Adapting ERP to Manufacturing Operations

March 31, 2016
QAD has rewritten its underlying ERP architecture to provide more IIoT connectivity and a customized user experience.

Because manufacturers have been saddled with legacy systems for so many years, we hear a lot these days about “future-proofing” the operations environment. There are some key elements to consider when developing a sustainable system including scalability, standardization, integration, and a dynamic user interface. And, sometimes the best way to deliver this functionality is through the cloud.

Being able to adapt to changing conditions on the factory floor and the supply chain is why manufacturing enterprise resource planning (ERP) vendor QAD has been working on developing a modern architecture and user experience for its QAD Cloud ERP product. The initiative, dubbed Project Channel Islands, is focused on delivering an individually adaptable and device-independent user experience that is personalized to the user to increase efficiency and provide insight for decision-making.

The first phase of the project, internally called Anacapa, was unveiled last year and included a complete rewrite of the underlying architecture using standardized application program interfaces (APIs).

“We didn’t change the business logic at all, we just changed the way we present the logic so that customers have more flexibility in the future as to how they interact and connect with third party software,” said Sharon Ward, senior director solutions marketing at QAD.

A new user interface allows for direct connection to machines, equipment and sensors, which mean the QAD applications are designed to work seamlessly with the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Ward said.

Yesterday, the second phase—which the company calls the “Santa Cruz” part of Project Channel Islands—was released. Santa Cruz brings in an activity feed that allows people to have conversations around anything in the system, such as a customer or supplier order or invoice, to help explain why decisions were made and what actions were taken. As a subscriber, a person can receive notifications for any updates to information or activities that are of value to him.

In addition, role-based dashboards with real-time metrics help managers make fact-based decisions. Part of this new user experience includes contextual insight, which automatically knows what is important to you and draws your attention to it on the screen. For example, a late order may be flashing on the interface or represented in a different color.

Also included in the new release is the ability to do requisition approvals from a mobile device, as well as an application builder that allows a company to upgrade pieces of the ERP suite without having to do any integration work.

“You can mix and match how you upgrade and the system automatically works together and knows how to connect thru the APIs,” Ward said.

According to Ward, Project Channel Islands will continue to evolve, but the focus remains on generating real-time insight for decision support and keeping users proactively informed while enhancing collaboration.

About the Author

Stephanie Neil | Editor-in-Chief, OEM Magazine

Stephanie Neil has been reporting on business and technology for over 25 years and was named Editor-in-Chief of OEM magazine in 2018. She began her journalism career as a beat reporter for eWeek, a technology newspaper, later joining Managing Automation, a monthly B2B manufacturing magazine, as senior editor. During that time, Neil was also a correspondent for The Boston Globe, covering local news. She joined PMMI Media Group in 2015 as a senior editor for Automation World and continues to write for both AW and OEM, covering manufacturing news, technology trends, and workforce issues.

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