Be sure to check out our Software Directory.

For manufacturers looking to add, upgrade or replace ERP software, one of the most apparent concerns is what the system can do. Can the system handle the company's scheduling needs? Does it offer production monitoring and quality control? Can it streamline communication? While these are important, what an ERP system can and cannot do is only one consideration. In fact, functionality should be considered against the backdrop of the entire package: its technology and its vendor. Only by doing so can manufacturers ensure they make a right and lasting choice. • Platform. While platform (e.g., .NET, SQL, hosted, etc.) is important, an ERP system should not be selected based on platform alone. Doing so may distract from the real value an ERP system can provide. Choosing based on a pre-conceived idea that only one platform will fit the selection criteria may eliminate viable options before they are considered. Instead, look for high-caliber functionality then consider whether the functionality compensates for the platform difference. • Technology. As technology evolves, so too should a good ERP system. If a vendor is not on the leading edge of technology, chances are that vendor is not a viable option for the long haul. Check to see how they are keeping up with technology. Are they focused on research and development for future applications, or are they focused on past technology that will soon be outdated? • Number of vendors. It is important to understand how many total vendors will contribute to a package. Some are built upon technology developed by and acquired from multiple sources, but packaged as a single system. Sometimes the number of vendors can be as many as the number of system components. Sustaining multiple vendors can be cumbersome and should be a factor in determining the long-term affects on an information systems department. • Product demo. Product demonstrations are often a good way to see an ERP solution first hand, and knowing what to look for will provide the clearest picture. Consider whether questions are answered clearly and concisely. Be persistent when gathering desired information. As well, the most valuable tool is personal experience, so test-drive the system, too. • Customer referrals. While existing customer referrals are beneficial, remember three things: customers are on the referral list for a reason; vendors don't typically give out the names of problem customers; and vendors will most likely provide only the number of references requested (if two are requested, only two will be provided). Then check the vendor and customers' websites for case studies, quotes, customers in the news, etc. Ask for referrals from companies that used the same system, are similar in size or are in the same product industry as your own. The vendor may not have an exact match, but a software vendor that can offer a variety of customer referrals is more likely to have many happier customers than one who cannot. • Implementation time. When provided with an estimate for the number of days to complete an implementation, ask how the vendor arrived at the number. They may have a proven plan that does not match what their competition is offering. Times will vary from package to package, but don't take for granted the number of days noted by the salesperson. Get feedback, so when contacting a reference customer, ask whether the vendor met their implementation schedule. If they did not, how much longer did it take, and why? • Customer retention. It is one thing to have a short list of current, happy customers - but it is something else entirely to maintain the customer relationship for years to come. Ask the vendor what their customer retention rate is. Do a majority continue on with them for years - even decades? With the buyouts and recession of past years, no ERP vendor can claim 100-percent retention, but anything less than 80 percent should raise a flag to ask a question. • Think realistically. While it is always good to think about where you want to be in five or more years, also think about where you are now. Buy a package that focuses on your current market position but can carry you to your next goal and beyond. An over-the-counter ERP system bought at the local office supply store will not see a company through to its multimillion-dollar goal. On the other hand, the software solutions used by the Nikes of the world may be too big. An ideal package is one that can be purchased with only the components that are needed but expand with a business as it grows. • Consultant catch. The utilization of consultants in the ERP selection process can be useful and informative. However, beware of the consultant who has affiliations with a specific ERP system. Hiring a consultant should be paying for an unbiased opinion of which software truly is the best match for your company and not a test for them to see how they can sell you their ERP system. Daniele Fresca is the director of marketing for IQMS.
To bolster a critical new product launch and cut down on repetitive data entry (as well as to anticipate future needs), Ionics Mass Spectrometry Group took the plunge and deployed a company-wide enterprise resource planning (ERP) system - and saw immediate results. Founded in 2001, Bolton, Ont.-based Ionics manufactures solutions for customers in the mass spectrometry market. Over the years, the 50-employee company has emerged as a leading player in this market and its research has led to world-leading patented developments. Most recently, this included its small-footprint 3Q molecular analyzer, a triple quadrupole mass spectrometer with the highest of standards in performance, ease of use and serviceability, which the company launched in 2009. As Ionics was planning to expand its existing product line, the company realized it needed integrated supply chain planning and engineering tools to manage product development and inventory. With thousands of parts per machine, using spreadsheets for engineering revision control and material planning was no longer efficient. "With no MRP or ERP solution, we relied on manually entering data into spreadsheets," said Ionics vice-president of operations Vince Hamilton. For example, its new molecular analyzer "includes nearly 12,000 parts and we needed a better process to understand our inventory." With no previous inventory management solution, the company turned to Epicor and Six S Partners, an Epicor certified partner, to implement a new ERP system with integrated supply-chain planning and engineering tools that could support the company's critical new product launch and scale to support future needs. The company also selected Epicor 9 for real-time material requirements planning (MRP) and next-generation ERP functionality delivering in-context business insight and flexibility to meet both current requirements and future needs. "Epicor's staged implementation process was extremely beneficial for us," Hamilton said. "We took a 'crawl, walk and run' approach, starting off with a cost-effective manufacturing process platform that allows us to add other solutions down the road." Epicor is delivered 'out of the box,' with built-in workflow processes that enable manufacturers to manage the entire order cycle: from marketing and sales through production and planning, sourcing and procurement, installation and service and, finally, financial recognition. It also offers a range of supply chain management and distribution capabilities, delivered within a single business platform. After a four-month implementation period, Ionics went live with Epicor. During the beta testing period, the company was able to complete the Epicor training and see the benefits of a proven, formal planning and control tool. It also allowed the company enough time to input their inventory to support the upcoming product launch. It now has the ability to manage materials consumed, forecast end-product requirements, adjust production as forecasts change, and generate suggested purchase orders to fill anticipated gaps in raw material inventory. "We started to see the value and capabilities of Epicor 9 on the shop floor right away," Hamilton added. Ionics outfitted the Epicor platform with quality assurance, inventory management, purchasing and procurement modules. The solution provided greater visibility into the status of the inventory to determine what purchases needed to be made and when. The implementation also provided full engineering change control and management, and multiple revision control of products within a single solution "And we see this as just the beginning," Hamilton continued. Moving forward, the new platform will grow with the company, providing the ability to add new capabilities as needed. While Hamilton says Ionics plans to extend the use of Epicor by implementing CRM, quotation, sales, finance and accounting modules in the future, he says the company saw benefits right from the start. Kelly Poffenberger is a consultant with Lutz PR.
ERP implementation failure is a pretty easy topic to write about – fresh material is delivered to my door almost daily.  Consider, for example, the California County of Marin’s recent $30 million lawsuit against Deloitte Consulting LLP.  In that case, Marin County hired Deloitte to implement an SAP ERP system.  Marin spent $18.6 million on system and implementation costs.  For all of that money, what did it get?  A malfunctioning system, administrative lock-ups and headaches.  The system was supposed to automate and simplify Marin County’s finance and HR business processes.  Instead, reporting and system functionality are a mess.  Marin County hasn’t issued financial statements for the past two fiscal years.  It can’t yet reconcile its cash balances.  Nor can it administer payables, receivables, fixed assets and inventories.  Pension administration – a key component of public sector finances – has been partially stalled by an inability to extract current information from the databases.  Recently, pension officials had to rely on an outdated 2007 actuarial report because it had no current alternative.  These are but a few of Marin County’s 26 reported ERP system problems.  In its legal filings, Marin County claims that Deloitte botched the implementation project because it “was utterly incapable of providing the County with the necessary expert advice, guidance or leadership”.  Marin further alleges that Deloitte had “staffed the project with dozens of neophyte consultants, many of whom lacked even a basic understanding of SAP”.  Predictably, Deloitte has denied all of the allegations.  Deloitte says that it did what it was hired to do, and that Marin County had approved of its performance.  Deloitte has countersued for $555,000 on account of alleged unpaid consulting bills and interest.  Marin County’s ERP implementation project was unequivocally a failure.  Regardless of which party the court ultimately sides with, Marin County is still stuck holding the bag.  While Deloitte is busy collecting fees on other projects, Marin County is still figuring out how to issue its financial statements.    The moral of this story is that companies implementing ERP (or any other complex software) need to find the right implementation partner.  Oftentimes, finding the right partner means finding the right project manager and consulting team.  The project manager must be adept at running complex business projects that include: corporate restructuring, business process re-engineering, change management and IT systems integration.  The consulting team must be made up of seasoned consultants who are experts in a given functional business area as well as in the specific software. Here are four tips to help you pick the right project manager and implementation team:     •    The Project Manager Must Be Independent And Impartial.  ERP implementations are saturated with decision points that require the company to choose between changing the business and changing the software.  Your project manager has to advise you on these decisions.  To ensure your company is getting advice that is unequivocally in its best interests, your project manager had to be independent from and impartial to ERP vendors.  This means that his company should not be an ERP reseller (a.k.a. VAR or value-added reseller) or a consultant working for the ERP vendor.       •    The Project Manager Needs To Have A Proven ERP Implementation Methodology.  A proven, time-tested ERP implementation methodology demonstrates an ability to deliver a complex implementation project on time, within budget and up to performance standards.  When assessing a methodology, your company should look for answers to the following questions: has the methodology withstood the test of time?  How many ERP projects have been delivered with the methodology?  How is final project success measured?  How are incremental project phase successes measured?  Has the methodology been used in any failed projects?  Is the methodology published?     •    Hire The People Not The Firm.  Remember: a firm name on a door can’t implement ERP.  So, when selecting an implementation partner, your company needs to hire the right people with the right experience.  This means looking behind the firm name at the people who will be staffed on your project.  Your company should interview all of the prospective consultants and look for implementation experience, experience with the specific software, and experience in your company’s particular industry, among other things.     •    Protect Your Company Against The Bait-And-Switch.  Unfortunately, we continue to hear stories about consulting firms using a bait-and-switch tactic.  In fact, this tactic is a central allegation in the Marin County lawsuit.  A brief explanation of the bait-and-switch is as follows.  A consulting firm sends its “A-Team” to make the sale, effectively representing that these people will manage the project.  Once the deal is signed, however, the consulting firm replaces the “A-Team” with less experienced and less skilled people.  To protect itself against the bait-and-switch, your company should ensure that the desired consultants will be assigned exclusively to your project for its duration.  Also, your company should retain a veto right over any staffing changes that might occur.      •    Conduct Detailed Reference Checks.  Remember, with an ERP implementation project, your company is putting its operations and administration on the line.  To protect itself against failure, your company needs to make sure that the consultants are qualified to manage the project, the change and the risk.  Since projects are run by people and not firms, you should check references for previous work done by the proposed consultants.  If the proposed consultants do not have directly relevant experience, you probably don’t want them learning on your company’s dime and at the expense of its operations.  For every failing ERP project our firm has been parachuted in to rescue, for every ERP failure story I’ve read, I’ve come to one conclusion: each and every one of those failures was avoidable.  I continue to be floored by the billions of dollars, hundreds of jobs and number of years that are collectively wasted on ERP failure.  The most upsetting part is that this wastage is both unnecessary and avoidable.  Your company can help break this cycle.  Before it starts an ERP project, it should do its due diligence on prospective ERP implementation partners.  Jonathan Gross LL.B., M.B.A., is a vice president at Pemeco. Pemeco specializes in aligning business with IT, selecting IT systems and implementing IT systems.  Do you have IT or ERP questions? Feel free to email Jonathan at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .  Also, follow him at http://twitter.com/Pemeco.
Industry reports and promotional materials make ERP sound like manna-for-business, dropped down from the heavens above.  They say that ERP can make your business more efficient, responsive, integrated, transparent, profitable, productive... and the list goes on. What you really want to know, though, is how ERP can help your business.  What’s the catch? Let’s talk about two catches.  The first: ERP doesn’t make your business better.  It can’t.  It’s only software.  What it can do, though, is give your business the potential to become better.  Filling this potential doesn’t happen by merely installing the software.  Rather, it happens by installing the software and restructuring the business. The idea behind restructuring is that operations need to be cleaned up and primed for automation.  Restructuring often involves reengineering business processes, re-jigging reporting structures, learning new systems and managing change. These are many of the reasons why implementation projects are so grinding.  Once ERP is implemented, though, business performance can really improve. The second catch is that ERP implementations are risky and expensive.  Depending on the study you read, you’ll learn that 40 percent and 70 percent of all implementations fail.  With the total cost of ERP ownership for small to medium sized businesses ranging between $150,000 and $2 million (over a 10-year period), the high failure rates don’t encourage investment.  The good news is that good project management can drive almost any ERP project to success.  So, how exactly does ERP enable business improvements? For one, ERP integrates business electronically.  It does this by using a central database as a repository for information originating in far-reaching corners of the business.  An airport hub-and-spoke model is a good way to analogize the ERP model.  The central database acts as an informational hub.  The various application modules represent the spokes.  Each of the modules supports a particular business activity, such as: finance, supply chain, planning, manufacturing operations, and HR (among many others).  Electronic data originates at the module level, is validated for overall consistency and gets deposited in the database for storage.  Once deposited, users of the different modules can access, combine, manipulate and analyse the deposited data.  This repository of business data can really enhance a business’ ability to plan and forecast.  One of our Canadian aerospace clients implemented analytics to help it take advantage of its vast library of data.  As one example, this client used analytics to help it understand and respond to volatile market shifts.  In so doing, it uncovered relationships between inventories and booking patterns that it had previously been unaware of.  A simple adjustment to its procurement practices helped it shave off significant inventory and warehousing costs.  ERP offers much more than centralized storage.  It also allows companies to automate business processes according to pre-defined rules.  Such automation reduces administrative costs and times relating to manual process handling.  For example, we automated that aerospace client’s financial reporting and budgeting processes.  Automation eliminated most of the manual work and human errors relating to data entry and manipulation in Excel.  The finance department’s annual budget preparation time was cut by 75 percent, allowing it to reclaim about 220 hours per year.   Financial management is but one example of an ERP module.  Below, we take a closer look at this and other modules: Financial Management (FM) Financial management modules can help a company automate many of the costly and time consuming tasks relating to finance and accounting.  Examples of tasks that can be automated include:     •    Posting transactions to the general ledger      •    Preparing the financial statements     •    Preparing and adhering to budgets     •    Scenario analysis     •    Managing accounts receivables, billing and collections     •    Managing payables     •    Managing multiple currencies and languages     •    Administering rules relating to cash and budget management     •    Managing compliance with regulatory, tax and other reporting requirements Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM) MOM modules extend e-integration to the plant floor.  By automating manufacturing operations, businesses can get better insights into overall equipment effectiveness, process efficiency, productivity and performance.  Automation can extend to:     •    Job costing     •    Bills of materials preparation     •    Product data management     •    Master production scheduling     •    Production planning and scheduling     •    Capacity requirements planning     •    Work order management     •    Shop floor control     •    Equipment lifecycle monitoring, including scheduled maintenance Supply Chain Management (SCM) SCM modules are intended to streamline the flow of materials through an organization’s supply chain.  Automation can extend from input procurement all the way to final product delivery; and often includes:     •    Forecasting demand     •    Master and material requirements planning     •    Order management     •    Procurement     •    Inventory management     •    Warehouse management     •    Logistics management Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) SRM modules are intended to streamline procurement processes by centralizing and automating sourcing practices.  Automation includes:     •    Supplier evaluation, ratings and approvals     •    Contract management     •    Procure-to-pay     •    Catalogue management Customer Relationship Management CRM is intended to help drive revenues and reduce the costs of earning those revenues.  Automating processes relating to sales and customer management is aimed at enhancing existing client satisfaction and attracting new clients.  Automated functionality can include:     •    Customer quotes and order processing     •    e-commerce     •    e-account management     •    Customer preference tracking     •    Flexible pricing     •    Customer service scripts     •    Searchable knowledge database to facilitate customer support     •    Rules for product returns     •    Marketing campaign management and lead management Human Resources Management (HRM a.k.a. HCM) HRM modules can standardize and automate many of the time-consuming HR administrative tasks.  Automated tasks can include     •    Employee performance management     •    Payroll and benefits administration     •    Labour tracking     •    Benefits administration     •    Recruitment functions, including: electronic resume submission and review     •    Training, development and skills management Using MBA-speak, consultants will often tell you that ERP can offer a “real-time, transparent and holistic views of the enterprise”.  What they’re saying, in other words, is that ERP can give you a live view of the business.  With standardized and automated processes, ERP can also help your business become more efficient, productive and profitable.  Catch our ERP educational column, printed online the first Monday of every month.  Jonathan Gross LL.B., M.B.A., is a lawyer and consultant with Pemeco who specializes in aligning business with IT, selecting IT systems and implementing IT systems.  Do you have IT or ERP questions? Feel free to email Jonathan at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .  Also, follow him at http://twitter.com/Pemeco.
Flexpipe Systems masters product traceability with handhelds and IFS Applications Project delivers lean improvements, environmental protection for oil and gas industry vendor THE COMPANY: Flexpipe Systems Inc., of Calgary, Alberta, manufactures and sells proprietary non-metallic, corrosion-resistant pipeline products and crimped steel fittings primarily for oil and natural gas producers. The company was acquired in 2008 by a global energy services company, ShawCor Ltd., and migrated from its existing Epicor Vantage enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution to Shawcor’s version of IFS Applications. THE CHALLENGE: Because Flexpipe Systems’ products are used in oil and gas gathering systems and other environmentally critical applications, lot tracking is critical. Flexpipe Systems has not had a fitting recall in recent memory, but wanted to proactively ensure the company could quickly mobilize a precise recall if necessary. Early on, Flexpipe Systems recognized the need to record the location to which each fitting was shipped, but their only means of collecting this data was doing so manually.  This manual process was slow and labor intensive and was not practical, particularly in an emergency situation.  “We provide pipeline systems and services to a highly regulated  industry; keeping concise records, including the fabrication specification of each individual fitting is key,”   inventory control manager, Colin Moyer, said. “In the very unlikely event of a pipeline failure, a thorough investigation into the possible cause is paramount to the reinstatement of that pipeline.” Flexpipe Systems was also performing extensive non value-added work by recording inventory and shop floor transactions manually and entering into them into IFS Applications. “We were recording everything on paper, which was then physically carried to an IFS station,” said business analyst, Grant Clarke. “Shipping or receipt details including the part number, serial tracking numbers, etc. would then be entered into IFS by someone when they had time… not necessarily at the exact time of the product shipment/receipt.”  THE SOLUTION: Flexpipe Systems retained Cinqcon, of Vancouver, British Columbia to help them integrate Intermec bar code scanners with IFS Applications. Cinqcon leveraged IFS Applications’ service oriented architecture, using web services to drive data directly through IFS Applications’ business logic. Handheld devices now read barcodes generated by a Loftware, Inc. enterprise labeling solution, capturing serial, lot and batch data automatically and entering it in IFS Applications. “We offered Flexpipe Systems a standard transaction package to which when added a few enhancements to fit exactly what the company and its parent, Shawcor, had in mind,” Cinqcon Consultant Ilona Pretorius said. Cinqcon found that Flexpipe Systems did not require IFS Applications’ existing and very robust handheld interface, and instead chose to develop its own simplified data capture environment, easily tying this interface into the open architecture of the ERP solution. “Flexpipe Systems gained working efficiency and speed by opting for a more minimalistic interface and passing just the essential fields back and forth” Pretorius said. Despite a concurrent networking project that sapped resources from the handheld integration process, the entire project took less than four months, according to Moyer and Clarke. THE RESULT: The project has delivered lean improvements and allowed Flexpipe Systems to mitigate the risk of a recall. “It definitely helps purchasing, it helps the MRP planners for distribution orders, and it will soon be rolled out to other areas of the company,” Moyer said. “Prior to the implementation of the handheld devices and IFS interface, we had limited visibility on serial, batch and lot numbers.  With our manual processes it may have taken days to identify and recall a potentially problematic batch of products,” Moyer said. “We have streamlined the process into a query search that now takes no more than 10 minutes.  This also increases the speed at which we can ship our fittings.  With our new system, were are able quickly scan each barcode as the products are staged prior to shipping; the manufacturing details, serial numbers etc. are captured and logged instantly increasing labor efficiencies and eliminating the potential for human error.”
THE COMPANY: Hayward Gordon Ltd. designs, manufactures and distributes process equipment; products and systems relating to pumping, mixing, filtration, and bulk solids handling. With 78 employees and branch locations in Vancouver, Calgary and Montreal, Hayward Gordon is headquartered in Halton Hills, Ontario, home of the company's custom-built, 50,000-sq.ft. office and plant facility, opened in the fall of 2006. “We serve a wide variety of industries,” says company President John Hayward, whose father, Len Hayward, started the business in 1952. “We're particularly strong in mining and waste-water treatment, but we also work with a wide variety of process industries: chemical processing, food processing, pulp and paper – the list is extensive, even the automotive industry needs pumps for paint.” As a result of the company's mining specialization, Hayward Gordon has established a growing global presence. “The company as a whole is very strong in North America,” says Hayward, “but we're also exporting a good deal of equipment to South America and other parts of the world. We currently have projects destined for countries such as Madagascar, Australia, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Chile.” THE CHALLENGE: Over the last few years, the company has faced a major challenge – the strengthening of the Canadian dollar. “That's put immense pressure on us to become more productive, and to reduce our costs,” says Hayward. In response, the company has been implementing lean practices. “That has a lot to do with leveraging our ERP. We underwent a very extensive business-process mapping project, a few years back, to find areas in which we could create efficiencies, and many of the ways we chose to streamline our business involve the use of SYSPRO.“ THE SOLUTION: When Hayward Gordon made the decision to invest in SYSPRO back in 1990, it focused on three main considerations. “First off, the work we do is highly varied – we're more of a job shop than build-to-stock. We felt that SYSPRO's Bill of Materials (BOM), Work in Progress (WIP), and Requirements Planning modules lent themselves well to a job-shop environment. Secondly, SYSPRO's integration of operations and finance was excellent – far better than anything else we looked at. Finally, we wanted to be sure that the ERP we chose would be properly maintained and supported. Many of the ERP companies we considered back then don't exist anymore. SYSPRO has stayed, and has supported its product very well.” In response to recent challenges, the company has relied on SYSPRO to implement electronic time tracking in the shop, and automate its labour posting function. “We get the tracking in real time now,” says Hayward. “By having SYSPRO do it, we've been able to eliminate a data entry position. We've also integrated Microsoft CRM (customer relationships management) directly into SYSPRO, thereby automating our order entry. Now we can have people in the field enter their orders automatically, eliminating the need for duplicate entry.” THE RESULTS: In the near future, the company is hoping to implement electronic funds transfer (EFT) to streamline its payables. “The timing for all these efficiencies has been good, because despite the market challenges, we've been seeing some growth. Getting more out of SYSPRO has allowed us to expand without breaking apart at the seams.” Leveraging SYSPRO has not only reduced costs, it has helped Hayward Gordon reliably meet its lead times. “One of the things we realized,” says Hayward, “was that we had to compress our lead times and make them more reliable. We've taken a number of steps that take advantage of the fact that processes that used to run consecutively, can now run concurrently. For example, these days, when an order is entered, it gets reviewed and the credit check is triggered along with a customer number request – all  electronically and all at the same time. Previously, a paper file would spend many days travelling to multiple departments for approval before the order was placed. Now, if there's a problem with the order, action can be taken right away. It's much more efficient, and it's helping us serve our customers better.” Asked to comment on SYSPRO's ROI, Hayward offers a useful metric: “We've seen our revenue per employee increase by around sixty-five percent in the last four years. You can't do that unless you build into your company the ability to grow sales without growing costs in lockstep. If you don't have the right infrastructure in place, your sales can even cost more to make than they're worth. That's what productivity is about – if you have the right systems in place it gives your company extra capacity, without adding costs. That's the way we've been able to measure what SYSPRO has done for us.”
Last week, Manufacturing AUTOMATION's new online columnist, Jonathan Gross, spoke to Rimini Street CEO and founder Seth Ravin about his company’s high stakes legal battle with tech giant Oracle - and why he thinks Oracle’s ERP maintenance business model is “under great threat”.   Rimini Street recently took the offensive in its legal battle against software, database and server giant, Oracle.  In my previous article on this lawsuit, I wrote about Oracle’s claims that Rimini – an independent 3rd party provider of ERP maintenance and support services – operates an illegal business model predicated on computer hacking and theft.   “Oracle is disingenuous to make those claims and we will call them out...‘operating an illegal business model’ is an outrageous statement,”  said Seth Ravin, Rimini's founder and CEO. On March 29, Rimini officially responded.  It filed court documents in a lawsuit that is as much about the court room as it is about the court of public opinion.  Rimini filed a defence, a counterclaim and a motion to dismiss 12 of Oracle’s 13 claims.  Rimini takes the position that it has done nothing wrong.  In response to the theft allegations, Rimini argues that it had the right to use automated computer tools to download the files in question.  Its position is diametrically opposed to Oracle’s - and based on the belief that Oracle is using the courts to avoid market-based competition.  “Oracle’s [business] model is under great threat," explains Ravin.  He says that this case is just another example of “the old guard trying to hold on through litigation...However, it’s up to us.  We’re not going to allow intimidation from Oracle’s side and aggressive legal tactics to stand in the way”.  Oracle, meanwhile, continues to believe in the strength of its claim.  “Oracle is committed to customer choice and vigorous competition, but draws the line with any company, big or small, that steals its intellectual property.  The massive theft that Rimini and Mr. Ravin engaged in is not healthy competition.  We will prove this in court," an Oracle spokesperson revealed in an e-mail last week.  In my experience, legal cases are seldom black or white.  Litigants tend to be rather myopic: they often times fail to appreciate opposing perspectives.  I wouldn’t be surprised if this case falls somewhere in the ambiguous grey area.  Nonetheless, there are certain events that could lead one to infer that Rimini’s operations are legitimate.  First, in July of 2009, Rimini closed a financing deal with Adams Street Partners, a global private equity firm with about $20 billion in assets under management.  One could presume that Adams Street’s team of investment bankers and lawyers did their due diligence and were satisfied that Rimini’s business practices are legitimate (or at least defensible).  Second, Rimini continues to sign up high profile partners and customers, and does not appear to have lost any big accounts.  Rimini still counts companies like AT&T, Microsoft and IBM as partners.  Its clients include Novell, Toshiba, Virgin Mobile, Liz Claiborne and Pillsbury.  One could presume that these companies did their homework before signing agreements. Finally, Rimini claims that it gave Oracle a chance to pull back the curtains on its operations.  In its court filings, Rimini says that it offered Oracle a chance to review its business practices.  It also claims to have offered Oracle a chance to have an independent auditor audit Rimini’s compliance with those business practices.  Oracle allegedly ignored those offers.    However, none of these three arguments is strong enough to disprove Oracle’s claims (assuming, for argument’s sake, that Oracle first proves its claims).  With respect to the first two arguments, no one knows the extent of due diligence that was actually performed.  With respect to the third argument, we don’t yet know the full set of facts surrounding Rimini’s audit offer.  For example, unreasonable restrictions could have been attached.  Oracle did not respond when contacted for comment on this issue.  Lawsuit or no lawsuit, a review of Oracle’s financial results might explain why it would want to protect its ERP maintenance services business.  In Q2 2010, Oracle’s maintenance services business brought in a $3.2 billion profit at 92% gross margins.  During that same period, its non-maintenance core businesses lost $800 million.  Cheaper and competitive maintenance alternatives could threaten to turn Oracle’s golden egg into a brick of coal.    Rimini seems to pose a credible threat to Oracle’s maintenance services business.  Rimini provides ERP support and maintenance services to Oracle and SAP users at roughly 50% of the prices charged by those companies.  Since its 2005 inception, Rimini has grown at a torrid pace and has opened offices around the world.  Ravin might be right when he equates the size of Rimini to a “rounding error” on Oracle’s income statement.  However, he strongly believes that his company is on the cusp of an ERP maintenance and support evolution. “In 2010, Oracle sees a forest fire starting to race out of control," says Ravin.  “Rimini may be in a position to go public and raise a significant amount of money.  This would add gasoline to the fire and might make it burn out of control.  Litigation is a way to try to slow things down.” Ravin says that his company has been preparing for this legal battle for years.  It has built up a war-chest and has hired a top legal team.  The trial will likely take several years to complete.  In my previous article, I argued that this lawsuit could define the shape of the future market for ERP maintenance and support services.  Although that’s still possible, I no longer think that the marketplace will sit idly by, waiting for a trial.  Rather, by the time a decision is rendered, this case could be a mere footnote in an industry defined by new entrants who are driving market prices down to a reasonable equilibrium.   Jonathan Gross LL.B., M.B.A., is a lawyer and consultant who specializes in aligning business with IT, selecting IT systems and implementing IT systems.  You can catch his new online ERP column on the first Monday of every month. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and followed at http://twitter.com/Pemeco.
Dynamic Structures, a Coquitlam, BC-based designer, manufacturer and constructor of complex structures ranging from ski jumps to amusement park rides, was recently named Autodesk's Inventor of the Year for 2009. The Canadian company was originally selected 'Inventor of the Month' by the Autodesk manufacturing community for its work desigining enclosures that will house the world's largest telescope, the Thirty Metre Telescope. The company achieved the 'annual' title largely because of its use of Autodesk Inventor software in the design of theme park rides that take the term 'rollercoaster' to a whole new level. Of particular note is the RoboCoaster G3, which features four-passenger robot manipulators that operate in unique coaster train sets. Dynamic Structures caters largely to the industry, government, entertainment and academic sectors. Among its list of achievements is the Whistler ski jump - a rather complex project due to the strict standards implemented by the International Ski Federation. Not only was it challenging to form, fabricate and weld tubular trusses that were 95 and 125 metres long, but the building process had to be flexible enough to allow for transportation and assembling on a remote and rugged location.
I recently met with the IT director of a North American auto parts distributor.  He told me that his company was very unhappy with its new ERP system.  For one, he said, the finance module can’t handle the company’s multiple revenue recognition scenarios. He also told me that the order-processing module couldn’t handle a type of order that accounts for 10 percent of his business’ revenues. In his view, the ERP project is a failure. Unfortunately, stories like this are too common. According to the "CHAOS Summary 2009" report, released by IT research firm the Standish Group, 68 percent of all IT projects are considered to be failures.    The good news is that your company can succeed where others have failed. It can reap the ERP benefits of integration and real-time analytics that have eluded many. The (not so) secret recipe: hard work and commitment. Too many companies cut the wrong corners.  Statistics show that a key driver of ERP success is organizational commitment. This commitment has to start at the system selection phase.  Here is a five-step guide to help you pick the right system. #1: Allocate Plenty of Lead Time #2: Build a Strong Business Case #3: Translate Business Needs into System Requirements #4: Do the Diligence on the Software #5: Negotiation Step #1: Allocate Plenty of Lead Time Many companies make the mistake of underestimating the amount of time it takes to find the right system.  The selection process can be as short as a few months or as long as a few years if your business operates in an underserved sector (e.g. the heating oil distribution sector).  Assuming that your business operates in a well-served market, you should conservatively allocate five months to the selection process.     Step #2: Build a Strong Business Case When a company invests one to three percent of its annual revenues in ERP, it had better have a well-developed business case with well-supported projections.  Developing realistic and achievable projections requires a process-level understanding of current business issues and an understanding of the roadblocks to achieving future goals. When our firm develops business cases for clients, we undertake a fairly comprehensive analysis. First, we map the client’s existing business processes. Then, we analyse those processes in the context of the client’s future business targets. With respect to this latter analysis, our goal is to develop a list of issues that are prioritized in relation to business goals.    Step #3: Translate Business Needs into System Requirements This is where the business and operational issues are translated into ERP system requirements. Since it’s impossible for any ERP system to address all of a company’s needs, we prioritize and weight each requirement relative to the client’s business goals and constraints.  The weighted requirements should then be assembled into a vendor evaluation scorecard. This scorecard forms the backbone of a request for proposal delivered to ERP vendors.     Step #4: Do the Diligence on the Software This step contains two sub-stages. First, at the close of tender, the completed RFPs and scorecards are evaluated. Through this preliminary assessment, the initial vendor list is reduced to a shortlist of three to five. In the second sub-stage, each of the shortlisted vendors is invited to give a detailed product demonstration. At the live demonstration, the vendor shows how its ERP system works in a simulation of your business environment.  Following a post-mortem of the demonstrations, you should be in a good position select the right software package. If doubts remain, you should solicit additional demonstrations. Don’t worry about inconveniencing the vendors. With the size of your potential investment and the high risks of failure, you’re better off double dotting some Is. Step #5: Negotiation You might be in the homestretch, but this is no time to sit back. Negotiating contracts for licenses, maintenance and implementation services takes hard work.  Your company should never accept the vendor’s terms without putting up a strong fight. Particularly these days. Negotiating power is shifting over to the buyers’ side. By applying pressure to the right points, you can shave down the sticker price. Conclusion By picking the right ERP software, you can position your business to achieve levels of productivity, efficiency and profits that might otherwise be unattainable. If you don’t take the selection process seriously, your business could wind up married to the wrong system. And where would that leave you? As one of those unsatisfied survey respondents lamenting its IT project failures. Jonathan Gross LL.B., M.B.A., is a lawyer and consultant who specializes in aligning business with IT, selecting IT systems and implementing IT systems.  He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and followed at http://twitter.com/Pemeco.
For manufacturers looking to add, upgrade or replace ERP software, one of the most apparent concerns is what the system can do. Can the system handle the company’s scheduling needs? Does it offer production monitoring and quality control? Can it streamline communication? While these are important, what an ERP system can and cannot do is only one consideration. In fact, functionality should be consideration against the backdrop of the entire package: its technology and its vendor. Only by doing so can manufacturers ensure they make a right and lasting choice. • Platform. While platform (e.g., .NET, SQL, hosted, etc.) is important, an ERP system should not be selected based on platform alone. Doing so may distract from the real value an ERP system can provide. Choosing based on a pre-conceived idea that only one platform will fit the selection criteria may eliminate viable options before they are considered. Instead, look for high-caliber functionality then consider whether the functionality compensates for the platform difference. • Technology. As technology evolves, so too should a good ERP system. If a vendor is not on the leading edge of technology, chances are that vendor is not a viable option for the long haul. Check to see how they are keeping up with technology. Are they focused on research and development for future applications, or are they focused on past technology that will soon be out dated? • Number of vendors. It is important to understand how many total vendors will contribute to a package. Some are built upon technology developed by and acquired from multiple sources, but packaged as a single system. Sometimes the number of vendors can be as many as the number of system components. Sustaining multiple vendors can be cumbersome and should be a factor in determining the long-term affects on an information systems department. • Product demo. Product demonstrations are often a good way to see an ERP solution first hand, and knowing what to look for will provide the clearest picture. Consider whether questions are answered clearly and concisely. Be persistent when gathering desired information. As well, the most valuable tool is personal experience, so test-drive the system, too. • Customer referrals. While existing customer referrals are beneficial, remember three things: customers are on the referral list for a reason; vendors don’t typically give out the names of problem customers; and vendors will most likely provide only the number of references requested (if two are requested, only two will be provided). Then check the vendor and customers’ websites for case studies, quotes, customers in the news, etc. Ask for referrals from companies that used the same system, are similar in size or are in the same product industry as your own. The vendor may not have an exact match, but a software vendor that can offer a variety of customer referrals is more likely to have many happier customers than one who cannot. • Implementation time. When provided with an estimate for the number of days to complete an implementation, ask how the vendor arrived at the number. They may have a proven plan that does not match what their competition is offering. Times will vary from package to package, but don’t take for granted the number of days noted by the salesperson. Get feedback, so when contacting a reference customer, ask whether the vendor met their implementation schedule. If they did not, how much longer did it take, and why? • Customer retention. It is one thing to have a short list of current, happy customers — but it is something else entirely to maintain the customer relationship for years to come. Ask the vendor what their customer retention rate is. Do a majority continue on with them for years — even decades? With the buyouts and recession of past years, no ERP vendor can claim 100-percent retention, but anything less than 80 percent should raise a flag to ask a question. • Think realistically. While it is always good to think about where you want to be in five or more years, also think about where you are now. Buy a package that focuses on your current market position but can carry you to your next goal and beyond. An over-the-counter ERP system bought at the local office supply store will not see a company through to its multimillion-dollar goal. On the other hand, the software solutions used by the Nikes of the world may be too big. An ideal package is one that can be purchased with only the components that are needed but expand with a business as it grows. • Consultant catch. The utilization of consultants in the ERP selection process can be useful and informative. However, beware of the consultant who has affiliations with a specific ERP system. Hiring a consultant should be paying for an unbiased opinion of which software truly is the best match for your company and not a test for them to see how they can sell you their ERP system. Daniele Fresca is the director of marketing for IQMS.
With the enterprise resource planning (ERP) software battle between SAP and Waste Management heating up, Manufacturing AUTOMATION asked Ontario lawyer and ERP consultant Jonathan Gross to give his views on the lawsuit. Earlier this month, Waste Management (WM) upped the ante in its lawsuit against SAP to $500 million. The root of WM’s claim is that it was allegedly deceived and defrauded by SAP during the ERP selection and implementation phases. The jury should have its hands full trying to untangle this mess. Assuming that all of the allegations are proven, in my opinion, SAP should end up on the losing side. WM, however, would probably end up sharing part of the blame. According to [Waste Management], SAP pitched WM on a well-tested, sector-specific, ready-to-install ERP package. WM alleges that it learned after the implementation had started that no such software actually existed. The Fraud Allegations  According to the plaintiff’s petition, SAP pitched WM on a well-tested, sector-specific, ready-to-install ERP package. WM alleges that it learned after the implementation had started that no such software actually existed. Rather, the ERP system in question was still in development and had “never been tested in a productive environment.”  WM’s fraud allegations go much deeper. Before buying the product, SAP purportedly demonstrated the fully functioning software to WM. WM claims it relied on SAP’s demonstrations when it finally chose the SAP software. WM says that it only later learned that SAP demonstrated a “mock-up” version and that the demonstrations “were rigged and manipulated to depict false functionality.”  SAP denies the allegations. However, if WM wins on its fraud and misrepresentation claims, this case could drive a stake through the heart of the world’s leading ERP vendor. No customer would want to build its business operations on a foundation of lies and deception. In addition, SAP would likely become exposed to criminal investigations. It’s important to note that members of SAP’s C-Suite were directly involved in landing the WM account. It’s also worth mentioning that some of those executives are no longer with the company. There’s plenty of speculation about whether the departures are related to WM. Waste Management’s Share of Liability Just on the PR battle, SAP is getting pretty banged up. WM is also taking its share of hits. A close reading of its own court filings shows that it’s partially responsible for its own losses. Here are two of the most glaring examples taken from WM’s own court pleadings: #1: “Waste Management relied on [SAP’s] Business Case estimates in agreeing to license the SAP software.”  As part of its sales pitch, SAP prepared a “business case.”  In it, SAP stated that its software would enable WM to achieve between $106 million and $220 million of annual benefits. WM showed questionable judgment in relying on SAP’s projections. Clearly, SAP was partial. It was trying to make a big sale. In my analysis, WM was imprudent and arguably negligent when it decided to rely on an obviously conflicted analysis. WM should have done its own homework. If it needed help, it could have turned to an impartial third-party advisor. An independent analysis might have shown it that the SAP software wasn’t the best choice. #2: “Waste Management believed that developing a new software posed unacceptable risk... and instead decided to look for an ‘off-the-shelf’ solution that was already fully developed and fully tested”  Then, before it selected the software, WM admits it knew that SAP’s “Waste and Recycling Software had been developed specifically for Waste Management," according to court pleadings. This is a case of WM both having and eating its cake. On the one hand, WM wanted a generic and well-tested system. In the end, though, WM selected the SAP system knowing that it had been specifically designed for WM’s business.  I agree with the prudent approach that WM had considered but didn’t follow. A company of its size and scale had very little reason to assume the risks of early technology adoption. It should have made sure that system stability and system track-record were unassailable selection criteria. Had it done so, it wouldn’t have selected the SAP system and wouldn’t be embroiled in this lawsuit. In the end, if SAP acted deceptively, there’s probably little that WM could have done to protect its investment. However, it could have mitigated some of its losses had it applied more rigour to its project management. Jonathan Gross LL.B., M.B.A., is a lawyer and consultant who specializes in aligning business with IT, selecting IT systems and implementing IT systems. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and on Twitter at twitter.com/Pemeco.
If you’ve ever eaten corn flakes or planted a seed, chances are A.T. Ferrell Co. Inc. has touched your life. A leader serving agricultural, food and industrial markets, A.T. Ferrell has been designing and building equipment used to process, condition and convey grains, feeds, seeds and other bulk and powder materials for 140 years. The products its three divisions make are used and trusted by feed mills, farm operators and food, cereal and oilseed processors worldwide. Many customers have relied on their equipment and expertise for decades to maximize their profits. As a result, A.T. Ferrell needs to be agile and responsive, continually innovating their designs to deliver superior results and performance for their customers. The company has moved beyond 3D to digital prototyping, enabling it to design, visualize and simulate the real-world performance of its products before cutting a single piece of steel. Autodesk Inventor software has helped A.T. Ferrell to: • Better support its customers • Help lower costs and increase innovation • Avoid costly mistakes, speeding product development time • Use a single digital prototype for design, sales, marketing and manufacturing • Reduce reliance on expensive physical prototyping The challenge To meet each customer’s requirements, A.T. Ferrell configures its equipment to order, to meet customer needs, now and in the future. “Even though we have common chassis concepts, there are 15 to 30 variables that come into play when we build a customer’s machine,” explains Allen Gager, design engineer and CAD manager at A.T. Ferrell. “Adding to the complexity, we try to account for likely future processing techniques so that our customers can use our machines 20, 30, even 40 years from now,” he adds. “One reason that A.T. Ferrell has been so successful for so long is that our customers trust us to maximize their investments.” In addition to addressing customer needs cost-effectively, A.T. Ferrell’s food-grade products are subject to FDA and other government regulations. The company must also design its product with the safety of maintenance workers in mind to address Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines. The solution A.T. Ferrell adopted Autodesk Inventor Professional software and Autodesk Vault Workgroup data management software, both part of the Autodesk solution for digital prototyping. They help A.T. Ferrell streamline its product development, sales, and marketing processes, from initial product configuration through manufacturing and beyond. The company uses Inventor Professional software to design the mechanical and hydraulic systems on its machines and Vault to reuse designs, track revisions and release finished designs to manufacturing. According to Gager, with this digital prototyping solution, A.T. Ferrell can create superior, optimized designs faster than ever. He says, “Taking advantage of digital prototyping, we can look at a number of different ideas for a solution before we cut steel. We can simulate and analyze our designs to minimize mistakes — and in the end provide a better product.” For example, A.T. Ferrell uses the built-in finite element analysis (FEA) capabilities to optimize material choices and sizes. “We can apply forces and stresses to find out how much material we really need,” he continues. “If we use material intelligently, we can cut costs and reduce our energy footprint. It takes less energy to cut a half-inch of steel than three-quarters an inch of steel.” The company can also better meet regulatory requirements with the help of Inventor. Gager explains: “During the design phase, we can address applicable regulations. For example, it’s easier to meet OSHA regulations because we can get accurate weight on panels that need to be removed during maintenance — and thus determine whether a worker can safely move and manipulate them.” Easier to ask “what if?” Recently, A.T. Ferrell experienced design optimization at its best when a customer asked the company to improve ease-of-use for a roller mill adjustment system. Gager immediately began to explore different options in Inventor. “I pulled up the model and just started asking ‘what if’ questions,” he says. “I went through about 15 scenarios to find a solution. I worked with our machine builder to make some minor revisions and then ran stress analysis and checked for interferences before we finalized the model. Finally, we generated shop drawings and went into production. It took just over two days from start to finish.” When asked how the company would have met this type of customer request before adopting Inventor software, he says, “We probably would have made four physical prototypes and there would have been 12 people involved. Inventor removes the risk of asking ‘what if’. I explore a wide range of design options without wasting time or money.” Digital models drive sales The optimized digital prototypes A.T. Ferrell creates in Inventor software drive not only product development but also help the sales team. “Digital prototypes make it easier to collaborate with our global customer base,” Gager says. “Customers can collaborate with us on their designs by viewing DWF™ files. They can explore designs from every angle to make sure that we’ve met their needs and there are no surprises when the machine arrives for installation. Our customers can even import Inventor data into Autodesk Navisworks software to help speed their facilities layouts.” In addition, A.T. Ferrell uses renderings from digital prototypes in its manuals and generates code for computer numerically controlled (CNC) machines directly from Inventor models. “When you’re trying to communicate using 2D engineering drawings, there can be communication barriers,” he notes. “But with 3D digital prototypes, those go away. From sales to marketing to manufacturing, everyone gets what they need right off the digital model. That’s certainly not possible with 2D geometry.” The result A.T. Ferrell is delivering the exceptional quality customers expect — and saving time and money in the process. “Without Inventor and Digital Prototyping, we would have to make several physical prototypes for each new design,” Gager says. “We still build them on occasion, but it’s rare now.” In addition, the company has created a custom Inventor application to automate aspects of sheet metal design. “Something that took a few minutes to do before now takes a single click,” he says. “For machines with 300 sheet metal parts, that adds up.” Gager estimates that Autodesk software reduces the workload of A.T. Ferrell’s designers by half. But more than that, Autodesk software frees them up to be creative. He says, “Instead of locating, opening, and printing hundreds of drawings in a project, we use Autodesk Vault Workgroup to complete the process with just a few clicks. As a result, we can spend time working on the fun stuff, which is designing machines that meet customer needs.” www.autodesk.com/inventor
A machinist, a truck driver, and then a winner of 11 Oscars, Hollywood filmmaker James Cameron is now a featured special guest at SolidWorks World 2010, taking place Jan. 31 to Feb. 3 in Anaheim, Calif. Cameron’s films, including Titanic, Aliens and the Terminator franchise, have amassed over $3 billion in box office receipts. Not every tinseltown luminary could inspire an audience of 4,000-plus SolidWorks software users, the company says, but Cameron is an innovator’s innovator. As part of his Hollywood resumé, he has invented a plethora of technology for exploring the depth of the seas and outer space, including Mars. “James Cameron does magnificent things with technology and imagination. But in a way, he does exactly what every SolidWorks user does: confronts technical challenges, works out solutions, brings them to reality, and enjoys the success,” said Jeff Ray, Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp. CEO. “We’re thrilled to have him at our event.” Jan. 19 Newscast: GM boosting production, PROFIenergy and James Cameron at SolidWorks World: Cameron’s films have blazed new trails in visual effects and set numerous performance records. Among Cameron’s inventions: • Filming, lighting, and robotic equipment for use in the extreme pressures of the deep; • A 3D digital camera system to enable shooting of 2D and 3D film versions in parallel; and • Mini fiber-spooling remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) for deep sea use. The making of Cameron’s new 3D feature film Avatar, a science fiction epic set in the virgin ecosystem of a distant planet, has required more than two years of new production technology development. Innovations include image-based facial performance capture, a real-time virtual camera for computer-generated production and the SIMULCAM system, all of which help weave computer-generated characters into live-action scenes. These techniques are combined with stereoscopic photography to create a hybrid CG/live-action film. Cameron’s appearance will be one of many learning, networking and entertainment opportunities at SolidWorks World 2010. Attendees will present more than 150 in-depth training sessions with a number of hands-on sessions. More than 100 SolidWorks-designed products will be on display in more than 6,000 square feet of space within the Partner Pavilion exhibition hall. More than 100 partners will demonstrate technology products that complement SolidWorks software, and there will be dedicated time for birds-of-a-feather networking. SolidWorks World provides a tremendous opportunity for users to network and share best practices. Nearly the entire DS SolidWorks R&D staff will be on site to talk to attendees, learn about their experiences, and demonstrate interesting projects. As always, the general sessions will stimulate and entertain. The sessions will include a sneak preview of SolidWorks 2011 software and presentations from DS SolidWorks CEO Jeff Ray, Dassault Systèmes President and CEO Bernard Charlès, and DS SolidWorks Co-Founder and Group Executive Jon Hirschtick. blogs.solidworks.com/solidworksblog/solidworks_world
Delcam will demonstrate its integrated CAM system for SolidWorks at the SolidWorks World 2010 exhibition to be held in Anaheim, California, Jan. 31 to Feb. 3. The initial version of Delcam for SolidWorks will include the company’s technology for drilling and two- through five-axis milling. Future releases will cover the full range of machining operations, including turning, mill-turn and wire EDM. Delcam for SolidWorks will be fully integrated into the SolidWorks environment so the program looks and behaves like SolidWorks. It will offer full associativity so that any changes in the CAD model will be reflected automatically in the toolpaths. However, this associativity will be more intelligent than that offered in many other integrated CAM systems, the company says. Delcam for SolidWorks will not simply modify the existing toolpaths but will also review the choice of cutting tools and machining strategies, and change them if necessary. All toolpaths generated with Delcam for SolidWorks can be checked by the integrated simulation module on the computer before being passed to the machine tool. Finally, the software comes with Delcam’s full range of post-processors to allow fast accurate data transfer to all leading types of machining equipment. Delcam for SolidWorks marks a new direction for Delcam. Previously, the company has supplied all of its machining software as stand-alone systems that can be linked to any CAD program. “We have received many requests from customers that want to be able to undertake their CAM programming from within the SolidWorks environment,” explained Tom McCollough, vice-president of FeatureCAM development. “Delcam for SolidWorks provides direct access to Delcam’s world-leading CAM algorithms from within this leading design software.” Delcam for SolidWorks combines the benefits associated with Delcam’s PowerMILL and FeatureCAM CAM systems. It is based on Delcam’s proven machining algorithms that are already used by more than 30,000 customers around the world. www.delcam.com
At Autodesk University 2009, Autodesk is highlighting a series of innovative real-world applications of digital prototyping software to inspire its manufacturing customers with better ways to design and manufacture the world’s best products for competitive advantage. Autodesk is also hosting an extensive virtual event on AU Virtual, enabling customers around the world with limited time and travel budgets to participate.   Autodesk and Stratasys unveiled the world’s first 3-D print of a life-size commuter jet turbo prop engine at AU 2009. The engine, which includes some functional, moving parts such as the propellers, is designed exclusively in Autodesk Inventor software by Nino Caldarola, an aerospace designer and engineer based in Manitoba, Canada, who currently is an application engineer with Autodesk reseller IMAGINiT. The 10-foot-by-10-foot engine, composed of nearly 200 ABS plastic parts, was on display in the AU Design Matters pavilion and will permanently reside in the Autodesk Gallery. In a manufacturing industry context, a 3-D print of this sophistication could help aerospace engineers validate the digital prototype, conduct analysis and determine how components will fit together. On Wednesday, users learned about the latest Autodesk digital prototyping technology from Robert “Buzz” Kross, Autodesk senior vice-president of the manufacturing industry group, in the annual industry keynote. This year’s featured guest speaker was Peter H. Diamandis, founder, CEO and chairman of X PRIZE Foundation, a pioneer and leader in the commercial space arena that awarded the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE for private spaceflight. Throughout the week in the AU Manufacturing Lounge, customers sat with product evangelists and shared their best tips and tricks for digital prototyping with Autodesk design and engineering software. Autodesk also encouraged customers to record their favourite best practices on video for uploading onto the Autodesk Manufacturing YouTube Channel. The top 10 videos receiving the most views by the end of AU will be awarded prizes. Autodesk has also created the annual Manufacturing Community Achievement award to recognize individuals for their contributions to the Autodesk Manufacturing user community. Contributions can include innovative designs or use of software, leadership in discussion groups or user groups, and long-term participation at AU as an attendee or instructor. The 2009 award recognized Charlie Bliss for his lifetime of achievement. Bliss has been using Inventor since the software’s first alpha release, and his involvement and passion for Inventor software has been going strong ever since. Bliss’ contributions to the Inventor community have been significant, both in terms of quantity and breadth. For example, his website cbliss.com became a hub of the early Inventor community where users could find and donate Inventor part models, shaders and textures. A CAD services manager with Applied Materials for nearly 19 years, Charlie Bliss is currently consulting with green start-up companies on their design and CAD technology needs.

Subscription Centre

 
New Subscription
 
Already a Subscriber
 
Customer Service
 
View Digital Magazine Renew

We are using cookies to give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. To find out more, read our Privacy Policy.