Infor buys PLM maker to boost manufacturing ERP apps

Infor Global Systems bought Formation Systems, a developer of PLM software for process manufactures, for an undisclosed sum.

Manufacturing-focused ERP (enterprise resource planning) applications maker Infor Global Systems is adding another technology to its acquisition-assembled portfolio, announcing Thursday that it has bought Formation Systems, a developer of PLM (product lifecycle management) software for process manufacturers. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Southborough, Massachusetts-based Formation Systems will be integrated with Infor's process manufacturing group, led by general manager Bruce Gordon. Its technology fills a critical gap in Infor's offerings, he said.

"We had no PLM software. We had the ability to store formulas for recipes, but that isn't adequate for the forthcoming [regulatory] requirements," Gordon said. "We needed to move into that space."

Process manufacturing involves blending components into a new product, as is common in industries like pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and food and beverage. The needs of such manufacturers differ from those of discrete manufacturers, which produce distinct individual products.

AMR Research deemed Formation Systems a smart pick for Infor. "[Formation's] Optiva product offers best-in-class formulation, specification and recipe management functionality," AMR Research's analysts wrote in a research note. AMR Research also highlighted Formation Systems' customer list, which includes marquee clients The Coca-Cola Co., and Campbell Soup Co.

Three-year-old Infor, headquartered in Alpharetta, Georgia, has steadily scooped up other software companies to create a line of ERP software serving 17,000 manufacturing and distribution customers worldwide. Its key rivals include SSA Global Technologies in the midmarket and SAP and Oracle on the high end.

Infor will continue selling Formation Systems' software as a stand-alone product for the next few months as it works to integrate Optiva with its own process manufacturing and supply chain software, Gordon said. AMR Research expects Infor to aggressively pitch Optiva at SAP customers frustrated by SAP's more limited PLM software.

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