Multicat MD Robert Hartman says that the catalogue is currently the preferred EPC of a number of large corporations in the motor vehicle and equipment industry in Southern Africa, with the first version of the catalogue developed in 1996. The system has since been implemented at operations and dealerships throughout South Africa, Africa and the Middle East.
"The Multicat EPC expands on the idea of the outdated microfiche, by storing a large amount of data, making it readily available to the user," Hartman explains.
The company supplies its EPC to motor manufacturers Toyota Africa, Nissan South Africa, and General Motors South Africa dealerships. Hartman says that McCarthy Value Centres are currently using the catalogue for its Chinese vehicle imports, while Chinese motor manufacturer Geely has become the latest user of the EPC. Multicat is also currently negotiating further supply contracts with a number of new Chinese vehicle manufacturers.
"The parts catalogue is used by companies that have an extensive components part list. These parts are constantly upgraded, making a paper or microfiche system very complex, because the user needs to be able to revert back to the original components as well," Multicat director Erna Viljoen states.
Hartman says that Multicat aims to expand into areas where parts management is difficult.
"At the moment, Multicat is exploring the earthmoving industry, and related machine markets, as a new area to expand into. The company's medium-term goals, are to develop a broader customer base. The company hopes to have invested in international markets in the next five years," Hartman comments.
Multicat operates the EPC by building and maintaining a parts catalogue for the customer and by hosting the catalogue, writing the software according to a customer's components catalogue, and by hosting the programme for its clients, through the use of a service provider.
"Multicat has been involved in the industry about ten years, and has revamped the system to be as updated as possible," Hartman states.
The Multicat EPC has a Microsoft Office 2007 feel and look, and uses the .Net framework, as the software was programmed in C#. Net, which means that it is compatible with all new operating systems.
"Multicat continues to develop the system, and spends time ensuring integration with other systems. This is because the company does not manage the financial aspects of its customers and as such has to ensure that the programme is compliant with existing financial and warehousing systems," Hartman explains.
He points out that the Multicat EPC has been integrated with all new management systems, such as SAP external cataloguing. The company also integrated its EPC system with an existing SAP system for UAE Toyota, which Hartman says is on a revenue par with the local Toyota market, although it has less dealerships.
Multicat's EPC is currently used by about 2 200 dealerships, and Hartman says that the company is constantly adding upgrades to the existing software, and sending the upgrades to its clients.
"Multicat is currently involved in further web development of the system to create new functionality," he says.
Hartman states that the transition between the older operating system and the new upgrade is progressing smoothly, since Multicat will allow its customers to use the older programme until February 2008.
"The last of the old system should be phased out by April 2008, and the new system should remain unchanged for the next three to four years. With new manufacturers providing a new market, Multicat hopes to establish a working relationship with them and in this way grow its interests in the automotive industry," Hartman concludes.
Multicat was founded as Viltek in 1993. Its customer base includes corporations and companies mainly in the automotive industry, as well as other enterprises that stock and distributes parts and accessories.