Leica Microsystems, a manufacturer of high-precision optics, is using middleware to access real-time stock information from its outsourced warehouses.
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The company implemented Sterling Commerce’s Integrator middleware to translate and route EDI messages from its US warehouses, operated by Choice Logistics, into its global SAP ERP system to improve inventory tracking.
Leica faced problems as a result of inefficient manual business processes, including delays in the transfer and deployment of spare parts between its warehouse network and customers.
Derek Payne, fulfilment technology manager, process support group at Leica Microsystems, said, "We required a real-time view of inventory."
In the past Choice Logistics would e-mail an Excel spreadsheet to Leica Microsystems, and the information would then be re-keyed into the SAP system. This process would take 24 hours, which made inventory tracking difficult. "Whenever you run an inventory report you need to ensure it is not out-of-date," explained Payne.
Using Sterling Integrator, reports are now automatically updated every hour, without any re-keying of data.
Payne said Sterling Integrator is also being used for handling web-based orders and freight processes. In addition, the company is about to go live with an electronic trading system to automate the transfer of business documents.
Leica Microsystems is planning to upgrade to the 4.0 release of Sterling Integrator later this year. Payne said, "We particularly like the scheduling and prioritisation of business processes [functions in the new version]."
Leica’s Sterling Integrator software runs on a Linux-based PC server and uses the JBoss open source application server. The PC server is configured with two 2.4GHz Xeon processors, 2Gbytes of Ram and four 36Gbyte hard discs. The SAP system runs on HP-UX with some modules using Linux.
New features in Integrator 4.0
Sterling Commerce has this week introduced Integrator 4.0, the latest version of its middleware platform. The software offers B2B communications and management, translation, enterprise integration, business process management and business activity monitoring.
Other enhancements include a graphical processing module to make it easy to create and automate business processes; community management dashboard with portlets that automate change management; and a data compliance engine built in for data synchronisation. Sterling Commerce said Integrator 4.0 also offers out-of-the-box support for Cognos reports.