Sources of Software
Earlier articles identified many available sources of
Configurator software.(3,4,5) Now, literally all major MRP II
software vendors have a product generally falling within the
category of "Configurators" as defined above. The sources are too
numerous to list here. Sources of rules-based logic other than MRP
II vendors include the following categories of vendors with a few
representative names cited. This list does not constitute
endorsement nor does lack of a vendor's name imply non-endorsement:
1. CAD packages: Advanced Graphics Systems, Tulsa, OK; AutoCAD,
Sausalito, CA; ICAD, Burlngton, MA; and Synthesis, Bellingham, WA.
2. Sales Force Automation (Range of software including
Configurators): Antalys, Golden, CO; Calico Technology, San Jose,
CA; CWC, Mankato, MN; and Trilogy, Austin, TX.
3. Tool Kit (Artificial Intelligence based software): IBM,
Rochester, MN; Inference, Mountain View, CO; Intellicorp, Mountain
View, CA; and Trinzic, Palo Alto, CA.
4. Others (Point solutions for Configurators): Catalyst
Corporation, Bothwell, WA; Logia, Barrington, IL; TriMin, Roseville,
MN; and United Consulting Services Brookfield, WI.
For some companies, the question may be: "Can we use the MRP II
software vendors' Configurator, or should we buy a package that can
be integrated with our existing system?" The package offered as a
module of a particular MRP II system may not be suitable for some
situations. Therefore, selecting another vendor's package and
interfacing to the MRP II system may be a legitimate alternative.
In general, the Sales Force Automation vendors stress their use
of newer programming technologies and methods, such as
object-oriented and constraint-based logic to achieve reduction in
the amount of rules writing, and to simplify the on-going
maintenance of the rule set.
In the Category of "Others," these vendors have strong roots in
MRP II. The Catalyst and TriMin packages were originally designed to
operate with the Fourth Shift and MAPICS software packages
respectively, but are being implemented with other packages. In the
case of TriMin's Knowledge-Based Configurator, the package is based
on IBM's Knowledge Tool. The result is a generalized Configurator
package for the "To-Order" company.
Logia pioneered the concept of "bottoms-up" (part-based) rules
that do not require the hierarchical structuring that is most common
now in Configurator packages. Both Catalyst and TriMin have
announced similar capabilities. Some of the advantages claimed for
this approach are that rules may be applied in a more
straightforward fashion and eliminate modular bills.
With the experience of many companies and software vendors to
draw on, the many issues regarding integration with other elements
of an MRPII system are now coming into focus.
To Be Continued
For balance of this article, click on the below link:
Lean Manufacturing Articles and go to Series 01