Magazine Article | September 1, 2000

Synchronizing Your Supply Chain

Source: Field Technologies Magazine

Wyle Systems, a global distributor of semiconductor technologies, wanted to effectively manage its extended supply chain. A totally integrated system tripled productivity and improved customer service.

Integrated Solutions, September 2000
Many businesses share the same goals. What company doesn't want to improve relationships with its partners and provide better customer service? All companies, of course, fight the ongoing battles of increasing productivity and preventing margin erosion. Even though this is the case, many companies do not achieve such goals. Wyle Systems, however, wanted to be the exception to that rule. With 35 offices worldwide, Wyle Systems is a global distribution specialist of semiconductor technologies. Founded in 1949, the Irvine, CA-based company offers high-tech components ranging from computer systems and servers to an extensive line of mass storage devices.

Managing An Extended Supply Chain
Global shipping is a challenge for any distributor – Wyle Systems included. Managing inventory levels and status, and tracking orders using different computer systems across the global supply chain adds to that challenge. Systems must be seamlessly integrated and synchronized if a distributor is to have a complete view of the entire supply chain and deliver on-time fulfillment for customers.

Wyle Systems' network processes 300 sales orders per day. The sales orders are then broken into work orders, which are delivered to the manufacturing floor. When the manufacturing is complete, the finished goods are received into inventory by the company's WMS (warehouse management system). The originating sales order is then released, and the finished goods are shipped to the customers.

In order to stand out as a global distributor of high-tech components, Wyle Systems analyzed its competitive and customer imperatives. Wyle Systems' extended supply chain – encompassing inventory levels and status, purchasing, sales and work orders, manufacturing and shipping – required that end users have a complete view of the entire process at any point in time. The company reasoned that improving integration across the supply chain would result in improved customer service and closer relationships with trading partners.

WMS And ERP Integration Results In Better Customer Service
To help meet its objective of end-to-end supply chain integration, Wyle Systems selected Viewlocity. The Atlanta-based company is a global provider of B2B (business-to-business) integration and online trading communities. Before implementing Viewlocity's solutions, however, Wyle Systems installed a best-of-breed WMS to complement its ERP (enterprise resource planning) system. In order to provide better fulfillment capabilities, the new system had to be fully integrated with the legacy system. In addition to a full integration, the two systems had to be synchronized in real time so that the link was transparent to CSRs (customer service representatives). Wyle Systems recognized that creating an integrated warehousing solution involved three interface groups: inventory, inbound orders, and outbound orders. Viewlocity's solution was selected to accomplish these goals.

Synchronizing Systems Increases Productivity
Wyle Systems' commitment to better customer service and closer trading relationships spurred the addition of a WMS with increased functionality. It also made the company rethink its communication processes. "Viewlocity has provided us with a flexible tool to map changes to satisfy our ERP integration efforts," states Patrick Dey, global project manager of Wyle Systems. "Along with our other supply chain initiatives, we've evolved from a simple interface with legacy data to a compete view of our entire supply chain activity in real time. This will improve our customer service and will result in stronger partnerships with our customers."

Viewlocity's AMTrix solution provides event-based integration between the two systems. This allows Wyle Systems' CSRs, as well as other end users, to have full visibility through the front end system into all relevant warehouse activity. It also provides a central point of management for all errors related to integration. Integration errors detected by AMTrix are communicated to Wyle Systems' end users or system administrators in real time. This is accomplished through the use of an advanced "publish and subscribe" notification server. This provides the flexibility to change the means of communication and the recipient of notification based on the type of error or related interface. As a result, the system can change as the business requirements change. AMTrix' message archiving and logging capabilities guarantee that all interfaces are tracked and traced.

As a result, Wyle Systems' customer service productivity has improved through the synchronization of the two systems. CSRs can retrieve the information required to plan orders, manage inventory levels, and process sales orders from a single application interface. This single point of information has reduced human error, increased customer service levels, and ultimately resulted in better customer relationships. Also, the synchronization allows Wyle Systems to handle 1,000 records per day in real time, as well as support about 300 concurrent users.

As part of its long-term strategy, Wyle Systems anticipates changing certain business processes in the warehouse or in order fulfillment. By using AMTrix, Wyle Systems avoids the typical point-to-point problems associated with hard-coded integration. This is because AMTrix provides the insulation between the systems. As a result of the increased flexibility, Wyle Systems expects much lower maintenance costs.

Questions about this article? E-mail the author at