Composite applications framework links ERP and manufacturing operations

While manufacturing execution systems (MES) now comprise a $1-billion market, the solutions don't always fit today's requirements, says Simon Jacobson, an analyst with Boston-based AMR Research. At least not yet. “The market is growing, but no one has emerged as a leader,” Jacobson says.

By Jim Fulcher, contributing editor August 1, 2007

While manufacturing execution systems (MES) now comprise a $1-billion market, the solutions don’t always fit today’s requirements, says Simon Jacobson, an analyst with Boston-based AMR Research .

At least not yet.

“The market is growing, but no one has emerged as a leader,” Jacobson says. “There isn’t a company that dominates the MES space the way SAP dominates ERP. SOA [service-oriented architecture] is being applied to the plant operations space, but we’re still in the initial stages. There’s a huge opportunity for service providers to use manufacturing SOA to construct composite applications that close the gap between ERP and manufacturing operations.”

Sandeep Kishore
, senior VP, high-tech and manufacturing for HCL Technologies, says squeezing costs out of manufacturing to produce more at less cost is no longer a competitive business strategy.

One company taking that approach is HCL Technologies , an Indian global engineering, IT services, and business process outsourcing firm serving the high-tech, semiconductor, aerospace, automotive, and life-sciences industries. Its Synchronized Applications (SynAps) for Manufacturers Framework enables companies to build, deploy, and integrate disparate systems in the IT manufacturing value chain.

“SynAps is a composition framework that has the potential to build out specific manufacturing capability,” Jacobson explains. “Companies could use it, for example, to develop WIP [work-in-process] tracking capabilities, eliminate bottlenecks, and synchronize master data used for ERP and manufacturing.”

According to Sandeep Kishore, senior VP, high-tech and manufacturing, HCL Technologies, squeezing costs out of manufacturing to produce more at less cost is no longer a competitive business strategy.

“Companies today compete as supply chains—not as individual entities—which means transitioning from conventional cost-focused manufacturing to collaborative manufacturing that links the entire value chain, including customers, suppliers, partners, regulatory agencies, and engineering,” Kishore says. “With SynAps, HCL enables manufacturers to combine multiple elements of their value chains and realize significant returns as a result of improved productivity.”

There are two chief means of achieving those improvements, Kishore says.

The first is to enhance the efficiency of existing operations by managing systems better, which leads to fewer defects, lower manufacturing cost per unit, and increased profits.

The second is to improve collaboration by establishing tighter visibility into the supply chain, which leads to better understanding of the key constraints, inventory cost reduction, enhanced communication, and increased profits.