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Mine those reports and data for value

When it comes to experts on ERP, the customers who use MANMAN are hard to beat. You take an class of users running an application that's been powering manufacturing sites for more than three decades, then carry the solution into the 21st Century, and you get a critical mass of expertise. Data mining is one skill these customers are practicing, an art that makes an HP 3000 work harder at a company, no matter how long the system's expected lifespan might be.

The heart of MANMAN savvy resides in CAMUS, a user group that began in the 1970s and is still holding conferences and putting out newsletters. The latest CAMUS news came to us over the holiday, an issue that includes an article on data mining of MANMAN information. Mining for data is not much different than mining for high-grade ore or gems; what you net is of greater value to your company.

Inside the latest issue of the CAMUS newsletter, Eric Estes of Titan Tool outlined how he used Monarch, a PC-based tool from Datawatch, to reformat reports from MANMAN. The GUI revival never did make it to MANMAN, at least not without third party solutions. Estes showed how a standard MANMAN report that looks like this (click to get a larger version):


Can have key information extracted by an administrator and imported into Monarch, to end up looking like this


Monarch may be very well known, but it is far from the only tool to be able to transform MANMAN's information into a more powerful corporate asset. Estes's example illustrates how the mission-critical data reports can be refined with third party solutions. The MBF-UDALink from MB Foster performs this kind of magic, and a lot more, by creating a data mart out of MANMAN information. Monarch works all over, but it has limits to what it can do.

A full data mart, as opposed to the relatively simple reformatting of a report, gives a company a wide range of solutions. A UDALink data mart can offer views such as vendor performance reporting, lead time analysis, reports on where components are used, tools to plan and forecast sales, and detailed operational analysis, just as examples.

Both of these products have the power to pump up a 3000's data, which often has untold value because it covers a decade or two. The Monarch solution sells for less than $1,000, but as a data mart tool it simply doesn't show up. Monarch makes existing MANMAN reports look less complex, something that regular end users can make some sense of. As Estes reported in his article

I’ve got the fields highlighted that I want to extract from the report, using what’s called a template in Monarch, and once I execute the import I wind up with all of the fields I require in what Monarch refers to as a table. I can then name the fields any way I want, or simply use the default names.

It looks much like an Excel spreadsheet with the field names across the top and the part numbers and related data in rows from top to bottom. A few more clicks of the mouse and the results are exported to an Excel work sheet. I primarily use this file as a source to lookup data for other exports.

A data mart supplies a more complete solution, considering what it delivers. At MB Foster, in addition to UDALink, the company delivers

  • A set of procedures for extracting and loading the data into the data mart structure
  • File Definitions (FDs) modified to suit your specific requirements
  • PSO personnel working with your team throughout the entire process to ensure a successful implementation
  • Deploying into your environment
  • Supporting the initial load