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Plant-Wide Research Group, Inc. (PWR) is the leading consulting and market research firm focused on the manufacturing mission critical software markets including ERP, PLM, CRM, and SCM. With more than 25 years of experience, we are the leading experts in transforming the IT BackOffice and supply chains of the world’s most successful manufacturing companies. PWR has designed and delivered end-to-end, customer-to-supplier information solutions for closed-loop business management. Closed-loop mission critical software systems are designed to enable organizations to take a new leap in productivity by synchronizing the planning and execution processes across the extended enterprise.

PWR understands that the key to company success is to combine a best-practice business process with leading-edge technology in a workflow-based infrastructure that enables users to turn “analysis into action.” Based on our experience with the world’s leading manufacturers, PWR supports the needs of all companies. Our experiences prove that even businesses within the same vertical and markets are not the same. Based on that understanding, PWR has assisted its clients to:

  • Select and implement ERP, CRM, and SCM solutions,
  • Develop new IT initiatives including short and long term IT programs,
  • Redesign comprehensive solution workflows for enterprise-level management,
  • Design closed-loop supply chain management solutions for synchronized execution, and
  • Provide on-going customer support.

To learn more about how these programs can help your organization reach the next level of productivity, contact PWR at info@plant-wide.com or call 978-663-9212.

This Issue Sponsored By IMTI - The Integrated Manufacturing Technology Initiative (IMTI) was launched in January 2000 to bring together industry, academic, and government partners to support and strengthen the nation’s manufacturing community. It has grown into a powerful public/private partnership that includes several federal agencies and leading companies including Rockwell Collins and Procter & Gamble. Through R&D and strategic collaboration, IMTI members are defining the future of manufacturing technology and manufacturing enterprises along with leading companies such as John Deer and GM. To learn more about joining IMTI and for Information on Upcoming Workshops or to request copies of IMTI Publications, contact PWR at: bill@plant-wide.com

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SAP Upgrades Business One SAP has upgraded its ERP solution for small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), “Business One”. The last upgrade features incremental upgrades around MRP, CRM, and underlying business intelligence features. The biggest boost in the current release is the incorporation of acquisition of iLytix Systems (an SAP Acquisition) users can port information between Business One and Microsoft Excel. Users can also create, modify, and deliver reports within Excel. Business One already integrated with Microsoft Outlook. The incorporation of iLytix functionality is at the request of BizOne users. The added capability is built atop Microsoft code from TopManage.

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Aspen Tech Continues Losses – On November 24, 2004, MES Software maker Aspen Technology said it would restate results for the fiscal years ended June 2000 through June 2004 after its audit committee discovered the company improperly accounted for certain software licenses. The news was a blow to stockholders who had already watched their stock value drop from a 52 week high of $12 to a low of $5. This has resulted in possible green mail lawsuits. However, Aspen had flat revenue for the last four years; the stock price was dropping over that period. The drop has been eating into, and lowering, cash on hand; as a consequence, the firm has been restructuring. Restructuring has added to modestly to cash flow, but receivables have started dropping precipitously. This plunge has resulted in the reshuffling of presidents and the “retirement” of the Chairman and founder. Apparently, this is due to continuing issues of the necessity for the restatement of earnings for 2000-2004 and resulting green mail activity.

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Manufacturing Sector Production Up – The Federal Reserve said that the December jump in industrial production matched a similar 0.8 percent gain in October and was far above a modest 0.2 percent rise in November, allowing manufacturers to end the year on a solid note.

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Ron Wohl Parts Service At Oracle - Ron Wohl is a class act. Plant-Wide has enjoyed several meetings with Ron over the years. While receiving relatively little in the way of press, Ron has guided the development of Oracle’s under the most difficult conditions. He has had a steady guiding hand through the many radical changes in technology, users needs, and application directions, not to mention intense competition and recessions. Plant-Wide always found Ron to be a gentleman, well versed in market dynamics, and on top of his game. We add our best wishes to those of Larry Ellison in Larry’s open memo to Oracle’s employees concerning Ron’s departure.

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Oracle To Retain 90 Percent Of PeopleSoft Programming Staff - Oracle plans to retain over 90 percent of PeopleSoft product development and product support staff. The PeopleSoft development team will finish the development and deployment of PeopleSoft version 8.9, and then begin development of the next upgrade to PeopleSoft products, version 9.0. The PeopleSoft support teams, with the assistance of the Oracle support organization, will continue to support PeopleSoft customers around the world.

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CPG Vertical: JDA Software Group’s 9 Months Report – JDA focuses on providing software and professional services for the retail vertical. It was founded in 1985 and is headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona after its earlier birth in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Aspen services its market using 1,300 associates operating from 27 offices in major cities throughout North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia. It claims 4,600 retail, manufacturing and wholesale clients growing through 10 acquisitions including the latest in 2004, Timera Retail Solutions, a developer of workforce management solutions for the retail and consumer goods industry. For the nine months ended September 30, 2004, total revenues were $159.6 million compared to total revenues of $152.2 million for the nine-month period of 2003. Software license revenues were $38.9 million for the first nine months of 2004, versus $42.4 million for the same period in 2003. Product revenues, which include software license revenues and maintenance services, increased to $98.3 million as compared to $94.7 million in the same period last year. Service revenues increased to $61.3 million as compared to $57.5 million for the nine months ended in 2003. Cash flow from operations was $22.3 million for the first nine months of 2004 as compared to $19.8 million during 2003.

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Microsoft Brazil Comes Out Swinging Against Brazil’s Open Source Mandate - Microsoft is fighting Open Source, saying it is tired of paying costly licensing fees to companies like Microsoft, Brazil, the world's eighth-most wired nation, has told its agencies to move to Linux and free software programs that run on it. To counter, a Brazilian official reported that Microsoft is lobbying Brazil's government to agree to a meeting between the company's chairman, Bill Gates, and President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva at the World Economic Forum. Brazil has taken prominent role in the so-called free software movement, an effort that champions computer operating systems like Linux as an alternative to Microsoft's Windows program. Sergio Amadeu, head of the president's national technology institute, told Reuters, "Brazil wouldn't gain anything from this, but Microsoft would gain a lot. They want to try to lobby Lula in the other direction."

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SAP Introduces New Portal Development Kit For Microsoft – A new software development kit from SAP is designed to make it easier for programmers using Microsoft’s Visual Studio development environment to write applications that work with SAP’s Enterprise Portal. The Portal Development Kit for Microsoft .Net is the result of a joint-development and patent-sharing agreement, announced last May, in which Microsoft and SAP promised to create technologies that facilitate interoperability between their products. The portal toolkit is available from SAP as an add-in for Visual Studio developers. The goal is to let Visual Studio developers use the tools and programming languages they already know to add capabilities such as single sign-on access to SAP-on-Windows software environments. Enterprise Portal is part of SAP’s NetWeaver data-integration layer. About two-thirds of new SAP deployments take place on Windows, according to Microsoft. Last quarter, Microsoft and SAP delivered the SAP .Net Connector 2.0, featuring improved programming-language support. Other technologies in development include joint support for Web services and Microsoft’s “smart client” concept and interoperability between the SAP environment and Microsoft’s BizTalk and Exchange Servers and SharePoint Services.

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NT Gets Patches Even Though Support For NT Is No Longer Offered - Although Microsoft has ceased support and often warned users of Windows NT that security fixes would stop January 1, 2005, January's regularly-scheduled patches actually included one for the retired operating system. The "critical" bug in Windows' HTML Help has been patched for NT 4.0 Server SP 6a and NT 4.0 Server Terminal Edition SP 6, according to Microsoft in documentation accompanying the latest patch. Microsoft said they did so because "the end-of-life support occurred very recently" and "most of the steps that are required to address this vulnerability were completed before this date." We do not expect any more such patches. Officially, support for the OS ended Dec. 31, 2004, but Microsoft is offering an additional two years - through the end of 2006 - to customers who sign up for custom support plans. However, Microsoft once again urged customers to move up from NT.

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Evic Selects Cincom's Priority ERP System - The Evic Group, (Australia) a quality-endorsed paint manufacturer, is implementing Cincom's Priority ERP to better manage its batch manufacturing and custom jobbing. Based in Ingleburn Australia, the Evic Group is a market leader in high-quality polyurethane coatings and comprises a number of companies trading in a diverse range of industrial markets. Colin Gregory, CEO of the Evic Group said the company looked at a number of systems and decided Priority would be the most suitable, not only because it allows better integration of bar coding, but also due to its ability to automate a number of business processes, which no other system was able to do. "For the first time we are able to handle both batch manufacturing and custom jobbing through the one system. This feature is critical to the successful running of our business and until now, we have been unable to find a system which provides this capability." Mr. Gregory highlighted the fact that Cincom's experience in the paint manufacturing industry was another key factor in the decision to select Priority. Paul Hargreaves, Managing Director of Cincom Australia, said Cincom has always prided itself on the depth of knowledge and experience in the manufacturing industries. "Priority not only matched the requirements, but being designed specifically for small to medium enterprises, it provides a competitive edge through cost effective and efficient use of a single system that supports the complete business process." – Homer Computer Services, Melbourne.

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Wave Systems and ORC Form Partnership To Support Homeland Defense - Wave Systems Corp and Operational Research Consultants, Inc. (ORC), a wholly owned subsidiary of WidePoint Corporation, announced a strategic partnership to jointly market the “EMBASSY Trust” suite and certified credentialing to provide identity management solutions to federal, state and local governments. The partnership agreement combines ORC's federal government authorized External Certificate Authority (ECA) and Access Certificates for Electronic Services (ACES) capabilities with Wave's EMBASSY Trust Suite technology for use with federal compliant public key infrastructures. The combination of EMBASSY technology integrated with the trusted third party services provides another element to furthering the availability of the high level of information assurance technologies in the ongoing efforts to protect personal information and in support of Homeland Defense endeavors. ORC employs Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) technology to enable Government and commercial customers to confidently disseminate information to geographically dispersed audiences while protecting that information from unauthorized disclosure.

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Webcom Has Earned Certified Status In Microsoft’s Partner Program - Webcom, Inc. provides a Web-based simplified quote-to-order solution supporting the selling of complex products and services. WebSource CPQ, Webcom’s flagship product, is designed to help drive increased revenues and margins requiring nothing more than a web browser. WebSource CPQ has earned certified status in Microsoft’s Partner Program recognizing Webcom’s expertise in the technology marketplace. As a Microsoft Certified Partner, Webcom has demonstrated expertise with Microsoft technologies and a proven ability to meet customer needs. Microsoft Certified Partners receive a many benefits including access, training, and support.

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A $5,000 Google Appliance Targets SMBs - Google is beginning to offer search to a whole new type of customer, while going deeper and deeper into large corporations according to Dave Girouard, general manager of Google Enterprise, which claims approximately 800 customers. Google aims to put enterprise search into the servers of small and medium-sized businesses with the release of a $5,000 appliance. The Google Mini is now available, along with technical enhancements to the search product that will be available in both the regular and Mini appliances. In both the Mini and original versions, Google added a native connection to enterprise databases. In prior editions, only Web-enabled information could be queried. This is important, because so much information in the corporation resides in structured databases," Girouard said. The appliance connects with Oracle's database, IBM's DB2, Microsoft's SQL, the open-source mySQL and Sybase's database. To speed indexing, in addition to the crawler, Google added a feeder system that can be configured to automatically add information from content management or business applications to the index.

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Honeywell Wins $6.5 Million Lifecycle Management Contract with Lyondell Chemical Company - Honeywell recently announced it has received an 8 year, $6.5 million Lifecycle Management (LCM) contract from Lyondell Chemie Nederland BV, the wholly-owned Dutch subsidiary of Lyondell Chemical Co. Under the terms of the agreement, Honeywell will provide LCM technology support and migrate the company's existing Honeywell TDC3000 system to the newer Experion PKS Process Knowledge System. The plant modernization project is designed to improve production and optimize operational efficiency. Honeywell will provide support services throughout the project to help the plant maintain a safe and consistent operating environment. This is Honeywell's first LCM contract in Europe. The Lifecycle Management contract is a multi-year support agreement that offers flexibility in how process manufacturers manage their plant assets. LCM allows customers to choose when to modernize, what to invest in, how to fund the transition, and how long they want to protect their investment. "One of our primary challenges as a leader in the chemicals industry is to continuously improve our operations and set standards for best practices that we and others can sustain over time," said Jos Benders, Director Manufacturing Europe, Lyondell. "Honeywell technology and services can provide us with efficient, effective solutions that will help us meet our challenges and sharpen our global competitiveness."

Lyondell Chemical Company, headquartered in Houston, Texas, is North America's third-largest independent, publicly traded chemical company. Lyondell is a global manufacturer of basic chemicals and derivatives including ethylene, propylene, titanium dioxide, styrene, polyethylene, propylene oxide and acetyls. It also is a significant producer of gasoline blending components. The company has a 58.75 percent interest in LYONDELL-CITGO Refining LP, a refiner of heavy, high-sulfur crude oil. Lyondell is a global company operating on five continents and employs approximately 10,000 people worldwide. Equistar Chemicals is a wholly owned subsidiary of Lyondell.

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Navision Version 4.0 - Microsoft has released the 4.0 version of Navision, the ERP platform for small and medium-sized businesses that it acquired in 2002. This moves comes just two weeks after Microsoft updated Solomon, another SMB application platform picked up as part of Microsoft's Great Plains acquisition. Navision, which claims 35,000 customers in 50 countries, offers several specific updates in 4.0: sharper analytics (included customizable reports for sales orders and purchase budgets as well as KPIs for financials, supply chain, and CRM), automation of some previously complicated general ledger procedures, personalized interfaces and content for employees, rule-based alerts (e.g. triggered by late deliveries from vendors), and integration with Microsoft's most recent productivity applications and business servers. The updates of Navision and Solomon are part of Microsoft Business Solutions' larger push to drive up SME-derived revenue. The two product families occupy distinct roles, with Solomon largely adopted by U.S. companies and Navision best known in the European SME segment. Microsoft uses a reseller channels to get Microsoft Business Solutions out into the SME segment of the business solutions..

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