Oracle adds NZ firm’s ‘tweakings’ to next manufacturing suite

When Christchurch electronics firm Swichtec needed to customise Oracle's latest manufacturing suite no one expected Oracle to like the idea so much it would include the changes in its next international release. But that's exactly what's happened.

When Christchurch electronics firm Swichtec needed to customise Oracle’s latest manufacturing suite no one expected Oracle to like the idea so much it would include the changes in its next international release. But that’s exactly what’s happened.

“Typically we get a package that is developed in the US or Europe and the enhancements come from there,” says Swichtec IS manager Rob Rae.

Swichtec uses a Japanese inventory replenishment system called Kan-Ban, something Oracle only partially supports.

“We use it right through the business and needed enhanced functionality.”

One of Kan-Ban’s functions is to allow users to track a product through the production line. Swichtec needed to customise the software to allow linking of serial numbers between so-called “parent” and “child” components. This allows Swichtec to track faulty parts and remove them from production if necessary.

Swichtec specialises in DC rack power systems for telecommunications equipment like exchanges or cellular transmitters. The systems convert mains AC current to provide continuous electricity to DC equipment. Customers include Telecom, Clear and BellSouth, and Swichtec reports sales of $50 million.

Swichtec chose Oracle as supplier after a strategic planning session held at the start of 1996.

“If we were going to grow the business, we had better grow the information system,” says Rae.

Despite the changes Swichtec has made, the system is still largely standard Oracle software, so upgrading shouldn’t be a problem in the future, Rae says.

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