IBM lands supply chain deal with Electric Boat

The Electric Boat division of defense contractor General Dynamics has signed a multiyear deal to buy Web-based, on-demand supply chain management services from IBM to guide the flow of parts used to build U.S. Navy submarines.

In an announcement Monday, IBM said it will provide its hosted, on-demand computing networks to help run Electric Boat's supply chain more efficiently by linking partners, suppliers and other shipyards in an integrated system.

Groton, Conn.-based Electric Boat has been conducting a pilot project using the system for almost a year, according to IBM Global Services spokesman Jim Larkin. By the end of the year, about 150 of Electric Boat's major suppliers will be hooked into the new system, helping to speed parts orders and distribution, he said. Presently, most of Electric Boat's supply chain is run using paper-based orders and transactions.

By moving to a computerized system, component orders that now take 30 days to place, fill and deliver will take only about 10 days, Larkin said.

No details were given on the value or exact length of the deal.

The project is the first commercial result of IBM's ongoing collaboration with the National Shipbuilding Research Program (NSRP) to increase U.S shipbuilding efficiency by using technology to improve collaboration and information exchange among shipbuilders and their suppliers. The NSRP is a consortium of major U.S. shipbuilding firms that helps focus national shipbuilding research and development funding on technologies that will reduce the cost of warships to the U.S. Navy and boost U.S. international competitiveness.

The IBM services, called SPARS, or Shipbuilding Partners and Suppliers, is based on open, scalable computing architecture, enabling Electric Boat to quickly add users and business processes regardless of computing platform. Electric Boat will pay a monthly usage fee for the service based on the number of registered users, suppliers and business processes, according to IBM.

SPARS uses IBM WebSphere, DB2 and Tivoli Security Management software on IBM eServer xSeries systems.

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