Opening the Door to Education and Collaboration

Just as the corporate world is turning to Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0, ASUG leaders are responding to the trend with a revamped event design and a heavy focus on collaboration and innovation. For the first time, ASUG co-located the Enterprise Asset Management (EAM), Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), Supply Chain Management (SCM) and SAP Adaptive Manufacturing Summit events. They took place over three days in one San Francisco venue. All aspects of the supply chain were up for discussion in more than 200 sessions, including product, process, service and compliance issues.

And the concept of 2.0 was a key theme. “Manufacturing 2.0” is a term coined by AMR Research just this year but already in common use. It proved to be an event highlight. Colin Masson, research director, value chain strategies for AMR, took the stage to clarify its meaning. He explained why it’s an important concept for any company seeking to optimize its supply chain.
Manufacturing 2.0, he said, is an architecture that breaks the shackles of traditional ERP and manufacturing excecution system (MES) models to allow users to perform demand-driven SCM. It capitalizes on service-oriented architecture (SOA) and Web services. The best of the best in SCM have moved from a fixed supply chain to a dynamic network that incorporates vendors and other partners.

ASUG innovators take the prize

“Co-innovation is a necessity,” Masson said. He announced the results of AMR’s annual “Supply Chain Top 25,” a distinguished list of top SCM performers that includes SAP Global Partner Nokia in the No. 1 spot, and SAP customer Procter & Gamble as No. 3. Masson also presided, along with “Managing Automation” magazine’s David Broussell, over the announcement of the winners of SAP’s first-ever Manufacturing Innovation Challenge awards.
There were more than 30 entrants in the challenge with three standouts taking home the prize. Whirlpool won for its “CLAW” or Conveyer Lane Assignment Warehousing system. It uses SAP xApp Manufacturing Integration and Intelligence (SAP xMII) and a Web interface to connect plant floor data with the company’s warehouse management system. Whirlpool’s Doug Francis took the ASUG stage to show how distribution center operators use CLAW to get visibility into the manufacturing schedule and streamline inventory processes.
Another winner, Geometric Software, demonstrated its “Integrated Product Quality Management” system. It uses 3-D capabilities, SAP xMII and SOA to synchronize the company’s design, buy, make and sell processes. Using a graphic illustration, a Geometric executive showed ASUG attendees how the system helps users find, assess and fix product defects in just three and a half minutes.
And the third winner was SEAL Consulting, an SAP Services Partner, which won for its “Mobile Inspections” system. It uses SAP ERP, SAP xMII, handwriting recognition technology and Blackberry mobile devices to maximize plant equipment performance. The system speeds up equipment maintenance and improves equipment uptime via real-time data.

SCM data on display

Many of the event sessions featured hard data, giving attendees the opportunity to compare their SCM performance with peers. Hans Thalbauer, vice president, application solution management, SAP PLM, SAP America, gave the opening keynote. He shared the results of a Charter Consulting SCM survey of CEOs.
Citing “The CEO Perspective on Supply Chain Management,” Thalbauer said that 82 percent of CEOs see supply chain initiatives as a means to cut costs. Yet 75 percent of those same CEOs cite profitable growth as their overall top priority. So despite its prevalence as a crucial manufacturing topic, only a minority of CEOs see SCM as a means to achieve growth.
And other SAP executives were on hand with data, including results of several SAP and ASUG Benchmarking initiatives. Benchmarking data about transportation management came from SAP Americas’ Jeff Flammer. He said that companies in the first quartile (the best performers) have 98 percent on-time delivery of shipped goods, compared to average companies that achieve just 89.6 percent on-time delivery. He also said first quartile companies employ just 1.6 full-time equivalents (people handling transportation processes) per billion dollars of revenue. He compared that to the 16.6 full-time equivalents at leading companies, those who are better than average but not top performers.
AMR’s Masson, speaking about the firm’s 2007 Supply Chain Top 25, said that those companies achieve three times more efficient use of assets and 50 percent higher growth than peers. In addition to Nokia and Procter & Gamble, the top 25 list included an array of SAP partners and customers such as IBM, Cisco Systems, Tesco, Samsung, Coca-Cola and others.

Real users, real-world success

Of course, a long list of SAP users shared success stories and real-world implementation experiences. CPS Energy’s Clint Johnson and Jimmy Mendoza discussed how the company reduced paper pushing and improved automation, while at the same time addressing regulatory issues. Nova Chemicals’ Gerry Schmidek detailed how the company’s SAP-based railcar management system provides in-transit tracking of trains. And, Daniel Head of SoftBrands explained how some large companies such as Rich Products and VWR International elect to run SAP ERP at their biggest locations while deploying SAP Business One within smaller subsidiaries.
Judging by the better-than-expected event attendance, ASUG members were eager to learn about such innovations and gather as much data as possible. Though ASUG leaders expected some 800 attendees in San Francisco they were pleasantly surprised that 1,200 people turned up.
Cynthia Leamon, director of continuous improvement for NIBCO, and ASUG director of education and events, was all smiles when talking about the event. “It went exceptionally well,” she said. “As I walked the floor and talked to volunteers as well, I found out that the attendees were very pleased with the content and new format.” She said that people jumped from track to track and took advantage of the broad base of information available.
Leamon noted that just like the top SCM performers who gave presentations there, the four-in-one event gave ASUG a great showcase to display its own efficiency and innovation – Web 2.0, ERP 2.0, Manufacturing 2.0 and now, ASUG 2.0.

Sarah Z. Sleeper
Sarah Z. Sleeper