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Unilever saves on licensing cost with Internet supply chain system

Will Garside
Unilever has deployed an online solution that will enable suppliers and partners to access its supply chain system without buying additional expensive licences.

The deployment could help many organisations that are trying to develop end-to-end supply chain automation without having to pay steep licensing fees to allow suppliers access to back-end systems.

Unilever Ceylon, which operates across the Indian sub-continent, has deployed e Bridge software from UK-based systems integrator Enigma. E-Bridge uses Unilever Ceylon's own enterprise resource planning application data structure and policies to offer a simplified front end for suppliers.

Chris Burns, managing director and co-founder of Enigma, said: "The need to reduce licensing cost and avoid having to train suppliers on a complex ERP system is a major reason customers like Unilever Ceylon have chosen to use our software."

The Enigma software manages the number of concurrent connections to the ERP system so that Unilever Ceylon stays within its licensing agreement. In this way, said Burns, up to 200 users can access the system by using only 20 licences.

E bridge uses the Progress application language with built in support for EDI and XML.

"The majority of our customers have implemented systems using EDI as opposed to XML. EDI was a serious investment for most of our customers and it is not going away overnight, typically using EDI we can set up at least a pilot e Bridge system within a few weeks." Burns added.

Enigma's client list includes Coca Cola, Walkers (crisp manufacturer) and Muller. Burns believes that few large corporations will be willing to invest in expanding existing ERP systems to suppliers due to the excessive cost; but that Internet-based solutions are more cost effective.

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