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Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing, Mobile and IBM i – Modernization Part 2

July 30, 2013


Last week I started a blog series on modernization with a look at how Corvette America used PHP to use new technology to add value to their business. This week, we have another name in the vehicle industry, this time from the manufacturing segment: Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing Corp. (KMM) in Lincoln, Nebraska.

KMM manufactures All-Terrain Vehicles (ATV), Personal Watercrafts (Jet Ski®), Utility Vehicles (Mule™), Recreational Utility Vehicles (RUV - Teryx™) and wheels for ATVs and utility vehicles. These products are shipped throughout North America and exported to Japan, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and other locations around the world. They have been a user of the i platform for a long time and had a small staff of developers who were already very familiar with the business. KMM wanted to take advantage of this knowledge, as well as the software they had been investing in for years, but they were also convinced that using mobile technology to modernize their manufacturing operations would lower their costs and streamline their processes.

An aside before we get to their results and the technology Kawasaki used to achieve them: There are many paths to modernization, and there are many ways in which I become aware of customers and partners accomplishing modernization goals. In the case of KMM, I first heard about their project when we were preparing for last year’s COMMON conference.

COMMON gives annual Innovation Awards to IBM i users who show how the platform can be used to innovate. This past year, I was asked to join the team of people making the final determination of the winner. Kawasaki had one of two entries I saw in detail, and they ended up winning the award. It’s really interesting to read through submissions of this nature, because the award focuses not only on innovation, but also on business value. And in the case of Kawasaki, the business value was clear – and impressive.

Before the modernization process, the KMM manufacturing process had something called “kanban cards” – physical cards that needed to be used to track parts. By using mobile devices connected to their IBM i Power Systems server, and using the LongRange technology from LANSA, Kawasaki was able to eliminate the need for handling these cards, and this resulted in nearly $1 million in annual cost reductions (the numbers in the case study add to $949,500 to be precise.) Kawasaki estimates they recouped their investment – the costs of doing the modernization project – within six months of implementation! Now that is business value!

If you want a deeper understanding of what they did, take a look at the article IBM Systems Magazine wrote, or watch the reference video KMM did for LANSA.

For purposes of this blog, I want to use this example in the same way I used the last one, and the way I’ll use the next one – to point out the power and possibilities of retaining the value that already exists in your IBM i platform, and the impressive results you can get from applying new technology to it.

You might use Zend’s PHP support, which ships with every IBM i installation; you might go to a company like LANSA and use their tools to enhance your current IBM i applications; you might engage a partner like Profound Logic (which we’ll examine next time) who are experts in using the RPG Open Access capabilities IBM makes available in the compiler. In fact, there are several partners who specialize in these sorts of modernization projects. The ISV Advisory Council has the vendors I’ve already mentioned, plus looksoftware, BCD, Krengel Technology, GXS – and probably more (sorry for any I missed!) – which have a significant focus on modernizing your existing solutions, and there are more vendors around the world.

In fact, this is a theme among most of the ISVs who have solutions on IBM i today: whether they offer a specific industry solution or a generic ERP package, they are modernizing to provide additional value. It’s what software companies do to compete and to grow.

If you want to continue getting value from the tried-and-true assets you already have – solution and operating system – but you want to add even more value with the latest technology such as mobile devices, you have plenty of options on IBM i.



Posted July 30, 2013| Permalink