News Briefs and Product Shorts
Unless you're Wal-Mart, the potential for radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to boost your bottom line is minimal. That's the conclusion of A.T. Kearney, a well-respected global management consulting firm, which recently completed a study of the technology that is garnering much attention--and hype--from the IT press and software vendors. Whereas the high tech wireless tracking system will enable retailers like Wal-Mart to realize substantial benefits by reducing their inventory and cutting their warehouse labor costs, the manufacturers whom Wal-Mart has required to implement RFID will actually lose money in the deal. A.T. Kearny looked at two Wal-Mart suppliers, a grocer and a drug maker which each do $5 billion a year in sales, and concluded they would each lose $155 million over the course of a 10 year period, based on a 15-cent cost per RFID chip (a price that could come down as volume goes up). Nevertheless, Wal-Mart's biggest suppliers, which tend to be OS/400 shops, are expected to comply with Wal-Mart's RFID mandate just the same, as upsetting the world's largest company through non-compliance does not provide an economically desirable alternative.
In January 2003, Tichenor College Textbooks Company decided to roll-out a secure B2B order entry Web site to remain in step with its two biggest competitors. The problem was, TCTC had to have the new Web site hooked into its existing OS/400 system by August, when the year's second back-to-school book-buying frenzy began, or face losing a considerable amount of business. Led by IT director Jerome Stillions, the Bloomington, Indiana, company began searching for technology providers, over the Internet and at the COMMON trade show, for a solution that could be quickly integrated with its existing system, with a minimum of new hardware requirements. TCTC's search eventually led to michaels, ross & cole's mrc-Productivity Series, a J2EE-compatibile suite of development tools for iSeries systems. The wholesaler's new mrc-powered Web site went live on August 18, just in time for the fall rush, and the results have been good. Stillions reports that more than 20 percent of the fall sales came in after hours through the Web, contributing to a 5-week return on investment for the book company, and Web sales in January 2004 are expected to be up another 30 percent.
The RFID in a Box solution from supply chain execution software vendor Manhattan Associates' has won an award from INDUSTRY WEEK, the software vendor announced last week. RFID in a Box was chosen by the magazine's editors as one of five Technologies of the Year winners for INDUSTRY WEEK's annual Technology and Innovation Awards Program. The Atlanta, Georgia, software vendor announced RFID in a Box earlier this year as a way to bring together all the components of a complete RFID solution so its customers didn't have to. After Wal-Mart announced earlier this year that its top 100 suppliers would be required to include RFID tags in shipments, Manhattan's timing in announcing the new RFID offering looked excellent, indeed. The magazine's December issue contains a description of RFID in a Box, which includes five RFID readers from Alien Technology, five RFID-enabled printers from either Printronix or Zebra Technologies, 50,000 4-inch-by-6-inch RFID tags, and two servers: one to run the RFID middleware, and one to run an application called Trading Partner Management (TPM), which requires Windows. Manhattan has several customers of RFID in a Box, but it will not disclose their names because the customers consider the technology a competitive advantage, the magazine's editors wrote.
Trippe Manufacturing Company, the Chicago-based manufacturer of surge protectors, has chosen Clear Technologies' CRM software to automate several aspects of their business. The manufacturer, an OS/400 shop, was looking to replace its outdated TeleMagic customer tracking system, and considered several alternatives, including the CRM package from Relavis, Clear Tech says. In the end, Trippe Manufacturing chose Clear Tech's CRM software, called C2, in large part because of the people at the Dallas, Texas, software company, said Geoff Hicks, Trippe's vice president of information systems. "They did a thorough job of quickly understanding our needs," Hicks says. Trippe plans to use C2, which runs on iSeries, pSeries, and xSeries servers and features a pure HTML front-end, to re-engineer its business processes in several areas, including customer management, sales force automation, customer service, returns processing, and cross departmental connectivity.
A Mexican bank has expressed satisfaction with the capabilities of Transoft's software tools to Web-enable its OS/400 application. Earlier this year, Bancomext and its consultant, Mexico City-based Omnisys, used Transoft's Screen Component Adapters software to build a new Web-front end for its OS/400 application, which Transoft described only as a "legacy" system. Transoft's Screen Component Adapters are part of its Intelligent Adapter product suite and help transform the screen-flows of terminal-based applications into component-based services. Dave Roth, Transoft's vice president of business development, says his company's software offers OS/400 shops faster integration without the problems associated with traditional screen scrapers. "Our family of adapters is highly valued by customers like Bancomext," he said. Bancomext is a government owned bank that was created to finance and promote Mexico's participation in foreign trade and investment.
You may not have thought the iSeries had much of a future in bioscience research, especially compared with the highly customizable options long favored by academia. But that was before Nikon's newest range of Eclipse iSeries products hit the street last week. Nikon says its iSeries product line features a new Eclipse 80i microscope that is perfectly suited for customers involved in cutting-edge bioscience research. The Eclipse 80i's new DIH digital head, which features an integrated Epi-Fluorescence attachment with six filter cube positions and an integrated shutter, beam-splitting module, and dual ports for digital cameras, confocal attachments, and spectral detectors, Nikon says. Indeed, with the Eclipse 80i's new "Hi-S/N Noise Terminator," the microscope provides vastly improved fluorescence performance and super-high signal-to-noise contrast, enabling it to achieve "the ultimate in low signal fluorescence imaging." The flexibility afforded by Nikon's latest iSeries product should put to rest the debate over the iSeries' role in bioscience. Unfortunately, the IBM iSeries was not mentioned in the Nikon press release. We apologize (sort of) if we have added to the confusion of exactly what the iSeries is and what it does.
CMS MANUFACTURING SYSTEMS
CMS Manufacturing Systems - Function, Value, Reliability
CMS Manufacturing Systems offers a comprehensive, Internet-enabled ERP/Supply Chain Management solution, CMS/400 v5.0, for small and medium-sized manufacturing enterprises in tight supply chain relationships, typical of a wide range of industries, from automotive to consumer goods.
CMS/400's fully integrated suite of modules is sold as a single comprehensive solution, without tier or user-based pricing. And CMS staff provides all post-sales support, including, implementation, training and ongoing education and support. CMS has installations in over 2,500 plants worldwide.
CMS/400's functionality includes integrated EDI/Release Accounting, CRM, Real-Time Shop-Floor Reporting, Production Analysis Tool-Set, Event Monitor, Materials and Logistics Management, APS, Financial Management, MPE, Tooling and Maintenance Integration and is fully Internet enabled with the CMS Easy e-Business Suite.
This enhanced e-business capability completes the picture, making CMS the one-stop, single-source, turnkey solution provider for small and midrange enterprises with ERP/Supply Chain Management system needs.
And once a new customer has purchased CMS/400, CMS commits its planning, implementation and training resources to helping management and staff fully realize CMS/400's capabilities throughout the enterprise.
To learn more about CMS/400, and to register for a no-obligation test-drive, go to email@example.com or www.cms400.com, or call 888-426-7400.
Timothy Prickett Morgan
Advertising Sales Representative
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