TDCI Hooks Product Configurator into i5/OS ERP
March 11, 2008 Alex Woodie
Is it possible to have too much choice? It can often seem that way when trying to order products from manufacturers that offer a dizzying array of features, options, colors, and dimensions. To help streamline the decision making process, TDCI sells a piece of software called BuyDesign that makes a manufacturer or distributor “easy to do business with.” And now with the new iSeries Adapter, TDCI is making it easier to hook BuyDesign into i5/OS-based ERP systems.
You may have heard of Columbus, Ohio-based TDCI. The company continues to develop and sell the MAC-PAC XE ERP suite, which is based on the i5/OS platform and is popular with North American manufacturers of plastics, windows, signs, electrical and industrial components, cranes, and other market niches. Considering the wide variety of applications that MAC-PAC XE has been used for, it’s not surprising that TDCI’s other major offering is BuyDesign, a collection of Windows-based programs designed to streamline the configuration and sales process for ordering and buying customized products.
TDCI bills BuyDesign as an advanced product configurator that integrates with engineering (CAD) and manufacturing systems (ERP) to help a manufacturer accelerate sales by becoming “easier to do business with.” The software includes nine different components–including Channel Sales, Storefront Configurator, FlexRender, Flex2D, Flex3D, Build-Your-Own, Virtual Catalog, and Spec-In–and can help flush costs and errors from the ordering processes by automating much of the interaction with the customer.
In February, TDCI announced BuyDesign release 5.2, which introduced a new iSeries adapter to the BuyDesign suite. The iSeries adapter makes it easier to integrate BuyDesign with the array of common i5/OS-based ERP systems currently in production, including the BPCS, MAPICS, and PRMS product lines from Infor, the JD Edwards World product from Oracle, the Frontier product from Friedman, and, of course, TDCI’s own MAC-PAC XE.
While a good number of TDCI’s BuyDesign customers are using the automatic product configurator against i5/OS-based ERP systems–21, at last count–the introduction of the iSeries adapter will make it easier to connect the various BuyDesign components to the ERP system.
In particular, the new adapter will make it easier to directly access the graphical product configuration capabilities in BuyDesign Configurator from within existing iSeries applications. Alternatively, users can access these capabilities from Web browsers or directly from Windows laptops.
One of the early adopters of the iSeries adapter is VT Industries, a manufacturer of doors and countertops. The company, which is an Infor XE (previously MAPICS) shop, used the iSeries adapter to hook the ERP system to the BuyDesign Configurator, which it had previously installed to take orders and provide quotes over the Web.
“The BuyDesign iSeries Adapter made it very straight-forward to integrate BuyDesign Configurator into Infor XA for our Thermofoil Cabinet Door division,” says Vince Kolb, a systems analyst with VT Industries. “It’s now a seamless process for order entry people to use the BuyDesign Configurator when keying an order, and all of the proper Infor XA manufacturing information is automatically generated on the back end.”
TDCI says it developed the iSeries adapter using service oriented architecture (SOA) principles, and it contains both Windows and i5/OS components. Once setup is complete, the software will automatically generate all configuration outputs and deliver them to DB2/400, thereby providing a seamless experience for the user, the company says.
In addition to the new iSeries adapter, BuyDesign release 5.2 incorporates other enhancements to the BuyDesign Configurator and BuyDesign Channel Sales components. New features include dynamic fields within configuration rules that enable “loops” for multiple similar components in a configuration, expanded support for manufacturing data generation, and expanded ship-to address support.
The BuyDesign iSeries adapter is available now. The adapter costs $10,000 when purchased with the BuyDesign suite. Pricing for the BuyDesign suite starts at $50,000. For more information, see www.tdci.com.