Takes Aim at Foods Industry
S. McVey - February 28th, 2000
PeopleSoft recently announced a partnership with Atlanta-based Bradley Ward
Systems, Inc., maker of plant floor execution software for the food industry.
The two companies will work to integrate PeopleSoft applications for customer
fulfillment, inventory planning, and demand management with Bradley Ward's KEY2Success
NT-based product suite for planning, controlling, monitoring, and documenting
food production processes.
Food manufacturers must comply with strict federal mandates concerning process
hygiene, food quality, and safety, while striving to minimize operating costs.
Bradley Ward's products are designed to collect data from SCADA (Supervisory
Control And Data Acquisition) and Manufacturing Execution Systems and distribute
it throughout the enterprise.
spite of PeopleSoft's lack of true process manufacturing functionality, the
integration will go forward and utilize PeopleSoft's Open Integration Framework
(OIF) and other EAI (Enterprise Application Integration) technology. In addition
to its new partnership with PeopleSoft, Bradley Ward maintains strategic marketing
alliances with JBA International (division of GEAC), SCT Corp., and MARCAM among
In theory, integration of machine-level control systems like SCADA and transaction
execution systems, such as core ERP, offers vast improvements in supply chain
synchronization. Production plans generated in ERP systems quickly become obsolete
and must constantly be refreshed with new shop floor level data. There are at
least two major obstacles to surmount in sharing data between the shop floor
and management level in a meaningful way.
first concerns proper time synchronization. Though plant floor measurement devices,
such as tank level gauges and pressure sensors, usually produce continuous readings,
it is rarely practical to pipe this information directly to planning systems.
ERP systems cannot create plans instantaneously, relying instead on batch processes
that may require hours or days to run.
second issue arises from the difficulty in interpreting plant-level data. In
order for this data to be used effectively in planning, it must first be reviewed
by operators on the plant floor who then make assessments of plant conditions,
or interpretations. For some measurements, such as tank levels, this step is
straightforward, but combinations of readings collected from multiple points
over time can yield an explosion in possibilities that would clearly defy machine
Given these inherent difficulties and PeopleSoft's meager functionality for
process manufacturers, it is doubtful that the proposed integration between
PeopleSoft and Bradley Ward will provide concrete solutions to address each
of the issues. Of course, the press release makes no such claim, but is predictably
vague about the level of integration. At most, users are likely to see tools
built in OIF that allow implementers to combine the two products as required
on a particular engagement. Users should not be lulled into believing that anything
more than this will be available at mid year. Responsibility for the larger
issues will undoubtedly fall to the project team.
light of the above, users in the food & beverage industries might want to pass
over the new partnership offering in favor of more promising food industry solutions
such as that announced recently from SCT Corporation and ecFoods.com. Release
of both PeopleSoft-Bradley Ward and SCT-ecFoods.com solutions are slated for
the second quarter of calendar 2000.