A look at some of the stories making the news in the IT world.
Epicor helps Benson Group quadruple output
Benson Group, one of the UK’s fastest growing packaging manufacturers, will extend its use of the Epicor Manufacturing ERP solution and Epicor Advanced Planning and Scheduling to its packaging plant in Crewe, Cheshire.
Additionally, Benson has achieved a four-fold increase in production output at its flagship manufacturing facility in Bardon, Leicestershire, which is underpinned by the Epicor solution.
In its eight year relationship with Epicor, Benson Group has grown from a single-site £10m business to one of the UK’s largest manufacturers of folding cartons, with 2009 revenue expected to reach £90-£95m.
Through Advanced Planning and Scheduling, Benson Group has been able to achieve a higher utilisation of its manufacturing lines, reduced downtime between jobs and ready make times, by ensuring cut and finishing operations based on the same die board are scheduled to run in sequence.
“Epicor has been an instrumental element to achieving the success we enjoy today through greater efficiency in our processes and sites,” said Phil Towersey, IT manager at Benson Group. “For example, our accounts team is the same size as it was eight years ago, despite a huge increase in our revenues.”
Vantage Industries implements Solarsoft ERP
Vantage Industries, the coated fabrics manufacturer, has purchased Solarsoft’s iVP ERP software to manage its inventory, purchase order processes and entire supply chain.
The implementation of Solarsoft’s iVP system will also provide Vantage with full remote access, Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) integration with suppliers and the ability to manage all inbound and outbound deliveries in a timely and accurate fashion.
Since August 2009 Vantage has been an independent company, manufacturing coated and non-slip fabrics, primarily PVC-coated polyester and EVA-coated substrates. The products are designed for a variety of commercial and residential applications and are marketed directly to retailers, distributors and individual consumers.
Bob Waddell, Vice President of Vantage Industries, said: “After we established ourselves as an independent company, we needed to construct our own infrastructure from the ground up and unite the various business functions. Solarsoft iVP will be the lifeblood of our business, and the stability, security and high levels of support that come with it allow us to have complete confidence in our business processes.
“It is intended that Solarsoft iVP will manage our entire business from end-to-end — from the 50+ sales staff in the field having instant and secure remote access to the CRM system and quoting module, to the incoming purchase orders and EDI being balanced with our stock inventory and supply chain, right through to the picking and packaging of the outbound deliveries.”
Mid-market companies Flex their way to SOA
Infor announced an increase in customer demand for the latest versions of its software through the Infor Flex Program.
Approximately 200 customers have cost-effectively contracted to upgrade or exchange their existing Infor solutions to software that can utilize Infor Open SOA (service-oriented architecture) since the program’s announcement in June 2009. Infor Flex enables qualifying customers with active maintenance contracts to upgrade from an existing Infor solution to the latest version of that software or to exchange an Infor solution to a more robust system which may take advantage of innovations through Infor’s Open SOA technology. In addition to supplementary modules and complementary applications, Infor Open SOA enables customers to deploy new components, which provide innovative functionality across multiple solutions. Such components from Infor will aggregate data across various aspects of the business and improve operations in the areas of business intelligence, accounting and strategic planning.
“Customers have made it clear that they expect more from their software vendor than solutions that do not grow with their business and must be ripped out and replaced through a prolonged, expensive and risky implementation,” said Dennis Michalis, corporate senior vice president, Infor. “The success of the Infor Flex Program highlights our unique approach to software upgrades that provides transparency up front, mitigating the risk of an implementation that runs over on time or budget.”
Siemens supports research in the field of seismic risk
Siemens PLM Software announced an in-kind software grant, with a commercial value of nearly €28,000, to support EUCENTRE’s research program devoted to the reduction of seismic risk around the world.
EUCENTRE (European Center for Training and Research in Earthquake Engineering) uses Siemens PLM Software’s solutions for modelling and analysis, aiming to define the seismic behaviour of single structures, and to validate simplified models for evaluation of large scale seismic risk. Through EUCENTRE’s use of Siemens PLM Software’s technology, scientific progress is possible in the fields of seismic engineering and seismology, which in turn provides a concrete basis for the development of emergency plans and the improvement of intervention strategies and policies.
“Siemens PLM Software develops and nurtures partnerships that provide significant value for academic institutions, youth / displaced workers development programs, Regional Productivity Partnerships, Partners for the Advancement of Collaborative Engineering Education (PACE) and our global communities,” said Hulas King, director of Siemens PLM Software ‘s GO PLM & Global Community Relations. “We partner with academic institutions to increase the skills of the work force, introduce the most advanced technologies and improve PLM processes. We are proud to team with Eucentre’s strong leaders and University of Pavia’s gifted students to reduce seismic risk on a global basis.”
SAP gains 3M as new customer
One of the world’s largest brands has selected SAP AG as its enterprise standard software provider to unify its global business processes. 3M is rolling out SAP Business Suite 7 software as it phases out some of its legacy applications at sites around the world. To help ensure business continuity, 3M is taking a phased approach to its deployment of SAP Business Suite 7. First implementations are already under way in Europe and Asia Pacific. In Europe, 3M is in the process of implementing a new demand forecasting and supply planning system leveraging the SAP Advanced Planning & Optimisation component.
“Providing innovative solutions to our customers around the world is our top priority, so we undertook a thorough evaluation to determine the best-suited business software that could further improve customer intimacy, service delivery and power each of our divisions and regions of operations with industry best practices,” said Ernie Park, vice president and chief information officer, 3M. “SAP business solutions will play an important enabling role in unifying core processes globally and supporting our ongoing strategy of meeting customer needs wherever they are. We expect the SAP deployment to provide significant value to 3M in the coming years.”
Virtualisation management solutions lead to growth for Vizioncore
Vizioncore Inc, a specialist in virtualisation data protection and management solutions, announced that its solutions have been adopted by more than 20,000 customers globally.
Vizioncore’s recently launched Backup 2.0 thought leadership program is designed to help companies understand how products like vRanger Pro are transforming data protection, making it more effective and comprehensive, and lowering the total cost of ownership. In addition, vFoglight has been deployed to date by more than 5,000 customers to date. In 2009, vOptimizer Pro, Vizioncore’s storage optimisation and reclamation tool, became the fastest-growing product in the company’s history.
“Virtualisation management providers like Vizioncore continually impress us with truly innovative solutions that customers need to get the fullest value from their implementations,” said Lauren Whitehouse, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group.”These solutions also set the stage for virtualisation to take over the data center, resulting in more cost-effective and efficient IT across the board.”
Lanner launches PRISM Forensics
Lanner, the business process improvement company, announced the launch of the ‘Forensics’ module of its specialised police simulation software, PRISM.
This follows on from the ‘SWIM’ (Scientific Support Work Improvement Model) programme, delivered in conjunction with Home Office Police Standard Unit (PSU). This work resulted in a report deemed to be “the most significant report into forensic science of the past decade” by senior police scientists.
Following the success of SWIM and the implementation of a series of PRISM modules for Call Handling, Incident Response and Custody Management, Lanner has launched the PRISM Forensics module. This tool has been designed using the PRISM ‘quick-start’ software architecture — enabling the module to be configured to the needs of any force quickly, without the need to invest time and money building a process model to enable decision making from scratch.
Ernie Brummitt, head of Performance Analysis at Nottinghamshire Police, said: “PRISM can drill down into the processes and highlight the bottlenecks which can inhibit the ability to maximise resources. PRISM’s ability to map out scenarios, based on multiple dynamic variables in order to build a business case, is invaluable.”
Hadley Group chooses Infor for performance management
Infor announced that Hadley Group, one of Europe’s largest privately owned cold rolled steel manufacturers, has extended its portfolio of Infor solutions with an investment in Infor PM 10 (Performance Management) software.
Hadley Group will deploy PM10 for more agile budgeting and forecasting within its manufacturing sites in the UK and Germany in early 2010, and later roll it out to staff in Dubai and Thailand. Beyond performance management, The Hadley Group is also piloting an upgrade from Infor ERP Baan 5 to Infor ERP LN, the latest version of Baan. This is currently being conducted in a test environment in the UK before adopting and rolling out to other sites.
“In the current economic climate, moving to a rolling three month budgeting schedule, as opposed to analysing out-of-date annual plans, makes perfect sense for better business planning. Our adoption of PM 10 goes hand in hand with a change in our culture as we shift focus from a constant, time intensive analysis of our financial information to management by exception,” explains Mike Collier, business systems manager, Hadley Group.
Micro-Apps by Seal Consulting
SAP AG announced details of a customer deployment of “micro-apps” that uses Google Gadgets technology to bring the business value of SAP software to more users.
Developed by SAP partner, Seal Consulting Inc., the enterprise desktop notification (EDN) micro-app is optimising processes and improving customer service at Archean Group, an Indian conglomerate with businesses from chemicals and mining to renewable energy, shipping and shipbuilding.
Micro-apps are small applications, or gadgets, delivered into browsers or mobile-devices that extend the functionality of enterprise applications to broader groups of users, specific to their roles and requirements. Seal Consulting’s EDN micro-app extends the wealth of information and business events processed by SAP applications to non-SAP users via Google Gadgets technology. Users simply deploy a gadget front-end on the desktops to receive direct and non-intrusive workflow and alert notifications.
Aero Sense Technologies uses SolidWorks Enterprise PDM
SolidWorks Enterprise PDM (product data management) software is enabling a UK-based aerospace design firm to collaborate across 14 time zones without worrying about mixing up versions or losing important ideas and modifications between sites.
Aero Sense Technologies purchased 25 seats of SolidWorks Enterprise PDM software to coordinate operations between its production facility in Sri Lanka and its design sites in Exeter and Los Angeles. SolidWorks Enterprise PDM software stores CAD models and supporting documents — anything from documents to images — in an indexed central repository. Secure access and built-in audit functions protect data from accidental and deliberate damage while tracking who accesses design data, what they changed, and when.
“We need robust data management and revision control between our three sites. Working from a common data model in SolidWorks Enterprise PDM gives us the control and functionality to maintain our documents’ integrity,” said Aero Sense Technologies Senior Mechanical Engineer Ashley Roy.
“There are many different document formats involved in product development: SolidWorks files, Word documents and other CAD files, among others. SolidWorks Enterprise PDM creates a common environment that enables our staffs to collaborate while maintaining authoritative versions of documents and data models.”
Preactor announces partnership with QAD
Preactor International announced a partnership agreement with QAD Inc., a provider of enterprise software and services for global manufacturers, to offer its solutions to QAD customers.
QAD’s Enterprise Applications solutions provide the functionality manufacturing companies need to manage resources and operations. Preactor International has over 16 years experience in the advanced planning and scheduling market and its products are installed at over 3,000 companies, making it one of the most installed APS solutions on the market today.
Said Mike Novels, CEO of Preactor International: “In today’s challenging market companies are looking for help to manage resources more effectively in situations where both supply and demand are uncertain. Working with QAD, Preactor aims to deliver this help.”
Perceptions about design technology hampering growth
A survey from Autodesk, polling the views and opinions of more than 100 senior decision-makers working for mainstream manufacturing companies in the UK, finds that these companies see increasing margins (48%), improving quality (30%) accelerating speed to market (29%) as the three most important drivers of business growth.
The most important barrier identified is the cost involved in achieving this growth (highlighted by 62% of respondents), followed by market conditions (cited by 58%). 83% of those surveyed felt that it would take a rise of more than 10% in annual investment in design technology solutions to achieve ‘improved margins’ while 37% felt that an increase of more than 50% in annual investments would be required to deliver ‘accelerated speed to market’. 33% thought that a similar increase would be the minimum needed to attain ‘reduced product development costs’ (ranked as the fourth most important growth driver).
“This emphasis on cost is significant, particularly when you consider that manufacturers believe that the same commercial drivers seen as critical to their growth will also require the largest increases in design technology investment to achieve,” says Amina West, sales director, Autodesk Manufacturing Solutions, Northern Europe.