CEBIT - SAP looks to make supply chains more adaptive

SAP is readying a supply chain management (SCM) application upgrade that it boasts will help its customers more easily adapt to demand fluctuations.

At the CeBIT IT show in Hanover, Germany, the ERP vendor Thursday announced the latest update to its mySAP Supply Chain Management suite, Version 5.0. This iteration has been enhanced to boost service parts management and collaboration processes and has support for vertical industries such as the apparel and footwear businesses, said Hans Thalbauer, vice president of application and solution management at SAP's SCM unit.

SCM 5.0 tightly links planning and demand forecasting processes for after-sales parts, said Thalbauer. Sales orders coming in will automatically trigger back-end processes to quickly deliver the needed parts and meet service level agreements, he said.

The application also has collaboration features to support supplier managed inventory processes, SAP said. Companies can also track supply chain activities, receive alerts when glitches occur and monitor key performance indicators to help ensure operations are at peak efficiency.

As part of SCM 5.0's vertical focus, the application has new forecasting and replenishment capabilities for retail customers designed to allow companies to lower the amount of stock they need to keep on hand. The software also can better handle products that have long lead times or that have seasonal demand. And it offers apparel and footwear industry customers the ability to work more closely with retailers and factory suppliers to ensure the best mix of product at the right time, based on factors such as the demand for style, size or color.

Caterpillar Logistics Services has been partnering with SAP on the release and has already started implementing it, said a company spokesman via e-mail. A subsidiary of construction equipment manufacturer Caterpillar, Caterpillar Logistics provides supply chain services to its parent company and other firms worldwide. While it is now rolling the software out for its global parts-distribution network, Caterpillar Logistics plans to look for other ways to deploy SCM 5.0. The application is expected to work with the company's proprietary logistics processes to deliver "optimum value" for customers, the spokesman said.

MySAP SCM 5.0 will ship generally in June.

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