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Since the late ‘90s, SAP and Oracle have dominated On-Premise ERP in the large, Tier-1 manufacturing enterprises, but primarily as the ERP system at the corporate level. They have not been that successful in being implemented in the next tier, the Tier-2 small and medium sized plants. Therefore, most of what is written about Tier-2 ERP understandably discusses different types of solutions being considered for the large enterprises’ next tiers’ plants and divisions—and how they will integrate with these larger, Tier-1, corporate systems. As late as 2009, Gartner reported only On-Premise ERP software vendors in their Tier-2 ERP magic quadrant. The adoption of Cloud ERP is gaining momentum and that quadrant will change significantly over the next five years. If one still believes in the “old school thinking” that one ERP software vendor will be installed in every plant, one is aligned with SAP’s view of this market: SAP at the corporate facility with SAP Business by Design or SAP Business One in the Tier 2 plants. If one believes that Cloud ERP software will dominate, they agree with NetSuite, a Cloud ERP vendor, which has trumpeted much about Tier-2 ERP. They have a different view:SAP or Oracle at the corporate level with Cloud ERP in the Tier-2 plants. Indeed, NetSuite is not shy to promote the virtues of such 2-Tiered ERP because they recognize that SAP’s view is no longer the commonly held view and they believe their ERP can support some of those Tier-2 distribution and very light assembly plants. What is really happeningOf surprise to some, but not to the majority that really understand what is occurring in the ERP and manufacturing world, is that the customers do not want these next tiers to emulate that which they already have at the corporate level. Instead, they hope that the next-generation solutions on the Cloud are different. Indeed, Tier-2 and even Tier-3 Cloud ERP vendors are making inroads in large corporations because those vendors whose names appeared in the 2009 Gartner Magic Quadrant don’t have a multi-tenant Cloud ERP offering. Because of this, the market can expect an entirely new set of software packages to emerge over the next five years. Packages will be created to fill the demand for customers wanting to implement ERP projects at divisional plants in smaller doses and for varying niches. These packages will adopt a Cloud ERP best-of-breed approach. Customers will prefer them in their overall best-of-breed ecosystems because of their lower costs and smaller risks associated with Cloud ERP implementations. Why best-of-breed is so important  In many of these corporations, the Tier-2 plants are not necessarily in the same industries or businesses as the core business. They may be distribution sites, engineer to order divisions, configure to order companies, build to order facilities, job shops, machine shops, re-manufacturing, disassembly and even process manufacturing plants. It’s not been decided—some would say doubtful—that an SAP Business by Design, a NetSuite or any other single ERP software solution, Cloud or On-Premise, could support such a variety of manufacturing and distribution companies. What we have learned over the past 20 years, since Lee Wylie of Gartner coined the phrase ERP in the early 1990s, is that no one software ERP package can address all manufacturing and distribution operations. Therefore, customers must consider the selection of the top best-of-breed ecosystem that offers more than one type of ERP software package. An alternative standardConsider that large corporations will be contemplating Tier-2 Cloud ERP software versus Tier-2 On-Premise software in their small and medium sized plants as we embark on this new Cloud Computing Era. For those large corporations that want Cloud ERP solutions that are a better fit for their various types of plants and that want less dependency on a single vendor, here are two alternate ways to look at Tier-2 ERP:SAP or Oracle at the corporate center with a Private Cloud ERP solution at the Tier 2 plants; or,SAP or Oracle at the corporate center with one or more Public Cloud ERP solutions in the Tier-2 plants, especially on a Public Cloud platform that has one or more Cloud ERP solutions that can be installed in different types of manufacturing and distribution plants and still be integrated to the core at Corporate. Which makes most sense?  As the best-of-breed approach begins demonstrating that it truly is the superior method, the latter option will be the choice for most. The Public Cloud solution at the plant level will become more and more popular for larger corporations. That’s because standardization for the Tier-2 plants won’t necessarily be on a single ERP solution but, rather, on a few ERP solutions, all part of a community of a Public Cloud. But, here’s the big question. Which Public Cloud will have the most serious business applications for these plants? There are several things to consider. Integration between corporate centers and clouds will be a key consideration, and there are only so many cloud ecosystems that will enjoy corporate sponsorship. As Salesforce is becoming the de facto standard for CRM in the Cloud and Workday strives to become the de facto standard for HR in the Cloud, corporate centers will be integrating with these clouds. Projecting into the future, given that On-Premise SAP or Oracle combined with the Cloud Salesforce CRM and Workday HR are all to be considered corporate systems, how should one evaluate their Cloud ERP Tier-2 package(s) for their small and medium sized plants that will need to communicate to all of these corporate systems? While there are other public cloud platforms that are emerging such as Amazon and Google, large corporate buyers have already made commitments to the Salesforce CRM and the Salesforce platform. Thus, a natural extension for most large companies will be to consider one or more Cloud ERP solutions on the Salesforce cloud, especially since they know there will be even more software solutions on this platform in the future that are integrated seamlessly to their Salesforce CRM and Salesforce Case Management systems. How can we be so sure?Public Cloud ERP solutions are gaining popularity and will continue to gain in credibility and cost-effectiveness as more solutions surface. Once organizations are convinced best-of-breed aspects of the Public Cloud provide superior user experiences versus the old single-sourced ERP system of the past, this will incite more companies to deploy a Public Cloud ERP solution. Most people will agree that Salesforce is becoming a popular public cloud platform. Salesforce CRM is already in most of the large corporations. The company boasts of having 100,000+ customers. They are only now beginning more significant promotions of Force.com, their Public Cloud platform. As Salesforce becomes better known as the best Public Cloud platform vendor, in the same way they are now recognized for Salesforce CRM, they will increase the awareness of the benefits of the Public Cloud as a platform. Having a plethora of software applications ideally suited for many businesses combined with their software vendors integrating one package to another will create an abundance of successful case histories. Today, unlike a few years ago, there are Public Cloud ERP software applications that can support small and medium sized businesses. The number is growing. If all these different cloud vendors, on Salesforce, have the same look and feel, are within the same cloud community, and adhere to the same standards for integration, this will be a very important criterion for the selection of Cloud ERP solutions to support the variety of corporate Tier-2 plants. This is especially true if those Cloud ERP solutions are superior in functionality to their Private Cloud ERP competition. Pat Garrehy is the founder, president and CEO for Rootstock Software and has an extensive background as a software architect and engineer. With more than 30 years of management, sales and technical experience, Garrehy brings a unique blend of analytical focus and business savvy to the table.
When you're watching news, sports, or entertainment programming—whether on a TV, the web, or a mobile device—you’re watching Grass Valley at work in today's connected world. For more than 50 years, the Grass Valley name has been synonymous with innovation, leadership, and performance. Providing a comprehensive portfolio spanning a wide range of sophisticated imaging, video and media solutions, Grass Valley customers include most of the world's leading broadcasters, teleproduction facilities, and service providers, as well as independent video professionals who rely on their products to cover the world's most high-profile live events. As the premiere video technology solutions company, Grass Valley knows what it takes to keep up with the fast pace of technology advancements, customer requirements and a global workforce. With an aging component database and a Product Data Management (PDM) system that eventually was announced End of Life (EOL) the company had to find a new way to support their complex product lifecycle requirements. Grass Valley needed a next generation solution to automate engineering change and Bill of Material (BOM) management, as well as streamline their engineering and manufacturing processes. A team comprised of Engineering and IT staff set out to find the ideal Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solution. “We started with a benchmark of about eight to ten possible PLM solutions,” said Gerard Meijer, manager of Digital Hardware and Layout. “Besides the functional requirements, our main goals were to find an off- the-shelf solution that did not require customizations, was easy to use and offered a good price to performance ratio.” A few additional PLM requirements included out-of-the-box integration with their existing CAD (Computer Aided Design) tools from Mentor Graphics, bi-directional integration with their manufacturing systems and an internally developed engineering database, plus an easy to use and browser independent interface for their manufacturing floor.  “All possible solutions were compared on a score card and Omnify Empower PLM was the best possible solution for us,” added Meijer. Even though Grass Valley had 20 years of legacy data to migrate into the new Empower PLM system, all parties worked closely together to make it a smooth transition. “The total project was complete in only six months, mainly due to the development of migration scripts, which was performed in small iterative steps to ensure a correct full migration of all of the legacy data,” said Meijer. “During the project, the support from Omnify Software and the local integrator, InnoFour, was prompt and to the point.” Grass Valley now has highly automated and integrated processes for ECR’s (Engineering Change Requests) and CQ’s (Component Qualifications). Empower PLM provides Grass Valley with the ability to easily search for information, view a complete hierarchical BOM list, and deliver automatic notifications on changes. The company is able to share pertinent development information (such as attribute values, BOMs, drawings, and repair sheets) across their entire enterprise by integrating Design, Manufacturing and the factory floor via Empower PLM. In addition, Grass Valley has opened the Empower PLM system to their Contract Manufacturer (CM). Their CM has full, yet controlled access to product documentation, BOMs, and ECOs and is included in the automated process flows. “This collaborative environment has resulted in consistent and complete datasets for the various types of items through the integrated CQ process, an early and direct involvement of our Contract Manufacturer during the ECR process, and shorter lead-times for both the ECR and CQ process,” said Meijer. “Furthermore, centralized product content eliminates having to transfer data via emails or an FTP site and thus reduces mistakes, time and effort. *Grass Valley works with Omnify Software Authorized Reseller, InnoFour, for ongoing training and support services.
It’s a new era in manufacturing. From increased global competition to compressed margins and volatile pricing, today’s market pressures are intense. Not only do they threaten profitability and growth, these rapidly evolving pressures are also forcing manufacturers to reexamine their entire systems. Efficiency is no longer a goal; it is an absolute necessity. Manufacturers are finding that a new paradigm of problem solving is also required. It’s the mindset that allows a company to go the extra step in the quest to be more agile, responsive and attuned to customer needs. Without an innovative approach to system-wide improvement, manufacturers run the risk of being surpassed by fast-acting competitors who seize emerging opportunities. This heightened competitive pressure is just one of the factors driving a new emphasis on technology’s role in process improvement. Not only can next generation ERP solutions speed processes, they also allow personnel—from C-level executives to line foremen—to be more strategic in their activities and decisions. By eliminating wasted steps, redundancies and gaps in communication, employees can focus on innovation, collaboration and building intimate relationships with customers. ERP solutions also must stretch far beyond the company’s walls and involve more than just internal budget planning and financial reports. Now they must include collaborating with customers, managing co-manufacturers and contractors and extending new value-added services. They also involve just-in-time relationships with suppliers, continuous connectivity with stakeholders, on-demand access to supply chains and engineered-to-order customizations for clients. To keep up with these ever-changing market conditions, manufacturers need flexible technology solutions that improve operational performance. Make smarter decisions, fasterFocusing on the physical manufacturing process is no longer enough. Today, manufacturers must also look at refining thought processes. Personnel must make smarter decisions faster. Executives must also be confident those decisions are accurate, strategically sound and comply with the corporate vision. Next-generation ERP solutions provide contextual decision-making tools that push relevant data to users, rather than relying on personnel to instigate a search. This helps speed response time and guides users to follow best practices. The consumerization of IT is infiltrating manufacturing. Personnel come to the plant expecting to find tools that look and act like the websites, smart phones and tablets they use at home. Highly powerful integrated mobile solutions certainly help manufacturers achieve higher performance. Managers may be on the shop floor, in meetings, coordinating activities and overseeing a wide variety of tasks across the plant. To be responsive to fast-changing demands, personnel must maintain connectivity and continue to have access to critical data—anytime from anywhere. Access to data is one aspect of solving problems quickly. Complex issues often require dialogue. Collaborative tools support these tactics, fueling problem-solving and creative thinking. Thanks to integrated technology, personnel can share schematics, comment on design configurations and jointly review performance data while troubleshooting engineering modifications. This type of creative problem solving and innovative use of employees’ talents are critical for manufacturers today. Only with this mindset that focuses on what is possible—rather than what isn’t—will manufacturers overcome the current market challenges and not just survive—but thrive. Mark Humphlett is director ERP – Industry and Product Marketing at Infor. This article originally appeared in the May 2013 issue of Manufacturing AUTOMATION.
Mechatronic solutions consultant Sean-Patrick Mulherrin of EPLAN previews functionality coming Fall 2013 in Version 2.3 of EPLAN software. A new Preplanning Module interface is shown that bridges the gap between a design concept "napkin" sketch and engineering a complete electromechanical system with drawings. www.eplancanada.com
Dassault Systèmes has launched My.SolidWorks, a free community that provides one single access to any SolidWorks content. My.SolidWorks lets these users tap into the knowledge and experience of two million users and more than 400 value-added resellers in the SolidWorks Community.“My.SolidWorks allows me to quickly find new and old posts to help me with my current job. It makes it much quicker and easier to participate in the community,” said Scott Baugh, CAD administrator, Berry Plastics Corporation. “I can see what folks are asking or talking about right now, and share my ideas and opinions with colleagues.”My.SolidWorks is designed to offer many improvements to the SolidWorks Community, in several different categories: • Experience: My.SolidWorks provides a consolidated view of the latest updates from around the SolidWorks community. The latest blog posts, discussions and videos are presented in an easily digestible format. They can be filtered based on users’ individual needs and interests.• Find: My.SolidWorks lets users search the entire SolidWorks community at once, making it much easier for users to find the tips and insights they need to get the most out of SolidWorks. They can also share what they find with colleagues, peers and friends with the social capabilities built into My.SolidWorks.• Engage: My.SolidWorks makes it easier for new and existing users to engage with the community; stay on top of current design topics, and add their own knowledge and expertise to the discussion. My.SolidWorks is freely available to anyone.
Users of enterprise asset management (EAM) and computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software report low levels of access to these systems through handheld mobile devices, according to a new IFS-sponsored survey of executives from industrial companies with $50 million or more in revenue. Of these executives, 75 per cent report little to no mobile access to data kept in enterprise asset management (EAM) software, computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) or other applications used to manage maintenance and asset data. Only 34 per cent reported using a handheld mobile device to perform work in these systems. According to the research, higher levels of access were reported by respondents using native apps developed by their enterprise software vendor and connecting to the application either through a cloud intermediary or through a direct integration into the application itself. “The study indicates that those who limit remote access to connection solutions like VPN tend to be less likely to report high levels of access and are less likely to be working in the software from a handheld device,” IFS North America vice president for Energy and Asset Management Patrick Zirnhelt said in a statement. “Our own approach includes native Android and iOS apps for any number of different functions and an Android and Microsoft work order management app which is key for the industrial maintenance process. Our full application interface also works on a touchscreen device in Windows 8. By eliminating third-party intermediary tools, companies are in a better position to harness the benefits of mobility.” The study, “Mobility in EAM,” is based on a survey of 200 North American industrial executives. It is available for free download at: http://download.ifsworld.com/studies.
Executives at middle market to large companies are less interested in implementing enterprise resource planning (ERP) software through subscription-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) than on-premise implementations or exploring a private cloud delivery system, a new study says. The study, sponsored by IFS, which examines attitudes and implementation plans of executives at industrial companies with more than $50 million in revenue. It shows that levels of interest for SaaS were relatively low compared to other provisioning systems. The number of respondents saying they were “very interested” in SaaS was a quarter of the number saying they were “very interested” in on-premise. While the majority expressed some degree of familiarity with SaaS, respondents did not indicate they planned to switch to SaaS-based ERP in any numbers. ERP has traditionally been hosted on-premise, which, according to the study, remains as the preferred option among executives. Private cloud, a model that includes a perpetual license to the software combined with a cloud computing deployment dedicated to the single customer, also fared well in the survey. More than 64 per cent of respondents expressed some degree of interest in ERP through private cloud, while only 50 per cent expressed any degree of interest in SaaS ERP. “It is clear that despite the general interest for SaaS solutions, most companies still prefer more traditional delivery methods for ERP,” IFS North America chief technology officer Rick Veague said. “SaaS, private cloud and on-premise implementations each offer their distinct advantages, with SaaS holding more appeal for best of breed solutions than for ERP. This is very much in line with our philosophy and the choices IFS offers between various cloud delivery systems.” The study, “Cloud Hosting Preferences for ERP Software,” is based on a survey of 200 North American industrial executives. It is available for free download at: http://download.ifsworld.com/studies.
Almost two-thirds of software-as-a-service (SaaS)/cloud ERP users say these systems are better or significantly better than traditional on-premise ERP platforms, according to a new survey of more than 200 North American manufacturing leaders. The survey, “2012 ERP Study: Implementation and Usage Trends for SaaS/Cloud vs. Traditional Systems,” found that 73 per cent of respondents agreed that SaaS/Cloud was either better or significantly better than traditional ERP. In addition to that, Also, 75 percent of SaaS/cloud users express increased customer satisfaction. Ease of use, security and access to mission-critical real-time data, anywhere at any time, were some of the reasons respondents cited for the satisfaction.Conducted by the Manufacturing Performance Institute (MPI) on behalf of Plex Systems Inc., the study assessed implementations of enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, satisfaction with those implementations and the extent to which ERP systems have benefitted organizations.The survey targeted more than 200 manufacturing leaders in North America from food processing, aerospace, defense, electronics and general manufacturing industries. The study analyzed implementations based on the type of system in place. You can download the “2012 ERP Study: Implementation and Usage Trends for SaaS/Cloud vs. Traditional Systems” from the Plex Online Resource Center.  
After more than a decade of controversy, there is now unanimity of thought on many of the benefits and evolution of Cloud ERP. Indeed, today, there is common thinking among business and market analysts, software vendors and system integrators about the role of Cloud ERP. At last, this consensus is finally trickling down to end-users. Before discussing those commonly held beliefs about Cloud ERP, facts that are difficult to refute, let’s quickly review what is meant by Cloud ERP. With Cloud ERP, using the Software as a Service (SaaS) model, users are provided access to ERP software and databases in a newer manner. Instead of managing the infrastructure and platform upon which the ERP software suite runs, the cloud providers do so for them. The end user accesses Cloud ERP via a web browser or mobile app while the software and user’s data are stored on the provider’s servers at a remote location. Thus, an organization can reduce its IT operational costs by outsourcing hardware and software maintenance and support to the cloud provider. In addition, with the ERP system hosted centrally, updates can be released without the need for the users themselves to install new software. Another major benefit of Cloud ERP is that it lets an enterprise get their ERP solutions up and running faster with improved manageability and less maintenance. As a result, Cloud ERP will be one of the most radical, sweeping upgrades in manufacturing technology over the next decade. It will become a major consideration for every manufacturing or supply chain entity. As smart phones have become to the individual businessperson, it is not a question of “if” organizations will adopt a Cloud ERP solution, but “when.” The benefits of Cloud ERP speak for themselves. Cloud ERP deploys faster. It’s easier to use. Access to information is from anywhere, at any time and by any device. Pricing is more attractive because the “up front” costs of typical On-Premise ERP systems are deferred and spread over the life of the use of the software. Companies that implement a Cloud ERP solution are yielding cost reductions in both IT staff and hardware infrastructure. Because of such impressive benefits, the interest in Cloud ERP is growing and installations are multiplying. Who are the early adaptors? Who are the laggards? Those companies that are presently considering the adoption of Cloud ERP are newer companies that are growing and have no On Premise ERP system installed. They are unencumbered by either having to get additional ROI out of a presently-installed system or the fear of change. Today, most of the ERP systems that are installed are On Premise ERP systems. Some will change over sooner than later. The laggards, though, the last to adopt, will be those very large companies that have SAP or ORACLE on premise in the majority of their plants. It is possible that some of these companies, however, could include the next wave of Cloud ERP buyers for their smaller plants in a two-tiered ERP strategy. Ultimately, though, they too will have to consider Cloud ERP as their primary ERP. For those companies using On Premise systems, will they continue to use them? Will there be minimal consideration of a Cloud ERP system until the company encounters one or more of the following? 1. The On Premise ERP system is no longer supported (effectively) by the software vendor. 2. The On Premise ERP system can no longer keep up with the ever-changing technological advancements, such as mobile. 3. The company now has multiple divisions with differing ERP systems that cannot give it the global deployment and integration of systems that it needs. Triggering a cost/benefit analysis for a new enterprise-wide system will often lead to the conclusion that access to and cost to maintain multiple On Premise ERP versions and systems is cost-prohibitive versus a Cloud ERP system. 4. The younger generation of employee users will resist using the archaic On Premise ERP system and demand the benefits of Cloud ERP, blaming their company’s/department’s/employees’ substandard performance on the old ERP. Only time will tell! Pat Garrehy is president & CEO of Rootstock.
Basic Grain Products Inc. is a leading private-label food manufacturer of snack products, including rice cakes, rice crisps, pita chips, soy crisps and potato crisps, sold primarily in the United States and Canada. Basic Grain Product's corporate office is located in Burnaby, British Columbia, and the Company's manufacturing facility is housed in Coldwater, Ohio. On July 1, 2012, Basic Grain Products implemented Syspro ERP, effectively integrating all the Company's business functions into one system, streamlining processes, and generating real-time information across the entire organization. “Before July 1,” says Norman Shung, CFO, “we ran the business on a mixture of different products. The main problem with running the business on a non-integrated system was that our data was stored in multiple places, which impaired our ability to make timely decisions.  Nothing was at our fingertips – when we wanted to know specifics it was very painful to get the information, and it was especially difficult to generate reports. To know how many cases of a particular product were available we had to request a cycle count every time, because our inventory wasn’t in a perpetual system. Before Syspro, our business systems were not perpetual, not live, and not up-to-date.” According to Shung, the Syspro implementation process went very smoothly, with no major glitches or business interruptions. “The real challenges we faced came after the implementation. As is often the case, people are fearful of change, and with Syspro came many changes to both our technology and our business processes. It wasn't long, however, before our employees began to realize how easy it is to access the information they require from SYSPRO. Watching that processes evolve has been inspiring.” One of the most important advantages that Syspro brought to Basic Grain Products was a Perpetual Inventory system. “By connecting the inventory system with Order Entry,” says Shung, “and by continuously updating information on inventory quantity and availability as a function of doing business, our book inventory now gives us an exact image of our real inventory. That gives us a very high degree of control over our inventory, and over its associated costs. It also helps us keep track of our expired product, and makes it much easier to adhere to the FIFO (first in – first out) method, which wasn't being properly managed before. We still have to gather more data, but at least, now, the visibility is there.” Shung is quick to point out that the benefits of Syspro’s Lot Traceability module are crucial for a food manufacturer. “With Lot Traceability, we know exactly which lots were shipped to each customer, and our warehouse employees can fulfill orders from cases that are not in danger of being outdated. In addition, thanks to Syspro, we can now do a mock recall in less than 30 minutes. Before Syspro, pulling and qualifying the information took hours – it was a mountain of paperwork.” Before the implementation, says Shung, no one at Basic Grain Products had a proper understanding of production costing. “Our Bill of Materials and Job Costing used to be manual processes, and we didn't even know our true costs of production. Now, with SYSPRO, we are able to assign more accurate production and overhead costs. Because of that, we've learned that we have better margins than we had previously thought.” Syspro Workflow has allowed Basic Grain Products to implement automated order processing through EDI (Electronic Data Interchange). “We are now on EDI for customer purchase orders and invoices,” says Shung. “Our inbound customers' POs are going through EDI, and we invoice back to the customer through EDI. By automating those functions, we've eliminated a good deal of manual entry. Our customer service clerk is now only validating the information, which has improved our accuracy and saved a tremendous amount of time.” Asked if he can calculate the ROI for Syspro ERP, Shung has no reservations. “Syspro has provided us with a rapid ROI,” he affirms, “but I couldn't begin to quantify it. Quite frankly, the information we get from Syspro is priceless.” Odete Passingham is marketing manager for Syspro Canada.
When Rock Solid Supply opened for business in 2003, owner Mike Brunelle delivered countertops from the back of his Nissan Pathfinder. Encouraged by initial success, Brunelle evolved towards a more sophisticated business model, offering high-quality, mass-produced granite countertops and bathroom cabinets. The company, headquartered in Barrie, Ont., differentiated itself by allowing its customers to mix-and-match colours of wood product with colours of granite, and by offering fixed prices with no surcharges or delivery charges. It was a winning combination – since its inception, the company has grown 30 per cent to 40 per cent per year. Jason Treslove was hired in the spring of 2010 to function as Rock Solid's operations manager. “I was brought on board to manage the company's growth,” says Treslove. “Rock Solid was working to capacity and having problems with organization. When I got here, the operations were being run on QuickBooks, and they had purchased a QuickBooks inventory module called Advanced Pro. I wasn't impressed – they'd spent over $5,000 preparing the information for Advanced Pro, and it still wasn't working.” With 15 years experience in Operations Management and ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems, Treslove had the skills to successfully implement Advance Pro. “As soon as I saw it running, I knew that we needed to upgrade to a different system. QuickBooks is great for a one-man-band, but as a business grows more complex it needs added sophistication.”Rock Solid spent six more months operating on the old system, in order for Treslove to demonstrate its limitations to the owner. “Change can be hard, and it was important to gain the owner's confidence in the decision to move away from Quickbooks,” says Treslove. “I was asking him to make a leap of faith that would determine how the company operates for at least the next 10 to 15 years. We knew going into it that changing the whole operating system would keep us up at night – especially with the company experiencing rapid growth. In February, 2011, we agreed that we needed a change to remain competitive, and that the best way to ensure our future success was to replace the old system with a fully integrated ERP.” The choice came down to Syspro ERP or Microsoft Dynamics NAV. “We compared them both, did our research, and had both companies give us demonstrations,” says Treslove. “It seemed to us that Syspro was able to offer more features and more out-of-the box functionality. That allows a business to get up-and-running quickly, for less cost and effort. With Syspro, you can essentially flip the power switch and run the business. We operated for a full year out of the box, whereas NAV would have required immediate customization.” The system Rock Solid ultimately chose was Syspro ERP. “We appreciated the robustness of Syspro,” says Treslove. “In addition, Syspro had many specific modules I wanted, such as Landed Cost Tracking (which allows you to track shipping and estimate its arrival time), a fail safe accounting system, Sales Analysis by customer and product, as well as Inventory Management and Distribution.” Because of Treslove's familiarity with Syspro, the implementation went smoothly, and Rock Solid did not require outside consultants. “The accounting required some thought,” says Tresolve. “It was more involved than in QuickBooks, but once you understand how an ERP functions, solving problems becomes fairly simple. To make things even easier, Syspro has a phenomenal self-help menu.” One of Treslove's first priorities was to optimize the company's inventory system. “It's critical for us to have accurate, real-time information on our inventory,” says Treslove. “We have several hundred SKUs, and we're always expanding that to increase customer selection. To make things more complicated, we order a lot of our product from overseas, and for some SKUs there's a three-month lead time.” Without proper control, inventories can become large and costly, in terms of capital, operational efficiency, and even business agility. “Inventories tend to grow with sales,” says Treslove, “but despite our own growth we've managed to resist that. We now keep larger quantities of fast-moving SKUs, and fewer of the slow. Whereas we used to store massive amounts of popular items, we now order smaller amounts more frequently. By dramatically increasing our inventory turns, we've reduced our inventory investment substantially. We're able to do that because Syspro anticipates our inventory needs, and keeps us from ordering as a knee-jerk reaction.” With the new inventory system, Rock Solid also enjoys much more accurate open orders. “Before Syspro our purchase orders were made by an e-mail from the owner. Now I can use Syspro to measure supplier performance – I can tell when they have open orders, and I can manage an active priority list using the inventory module.” Syspro has also automated Rock Solid's load planning. “We ship all over Canada,” says Treslove, “but maintain our own fleet of trucks for Ontario. Syspro allows us to break the province into zones, and plan our distribution over a two-week period. This week we're going to Windsor, next week to Ottawa. We can accumulate on a load for two weeks, and when it's ready to go we push a button and receive an automatically generated manifest. Syspro knows where the customers are geographically, what's being sent to them, and the volume of the truck. It sets up our loads accordingly, and we build into the truck using the manifest. That saves on double-handling and makes everyone's life easier. Shipping is a breeze, now, because Syspro does the entire process automatically.” Using the same load planning information, Syspro creates packing labels for Rock Solid's products. “In the past we used a specialized label system,” says Treslove. “Syspro wrote us a custom label program – it was inexpensive and saves us about six to eight man-hours a week.” The new labelling system has improved Rock Solid's order accuracy considerably. “The old way,” says Treslove, “relied on a human bringing information into Excel. The system was fraught with error - we were probably making mistakes on one out of every three orders. Now, because of Syspro, our order accuracy is up to near-perfect levels.” Syspro has also resolved a great deal of confusion around SKU numbers. “There used to be five or six SKU numbers for each item,” says Treslove. “Thanks to Syspro, everybody is now referring to the SKUs with the same information – that's crucial, because the next step is online ordering for our customers.” In the near future, Rock Solid plans to push its technological capabilities towards EDI (electronic data interchange). “Already, we transmit all of our documents electronically,” says Treslove. “All of our order acknowledgements and invoices are sent or faxed right out of Syspro. That's reduced our paper consumption significantly, and lowered labour costs. Even more significantly, we make a private label line, St. Lawrence Cabinets, for Lowes – the second largest hardware store in the U.S. Lowes is very automated and computer savvy, and they're pushing us to take the next steps. Right now we're moving into bar-coding, and soon we'll be matching up our systems through EDI.” According to Treslove, Rock Solid's investment in Syspro has been instrumental in allowing the company to grow and become increasingly profitable. “As a very rough measure of ROI,” says Treslove, “during all our recent growth we've only needed to add one person to our administration staff. But to me, that's not nearly as important as the fact that Syspro lets us keep our finger directly on the pulse of the business. We no longer need to transfer information to Excel and massage it – everything we want to know about our business is at our fingertips. Syspro has given us one-hundred percent confidence in our information, from order intake to final invoicing, and everything in between.” For more information on Rock Solid Supply, please visit: www.rocksolidsupply.com. Odete Passingham is marketing manager for Syspro Canada.
At Autodesk University 2012 in Las Vegas, Luke Mihelcic, Simulation Product Marketing Manager at Autodesk, explains the experience and possibilities of the next generation of simulation tools – Autodesk Simulation 360. The simulation in the cloud service provides: • Full scope flow, thermal, and stress analysis capabilities for predicting and optimizing designs • Cloud integration offering unrivaled computing power • Intuitive CAD-driven interface built for mechanical engineers • A solution said to be a fraction the cost of traditional simulation tools
Caleb Funk, a solutions consultant with IMAGINiT Technologies and Autodesk University 2012 presenter, explains how the Autodesk Product Design Suite offering assists designers with providing the correct tool for the task at hand. The Product Design Suite takes the design workflow from conceptualization and engineering through to simulation and documentation.
Sabian Limited is one of the world's foremost cymbal manufacturers. The company was founded in 1981 in Meductic, New Brunswick, by Robert Zildjian, who coined the company name by combining the first two letters of his children's names Sally, Billy, and Andy. The name “Zildjian” means “Son of the Cymbal Maker” – a title that dates to the Ottoman Empire in 1623. At the time, cymbals were clashed at the head of the army, to frighten the Sultan's enemies. Today, Sabian cymbals have a gentler, but still dynamic position atop the drum kits and cymbal stands of some of the most famous drummers and percussionists in the world. Sabian employs some 125 people in nine offices, and distributes cymbals and other percussion instruments, along with stands and accessories, into approximately 120 countries worldwide. “We're in a niche industry,” says Greg Hartt, CMA, Manager of Information Systems for Sabian. “The market is dominated by four or five large players, and half a dozen smaller ones. There are no reliable statistics, but I estimate the worldwide market in cymbals to be from $150-million to $250-million per year.” Hartt, who joined Sabian in 1997, was the first-ever graduate of St. Mary's University in Halifax to matriculate with a Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting and Computer Science. “I'm your worst nightmare,” he quips, “an accountant and a geek.” In 1997, says Hartt, Sabian ran on an accounting program that was purchased the year before for $150,000. “In 1999 we had to deal with the fact that our accounting system wasn't Y2K compliant. The vendor informed me that the cost of compliance would be another $200,000 – for a program that didn't have a manufacturing system, or many of the other components we depend on today. Not wanting to throw good money after bad, I decided to take a look at an ERP.” Sabian, says Hartt, chose Syspro after a detailed search of product reviews, reference checks, and a thorough evaluation. "Our priority was to purchase a system that could be highly tailored, to play to our strengths and conform to our business processes. Syspro was exactly what we were looking for. Our initial investment was approximately $100,000. Half of that was spent on software and the other half on consultants. It was the best $100,000 we ever spent.” Over the years, says Hartt, Sabian has pushed the boundaries of what Syspro can do. “We've worked extensively with the Syspro Halifax office, and with other third parties, to write custom software. Syspro head office has even written scripts for us that are now part of their product. These days, we're writing our own software with Visual Basic. The beauty of Syspro is its flexibility – we can leverage our investment without affecting the core reliability of the software.” Despite having thousands of SKUs, Sabian manufacturers only three major product lines. The company's basic cymbals are formed from brass “uniroll” blanks, purchased from suppliers in whatever thickness desired. Sabian's premium “cast metal” cymbals are made of bronze, forged from an ancient family recipe in the Sabian foundry. When the metal is molten it's poured into discus-shaped ingots, which are cooled and allowed to rest before being subjected to a lengthy manufacturing process: rolling, shaping, cutting, hammering (by machine and hand), two stages of testing, and a period of maturation in what's known as the Sabian Vault. Before Syspro, says Hartt, Sabian had no way to track its products through the manufacturing process. “We didn't know how much copper or tin we had on hand, or how many uniroll blanks we had – and those have a 20-week delivery time. Syspro allows us to track the movement of product on the floor, and when we issue a job the system tells us how much materials and product we still have on the shelf. When we do a forecast we can see what we need over time. And when the customer places an order, we can provide a very good estimate of when that order will be filled. Syspro allows us to be more proactive, which gives us a definite competitive advantage.” Barcoding can present problems for manufacturers. “It used to be a nightmare for us,” says Hartt. “Each individual stock code has to have a barcode, and we have approximately 6,000 stock codes. We cannot buy labels ahead of time – we manufacture 500,000 cymbals in a year representing 1000 or 2000 SKUs. An economic quantity from a printer would be 10,000 labels – but we have SKUs we may never manufacture 10,000 times. Syspro allowed us to create a simple system that lets our factory people key in the stock code and get the barcode returned. By using barcode software that ties back to Syspro we've made the system much more efficient.” In 2003, the Syspro Halifax office authored a custom module to conform to the flow of Sabian's packaging process. “We brought the packaging system in six years after the barcode system,” says Hartt, “and now we're using the barcode to tell us what's in the box. When we hit the final function – close order – the barcode tells Syspro what we're shipping. All of the effort that used to go into packaging is now being done by computer – the whole process has flattened out for a substantial gain in efficiency.” Syspro has also made it easier for Sabian to process vendor invoices, such as credit cards. “There are close to 60 credit cards that we don't have to enter information for anymore,” says Hartt. “That's knocked a whole lot of processing time off at month end. All-in-all, Syspro creates better and more accessible information. That in itself makes us more efficient, because we're no longer dependent on a filing system – everything we need is right at our fingertips.” Although Sabian has never subjected Syspro to a formal ROI, Hartt is positive that the numbers add up to success. “When I came here in 1997 the company was making X-dollars in revenue,” he calculates, “selling about 480,000 cymbals annually. Fifteen years later we were at 2X-dollars in revenue, selling about 900,000 cymbals per year. During all that growth we only hired one additional person in an Administrative capacity. That's twice the volume with only one more body, and that would not have been possible without Syspro ERP.” For more information on Sabian’s products please visit their website: www.sabian.com. Odete Passingham is marketing manager for Syspro Canada.
CIMdata, Inc., a PLM strategic consulting and research firm has published a new white paper, Product Lifecycle Management and the Data Deluge, that reports on new research on PLM and “Big Data,” a phrase used to describe data sets so large and complex that they cannot be readily analyzed using traditional database techniques.Based on CIMdata’s global market research, companies all over the world rely on product lifecycle management (PLM) strategies to enhance their product development and manufacturing processes. Through the use of advanced information technology (IT) solutions, design tools, and other technologies, companies generate large amounts of data that document the evolving product across the lifecycle. Most data and process management solutions used at the core of these strategies include numerous ways to leverage managed data, including classification schemes to organize information, associative linking of related information, and search engines that can find information of interest. While this works reasonably well for the volume and type of information developed across the extended enterprise, companies also use information from the Internet to support their product development processes. Some of that information is well structured and easy to incorporate. But increasingly, companies are looking to the open Internet and World Wide Web to gather information from unstructured sources as well.The paper focuses on the intersection of PLM and what has come to be known as “Big Data.” The increasing volume and growth rate of data applicable to PLM is requiring companies to seek new methods to turn that data into actionable intelligence that can enhance business performance. The paper describes methods, including search-based techniques, that show promise to help address this problem.Product Lifecycle Management and the Data Deluge is available to be freely downloaded from CIMdata’s website at http://www.cimdata.com/publications/reports_complimentary/white_papers.html.
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