Issue: Oct 2006


Apriso Drives Flexible In-Line Sequenced Manufacturing



by James Hilton

Building on its long-standing expertise of providing leading automotive manufacturers adaptive operations execution solutions, Apriso Corporation today announced the availability of FlexNet® for the automotive industry. FlexNet is a global manufacturing software platform and suite of applications that allow automotive suppliers and manufacturers to easily deploy, execute, manage, monitor, track and trace their operations with an adaptive manufacturing process approach.

Across the automotive industry, Tier One suppliers and OEMs are facing tremendous pressure. While many leading auto manufacturers once had the ability to dedicate entire production lines to produce a single product or component, the industry now finds itself needing to quickly adapt to changing customer demand. These manufacturers need to quickly transition their plants to meet demand changes while improving return on plant assets. If not, when the vehicle or component falls out of favor with buyers, the plant runs the risk of closure rather than quickly being transitioned to produce another vehicle or component — a process known in the industry as “flexible manufacturing.”

Apriso’s adaptive operations execution platform, FlexNet, is the first operations execution system (OES) for the automotive industry designed to:

* Facilitate the rapid change and deployment of production line processes in a single plant or across an enterprise

* Address the logistical challenges of just-in-time sequenced manufacturing

* Provide a traceability and genealogy solution across the supply chain to reduce warranty and recall exposure

Apriso’s OES solution is designed to span the operations of suppliers through final vehicle assemblers. It facilitates directive processes for production “touch workers” as well as integration of warehouse management, maintenance, quality, time & labor and supply chain visibility applications. The platform’s business process management (BPM) capabilities uniquely enable manufacturers and suppliers to easily adjust processes for sequenced assembly of vehicle models or parts. While its unified data model eases the sharing of data and product information across the entire scale of operations.

“Manufacturers who recognize the need to become more flexible or agile, and to manage performance across a distributed and diverse operations environment, will benefit from using an operations management platform like Apriso’s,” said Greg Gorbach of ARC Advisory Group. “The platform allows manufacturers to address operations issues in a consistent way across the enterprise, with a modern architecture, strong modular functionality, and global deployment capabilities.”

Building Momentum Across Automotive

Apriso solutions have already been successfully deployed at many leading automotive suppliers and OEMs including Cummins Engines, GM Powertrain, Lear Seating, Saint Gobain, Supplier City and Volvo CE among others. Several leading tier one suppliers have expanded their FlexNet implementations across their enterprises globally.

One Apriso automotive customer recently implemented the 77th site of FlexNet; another manufacturer implemented site 40; while a major supplier, in a joint venture with the world’s largest auto manufacturer, has implemented the FlexNet platform globally across three continents. The platform helps to enhance a manufacturers’ ability to:

* Address warranty and recall requirements through interlocking traceability and genealogy for product and process data down to component levels;

* Develop, deploy and update best practice manufacturing processes across the entire global manufacturing network from a single location/center of excellence

* Create and monitor consistent key performance indicators (KPI) standards for every location

* View plant conditions through dashboard features that record and manage changes across the supply chain

* Integrate bill-of-process and as-built manufacturing execution data with PLM systems to enable all manufacturing locations

“The automotive supplier business today demands building to a two hour sequenced production schedule,” said Fred Thomas, automotive industry director at Apriso. “To meet this window, you must have a solution that manages material and product flow from suppliers out through shipment. And, in today’s age of high warranty and recall expectations and costs, manufacturers must have systems which provide streamlined, interlocking traceability and genealogy without adding redundant operations. We’re very proud of the fact our customers are using FlexNet to meet these challenges and have realized significant return on their investments.”

Global Coordination, Local Execution

Apriso’s operations execution solution gives automotive manufacturers the ability to coordinate and deploy best practices and continual improvements quickly, trace complete product histories and create reports at any time for regulatory or production requirements, while monitoring plant performance based on real-time information from all plant floors. Apriso’s Global Manufacturing Suite gives manufacturers the ability to actively manage these best-practice processes on a global scale, ensuring consistency across an evolving manufacturing base. With Apriso, operations personnel can define and perfect processes in one location and deploy them instantly to multiple local sites and geographies throughout their operations, as well as those of suppliers and customers as required.

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