SoftBrands, Inc. (OTC: SFBD), has announced that GKN has installed Fourth Shift  as its enterprise software system for its GKN Walterscheid GmbH site in Germany.

The Fourth Shift system went live in June 2005 at GKN Walterscheid's production  plant in Sohland, Germany. Fourth Shift is being used to facilitate the manufacture of  gearbox systems. GKN is a key supplier to the world's leading manufacturers of  tractors, self-propelled vehicles and agricultural machinery. Fourth Shift will also support production of GKN's new automatic gearbox to be launched later this year.

At the Sohland plant, Fourth Shift replaced two non-integrated software applications  for inventory control and accounting, together with reliance on computing resources from GKN Walterscheid's main manufacturing site in Germany.

"For the first time we will be able to operate entirely on our own and fully integrate a number of important functions within the plant. This will improve productivity and efficiency by centralising data assets in one database. Throughout the company, Fourth Shift will improve data flow and synchronisation. In due course, it will also support production of the new gearbox product," said Wil Logsdail, GKN's IT manager.

Part of GKN Off Highway Systems (OHS), GKN Walterscheid purchased the Fourth Shift system because it has become the preferred manufacturing management IT standard for the group. Fourth Shift has been installed in five other GKN OHS factories around the world, where its high level of functional performance has demonstrated excellent value for money, coupled by Fourth Shift local technical and business support services.

GKN Walterscheid also liked Fourth Shift's open systems architecture and ease of connectivity: it will enable software applications written by existing sites, specific to the company's manufacturing requirements, to be utilised across the entire group by readily integrating with the core and modular applications, allowing seamless exchange of data.

The connectivity feature also means that the Preactor finite capacity scheduling software, which was purchased and supplied with Fourth Shift as a third-party application, may operate as a fully integrated module. The dynamic scheduling software will provide GKN with the flexibility to change and optimise production plans at short notice, re-route orders to machines that are available and make best use of CNC machine tool resources.

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