REVIEWER: Gerald Meier, president of Sunflower Manufacturing Company, Inc.

BACKGROUND: Sunflower Manufacturing is a division of SPX Corporation, a $6 billion global provider of technical products and systems, industrial products and services, flow technology and service solutions. The company is a leading manufacturer of farm tillage equipment and has operations in Beloit and Cawker City, Kansas. Sunflower employs more than 250 professionals and distributes tillage, seeding and harvesting products throughout the entire United States, Canada and parts of Australia, Europe, South Africa, the Middle East and Asia Pacific.

PLATFORM: AS/400 Model 720.

PROBLEM SOLVED: In today's manufacturing systems market, customers are demanding top quality products with exceptional customer support. To best provide this, it is essential we have a fully integrated IT environment that enables us to manage an efficient, effective manufacturing process. Most importantly, we required a solution that could help us increase our forecasting capabilities and capacity planning, enabling us to best determine and meet our customers' sales demands and needs. This is a very fine line. We need to meet these demands; however, we also need to control very closely the amount and type of product manufactured to ensure that we are not putting money and resources into producing excess that will create a backlog of inventory and, ultimately, cost us revenue.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: System21 from Geac helps support every level of our manufacturing process, from strategic planning to detailed control. It provides accurate and flexible reporting, production and product definition, timely planning and scheduling, with precise execution and control. We are currently planning to incorporate e- commerce and vendor-managed inventory functionality into the system to further streamline our operations.

STRENGTHS: System21 is closely tied into our lean manufacturing process. System21's forecasting and capacity- planning capabilities have enabled us to reduce inventories and working capital and improve productivity and efficiency, resulting in real bottom-line benefits. Additionally, the quality of the consultants and service staff has been a real asset to us.

WEAKNESSES: Although we have been very pleased with the performance of System21 and its ability to support our entire manufacturing process, the main weaknesses that we have experienced involve the third-party capacity-planning module and the lack of an available-to-promise module.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Based on a thorough analysis of our existing system and Sunflower's business goals moving forward, we determined there were four main criteria that we required from a new system to best meet our objectives and run the company as proficiently as possible. As our previous system was not fully integrated, we needed a solution that could integrate with all of our other existing applications. Second, we needed more capacity because our old system could not accommodate our growing needs. Additionally, because we were conducting our research and review in 1997, the system that we chose was going to have to be Y2K compliant. Finally, because forecasting and capacity planning are such integral components of our business, the new solution needed to be strong in those areas. Most vendors we looked at could provide solutions that were fully integrated and Y2K compliant; however, Geac's System21 was the only solution that could provide the necessary forecasting and capacity-planning functionality.

DELIVERABLES: The best outputs are the reports and complete data available within System21 that we use to make informed decisions about our business.

VENDOR SUPPORT: One of the top benefits that we have realized in working with Geac and its System21 solution has been the vendor support we have received. Geac has provided us with some of the best consultants you can find. They completely understand our business; and, equally as important, they understand the software and technology.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation is fairly complete and easy to understand; however, we still require assistance from Geac's consultants to best run the solution.

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