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Concentus Links Planning and Execution Systems by Bridging the ``Last Mile'' in Manufacturing.

Business Editors, High-Tech Writers

DUBLIN, Ohio--(BUSINESS WIRE)--May 24, 2001

Java Workflow Engine Supports Peer-To-Peer, Client/Server and Web Environments to Integrate Engineering Planning and MES Processes, and

Manage Work in Process Check-In/Check-Out

Concentus Technology Corporation, a provider of Business Process Management (BPM) solutions, announced a new Java-based workflow software product, WorkBridge Factory Manager(TM), which orchestrates Engineering Work Request (EWR) and Work In Process (WIP) inventory management with Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) to speed return on investment, improve quality control and cost accounting, and deliver faster order response.

The leading edge technology was developed in a multi-year pilot, NIIIP-SMART (National Industrial Information Infrastructure Protocols- Solutions for Manufacturing Execution System Adaptable Replicable Technology) project. The final pilot took place within a circuit board product facility of a leading computer manufacturer.

As a Java-based BPM system, WorkBridge Factory Manager provides EWR automation, execution and tracking for large manufacturers, bridging planning and execution applications for end-to-end process visibility and control. With very little customization, it can also provide process connections to other systems.

The product also offers cost-effective EWR and WIP management functionality for other manufacturers who lack sophisticated planning and execution systems. Workflows can be quickly configured and executed to manage the many manual steps occurring on the factory floor.

WorkBridge Factory Manager excels at managing the people-centric processes not fully automated by either manufacturing engineering planning or execution systems. It provides a powerful, yet flexible workflow-based framework for routing work tasks and resources between people and systems, giving participants visibility and control over those processes to ensure fast operational response, greater product quality and rapid ROI.

"As product designs and changes are rolled out to manufacturing, the reliance on manual operations and verbal communications is fraught with a loss of process integrity. Java-based workflow software can provide the process flexibility, visibility, and control needed for today's build-to-order manufacturing environments," said Kevin Prouty, Research Director for Manufacturing Strategies for AMR Research.

"Many manufacturing systems are hardwired to business systems. Having a workflow-based integration between manufacturing systems and business systems greatly increases a manufacturer's flexibility and adaptability. This is critical as more companies move to a build-to-order model with rapid product updates and rollouts," Prouty continued.

During the NIIIP-SMART pilot, WorkBridge Factory Manager demonstrated the following benefits:
-- Quicker and more flexible product rollouts through faster EWR throughput and
production line retooling

-- Improved quality control and cost accounting through greater visibility and
control over the execution of EWRs with MES applications and WIP inventory
management

-- Faster ROI from shorter MES implementations and customizations

-- Ability to add new MES functionality that would be cost-prohibitive using
traditional programming methods

-- Access via Internet-based hubs, peer-to-peer technologies, PDAs and other
lightweight devices for more cost-effective and agile engineering change
management and collaboration

-- Significantly higher productivity for EWR throughput by creating EWRs in
minutes

-- More cost-effective use of WIP inventory via real-time tracking and ensured
delivery to appropriate tool stations

-- Lower IT costs relating to EWR changes and tooling reconfigurations


"Prior to the pilot, paper EWRs required continuous, manually intensive, tracking and reporting procedures. Using the WorkBridge Factory Manager's Java engine, NIIIP-SMART demonstrated automated, real-time, tracking and reporting," said Jon Siudut, NIIIP Software Development Manager/PMP. "The system increased productivity, ensured a more accurate cost accounting of parts production, and reduced production-planning costs. Configuration costs were also extremely low compared to traditional customization via coding. "

According to Michael Fancher, Concentus Chief Executive Officer, manufacturers are rapidly adopting large systems to automate planning and execution, but a gap remains between the two, with engineering request processes largely uncontrolled.

"Manufacturing is all about quality and efficiency. NIIIP-SMART demonstrated a significant impact on both," Fancher said. "Using workflow technology, we've been able to accommodate up to 1,000 variables in the creation of EWRs, enabling engineers to create them in minutes and providing a highly flexible system for rapidly reconfiguring how manufacturing plans become production reality."

The new technology was applied to two manufacturing scenarios within the NIIIP-SMART project: (1) EWR Automation, and (2) Check-In/Check-Out. EWR is the process in which design engineers create part production plans to be used by production line planners and tool operators; while Check-In/Check-Out is the process of managing in-process inventory. In both scenarios, the process management system streamlined and automated the processes, thereby increasing visibility, control and accuracy.

The user simply accesses the system through a standard browser that integrates to a Web server that in turn accesses business rules and processes contained in the Java Process Engine. The process engine integrates to the MES, MRP, relational database and other systems via attached Java applications. With simple customization, WorkBridge Factory Manager could also interface to ERP, PDM and APS applications.

As a BPM system, WorkBridge Factory Manager provides EWR automation, execution and tracking for large manufacturers, bridging planning and execution applications for end-to-end process visibility and control. With very little customization, it can also provide process connections to other systems.

Additionally, WorkBridge Factory Manager offers cost-effective EWR and WIP management functionality for smaller manufacturers who lack sophisticated planning and execution systems. Workflows can be quickly configured and executed to manage the many manual steps occurring on the factory floor.

The Java and XML Advantage

WorkBridge Factory Manager uses a small-footprint Java engine that provides industrial grade stability and performance via flexible, easy to implement XML-defined processes. The system orchestrate 500 process steps per second, making it practical in build-to-order environments that require frequent product changes and complex engineering requests, such as the manufacturing of computer and electronics, medical devices, aerospace and automotive parts.

WorkBridge Factory Manager processes can be deployed over virtually any device. As a result, processes can be deployed in peer-to-peer, client/server and Internet hub environments, with users having access via PDAs, PCs and thin-client devices, supporting cost-effective deployment of distributed workforces. The Java engine components are reusable and based on common industry standards, making it very cost-effective to implement and reconfigure.

Its XML-based process framework supports rapid execution and tracking of business processes. The flexibility of an XML-based framework allows manufacturers to quickly integrate factory floor processes to upstream processes, such as order management, and to downstream process, such as logistics and warehousing.

About Concentus Technology Corporation

Concentus Technology Corporation provides Business Process Management technology that enables clients to improve customer response and gain faster ROI by enhancing collaboration, increasing flexibility and gaining visibility into supply chain execution and event management. Based in Columbus, Ohio, the company's client base includes Caterpillar, Washington Mutual Bank, Powerway and Raytheon Systems. For more information on Concentus, go to www.concentus-tech.com or call 1-877-638-2397.

About NIIIP-SMART

NIIIP-SMART (http://smart.npo.org) is part of the NIIIP Consortium, which provides Information Technology solutions for Virtual Enterprises comprised of collaborating corporations and government agencies. For more information about our goals, projects, and members, please visit www.niiip.org.
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:May 24, 2001
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