Auckland firm wins $5m US steel deal

Auckland-based Motherwell Information Systems has won a second large software implementation export deal with the US steel industry. The latest contract for the supply chain software specialist, worth around $5 million, is with Alabama-based Birmingham Steel. It follows a similar large contract signed earlier this year - worth $4 million - with Texas-based SMI Steel.

Auckland-based Motherwell Information Systems has won a second large software implementation export deal with the US steel industry.

The latest contract for the supply chain software specialist, worth around $5 million, is with Alabama-based Birmingham Steel. It follows a similar large contract signed earlier this year — worth $4 million — with Texas-based SMI Steel.

Motherwell is supplying specialised software development to help the steel manufacturers adapt their systems to cope with year 2000 problems and at the same time upgrade key functions.

CEO John Quirk says New Zealand’s favourable exchange rate and lower cost structures are only part of the reason why a New Zealand company has won such large contracts against US competitors. “We’re a bit cheaper but the deal highlights one of this country’s best kept export secrets — we actually have some of the best software development expertise available worldwide, particularly in the manufacturing area,” Quirk says.

Key to the deals is a transportation management software module developed by Motherwell in New Zealand. It has been implemented at New Zealand companies such as Kiwi Dairies.

The software helps large companies track and distribute their products efficiently, from sales order through to delivery on customer site. It tracks as products move from the source warehouse via shipping, intermediate warehouses, trucks and rail until it arrives at the customer destination.

The software module was developed as part of an ERP (enterprise resource planning) software package called Renaissance CS, which runs every aspect of a large organisation, from financial systems to the factory and warehouse and distribution.

Though now owned by US software company Ross Systems, Renaissance CS was commissioned and developed by Digital in New Zealand, working with a UK-based software company, Pioneer, which was run by New Zealanders Tom and Anne McCaskill.

Digital spun off a company, Cimdec, which was bought in 1995 by a Scottish company, Motherwell Bridge. Cimdec’s US subsidiary, now also owned by Motherwell, has driven the latest US business successes.

Many of the software developers involved in the original Renaissance CS development now work for Motherwell in New Zealand.

There are 15 Motherwell consultants working in the US and the Philippines, and 25 people in New Zealand working on the two steel company projects.

Motherwell has three main lines of business: supply chain optimisation and planning, around the Numetrix suite), SAP implementation and consulting; and general ERP software development, implementation and consulting, based mainly around the Renaissance CS software.

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