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Apriso Going (Intelligently) Leaner

Written By: Predrag Jakovljevic
Published On: July 8 2013

Continuous improvement is one of the hallmarks in the pursuit of manufacturing excellence. To better support this strategy, Apriso, which was recently acquired by Dassault Systèmes, has launched a new solution to help manufacturers increase responsiveness and agility by better leveraging “pull” triggered manufacturing and supply chain processes. This process-based solution incorporates real-time operational intelligence into the design and execution of pull processes, resulting in “smarter” pull and Kanban signals that can enhance operational performance.

The new Smart-Pull Manufacturing solution not only has built-in integration capabilities with sensing devices, but also has the capability to store, filter, analyze, and contextualize these events in almost real time. This results in dynamic triggering and execution of business processes across the product supply network and value chain. Recent advances in mobility, social media, and sensing technologies have changed the scope of what real-time data can be gathered.



Then vs. Now

In lean manufacturing, Kanban systems are widely used to trigger just-in-time (JIT) operations. The challenge is that traditional Kanbans typically rely only on simple and basic measures (e.g., if a parts bin is empty, place an order). In contrast, Apriso’s smart-pull solution leverages FlexNet’s Manufacturing Process Intelligence (MPI) module to add intelligence to Kanban-driven pull processes by incorporating a broader scope of actual events or historical performance. For example, an electronic Kanban signal can now consider up-to-the-moment seasonal order fluctuations, supplier quality performance, or employee knowledge and inputs, which then trigger more accurate replenishment signals.

Apriso’s customers have been using their FlexNet applications as part of their lean initiatives for quite some time now. Apriso launched a just-in-sequence (JIS) application back in 2007, which combined sequenced JIT capabilities for its customers that worked tightly with suppliers delivering parts within tightly planned arrival time windows. The vendor, jointly with Accenture, also created and launched a “lean material flow” solution in 2009, which has been implemented for a number of manufacturing clients, primarily in Europe.

New: Smarter Lean

What is brand new with this “Smart-Pull” solution is how the MPI product is now an integral component of authoring and executing a lean pull process. MPI is now approximately two years old, and this is the first time Apriso is offering a software and services solution to blend MPI with a customer’s lean processes, essentially to add intelligence, so Kanban signals can be triggered based on a wider variety of more relevant attributes or activities.

A wide range of Kanban sizes, attributes, or activities can now be incorporated, provided the process was authored in Apriso’s FlexNet manufacturing operations management (MOM) platform. As this solution launch is both software and services, Apriso feels pretty comfortable that just about any type of attribute that can be measured as part of MPI can be incorporated as part of a FlexNet process (given the fact that Apriso’s products are all interconnected and share the same common data model).

For those processes that are executed outside of FlexNet, a review would be necessary to determine how best to incorporate them. Of course, Apriso’s integration capabilities to enterprise resource planning (ERP) and product lifecycle management (PLM) applications will be used to enable a wider scope of pull process—both within the four walls of an enterprise and out to the supply network.
 
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