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SAP Buys Lighthammer

Enterprise software giant SAP acquired manufacturing industry software developer Lighthammer for an undisclosed amount, officials announced Wednesday.

The purchase is intended to bridge the gap between the plant floor and the corporate network and deliver what officials at the Germany-based company call adaptive manufacturing, or the ability to dynamically replenish the supply chain given unpredictable changes.

Lighthammer's Collaborative Manufacturing Suite (CMS) will be rolled into SAP's NetWeaver platform and sold as a SAP xApps composite application. The Lighthammer offering will be the seventh xApps offering from SAP, which deliver specific business process applications ranging from xApps Emissions Management for environmental regulation compliance to Global Trade Services for international trade management.

Lighthammer has been a SAP partner for more than 18 months, offering a third-party xApps application to customers; the acquisition will help further integrate Lighthammer's offering within the company's software stack, according to Sudipta Bhattacharya, SAP vice president of manufacturing applications solutions management.

"Our standard strategy is that we will partner with leading edge solution providers that successfully penetrate a select set of customers, and this was the exact case with Lighthammer," he said. "We have seen the changes that we are currently seeing taking place in the market, and with manufacturing productivity uniformity back in focus, we believe the market is ready for broad-based adoption of this capability."

The CMS offered by Lighthammer looks to address the challenges of streamlining the operations conducted in a manufacturing plant and the goals and operational needs of the enterprise. It's made up of two major components, the Illuminator Manufacturing Intelligence Server and the Xacute Collaborative Execution Engine.

Illuminator takes the information found in plant systems and translates it into XML-based data, letting executives view the latest information on inventory, order status or production yields from any browser. Xacute uses the information aggregated by the Illuminator to craft key performance indicator (KPI) calculations, alerts or integrate with enterprise applications.

Officials expect the Lighthammer acquisition to close next month. They also say Lighthammer will retain its employees and continue to operate out of their facilities in Exton, Pa.