Formation Systems Inc. is readying an update to its process automation software that allows customers to automate far more manufacturing processes than are currently possible.
Optiva 4.5, due this fall, includes a new application for project management. It also features upgrades to strategic sourcing and compliance applications that could reduce manufacturing errors and costs for makers of recipe-based goods, such as paints or processed food.
One new feature in Version 4.5, a project management component called Idea Lab, captures ideas from a variety of sources inside organizations and among their partners. Users can rank, prioritize and score the ideas to determine the best likelihood of their success, then incorporate and manage those ideas as they launch new projects and manage ongoing ones.
Another upgraded component, the Optiva Strategic Sourcing application, takes a new approach to sourcing for Formation by enabling users to search for formula substitutions by both functional and chemical makeup.
By doing a parametric search of substances based on product formulas, a purchasing manager or a manufacturing process manager can determine a functional substitution—for example, an equivalent protein source to eggs. This allows for broader choices in sourcing, said officials at Formation, of Southboro, Mass.
On a chemical level, enhancements in Version 4.5 will break down ingredients to determine which ones are alike.
"There can be hundreds of parameters that define a materials property," said Paul Hoogenboom, vice president of operations and CIO at RPM Inc., a coating, sealant and paint manufacturer. The Medina, Ohio, company is also an Optiva customer. "When you look at that from a purchasing perspective, its a mother of a problem.
"The net of consolidating materials often is agreeing to a much smaller list of standard ingredients of raw materials, so this whole issue of knowing if two materials are the same is absolutely essential," said Hoogenboom.
With more regulations facing recipe-based manufacturers—for example, a growing list of allergens that must be listed as even potential ingredients, such as nuts—Optiva 4.5s updated Compliance module provides standard interfaces to a companys existing regulatory databases as well as links to existing regulatory bodies Web sites. The upgrade also flags regulatory restrictions and restraints that specific vertical markets need to be aware of.