When System Software Associates Inc defied its reputation as an AS/400 application software developer last October by releasing a Unix converter (CI No 2,034), it was obviously the start of a trend. The Chicago-based group now intends to provide customers with Microsoft Corp Windows NT versions of three of its client-server Business Planning and Control […]
When System Software Associates Inc defied its reputation as an AS/400 application software developer last October by releasing a Unix converter (CI No 2,034), it was obviously the start of a trend. The Chicago-based group now intends to provide customers with Microsoft Corp Windows NT versions of three of its client-server Business Planning and Control System, BPCS, applications – as soon as NT becomes available. They will cost between UKP3,000 and UKP4,000 per product. The three, Planner’s Assistant, Financial Analyst’s Assistant and Formulation Assistant, formerly ran only on IBM Corp personal computers under OS/2 2.0, with an AS/400 acting as the server. Formulation Assistant, along with another new product, User/IFX, have just started shipping. Formulation Assistant is intended to enable chemists, process engineers and laboratory managers to plan and execute process manufacturing operations in a graphical environment. The AS/400’s database holds product, process and capacity data for materials planning and production control. This information can be manipulated and used by means of Formulation Assistant’s icon-based worksheets. The application costs UKP5,000 per personal computer. User/IFX enables users to send facsimiles or electronic images from their machine to any AS/400 database. This data can then be accessed on-line and sent to another destination, without the user needing to leave his application. However, the AS/400 must be equipped with a FaxBox, and the personal computer must sport a VGA monitor. User/IFX costs between UKP1,000 and UKP150,000 depending on the model of AS/400. System Software Associates has also released version 4.0 of BPCS, which costs between UKP1,000 and UKP160,000 depending on AS/400 type. But if an organisation already has the software installed, then the upgrade is free – maintenance costs approximately 12% of the licence fee.
More than 40 business applications
Version 4.0 integrates more than 40 business applications and, for the first time, has been released simultaneously in six different languages, so global operations don’t have to suffer delays in waiting for upgrades. The languages are English, French, German, Italian, Portugese, and Spanish. Additional languages will be added later. Enhancements to the system include an external glossary of terms and phrases, which enables users to customise words used throughout the range of BPCS applications. All they need to do is change a particular word listed in the glossary and the original will automatically be replaced with the alternative choice. Customers can also select terms from among BPCS’s national language versions, without leaving the application they are using. Two new quality management products are also available now: Laboratory Management System for quality assurance laboratories, and Quality Management System, which integrates quality assurance procedures with production, procurement and inventory control. The company targets its software at multinationals, found in all areas of discrete manufacturing and the chemicals, food and drink sectors of process manufacturing. While the group has offices throughout the world to deal with these, it also has business partners, which look after the needs of local firms. Its main markets are Europe, where it generates some 40% of total group turnover, the US, which accounts for a further 40%, and the Asia-Pacific region, which makes up the remaining 20%, but is the fastest-growing market in percentage terms.