an ‘Eagle Eye’ facility which gives a quick overview of the status of colour-coded selected machines.

There is also a new Request for Quotation facility whereby enquiries can be raised with suppliers about the price of any number of parts or amounts of raw material. These can then be emailed and progressed in the same way as a conventional purchase order. Suppliers can also supply the information in a spreadsheet, which can then be imported directly back into Javelin.

SAP named Business Intelligence market leader
The enterprise software company has been named worldwide market share leader in Business Intelligence, analytics and performance management software by software analyst Gartner.

The combined Business Intelligence (BI) market encompasses BI platforms, corporate performance management (CPM) suites, analytic applications and performance management. Gartner reports that SAP ranks number one, with a 23% share of the worldwide market based on revenue. This reflects a 16.8% growth from 2009.

Steve Lucas, general manager of Business Analytics at SAP said: “We believe our performance – which is ahead of the market growth rate – demonstrates how customers are looking to SAP as a trusted business partner.” “Not only do we bring innovative technologies to market, we also help customers apply them to solve their business challenges. Our technology and business expertise enable customers to go beyond what they seek to achieve,” he added.

SAP held its World Tour UK in Twickenham in May, where delegates heard how technology will help drive innovation by bringing clarity, enabling optimal performance and sustained growth.

Gartner commented that the recession had a major impact on markets, and for a period of time, especially in 2009, it immobilized them. While IT spending overall was negative during that time, the BI market managed to grow 4.2 percent in 2009. In 2010, the global resurgence from stimulus packages, general improvement in the wider economy and new product releases contributed to a surge in spending. As a result, BI software growth accelerated to 13.4 percent in 2010.

While BI spending far surpassed IT budget growth overall for several years, it‘s now obvious that BI continues to be a at the center of information-driven initiatives, claimed Gartner.

Sony Ericsson switches to PTC
Mobile phone manufacturer Sony Ericsson has switched its CAD and data management products to PTC Creo/Pro and Windchill 10.0.

Implementation has begun in Sweden and will be finished by summer.

The company has done this in order to standardize their global platforms for mechanical and electronic design, with the changeover also facilitating the use of PTC as a PDM solution.

In the past, the company has used Pro/Engineer at its design centres in China and Japan, while in Sweden and the United States they have made use of Siemens PLM Software’s competing NX.

PTC’s director of electronics & high tech industry vertical, Mårten Gustafsson said: “Product development of smartphones and mobile phones are today under extremely heavy pressure.” “Complexity is increasing, while the model’s lifecycles become shorter and the demands of consumers for individual variants will be greater. It is in light of the tougher climate that Sony Ericsson has chosen to standardize their platforms to more effectively manage and collaborate around product data,” he added.

Such major changes in company’s software use are relatively rare, so this is seen by many as extremely noteworthy for those in the manufacturing sector.