IBM blamed for fire-truck maker's bankruptcy

American LaFrance pins IBM software for financial woes

IBM probably won't be asking American LaFrance for product endorsements anytime soon.

American LaFrance, an emergency vehicle and equipment company in South Carolina, has faulted, at least in part, IBM's software implementation for its recent bankruptcy in court documents filed at the US District Bankruptcy Court of Delaware this week.

According to the documents, American LaFrance began using unnamed ERP purchasing, inventory, production, payroll and finance services with the help of IBM and IBM software after the company was spun off from Freightliner in 2005.

However, the company said it began experiencing a "plethora of problems" with the components of its ERP software from its inception. Among the "serious deficiencies" that American LaFrance claimed had a "crippling impact" on its operations were "incorrect or incomplete" inventory data on the system; missing financial information that included inaccurate accounts payable, accounts receivable and general ledger balances; and the inability to transfer data from the Freightliner system onto the new system. As a result of these problems, the company says it was unable to reliably maintain its inventory, thus hindering the company's ability to deliver vehicles and equipment to customers. This "had an immediate impact on [American LaFrance's] cash flow and created a liquidity crisis," the company claimed.

Later in the documents, the company said it was "analyzing potential causes of action against IBM in connection with the problem-riddled transition to the ERP system."

An IBM spokesman confirmed to The Register that American LaFrance had used its systems, but declined to elaborate, stating that the company was "reviewing the documents filed with the court and have no further comment to make at this time." IBM bills its ERP system as "a comprehensive solution for managing business processes, including financials, human resources and operations and corporate services.

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