Frank O Smith, senior contributing editor (


Diagnostics, Asset Management April 10, 2009

Add to cart: Targeting the right customers requires marketing/supply chain synchronization

The recession has left industrial manufacturing companies among the hardest hit. As business from current customers slows down, these manufacturers are turning to unconventional methods that make them easier to be found by prospective clients.

By Frank O Smith, senior contributing editor (
Mobility April 1, 2009

Tool talk: Mobile workers report back with BI-enabled smart devices

As mobile computing technology proliferates, the demand for business intelligence (BI) capabilities is on the rise. Users want pervasive “actionable intelligence” delivered via smart phones, tablet PCs, and other sub-notebook devices to a remote, mobile workforce.

By Frank O Smith, senior contributing editor (
Manufacturing IT, MES March 23, 2009

Data talk: “Smart form” technology eases EDI/ERP order information transfer, validation

ADX says its CommerceMail solution is based on .PDF “smart” form technology that enables transaction document data to flow seamlessly into a company’s ERP system, eliminating data entry errors and costly data validation and error correction.

By Frank O Smith, senior contributing editor (
Diagnostics, Asset Management March 19, 2009

Headache remedy: Why outsourced maintenance is a service worth considering right now

Ensuring that equipment operates at peak performance is strategic to almost any business, which means maintenance is strategic to the business as well. Outsourcing will raise plant uptime and reduce your stress. Service providers can set up the processes quickly using the knowledge base of your own organization.  

By Frank O Smith, senior contributing editor (
Virtualization, Cloud Analytics March 10, 2009

Data explosion: The IT department has a long way to go to achieve green

Explosive growth in data center capacity to handle the flood of electronic transactions has the EPA projecting data center energy consumption will nearly double by 2011 from 2006 levels. In addition to elevated carbon footprints, this significant increase in power consumption raises the risk of power failures and limited availability.

By Frank O Smith, senior contributing editor (
Virtualization, Cloud Analytics February 23, 2009

Humble beginnings: KPIT Cummins offers Tier 2 manufacturing IT services and the capacity to please

India-based KPIT Cummins is a young and visionary company with specialized IT solutions for the industrial manufacturing and automotive sectors. As an SAP partner, its services span global supply chain management, intelligent equipment management, and strategies for faster time-to-market.

By Frank O Smith, senior contributing editor (
HMI, OI February 18, 2009

Sickening staples: Peanut butter recall highlights our need for a culture of responsibility

The story behind salmonella-tainted products from Peanut Corp. of America has resulted in consumer wariness for all peanut-based products. Could some of the losses resulting from this tragedy have been prevented via enhanced traceability? The answer is a resounding “yes,” as the retail industry has developed a set of standards for the traceability of various food products that rely upon EDI, data synchronization, bar-code labels, and RFID.

By Frank O Smith, senior contributing editor (
Diagnostics, Asset Management February 13, 2009

Managed services: TCO model captures the cost benefit of B2B outsourcing

The slow economy and rapid growth in technical areas means companies will have to invest capital at a time when it’s in short supply. That’s where managed services can be viewed as an attractive alternative. But some companies are still skeptical of the perceived risks and costs associated with a managed services provider. A new total cost of ownership (TCO) model offered by B2B e-commerce provider GXS helps companies answer the question: In-house, or outsourced?

By Frank O Smith, senior contributing editor (
Manufacturing IT, MES February 11, 2009

No coding required: Cross-platform ERP vendor taps open source community dialogue to continually deliver system enhancements

Open source ERP vendor xTuple wants you to be clear about what’s meant when talking about open source software—and be clear about the benefits. First: It’s not necessarily free.

By Frank O Smith, senior contributing editor (
System Integrators February 1, 2009

Chemical suppliers streamline SC data exchange using Integration-as-a-Service platform

The chemical industry championed an innovative approach to supply chain management (SCM) in 2000 when 22 global chemical companies pooled resources to create Elemica. An independent entity, Elemica was launched to deliver solutions for spanning the complete order-to-cash cycle. It’s not surprising that the chemical industry would be prime mover in this regard.

By Frank O Smith, senior contributing editor (
Workforce Development December 2, 2008

Wireless win: Industry groups working on standard for linking field devices to control networks

With manufacturers showing more interest in deploying wireless field devices, the need for a more robust, standards-based backbone transport link between remote gateways and central control systems and other platforms rises in importance. A new collaborative partnership between ISA and the Fieldbus Foundation will address the issue.

By Frank O Smith, senior contributing editor (
Asset Management November 17, 2008

ComBrio platter: ILS Technologies deal lands managed IT services solutions

Acquisition in late October of ComBrio greatly extends the reach and power of ILS Technologies’ portfolio of connectivity technology—specifically remote product services software for data center management. The result is even greater access and security in remote monitoring processes and IT asset management while maintaining the integrity of corporate firewalls.

By Frank O Smith, senior contributing editor (
Info Management November 1, 2008

Almost business as usual: Software AG remains upbeat despite global economic crisis

Software AG executives presented a positive message at the company's Innovation World 2008 user conference held in Miami in early November: third-quarter operating profits up 50 percent, reflecting in part the successful integration of Software AG's $546-million webMethods acquisition in summer 2007.

By Frank O Smith, senior contributing editor (
Vision and Discrete Sensors September 1, 2008

Wilson Sports bats 99+ compliance with Zebra RFID technology

When Wilson Sports moved on deck to address Wal-Mart's call for the next round of suppliers to meet the retailer's RFID mandate, the Chicago-based sports equipment company turned to Zebra Technologies to ensure solid performance. Wilson selected Zebra R110Xi printer/encoders for labeling shipments outbound for Wal-Mart with Alien Technology EPC Gen 2 Squiggle tags.

By Frank O Smith, senior contributing editor (
Virtualization, Cloud Analytics August 1, 2008

Oco on-demand business intelligence solution smartens up SMB market

Bill Coyne, director of purchasing and logistics for Concord, Mass.-based Welch Foods, was looking for an affordable on-demand business intelligence (BI) tool that could assist him in better managing the company's transportation and logistics operations. He was impressed from the start by the team from Oco Inc.

By Frank O Smith, senior contributing editor (
Manufacturing IT, MES June 1, 2008

History-free and feature-based: Siemens PLM Software unfurls its Synchronous Technology banner

Eager to keep market interest whetted following its $3.5-billion acquisition of UGS early last year and subsequent announcement of its Project Archimedes manufacturing initiative last summer, Siemens PLM Software heralded its April 2008 announcement of Synchronous Technology (ST) as “the next big breakthrough” in digital product development.

By Frank O Smith, senior contributing editor (
Diagnostics, Asset Management April 1, 2008

Closed-loop RFID drives new market growth

Although 2007 was the year that RFID market prognosticators sobered from the deluge of hype about imminent explosive growth—especially for open-loop supply chain applications—the year was far from a bust. Natick, Mass.-based market-research firm Venture Development pegs the total volume of RFID tags sold during 2007 at 1.

By Frank O Smith, senior contributing editor (
Manufacturing IT, MES March 1, 2008

New partnership speeds setup of electronic trading communities—and ERP ROI

Establishing trading partner communities just got easier given a partnership between B2B platform provider Seeburger and Edifecs, a specialist in streamlined mapping of transaction specifications between trading partners. EDI specifications created in Edifecs SpecBuilder schema authoring and testing tool can be automatically imported into the Seeburger Mapping Designer via a new Edifecs export ...

By Frank O Smith, senior contributing editor (
Energy, Power March 1, 2008

SAP ties together transportation management with xApp from Neoris

Neoris, a Latin American business and IT consulting firm and an SAP partner, recently redeveloped its Active Suite logistics execution applications as a composite xApp powered by SAP NetWeaver. It also added ActiveTrac, a new module for monitoring and enforcing logistics execution by enabling real-time tracking of vehicles and cargo while in transit.

By Frank O Smith, senior contributing editor (
IIoT, Industrie 4.0 February 1, 2008

Data storage growth now a pressing issue for mid-tier manufacturers

Midtier enterprises face many of the same challenges in managing IT resources and data storage that large enterprises do, but typically lack the IT staff with the breadth and depth of skills to address them. The kind of infrastructure monitoring often needed is the sweet spot for Incentra Solutions, a Boulder, Colo.

By Frank O Smith, senior contributing editor (