Lost Deliveries

Raytheon's Web-based system for materials management reduces costs and inefficiencies
Raytheon Corp.'s implementation last year of a materials-management system has helped the maker of missiles and radar systems keep better track of materials after they have been delivered by suppliers.

Rob Vettor, senior business technologist for Raytheon's Enterprise Application Group

The MTrak system has already paid for itself, says Vettor, a senior business technologist at Raytheon
Raytheon was having difficulty tracking deliveries of small but vital parts such as custom-built computer chips. The hard-to-find items weren't things that could be dangerous if they ended up in the wrong hands, says Rob Vettor, senior business technologist for Raytheon's Enterprise Application Group, but they were often costly. And on rare occasions, says Vettor, employees scrambled to find the location of machines used in manufacturing.

Raytheon's suppliers weren't to blame; most of them have fully automated supply chains and can confirm deliveries. Rather, the sheer size of Raytheon--with plants in New England, Texas, and California, and 78,000 employees worldwide-- simply made it difficult to locate incoming deliveries and track them through the production cycle. Information on materials and where they existed was recorded in mainframe systems, but not all employees from the variously involved business units could access those systems.

"We've had people running through buildings, looking through boxes," Vettor says. In some cases, if an item couldn't be found, Raytheon employees would reorder the item so they could meet production schedules.

So Raytheon built MTrak, a Web-based system that includes Microsoft .Net technologies such as the C# language and the BizTalk 2004 XML server. MTrak captures bar-code scans and other information on incoming deliveries, then combines that information with data extracted from mainframe systems, such as purchase-order, inventory, or manufacture-scheduling data. This lets authorized employees track the status and movements of parts, wherever they go in the company, from a Web browser.

MTrak can present information from multiple sources because it includes an integration server called Verastream from WRQ Inc., which ties the .Net applications to mainframe resources. Information needed on one particular part might be spread across 70 mainframe screens that are part of a dozen mainframe systems.

The savings realized from MTrak have already paid for the cost of the system, Vettor says. He didn't disclose the total costs for MTrak's development; the Verastream server starts at $65,000.

Editor's Choice
Brian T. Horowitz, Contributing Reporter
Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
Nathan Eddy, Freelance Writer
Brandon Taylor, Digital Editorial Program Manager
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing