Pessimistic industry predictions
Canadian manufacturers seem to be more pessimistic about the future than their U.S. counterparts, according to a survey by Grant Thornton LLP, a Toronto-based business consulting firm. “The changes and unpredictability in the marketplace faced by Canadian manufacturers in recent years could explain their lower degree of optimism,” said Grant Thornton partner Bruce Byford in a September press release. According to the survey, 76 per cent of U.S. mid-market manufacturers are “very” or “slightly” optimistic about the industry’s future, whereas 64 per cent of Canadian mid-market manufacturers feel the same way. Eleven per cent of Canadian manufacturers were very or slightly pessimistic about the future; four per cent of U.S. manufacturers were also down about what lies ahead. Grant Thornton said more than twice as many U.S. manufacturers plan to send existing operations to another country compared to Canadians but firms in both countries for the most part plan not to offshore their operations.
BD-ROM spins into action
A group of companies pushing the “Blu-ray” digital storage medium announced in August approval for version 1.0 of the BD-ROM specification and said it would be available to disk makers. “Blue-ray Disc is on schedule for companies to introduce BD-ROM players, drivers and prerecorded software…beginning in 2005,” said Hewlett-Packard Co.’s Maureen Weber in a press release. HP is one of the Blu-ray Disc Founders, a group of companies behind the data storage standard. The organization said the physical specification is a crucial step in the BD-ROM maturity process, as it gives manufacturers the information required to prepare BD-ROM disc production lines. BD-ROM disks are the same size as DVDs, but the new storage devices will hold 25GB of data, some 67 per cent more that an HD-DVD, a competing standard. For more info about Blu-ray see “Blue-laser media…” page 18, IT Focus July/August 2004. — with files from Gary H. Anthes
Ford parks procurement system
Despite four years in production and an investment of millions of dollars, Ford Motor Co. is pulling the plug on a major procurement software system built around Oracle Corp.’s 11i E-Business Suite of applications. Ford spokesman Paul Wood confirmed news reports from August that said Ford had decided to unplug its Oracle procurement system, dubbed Everest, and collapse its purchasing processes around its original custom-written, mainframe-based applications. Everest began in 1999. Wood declined to say what problems were in the Oracle system, but sources indicated that Everest was hampered by poor performance. Now Ford plans to migrate relevant features from Everest to its legacy system, using in-house development staff. Oracle issued a terse comment: “Oracle continues to support Ford on its back-to-basics strategic initiatives and IT projects. Given our desire to honour a non-disclosure agreement in effect, it would be inappropriate for Oracle to comment.” — Marc L. Songini
Trakware Systems Inc. in August unveiled TRAKware 5.0, mobility software for the manufacturing industry. The Atlanta, Ga.-based software maker said in a press release that TRAKware 5.0 lets manufacturers conduct business transactions via mobile devices and the Web. The firm touts the solution as a way to extend the reach of existing enterprise systems. The software is compliant with Oracle Corp.’s 10g infrastructure software, according to Trakware. The system now integrates with the full range of Oracle database management system software. “This release will allow our customers to leverage the industry movement to a mobile workforce, and manage projects in real time,” the release quotes Craig Senych, Trakware’s president and CEO. Trakware is online at www.trakware.com.