AFS Technologies's new suite is based on service oriented architecture (SOA), web services, and Microsoft's .NET Framework 2.0, providing greater integration with a plant and head office systems.
One of the major problems with software lies with issues over compatibility. Software from one company may conflict with that produced by another, causing the network to fail.
AFS' SOA design allows food and beverage industry companies to upgrade their networks, regardless of current software supplier. It provides plants with greater flexibility, increased scalability of their existing systems, and more powerful functionality at an affordable price, the company claimed in a press release.
In computing, the term Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) describes an underlying software structure supporting communications between various services available on a network. This allows greater interoperability between various pieces of software from different developers.
The advantages of using SOA include reduced integration expense, increased asset reuse, and shorter development periods, enabling quicker time to market, AFS stated.
"Another key aspect of the design is its tiered architecture consisting of a client, application, and database tier connected over a LAN or the Internet for improved multi-location network performance," the company stated. "This also enables improved scalability to support growing transaction volumes by simply adding application or database servers at the proper tier."
New modules can be added independently, thereby allowing plants to avoid the cost of replacing their current system and to realise a better return on their investment (ROI).
The new products include a module dealing with general ledger and financial statements. The package is compatible with most existing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, the company said. ERP is an information system that integrates all manufacturing and related applications for an entire enterprise.
The module would provide a quick upgrade to many old systems burdened with weak financial reporting, AFS stated.
The company's Warehouse Management System (WMS) module is a standalone product designed to fit the specific needs of the food industry. It can easily communicate with most ERP systems, the company stated.
The Mobile Solutions module includes services to manage sales from laptops, to track direct store delivery, to capture signatures from delivery drivers, and to allow order entry on a PDA using Windows CE or Pocket PC software. The module also allows Web based order entry.
AFS said its current Windows-based ERP product will also evolve into the new platform.
The Microsoft .NET framework is a component of the Windows operating system that manages the execution of programs written specifically for the framework. It is considered Microsoft's most significant development since the introduction of Windows. The framework uses Onternet-based, standard communications protocols like web services, XML and SOAP for connectivity.
This allows seamless e-commerce and streamlined supply chain integration and management, the company claimed.
The framework was also specifically designed with vastly improved security and the ability to effectively support wireless applications run on handheld devices.
"We decided to standardize our product suite around Microsoft's .NET framework when the industry's, and our own analysis, indicated that .NET would deliver our customers an optimal total cost of ownership, in terms of hardware, software and ongoing support, lower business transaction processing costs and better application performance," said Suhas Gudihal, AFS' chief technology officer.