The latest news from the IT sector.
Strong demand for free planning tool
Advanced planning and scheduling specialist Preactor International has revealed that several hundred companies have already downloaded and activated its new entry level solution, Preactor Express.
Available since January 4th 2010, Preactor Express is aimed at providing smaller companies with access to what it calls ‘next generation’ planning and scheduling functionality, and is based on the company’s latest version of its flagship product Preactor 11.
Completely free of charge, and supported by training videos, Preactor Express comes with a perpetual license, renewable annually. The only drawback? In contrast to Preactor’s ‘paid for’ products, Preactor Express lacks the ability to plan and schedule around multiple constraints, being limited to a single constraint. The ability to configure the underlying database is also restricted.
Nevertheless, Preactor executives stress that the free tool is perfectly adequate for the needs of many smaller manufacturers presently using spreadsheets or outdated planning tools — who they hope will move up to the ‘paid for’ Preactor products as they grow and expand.
“We are delighted but not surprised by the tremendous response to the launch of Preactor Express,” says Mike Novels, CEO of Preactor International.
“Smaller companies face a unique range of challenges and opportunities, and Preactor Express gives these manufacturers the best possible chance to gain agility, visibility and competitive advantage.”
BSW Timber chops inventory with Infor SCM Demand Planning
Berwickshire-based BSW Timber, the UK’s largest saw-milling business, has selected Infor SCM Demand Planning to reduce inventory, improve customer service levels, and more tightly manage the seasonal peaks and troughs in demand for its products.
The move comes after rapid growth through acquisition and escalating customer demands had placed the company’s existing spreadsheet based planning system under pressure. Infor SCM Demand Planning is intended to increase visibility of the company’s 6000 SKUs which span fencing, decking, pallets and cladding for large DIY retailers, builders’ merchants and specialist outlets. Combined with improved accuracy in its demand forecasts, this will help to reduce inventory and cut costs, while delivering better stock availability.
“The acquisition of a number of additional production sites, combined with continued pressure to meet escalating customer service level agreements, has added complexity to our supply chain in recent years,” says Howard Jones, financial director at BSW Timber. “Infor SCM Demand Planning will provide us with better visibility of customer demand, while maximising efficiency and helping us to plan for the seasonality which is inherent in our industry.”
Aston Martin selects Siemens PLM
After spending two years extensively analysing the Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software market, British sports car maker Aston Martin has selected a PLM solution from Siemens PLM Software.
“The increasing complexity of vehicles, coupled to fastchanging economic conditions, are forcing automakers to re evaluate their existing PLM applications to align with the best available in the market,” notes Sanjeev Pal, a PLM analyst at IDC.
Accordingly, Aston Martin is standardising its global sports car development process around the Siemens NX CAD platform for product design, and Siemens Teamcenter software for PLM—thereby combining integrated computer aided design, manufacturing and engineering analysis with award-winning workflow, enterprise-wide information sharing, and rapid information dissemination.
“Luxury automotive manufacturers like Aston Martin must make their product decisions earlier and more efficiently in today’s marketplace,” says Chuck Grindstaff, president and chief technology officer at Siemens PLM Software. “This company wide deployment will enable Aston Martin to drive productivity improvements, create common processes and deliver enhanced global collaboration for product design and development.”
Marshall Aerospace re-engineers with Epicor
Cambridge-based Marshall Aerospace has selected Epicor 9 as the ERP solution to underpin its business during an enterprise-wide business re-engineering project.
With an annual turnover of over £250m, 1,800 staff and over 80 years of experience in the aviation engineering and support industry, Marshall is one of the UK’S largest aircraft maintenance, engineering and operations companies. Epicor will replace a ten year old finance system, as well as many of the functions of an internally-developed system which has been evolved over the last 20 years. A core team of seven business managers from across Marshall Aerospace will work full-time on the project, along with two IT consultants.
On completion, Epicor will take over all human resource, purchasing, inventory, warehousing, sales processing and project management functions across the business.
Additionally, within the company’s aerostructures and systems division, Epicor will also be providing full manufacturing functionality to enable the production and management of medium-volume manufacturing runs— something that the division has not had before.
“This is a huge business transformation project for Marshall Aerospace,” says Alan Paul, Marshall’s head of information technology and security. “It will not only unify our systems and processes across the organisation, but provide an ERP platform to support our long term strategic goals in line with our ‘Horizon 2020’ company-wide growth strategy.”
NEC Display Systems goes live with BOARD
To meet the needs of a dynamic and competitive market, computer monitor manufacturer NEC Display Solutions has implemented a supply chain monitoring solution from specialist business intelligence and performance management vendor BOARD in order to monitor its global supply chain.
The move followed a realisation that the company needed a flexible planning and reporting solution to map and consolidate its planning modules across a global environment. NEC had previously been using spreadsheets, which had disadvantages in the areas of data consistency, security, collaboration and the merging of planning data.
BOARD was selected after carefully vetting over 20 other solution vendors, and the solution is now the central global planning, forecasting and analysis environment for the business, providing transparency across the supply chain and balancing sales demand with inventory management.
“Thanks to BOARD we were able to replace an Excel based sales and purchasing system with a database supported operational planning and reporting system,” says Andreas Grossmann, senior controller in NEC’s finance division. “BOARD convinced us primarily due to the ability to map integrated planning workflows in a way that is descriptive and interactive.”
SAP reveals bumper financial year
Boosted by three new ranges of ERP software aimed at smaller manufacturers — including its cloud-based offering solution SAP Business ByDesign — enterprise software giant SAP has announced record revenues for 2010 “We finished 2010 with the highest fourth quarter for software revenue in our history,” says SAP chief financial officer Werner Brandt. Software revenues for the year were €3.27bn, an increase of 25% on 2009, while service revenues were up 19% at €9.79bn. Total revenues were up 17% at €12.46bn.
But full year 2010 operating profit was €2.59bn, unchanged on the year due to restructuring charges of €198m and an increase of €980m in provisions for the litigation it faces in the United States, where the company stands accused of stealing propriety information from Oracle.
“Our results prove that SAP is back to being a growth company,” said Bill McDermott, Co CEO of SAP. “We showed rock solid revenue across the globe, particularly in the fast growing emerging markets where customers still have the most choice and are rapidly expanding their businesses.”