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You Want It When?You Want It When?

Innovative use of scheduling app lets UL give customers a finish date

InformationWeek Staff

March 15, 2002

2 Min Read

Underwriters Laboratories Inc. has tested the safety of consumer products and electronics for more than 100 years and is now putting its own stamp on supply-chain-planning software. Its approach is decidedly nontraditional.

UL isn't deploying Oracle's 11i E-Business Suite Advanced Planning module to manage real-time information about inbound parts and materials for manufacturing. Instead, it's using the software to handle the scheduling of its facilities, test equipment, and scientists and other technical personnel. The software will let UL give customers a project completion date before the testing begins.UL wanted software that would support its expansion into Europe, Asia, and Latin America, says Mark Sklenar, CIO for Underwriters Labs, in Northbrook, Ill. The company needed to automate scheduling and first considered project-management and professional-services management software. But none of the apps UL looked at fit the company's business model.Oracle's Advanced Planning piqued Sklenar's interest because UL's evaluation showed it could handle the scheduling of buildings, equipment, people, and business processes, and provide a completion date in advance. The software also will help streamline the scheduling of tests to let UL complete testing and get results to their customers more quickly.UL had never given customers fixed completion dates in the past, but customers that are rushing new products to market want solid information on when testing will be complete, Sklenar says.Roger Goossens, Oracle's senior product director, says UL's use of his company's supply-chain-planning tools is far from conventional, but the scheduling basics are similar to scheduling parts and materials in a just-in-time manufacturing business where customers need a delivery date.UL also is deploying Oracle's human-resources and customer-relationship management apps. Sklenar says the integration between the planning module and CRM will make it possible for UL customers to use Web-based CRM components to place orders for testing and check progress online. UL will use its human-resources apps in the scheduling process to match personnel to the testing jobs they're qualified to perform.Sklenar wouldn't disclose the value of the deal. The software will be tested this summer and will be deployed in stages.

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