Software Update: Cloud-Based ERP Speeds Manufacturing Deployments
Ed Talerico is Industry Strategy Director for Infor (New York), a developer of ERP, PLM and supply-chain software solutions.
Manufacturing Engineering: Your company just announced the new Infor CloudSuite for several industries. What solutions are available for discrete manufacturers?
Ed Talerico: In April, Infor officially launched CloudSuite Automotive and CloudSuite Aerospace & Defense [A&D] in the Americas. While these are the first industry-specific solution sets we’ve launched in the cloud, we’ve been deploying other products in the cloud for many years. In fact, we already have 2000 customers and more than 12 million users on cloud-delivered Infor solutions. Many of our enterprise solutions have been cloud-enabled for more than a decade.
What makes our new industry solution suites unique, however, is that they are collections of products specially designed for each industry with deep, proven functionality to manage industry-specific processes. They are also the first of our solutions—or any industry enterprise solutions—to be delivered by Amazon Web Services, one of the largest, most reliable and most secure data management providers in the world.
Each solution suite covers all functions that manufacturers need to run their businesses. For example, Infor CloudSuite Automotive includes a comprehensive ERP, warehouse mobility, supplier portals, trading partner processes, business intelligence, analytics, budgeting and planning.
Infor will expand its industry suites for A&D and Automotive to all global regions this year, and we will also launch suites for industrial and high-tech manufacturing shortly. We expect to offer cloud suites for all discrete manufacturing industries around the globe within a 12-month timeframe.
ME: Describe some of the new features of CloudSuite ERP.
Talerico: Our cloud suites support multimode manufacturing including project-based, discrete, JIT/Kanban and repetitive, and they are accessed via a consumer-grade user interface that the best and brightest manufacturing professionals find a pleasure to use.
The suites are complete and comprehensive. Many of our competitors in this space offer only an ERP but not the extended solutions that we also include—or vice-versa. Our fully integrated suite minimizes the need for customizations.
Another feature that manufacturers appreciate is our predictable pricing. Some of our competitors’ pricing models are variable based on revenue and/or contracts that include annual adjustments. With these contracts, as the industry bounces back, prices go up. Our pricing is predictable and not tied to revenue. We offer up to three-year, longer-term agreements while many of our competitors have monthly, subscription-based pricing. No surprises from Infor.
ME: How important is cloud-based ERP for manufacturing?
Talerico: Cloud-deployed industry suites help manufacturers keep up with customers’ constantly changing demands in many ways. First, they enable manufacturers to quickly bring up new sites so they can take advantage of business opportunities wherever and whenever they present themselves. The solution sets accommodate regional requirements as well as the need for the level of global standardization each customer requires. This is a critical capability in countries such as Brazil where complex rules and processes associated with financials, taxing and reporting can be centralized and shared across operational units. Second, cloud suites provide the reassurance that manufacturers will remain in compliance with customer requirements when they adjust their business processes. Lastly, with cloud suites, customers can quickly adjust processes to position themselves as leaders. We believe that speed is a competitive advantage that simply cannot be overstated.
ME: What are some key advantages of cloud-based ERP?
Talerico: Cloud-based ERP provides speedy ‘time to value,’ defined as the time it takes after a launch before customers realize gains associated with their investments. Because cloud solutions can be provisioned very quickly and there are no delays due to hardware, server or resource concerns, users start seeing benefits almost immediately.
Also, cloud solutions require a much lower initial investment than on-premise solutions and are then managed by subscription fees. These fees can be covered as operating expenses, so manufacturers can preserve capital expenses for more mission-critical growth-focused initiatives. Finally, upgrades on cloud-deployed solutions are relatively painless—again, no hardware or training issues are involved—so manufacturers always have the latest version of the software.
ME: Should manufacturers be concerned over data security with data on the cloud?
Talerico: The short answer is no. In fact, security in the cloud with established vendors is often far better than what manufacturers would be able to build on their own. Many companies have an instinctive fear of allowing mission-critical data to be managed outside their four walls. That’s why Infor brought Amazon on as our deployment partner. Manufacturers’ core strengths do not include data management, and neither do ours at Infor. So we turned to an expert, arguably one of the best in the world.
Our CEO Charles Phillips likes to say ‘Friends don’t let friends run data centers.’ That really does sum it up. Infor knows manufacturers need the highest level of security available, so we went to the industry leader to provide it.
ME: What is the outlook for manufacturing?
Talerico: Manufacturers will continue to move to cloud delivery of ERP solutions and extended enterprise solutions at a faster rate. According to a Gartner study, 47% of manufacturers plan to move mission-critical applications to the cloud over the next 4–5 years. When manufacturers look at business metrics and forecasts, they point to growth, growth, and more growth. So the biggest concerns in the industry are how to take advantage of new business opportunities and maximize the profits from that growth. Efficiencies, cost savings and the smart use of technologies are the keys to meeting those challenges. ME
Simulation software developer Ansys (Pittsburgh) announced May 1 that it has acquired SpaceClaim Corp. (Concord, MA), a developer of 3D modeling software, for $85 million in cash, plus retention and an adjustment for working capital. The transaction was closed on April 30, 2014. On a non-GAAP basis, the transaction is expected to be neutral to slightly accretive to Ansys’ non-GAAP earnings per share in 2014, and accretive in 2015 and beyond.
SpaceClaim is the developer of an easy-to-use 3D modeling software package designed to be used by any engineer during the product development process. The software employs direct modeling, a departure from most traditional CAD software. SpaceClaim and Ansys have partnered in the past to offer customers the Ansys SpaceClaim Direct Modeler.
With the acquisition, Ansys addresses unmet 3D modeling needs in the conceptual modeling, manufacturing and 3D printing spaces, noted Jim Cashman, Ansys president and CEO. “In addition to driving innovation,” Cashman said, “the addition of SpaceClaim helps Ansys accelerate the growth of the simulation market by broadening our user base from analysts and expert users to the millions of design and systems engineers in the industry.”
ABB Robotics (Rochester Hills, MI) on April 28 introduced the Robot Studio Picking PowerPac, which combines two ABB software packages, RobotStudio and PickMaster 3, into a single bundle, greatly simplifying both the design and programming of complex robotic picking-and-packing systems.
The RobotStudio Picking PowerPac boosts the performance of picking lines, allowing systems to be optimized in the 3D virtual world before being built in the real world. The software enables engineers to determine risks in designing picking lines, such as the variations in the product inflow, to be thoroughly tested and refined before costly mistakes are made on the production line.
The software allows for the improvement of existing lines configured using PickMaster 3 by recording current product flow with cameras and then feeding them into the Picking PowerPac for validation and optimization. With the software, users can configure the product conveyors, pick and place locations, gripper functionality, definition of each product to be handled, and configuration of all products and components included in the picking system.
ModuleWorks GmbH (Aachen, Germany), a supplier of CAD/CAM components for toolpath generation and simulation, on May 2 announced availability of a new release of its CAM components. ModuleWorks 2014.4 adds a broad range of enhancements and includes new features for five-axis, MultiBlade machining and simulation. The release is available to all partners from the customer download area at www.ModuleWorks.com.
Siemens PLM Software (Plano, TX) on April 16 announced it has made nearly $660 million of in-kind software grants for manufacturing programs at vocational high schools, technical community colleges and universities throughout Massachusetts. Students will now have access to the same Siemens’ PLM software used throughout global manufacturing to design, develop and manufacture products in automotive, aerospace, consumer products, medical devices, machinery, shipbuilding, and electronics.
The series of in-kind grants was established as a result of an industry need for skilled workers identified through the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MassMEP) and the Manufacturing Advancement Center Workforce Innovation Collaborative (MACWIC), an alliance of next-generation companies working to provide employer-led workforce training initiatives. Siemens Metals Technologies business, with its advanced manufacturing facility located in Worcester, is a founding member of MACWIC and serves on the steering committee. The academic partnerships are designed to support MACWIC’s Applied Manufacturing Technology Certification Pathway, an advanced manufacturing certification program.
Software Update is edited by Patrick Waurzyniak; firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was first published in the June 2014 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine. Click here for PDF.
Published Date : 6/1/2014