QAD, IBM aim e-comm solutions at manufacturing

QAD and IBM will expand their PowerSystem initiative to help manufacturers and their commercial partners become e-businesses.

QAD's enterprise resource planning (ERP) application, Mfg/Pro, will be bundled with IBM Netfinity hardware and enabled for IBM Net.Commerce software.

"Traditionally, technology changes are driven by business needs," said Charles Agee, commercial business manager of IBM.

"With Internet and e-commerce, we are seeing a change in technology driving the business changes, "Agee said.

"Companies need to adapt to a new way of doing business," said Paul Henderson, managing director of QAD Australia.

However, manufacturing is an industry where margins are tight, markets are shrinking and dust from big-ticket projects such as ERP and Y2K has barely settled.

"We have no immediate plans to implement an e-business strategy over the next couple of years," said Bob Miller, production manager of Gibbens Industries, which has just selected QAD's Mfg/Pro for a just-in-time manufacturing system.

"We have no time and budget to start another project," he said.

Henderson and Agee concede that it is still early days. "While manufacturers are talking about e-business, not many are implementing a strategy," Henderson said .

"However, those who don't start soon will not be able to compete," he said.

"It doesn't need to be a perfect solution, " Agee said. "Manufacturers need to simply get started and evolve the requirements later. Start simple and grow fast."

Miller argues that there is competitive pressure for a rapid take-up of e-business.

"The same argument was used a couple of years ago with ISO 9000, there is definitely a competitive pressure argument which is being used to push us in this direction," Miller said.

"Gibbens is already extremely competitive, and manufacturing is still very price sensitive," he said. "If you have the right price, it doesn't matter at the moment whether you are an e-business or not."

"However, the market is certainly pushing us in that direction, and it will eventually become an issue," he said.

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