By: Richard T. (“Dick”) Lilly

My working life has been spent trying to create the best manufacturing control system that the technology at the time will allow. By trying to recount each reiteration, I come up with a count of eleven successive creations. A short history is as follows.

IBM 1960-1968

I joined IBM as a Systems Engineer in 1960 in Worcester, Massachusetts – a hot bed of manufacturing companies. Originally I helped a number of companies install Unit Record equipment for job costing and inventory control prior to the entry of computers (main frames) into the market place. About 1964 I was asked to spend a week in White Plains, NY helping to prepare a manual for Production and Inventory Control. We called this Manual the PICS manual, and in it described the official IBM approach. There was no software at all for a while, and then the Bill of Material Processor was announced for the new mainframe, the 1401. The BMP was essentially a database handler with low level coding to insure that there was no wraparound in a Bill of Material. The software was free to any 1401 user company and was used by the IBM salesmen to market the computer. But no company had any expertize on the software and IBM had little. So in 1968 I left IBM with Bill Watson to found what turned into Software International with the goal to assist 1401 users in implementing PICS type apps.

1968-1978 Manufacturing Management Sciences Inc. (MMS)

Leaving IBM we had 2 contracts to supply MRP systems on IBM 1400 series computers. Additionally, we designed, coded and marketed a General Ledger System that used the IBM Bill of Material Processor Data Base for 1401 computers. We sold thousands of these under the name Software International Corp. We sold the company to General Electric in 1980.

Profitkey International 1981-1991

Using the newly announced microcomputers, we designed an MRP system, which could run on Unix micros. Up until this point in time, all the MRP systems were based on the PICS manual previously noted and described, to this day, by APICS and others, i.e., Master Scheduling, MRP, etc. WE became aware that the marketplace was not composed of Make-to-stock manufacturers, but the vast majority was Make-to-customer-order! This meant that Master scheduling was inappropriate! Rather, the first requirement of a customer was to quote and enter an order; so we created a new system, Job Shop 200. This was succeeded with Custom Manufacturing 300, for multi-level manufacturers and contained a bit of labor scheduling. At this point, all was on Unix since networking was too slow to function properly! We were then given a contract by Digital Equipment Corp to design a Bill of Material processor for their internal use in five plants using our designed COBOL chain files as the basis for product structures and routing records. Then came Windows 3, and the 386 chip thus changing the computer micro world and the Board of Directors decided it was time for me to go, so off I went!

Lilly Software Associates 1991-2004

The name of the marketing game had now become Windows 3 with GUI displays networked using SQL Data Bases. So we designed Visual Manufacturing, the first manufacturing software using a Graphical User Interface. And to this software we added a Finite Scheduler for which we were awarded two patents by the US Patent Office. This system was eventually marketed worldwide with over 3000 systems installed. This was the first system that did not use the COBOL language but rather SQL Windows from Gupta. We also created a smaller package Visual Job Shop using Windows and Visual C++ In 2004 we sold the company to Infor.

LillyWorks, Inc. 2014 to the present time!

Although we believed that Visual was still the best available software for custom manufacturers, we became concerned upon learning that it was to be discontinued because of the advent of cloud computing. And that pushed me to start the creation of an even better and easier to use system, as you may now see in LillyWorks™ new cloud-based manufacturing ERP system with Protected Flow Manufacturing! Click here to learn more.