Sharper Tools Can Cut Time to Market

Mapics, Datasweep enhance efficiency of supply chain management.

MapicsInc. and Datasweep Inc. are tuning their supply chain management offerings to help manufacturers reduce the time it takes to develop products, build them and get them out the door.

Mapics this week will roll out Version 6.0 of its SCM solution, which offers supplier and customer collaboration components designed for quick and efficient deployment.

Separately, Datasweep last week announced that KPMG Consulting Inc. will provide services that integrate the Datasweep Advantage SCM software with third-party manufacturing applications to give manufacturers visibility into their supply chain in 90 to 180 days.

Mapics SCM 6.0 has an Extensible Markup Language-based architecture that helps manufacturers easily and quickly integrate parts suppliers into a complete supply chain, according to company officials in Alpharetta, Ga. An upgraded Synchronization Engine also helps integrate Mapics SCM modules more efficiently, they said.

Version 6.0 also offers a full suite of applications that helps manufacturers collaborate with suppliers more efficiently, including a supply chain planning module that helps manufacturers do master planning across multiple plants. A supplier collaboration module provides color-coded exceptions so manufacturers can quickly focus on problem areas. It also enables uploading of information into the Mapics system through a Web interface.

Meanwhile, Datasweep and New York-based KPMG said that by uniting the formers SCM software with the latters integration services, they are making it easier for manufacturers to integrate their internal SCM initiatives and extend them to suppliers. The companies initially will provide solutions for electronics and medical device manufacturers and will consider adding packages for more vertical markets.

Datasweeps Advantage software offers a completely Web-enabled interface and Web native architecture. Active databases for each production line feed data into a historical database that lets manufacturers extract data for analysis, reporting and Web site updates. The historical database also enables manufacturers to give product updates to customers in real time, according to Datasweep officials.

According to sources close to the company, Datasweep, of San Jose, Calif., is working on integrators that will hook into collaboration software from MatrixOne Inc. and Parametric Technology Corp. Datasweep officials declined to comment. Datasweep already sells integrators to enterprise software from SAP AG and Oracle Corp.

Such adapters are sorely needed to make SCM packages such as those from Mapics and Datasweep complete, users of the software said.

ArvinMeritor Inc. has seen fairly significant increases in efficiency in schedule stabilization with Mapics 5.0, said Negendra Arora, global manager of SCM systems. The Troy, Mich., auto industry supplier is evaluating Mapics 6.0 to see if it will enable the company to exchange meaningful information with suppliers. One sticking point is having adapters to connect to suppliers.

"I dont know what the supplier system is—what theyre running for their own transactions," Arora said. "The hooks that have to be put into their proprietary systems—thats the big problem. The interfaces, especially in the old systems, are not available."

KLA-Tencore Corp., a semiconductor testing manufacturer in San Jose, is implementing Datasweeps software to create an internal SCM system for its manufacturing divisions and connections to 40 or 50 suppliers. Project Manager John Moore said KLA-Tencore has achieved some success in connecting with two suppliers, but they are not yet exchanging what he considers "quality information."

The key, according to Moore, is the appropriate adapters that hook into suppliers systems and allow for collaboration. "Meaningful collaboration with suppliers means we can say, Hey, whats going wrong, what do you need to fix it? and identify any changes on the product," said Moore. "Its mainly in three or four areas but primarily around quality." But implementing the technology to answer such questions with suppliers is not trivial since it will have to link deeply into KLA-Tencores or the suppliers back-end systems, he said.

"I dont have all the answers yet, but [a solution] will probably be a connection to our system. It could be Datasweep or someone else," Moore said. "I will be looking to see what Datasweep has on this and the opportunity to partner on the whole supplier-connector part of the equation."

While KLA-Tencore has internally developed some adapters to allow suppliers to hook into its back-end system, ArvinMeritors Arora is still determining the best approach to take to supplier collaboration.