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SAP touts new generation of supply chain apps

SAP has begun to outline a long-term strategy to benefit customers with supply chain management and manufacturing systems that work together more intelligently and adapt to unexpected problems.

The company announced that it would devote development resources to create a new generation of collaborative production and supply chain applications that would work together as one system.

SAP said the suite would connect supply chain management and manufacturing operations, from raw materials procurement to the shipment of the finished goods to the customer. The company said it would improve inventory turns, tighten manufacturing cycle times, improve quality management and, ultimately, cut ownership costs.

According to SAP spokesman Bill Wohl, this is a statement of vision that will probably require between 18 to 24 months before it results in product enhancements.

"It's less a factor of technological improvements than it is weaving supply chain management into the processes that make up manufacturing solutions," he said. Shop floor personnel have tended to view what they do as different from what supply chain professionals do.

One analyst expressed scepticism about SAP's ability to deliver on its integration promise. There are many shop floor production systems in existence and, so far, no enterprise resource planning company has successfully integrated its manufacturing or other applications into them in a meaningful way, said David Dobrin, analyst at B2B Analysts.

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