Unisys Makes Supply Chain Noise

With its Global Visible Commerce Solutions, Unisys plans to take an expanded role in non-DOD government and commercial supply chain markets.

Its been a busy week in the supply chain arena for Unisys, who not only has rolled out a series of supply chain solutions for retail, life sciences, consumer product goods and transportation markets, but has also announced deals with supply chain specialists Proforma and Manugistics Inc. and longtime partners Microsoft Corp. and Oracle Corp.

Unisys and Microsoft have piloted Unisys software architecture as part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Securitys Operation Safe Commerce (OSC).

In an interview with eWEEK.com, Unisys President and Chief Operating Officer Joseph McGrath said the company plans to stay as active as ever as a supply chain provider for the U.S. Department of Defense, while also leveraging its decade of military supply chain experience to take on a greater role in other government and commercial vertical markets. Unisys is already working with some large commercial customers, including Sara Lee, Motorola Inc. and Procter & Gamble, McGrath said.

The companys new Global Visible Commerce Solutions are designed to let companies and government agencies combine legacy applications with tagging information from technologies such as RFID, bar codes, cellular and GPS, for a unified supply chain view.

The centerpiece of the software solutions is Unisys 3D Visible Enterprise methodology, which uses business rules to help customers examine relationships between supply chain strategy, technology and back-end business processes, McGrath said.

Through a dashboard-type interface, users can also set alerts for parameters such as out-of-stock items and reduced inventory levels.

The solutions integrate server technology from Microsoft, along with modeling tools from Proforma and traceability, data aggregation and analytics tools from Manugistics. Unisys also announced intentions to integrate the software with the E-Business Suite from Oracle, Microsofts archrival.

Unisys expects to support middleware from a number of software vendors, McGrath said.

Manugistics tools have been used to add inventory management, transportation management, track-and-trace and shipment monitoring functions.

Technology already integrated from Microsoft includes the SQL Server database, SharePoint Portal Server, Exchange Server 2003 for messaging and BizTalk Server 2004.

In the DHS pilots, Unisys has been working with Microsoft, Motorola, Sara Lee Branded Apparel, and Sara Lee Coffee and Tea Service on securing containers headed to the United States from other nations. The company has led two OSC pilots at the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey, one pilot at the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach, and another at the Port of Seattle/Tacoma.

All together, Unisys has carried out more than 20 recent supply chain implementations and pilots, according to McGrath.

Other recent supply chain partners and customers have included Procter & Gamble, mobile device maker Nokia, UK-based My Grocer; General Electric, United Parcel Service and Federal Express, McGrath said.

In a separate announcement, Microsoft last week unveiled an RFID project with snack maker Jack Links Beef Jerky.


Read more about Microsofts project with Beef Jerky. Meanwhile, Unisys competitor IBM has been demonstrating the prototype for a dashboard-style monitoring tool, geared to use in financial management as well as supply chain applications.


Check out eWEEK.coms Supply Chain Management & Logistics Center for the latest news and analysis of enterprise supply chains.