DETROIT -- When Plex Systems Inc. hooked up Inteva Products' 14 plants worldwide with a new manufacturing management information system in just 12 months, Dennis Hodges was pleased and relieved.
Hodges, Inteva's chief information officer, had achieved the nearly impossible: He had gotten Inteva off Delphi Corp.'s IT platform within 12 months after Inteva -- the former Delphi interiors division -- had been purchased by a private equity firm.
And with Plex's help, Inteva had reduced its IT costs from about 2 percent of the company's $1 billion in annual revenue to less than 1 percent, Hodges said.
The transfer from SAP's system to Plex's was completed in June.
"The speed of this launch was especially remarkable, given the complexity of integrating data from many different locations," Hodges said.
The project was Plex's biggest in its 15-year history.
Plex offers a comprehensive suite of manufacturing software that allows managers to operate all aspects of their businesses, from inventory, quality and scrap at the factory to billing and accounting in the executive offices.
The suburban Detroit company is a David taking on several Goliath-sized competitors, including Microsoft, Oracle and SAP.
Inteva's Hodges said he chose Plex's product in part because the system is browser-based, allowing employees to access the system on secured lines through servers hosted by Plex.
Inteva avoided a heavy upfront investment to buy on-site software and hardware. The company leases the system at a monthly rate. Hodges declined to detail the cost savings or contract price.
Plex CEO Mark Symonds said customers also like the software's parts-tracking system. If a parts problem crops up in production or after shipment to a customer, bar codes allow the supplier to trace the parts back through every stage of manufacturing.
The supplier, for example, can track the part from the original raw steel roll to the person who was operating the production machinery. That can help resolve a problem quickly, Symonds said.
Obtaining the Inteva contract and delivering the goods on schedule has Plex on a steep growth path.
Sales at Plex grew 14 percent last year to about $26 million, despite the worst auto and manufacturing recession in decades. Symonds, 51, said sales in 2010 should reach about $33 million.
In October, Plex's majority owner, the private equity firm Apax Partners, injected $6 million into the company to support its growth, Symonds said. By mid-2011 the company is expected to have achieved the critical mass for an initial public offering that will provide capital to expand, he said.
In the meantime, Plex intends to add 40 to 50 software developers, programmers and project managers in coming weeks to keep up with customer demand, Symonds said. The company employs 96 such developers and technical workers now and about 140 people overall.