SAP is boosting the capabilities in its manufacturing software suite, by offering an additional software package using technology from Exton, Pa.-based Lighthammer Software Development Corp.
Lighthammer provides Web-based software used to monitor and manage manufacturing operations. SAP plans to acquire Lighthammer and sell its suite as an xApp, a prepackaged composite application that can be bolted on existing systems.
In addition, more products will be rolled out under SAP's new embedded analytics umbrella of products, which were announced last month at SAP's Sapphire user conference. Lighthammer, which counts about 80% of its nearly 200 customers as SAP users, has been an SAP partner and helped develop an xApp and several embedded applications, said Lighthammer chief technology officer Rick Bullotta, in an interview with SearchSAP.com.
Bullotta said Lighthammer filled a gap in SAP's manufacturing suite by connecting manufacturing, automation and other proprietary systems with enterprise systems.
"The missing link was a way to synchronize operational activities and master data," Bullotta said. "We got lucky by picking XML five or six years ago, before it was in vogue."
In May, Lighthammer launched a major upgrade to its software suite, adding integration capabilities with SAP NetWeaver and using Web services to integrate data from plant and enterprise systems. New security features were also added, building in support for other vendor authentication systems, including SAP.
SAP and Lighthammer said the merger is expected to close in July and that all 60 of Lighthammer's employees will remain at their current facilities. Terms of the deal were not announced.
The Lighthammer software can exchange data with NetWeaver and SAP analytical applications and provide Web-based dashboards in the form of alerts and reports. Using key performance indicators, the combined SAP-Lighthammer software package could also identify deviations in real time, provide drill-downs to determine the financial impact of disruptions and workflow problems, and help managers resolve them quickly, Bullotta said.
Lighthammer's customer base, which is comprised of chemical, food and beverage and discrete applications manufacturers, helped sustain profits and growth, said Lighthammer CEO Russ Fadel. A challenge was figuring out a way to reach the more than 10,000 manufacturing customers that use SAP, Fadel said.
"There was not a lot of product overlap in what we do and what SAP has historically done, and we've grown really comfortable with SAP over the years," Fadel said. "We've been a dominant pure play emerging in manufacturing intelligence, and it's a type of technology that SAP doesn't have."