The city of New Orleans played quite the host this year to our growing community of manufacturers for our largest annual customer conference, Explore. There were plenty of thought-provoking sessions to attend, depending on your industry or areas of interest, as well as a steady stream of varying discussions that arose throughout the week. Of course, Explore must inevitably come to a close, but I made sure to connect with QAD’s vertical market leads to learn about their take on the event, as well as some of the session favorites at QAD Explore 2019.
Terry Onica – Director, Automotive
This year at Explore, many of the conference attendees were very excited about QAD’s advanced technology direction, including the debut of Production Execution in the QAD Labs. There was a lot of discussion among attendees I spoke with regarding how QAD can help them to rapidly advance their organizations in the face of all the transformation and disruption occurring in the markets they serve and within the four walls of their manufacturing facilities.
However, there was another underlying theme that I saw at this year’s conference more than ever. Attendees really feel they are under pressure to deliver solutions, based on best practices, to the business faster than ever. One of the top five rated sessions at Explore that drew a lot of interest and discussion in this area was entitled, Yanfeng Automotive Interiors’ (YFAI) Rapid Upgrade to EE and Move to the QAD Cloud. This session was delivered by the YFAI leadership team consisting of Mike Silletti, John Miciuda and Ram Krishnamurthy. Some of the key takeaways YFAI shared, with regard to the delivery of solutions at lightning speed, were YFAI’s ability to:
- Acquire a plant that ran SAP and migrate it to QAD in four months in order to standardize ERP across all of YFAI’s operations
- Take their Brownfield and Greenfield sites and bring them live in less than three months
- Leverage QAD’s standardized “best practice” globally based on our Easy On Boarding (EOB) automotive process maps with minimal change to its global core model out-of-the-box
- Take 6,000 customizations and reduce them to under 200
- Bring 24 plants and 37 other entities live in seven months
- Leverage augmented resources during the implementation with a core team of only five North American and four European employees
In one of the longest and most interactive Q&A sessions that I’ve experienced at Explore, the audience was extremely inquisitive on every aspect to learn how this team will drive 80+ site implementations globally in just two and a half years.
Industrial and High Tech
Glenn Graney – Director, Industrial and High Tech
Once again, I had the great fortune to share the industrial and high tech session with a long-time QAD customer, Chuck Wierzbicki. As Director of Information Systems for Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics, Chuck was able to share insights around the progress that his team has made adopting a variety of advanced technologies such as IoT, augmented reality, data lakes and more.
Based on the outstanding response to QAD Production Execution, it is clear that QAD’s customers have an avid taste for advanced technology. QAD Production Execution was highlighted in a full-hour session on real-time aspects of ERP, on the main stage and in the Solutions Expo. QAD Production Execution provides operational extensions to ERP via an operator-centric shop floor interface. The resulting solution combines both production order data and IoT process data directly from shop floor equipment.
QAD Production Execution is a QAD Labs offering, which is available now for interested customers. In addition to providing a visual interface on the shop floor, the solution includes the line-side delivery of documents, the ability to create and track downtime events and the integration to QAD Automation Solutions for material management and tracking. All operator, production order and equipment transactions are recorded via data lake technology to provide for advanced traceability and operational metrics. QAD Production Execution works seamlessly with complementary QAD solutions, including MSW/PSW, Quality Management and Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) to provide robust support of manufacturing operations.
Consumer Products and Food & Beverage
Stephen Dombroski – Director, Consumer Products and Food & Beverage
While at Explore, we had a fantastic view of the Mississippi River flowing through New Orleans. An impressive sight, especially when you add the tremendous amount of ship traffic moving up and down the river. This vision made me think of the Explore experience. Explore is designed to flow information to our customers and connect people, similar to the moving river. What occurred for our Consumer Products and Food & Beverage attendees was the flow of information in both directions; QAD to customer and customer back to QAD.
The industry kickoff session got us started with Heidi Evilampi of the Oras Group discussing Oras’ upgrade to QAD Cloud. Many critical points were highlighted, such as the decision to upgrade, why to upgrade, benefits they received and potential pitfalls during this type of project. Then, Shaun Phillips, QAD DynaSys director of product management, discussed the future of supply chain in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) markets and current industry disruptors that are complicating supply and demand planning.
On day two, we had a fantastic industry-focused event; The Consumer Products and Food & Beverage Vertical Round Table lunch. The purpose of the lunch was to have industry peers network and discuss the hot topics of the CPG industry. It began with the attendees writing down the disruptors companies are facing today and topics and products they needed addressed. We then started talking about which disruptors are having the most impact today. The top five themes were:
- Mergers & Acquisitions
- B2B to B2C
- Connected Devices
The session was extremely productive. Our customers provided us with a tremendous amount of information and established contacts with people in similar industries facing similar challenges. In my opinion, this is why we hold Explore.
Michael Kolias – Director, Life Sciences
It was a tremendous opportunity to see everything that goes into Explore through the eyes of a QAD team member. This time last year I was experiencing Explore from the customer’s perspective. I was not aware of the “army” of QAD employees working toward the preparation of presentations, education of our users, and working closely with our customers to identify the changing nature of the industries we serve.
I was fortunate to be able to kick-off the Life Sciences session by presenting with Matthew Hinchman from Ajinomoto Bio-Pharma Services. We worked together to educate our customers on the disruptors affecting our industry, including XaaS, Digital Transformation of Manufacturing and Make to Order at Scale. Matthew presented a case study on how Ajinomoto Bio-Pharma Services leveraged QAD to meet serialization compliance requirements as part of the Drug Quality Security Act (DQSA) and the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA).
Discussions with the Life Science customers in attendance helped to provide tremendous insight into the changing nature of their organizations. Customers continue to focus on emerging technologies and how they can be leveraged to make their operations and processes more efficient. These customers are looking to QAD for help in making more informed decisions. Discussions around QAD Labs and assurances that we continue to focus on these technologies were well-received. A primary industry driver will always be quality. This was evident through the attendance of the various QAD CEBOS Quality Management sessions.
This was not the first Explore attended by many of the QAD Life Sciences customers. These customers continue to see the value in the education provided and the ability to help shape the solution to meet industry requirements.
Join Us Next Year in Las Vegas!
If you didn’t attend this year’s Explore, don’t fret! Check out our recent blog article on what you missed. You can also view and download the conference presentations, explore the latest customer showcase videos and flip through our photo album. If you aren’t already, be sure to connect with us on social media and engage using the hashtag #QADExplore. We look forward to seeing everyone next year at QAD Explore 2020, May 11-14 in Las Vegas!