ERP allows appliance firm ‘availability-to-promise’

A Canadian manufacturer of home appliances is about to begin an IT project to help it make good on its promises.

W.C. Wood Co. in March will launch the first phase of an enterprise resource planning (ERP) and supply chain management

(SCM) software deployment across its three plants in Guelph, Ont. and in Ottawa, Ohio. The company, whose 1,000 employees produce refrigerators, freezers, dehumidifiers and compact kitchens, sells its product under private labels and the Woods brand. It has selected J.D. Edwards 5 software for the project.

Ted Sehl, W.C. Wood’s vice president of finance, said the J.D. Edwards product will replace custom software developed in the 1980s which it had modified over time. The ERP deployment will begin by phasing in financial application functionality, he said, after which additional features will be introduced.

“”The one piece of functionality that we really want is the available-to-promise,”” he said. “”If you’re a customer and you phone up and want to order this many products, right now we look towards or inventory and our production schedule. We want to be certain that we can say to you that you can have that next week on Thursday.””

Enterprise companies often turn to ERP and SCM applications to improve their ability to forecast demand and control inventory, both of which are especially difficult in the home appliance market, Sehl said.

“”You don’t sell appliances every day,”” he said. “”A single-store Mom and Pop may sell one freezer a week — that’s really hard to forecast. The variation . . . it’s not like selling toothpaste, where you can guarantee a certain quantity.””

J.D. Edwards unveiled version 8.0 of the ERP component of JDE 5 last July at its Focus user conference. Key changes included an Extended Process Integration (XPI) platform to accommodate Web services standards, plus added functionality in enterprise asset management, workforce management, project management and real estate management.

Alison Wheeler, who was appointed country manager for J.D. Edwards Canada in December, said the company is aware that many other companies, including SAP and PeopleSoft, are trying to bring their products into the mid-market while smaller vendors are trying to move on to larger clients.

“”The challenge they’re going to face is customers for the small end may be nervous about their ability to implement and handle the complexity you get in those organizations,”” she said, adding that some mid-market firms may shy away from the larger vendors’ price tags. “”I don’t know how you how you trim out things and make it more reasonable to install from a cost poi

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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