Yamaha Motor Australia, with its head office in Sydney, is part of the giant Japanese Yamaha Motor Corporation that has subsidiaries all over the world. Yamaha products include a wide range of recreational and industrial products, including motorcycles, scooters and four-wheel ATVs, golf cars, wave runners and outboard motors, power generators and industrial engines. Yamaha Motor Australia extended its IDS ERP solution with a LANSA-based dealer site for spare parts and warranties.
Stephen Suen, IT manager at Yamaha Motor Australia, says, "Our dealers now have a real Web solution that is far more friendly and functional than the old emulated Windows interface. The site makes it easier for the dealer to do business with us, ultimately translating into more business. At the same time we can respond more efficiently and have significantly reduced support costs, so it is a win-win."
The site makes it easier for the dealer to do business with us, ultimately translating in more business
Yamaha Motor Australia was incorporated in 1983 and started operations in New South Wales and Victoria that same year. Yamaha expanded its distribution to Western Australia, Queensland, South Australia, and New Zealand. Yamaha's Australian head office and national distribution center is in Wetherill Park, in the Sydney metropolitan area.
Yamaha sponsors many sport events and clubs, including Lifesavers Australia that use Yamaha's All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs), wave runners and outboard motors to help them patrol Australia's beaches.
Yamaha sells its products via a dealer network of motorcycle shops, marinas and golf shops. Yamaha has approximately 500 dealers in Australia and New Zealand.
"In 1997, we were one of the first in the motorcycle industry to offer our dealers online access to parts ordering and warranties," says Suen. "However, the original solution was basically a Windows emulation of the IDS green-screen interface and didn't have real Windows functionality, such as true drop down boxes."
"A shortcoming of the old solution was its client-server architecture. When we wanted to make changes we had to update the server back end first, then the client front end and then re-deploy the client to all dealers. It was fairly complex so we needed the assistance of IDS."
"The biggest problem was that it created a lot of support issues. All our dealers needed to install the client software on a specific date to match the new server back end. Every time we wanted to make a small change, it meant we had to send out 500 CDs with the updated software for every dealer to install. It stopped us from enhancing the product, as the software distribution made it a too big job."
The client-server architecture of the old dealer solution created a lot of support issues
"We wanted to give our dealers a better interface and also take away the need to install client software. We decided to move to a Web solution," continues Suen.
"We looked at several solutions and selected LANSA because of its highly productive 4GL development environment. In my opinion, the platform and the development tool are the two factors that are most important for a company's IT direction."
Yamaha started their Web solution from scratch. Initially Suen had in mind to keep the solution as simple as possible, so that he could have it up and running quickly. But once he and his team fully understood Web development and the benefits that the solution could bring, he changed his mind. "You cannot do things by half. You either don't deliver a solution at all, or you do it properly. We decided to redesign the solution and do it properly."
"We had accumulated a lot of feedback and requirements from dealers in the five or six years that the old dealer solution was being used. We set a goal to deliver all of these enhancement and changes right away in the first version of the new dealer system. So we spent more time on the first implementation of the Parts and Warranty systems than we originally planned, but it was definitely worthwhile," says Suen.
"The Parts system allows fast intelligent searching for over 200,000 items and is fully integrated with IDS so price and inventory information is in real-time. Dealers can place orders and view open and past orders. Since orders can be complex, dealers can save an order for completion on a next day and the IDS inventory is updated with temporary allocations, until the order is confirmed."
"In most cases, if dealers placed the order in the morning, they will get the parts next day, shipped from our parts centers in Sydney and Auckland," says Suen.
The Warranty system allows dealers to register a warranty when they sell a product and post warrant claims online. Based on some pre-defined rules, most of the claims will be approved online by the system. So, dealers can advise their customers on the spot. The credit will be automatically posted to the dealer's account.
Using the online Price File Update, dealers can request either a complete price update or just prices updated since their previous request. The preparation of the price file, zipping it up and sending it to the email server, is all done automatically with LANSA-based programs.
Because few dealers need to receive details of all 200,000 Yamaha parts, the LANSA programs on the iSeries use dealer profiles to extract only the relevant part details. This simple feature provides an enormous efficiency. The completed price file is posted to Yamaha's email server on average in just over one minute, even for large dealers who request updates for over 130,000 parts.
Although some dealers use the flexibility of the Web to order out of office hours and maybe from their home office, Yamaha doesn't want to make access too easy for security reasons. Dealers do need to have a VPN connection set up with Yamaha's support, so you cannot access the site from any PC with an Internet connection.
We looked at several solutions and selected LANSA because of its highly productive 4GL development environment
"Our dealers now have a real Web solution that is far more friendly and functional than the old emulated Windows interface," says Suen. "The Web solution makes it easier for the dealer to order parts and lets us respond more efficiently. Making doing business with us easier means we give better service and increases customer loyalty, ultimately translating into more business."
"Our dealers are independent franchisers and may carry other brands. We are not in control of their software systems and can't expect them to installing software for each brand they represent, with the frustrations that may come with it."
"At the same time we have significantly reduced support costs, so it is a win-win. Previously we had to develop and test installation procedures and ship over 500 CDs. No matter how simple the upgrade was, some dealers would have problems that we had to fix. Now dealers don't have to do anything. They get new functionality automatically when they logon to the dealer site."
"Meeting the requirements of our dealers with the LANSA Web solution is much easier. We are now in control and can maintain the dealer system ourselves. As a result we have delivered a lot of new functionality."
"Because we have a small development team, we use LANSA consultants for major projects, but we do enhancements and maintenance ourselves. My developers tell me it is not difficult to learn LANSA and we have become productive with LANSA in a very short time. For example, it took us only two weeks to deliver the Price File Update system."
"The iSeries performance is very good. We have 250 internal users, about 100 dealers concurrently online and the response time, including the searches over our large parts file, is fast."
"We wanted to keep both our ERP and Web systems on the iSeries, because the iSeries is a very efficient and reliable machine. Also, by keeping everything on the same machine, response time is faster, because the Web transactions don't have to go through multiple servers. Not only is the response time better, we also avoid the need to hire extra staff to look after additional machines."
Meeting the requirements of our dealers with the LANSA Web solution is much easier. We are now in control and can maintain the dealer system ourselves and deliver more functionality
"We were one of the first to get our dealers online and we will continue to give them more and more functionality," says Suen "Our dealers tell us that in the motorcycle industry, we are the leaders in using IT technology to support our dealers.
"We are now looking at rebuilding our B2C eCommerce system with LANSA. At the moment, it is .NET-based, does not integrate properly with IDS and has poor response times. And because it is completely outsourced, supporting the system is difficult.
"I am always very careful that we don't lock ourselves in a particular type of environment. LANSA is more open and easier to integrate than other tools and languages with which I have worked."
"The Visual LANSA development tool is highly productive and the programs it produces are much easier to use than the green-screen applications. This is especially important in a fast changing business environment, because you don't have time to train people for each new function or version," concludes Suen.
Our dealers tell us that in the motorcycle industry, we are the leaders in using IT technology to support our dealers
Company and System Information
- Yamaha Motor Australia Pty Ltd was incorporated in 1983. Its warehouse and head office are in Wetherill Park, in the Sydney metropolitan area. Yamaha Motor Co., founded in 1955, is headquartered in Iwata, Japan. The corporation has 36,700 employees and a capital of 47,606 million yen. About 57 percent of sales are related to motorcycles, 18 percent marine products, 16 percent power products and 9 percent for others.
- The company has diversified its Australian and New Zealand operations and also owns Ficeda Accessories, Addfast Accessories and Yamaha Motor Finance. Yamaha Motor has 250 staff in Australia and New Zealand.
- For more information visit: www.yamaha-motor.com.au
- Yamaha Motor Australia uses an IBM iSeries model 520.
- IDS 400, more recently known as IDSe42, is a solution for the automotive and durable goods industry from IDS Enterprise Systems in Australia. International Business Systems acquired IDS Enterprise Systems in May 2005.