Bimba Manufacturing modernizes their aging backend with web technologies
Bimba Manufacturing chooses m-Power to modernize their aging backend with web technologies
- Choice of m-Power resulting in 6-figure cost savings
- Created modern web applications over their 15-year old mainframe
- Improved ease-of-use and added new capabilities
Case Study SummaryBimba Manufacturing has long been known for its innovation. More than a decade ago, it further established itself as an IT industry leader when it developed a green-screen-based interface that allowed their outside distributors to access key account information online.
Since that time, Bimba's operations have grown significantly, including an expansion of both product lines and distributors which would have required additional licenses to keep account access for their users seamless.
Bimba knew, though, that while it could put a band-aid on the problem with additional licenses, it would just be perpetuating old technology, and as innovators, Bimba's senior management recognized that more effective information systems were critical to their future growth. So, they initiated a long-term IT strategic planning effort around quickly modernizing their aging backend with Web technologies, and getting their users up to speed. The challenge, though, was their IT team didn't have the available time or capabilities to perform the modernization themselves in the timeframe required.
Bimba selected m-Power to do the job, and because of their time-constraints, they also opted to hire an m-Power consultant. The value that Bimba has enjoyed through mrc's m-Power and consulting services left Bimba's IT Director, David Gillhouse, incredibly pleased with the results, "It's unbelievable, the value. The entire cost, including an mrc consultant, cost one-fourth what we were quoted for additional software licenses - what we considered a band-aid to the problem. Our choice of m-Power resulted in a six-figure cost savings."
Full Case Study
Bimba Manufacturing Company, a leading manufacturer of automation actuators (cylinders used in a variety of industrial applications including medical processing, vegetable harvesting, and packaging and printing, to name a few) has long been admired in its industry as an innovator.
More than a decade ago, the company created a green-screen-technology-based interface that allowed its outside distributors to access key account information online, which further established Bimba as an industry and IT leader.
The company has grown substantially since that time. Now, with more than 135 distributors around the globe and expanded product lines, their once-innovative green-screen interface was beginning to show its age with performance and capacity limitations that could only be solved with the purchase of more MRP licenses.
"We had a CRM-launch, a product-line introduction, and ongoing support. There just wasn't time to get the projects we needed done in the timeframe we wanted them done."
The problem was, purchasing more licenses was not only an expensive proposition, but it was one that perpetuated old technology. Distributors would still be accessing green screen applications, and the system would not be as user friendly or flexible as desired. Bimba's senior management recognized that more effective information systems were critical to their future growth, and initiated a long-term IT strategic planning effort that would include modernization via the Web.
David Gillhouse, Bimba's IT Director, explained the importance of this project. "Sharing information with our distributors is extremely important - what we have sold to them and what they have sold to their customers. Providing timely access to sales leads, quotes and order information helps our distributors serve their customer base."
Bimba faced many challenges though, including time constraints and an aging backend. Their IT team didn't have the available time or capabilities to perform the modernization themselves in the timeframe required."We had a CRM-launch, a product-line introduction, and ongoing support. There just wasn't time to get the projects we needed done in the timeframe we wanted them done," explained Gillhouse.
Bimba selected m-Power, Web application development software from mrc, to help them modernize. Additionally, an mrc consultant, expert in systems design and Web application development, was engaged to expedite the development process.
The total solution cost, including the m-Power consultant, was just a fraction of what putting a band-aid on the problem would have cost them, and ended up saving Bimba hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Most importantly, perhaps, Bimba's users were extremely pleased with the new application."The flexibility, ease-of-use, and performance/capacity objectives were all achieved," commented Nancy Lear, Bimba's IT project manager. "The improved ease-of-use was evident. Distributors were utilizing the system effectively after a single Web-based training session. Support issues were minimal."
Here are a few examples of what they built:
- Available to Promise Application:
This Web application informs customers when a product can be shipped by Bimba. If a customer needs standard in-stock items, these products typically can be shipped the same day requested.
If non-standard size actuators are requested, the system checks component availability and provides an Available to Promise date (generally three to five days). (You can see the wireless/mobile phone version below.)
- Quick Ship Application:
To respond to emergency situations, Bimba is also able to manufacture and ship an actuator within 24 hours in many cases. The company reserves capacity to provide immediate turnaround for customers. The Quick Ship Inquiry application summarizes by product line to accommodate emergency demand.
For example, with the screen shot below, you can see quickly that if a customer needs 5 Flat Line actuators in 24 hours, Bimba has not reached its maximum today and still has the production capacity to create 8 more, so they could work with the customer to fill their emergency order.Bimba's Quick Ship Application
- Similar Cylinder Inquiry:
If an automated machine or assembly line is down, the customer needs a replacement immediately.
The Similar Cylinder Inquiry identifies other actuators that may satisfy the customer's needs if the requested part number is out of stock. These products can be shipped air overnight.
- Mobile Access:
Screen layouts were redesigned so extranet applications could be accessed on mobile devices. This enabled Bimba and distributor representatives to view key information on a PDA, Pocket PC or Smartphone.
With the power of m-Power, this was accomplished in a matter of hours.
"You would never know the backend is fifteen years old. We have a nice look and feel that is customer friendly, and in many cases we were able to use our RPG-based business logic and some SQL, so there was no time wasted 're-inventing the wheel.'"
Bimba's extranet has far outweighed their expectations. Not only is the new extranet a snap to use, it's also incredibly fast, tied to their backend seamlessly, and many of the capabilities they gained by moving to the Web they hadn't yet envisioned when starting the project.
- Huge Cost Savings: According to Gillhouse, "It's unbelievable, the value. The cost to develop our brand new Web-based extranet with m-Power, even including the m-Power consulting fees, cost one-fourth of what we were quoted for the band-aid solution of additional green-screen software licenses - resulting in a six-figure cost savings.
- Improved capabilities: Bimba's new extranet also makes features and capabilities available that weren't possible in the old system. For example, one-click product and order look-ups as well as an easy tracking of returns, order shipments, and customer histories through clickable navigation screens that can be interlinked for easy-access. You can also see many of these new capabilities in the screenshots above. These are features that were not possible in the green-screen world.
- Renewable resources: m-Power empowered Bimba to create modern Web applications over their older mainframe. "You would never know the backend is fifteen years old," said Gillhouse, "We have a nice look and feel that is customer friendly, and in many cases we were able to use our RPG-based business logic and some SQL, so there was no time wasted "re-inventing the wheel."
Where is Bimba headed with Information Technology initiatives and how does mrc fit in?
"Our mrc consultant assisted Bimba with its second strategic short-term initiative - development of an e-Commerce application," Gillhouse commented. "We are now assessing key business processes and evaluating "next generation" ERP solutions. This evaluation will drive our future hardware and software direction."
In fact, since the initial project, Bimba has already had many successful experiences with the benefits of m-Power's platform flexibility including a foray into SOA. They were able to re-deploy one of their newly built Web applications and re-appropriate it for use in an SOA (Service-Oriented Architecture) capacity to work with an outside portal package running on a different platform. How much time did it take to bring it to SOA? Seconds. It was a simple selection in m-Power followed by the click of a button.
"m-Power could play a key role longer-term even if a new platform is selected," he continued, "since it powerful, easy to use, and incorporates multiple data base, operating system and hardware platforms."
To learn more about Bimba, you can visit their Web site at: http://www.bimba.com/
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"It's unbelievable, the value. The cost to develop our brand new Web-based extranet with m-Power, even including the m-Power consulting fees, cost one-fourth of what we were quoted for the band-aid solution of additional green-screen software licenses - resulting in a six-figure cost savings."