Automating After-Market Product Service

Supply chain management software makers Manugistics and i2 are readying new software for automating processes along the chain of companies engaged in product service and support.

Supply chain management software makers Manugistics Group Inc. and i2 Technologies Inc. are readying new software for automating processes along the chain of companies engaged in product service and support.

Manugistics on Tuesday announced its new SPM (Service and Parts Management) suite designed to help after-market service providers and MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul) operations better synchronize the work they do with service partners.

Drawing on Manugistics supplier relationship management and supply chain management technologies, the SPM suite addresses service support chain processes like the planning, sourcing, repairing, maintenance, scheduling and delivery of services and parts.

A Pricing and Revenue Optimization capability in the suite enables companies to more effectively price their service and parts agreements, according to officials at Manugistics, of Rockville, Md. Likewise, the suites collaborative production management capabilities enable a company to better allocate constrained resources between production and service operations.

The SPM solution takes into account a companys labor constraints, bills-of-materials and unique engineering requirements to improve daily manufacturing scheduling, officials said.

Lt. Commander Michele Burk, U.S. Navy Supply Corps officer at the Naval Supply Systems Command in Mechanicsburg, Pa., is piloting eight Manugistics modules, including the new SPM suite, which Burk helped design.

The Manugistics pilot is part of a wider advanced planning system and SAP AG enterprise resource planning software rollout. The deployment is an effort to replace some of the Navys legacy, homegrown systems with commercial software. Burk is designing the system so that the SAP software is the transactional backbone of the Navys parts supply system, and the Manugistics software is the "brain" of that system. She expects to start testing within the next month.

"We have a system right now that works pretty well. The problem is the technical support is mainframe and its older technology. So were not trying to improve our business rules, but improve the technology," said Burk. "[The SPM will be] a step forward, well integrate the supply chain planning with our budget development and execution, which is not integrated now. Once those two are integrated, you actually are able to manage your supply chain while looking at budget indications.

"Because we live in a constrained budget environment, I can best plan to support my weapon system based on my budget. It allows you to live in a budget-constrained environment."

Also on Tuesday, Dallas-based i2 announced that is had added new inventory visibility and exception management capabilities to its i2 Five.Two collaboration platform. The capabilities will enable faster and more accurate order, inventory and shipment information across the supply chain, the company said.

i2s new Collaboration and Inventory Visibility solution provides key trading partners with real-time visibility to forecasts, orders, shipments and inventory.

Picking up where enterprise resource planning software leaves off, Inventory Visibility provides multi-enterprise, multi-tier collaboration and inventory visibility. An exception detection and management capability enables users to set alerts pertaining to the status of inventory, orders or shipments – allowing them to manage by exception.