SAP, Aras Ratchet Up Supply Chain Automation

SAP AG and Aras Corp. are each rolling out new or enhanced software designed to automate processes in the business-to-business supply chain.

SAP AG and Aras Corp. are each rolling out new or enhanced software designed to automate processes in the business-to-business supply chain that previously have been done manually.

SAP this week will unveil MySAP SRM 2004. The update features several enhancements in its Supply Strategy Development module, including capabilities for portfolio analysis, category analysis and demand aggregation, according to SAP officials in Walldorf, Germany. A new Factored Cost Bidding feature tells purchasing managers how special deals or contracts would affect the bid made by favored suppliers.

Integration with SAPs NetWeaver software stack enabled the inclusion of a feature that lets a company create a master contract that can be distributed to various back-end systems.

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MySAP SRM 2004, which also includes new design collaboration features, will be available in June.

Separately this week, PLM (product lifecycle management) software developer Aras will make available its APQP Plus software, which automates the collection and distribution of data around the design, quality and delivery of new product components.

Automotive OEMs are moving to require their suppliers to use the APQP (Advanced Product Quality Planning) process as a standard way of exchanging data. The Aras software includes templates and dashboards for document management, engineering change management, cost accounting and resource planning that are integrated into the Lawrence, Mass., companys namesake PLM software.

Automotive components maker Freudenberg-NOK GP, based in Plymouth, Mich., helped Aras develop APQP Plus and has begun to deploy it at offices around the world. Tom Gill, director of CAE technology and support at Freudenberg, said the software has improved communications among members of his product development teams but also cut down on meetings by automating much of the information sharing process.

Automakers are starting to mandate that suppliers like Freudenberg present APQP data in a format specific to particular PLM systems. When those systems arent from Aras, Gills staff has to develop new interfaces to APQP Plus.

"Since Aras is open and based on XML, we are hoping it will be easy to create these interfaces," Gill said.

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