Tower Automotive Accelerates Program Launches With Activplant Manufacturing Intelligence

Leading Tier-1 Automotive Supplier Uses Real-Time Manufacturing Intelligence Solution Built on Microsoft .NET to Monitor Production, Increase Quality, Throughput

DETROIT, Sept. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Activplant(TM) Corporation announced today at Auto-Tech 2004 that its enterprise manufacturing intelligence solution was used to accelerate a new product launch at the Tower Automotive frame assembly plant in Plymouth, Michigan.

With annual revenues of more than $2.5 billion, Tower Automotive (Novi, MI -- NYSE: TWR) designs and produces structural components and assemblies used by every major automotive and truck manufacturer worldwide. Over the past 12 months, the company has been more aggressive and has won more new contracts to launch more new product lines than at any other time in its history.

Few production lines in manufacturing are more challenging than automotive frame assembly, covering dozens of steps and stations and incorporating hundreds of discrete components. And, particularly in launching a frame assembly line, time is money.

Since peak profitability for a vehicle model is usually when it is first introduced, it is imperative that the time ramping up to full production be held to an absolute minimum.

Activplant's Manufacturing Intelligence software, built on Microsoft .NET, provided Tower Automotive with enhanced visibility into its operations and improved their ability to spot and correct problems. As a result, Tower Automotive's Plymouth, MI, plant accelerated the launch of a new frame assembly line for the Dodge Dakota by several weeks -- meeting all signoff milestones of its automotive OEM customer earlier than ever before. Tower Plymouth's Activplant implementation was delivered by Mosaic Systems of Ann Arbor, MI, an Activplant business partner.

"Activplant allowed us to analyze cycle times and workflow performance at each assembly station, uncover constraints, and remove bottlenecks," says Gerard Gonos, Tower Plymouth's business unit manager. "This had a major impact on our throughput. Overall the Activplant system has helped us get the line up and running, debugged, and provides ongoing performance improvement. The impact on our business has been dramatic."

For Tower, Activplant automates the collection of plant-floor data to monitor production and quality from a wide variety of sources in real time. By feeding data real-time into a manufacturing intelligence solution, plant management and production personnel can more quickly identify factors affecting quality and throughput and more quickly prevent issues leading to downtime, uptime or other types of production losses. Unplanned maintenance is reduced, recalls and warranty issues become more manageable, resources are optimized, and the link between the plant floor and other business systems becomes measurably stronger.

"For the first-time, global manufacturers like Tower now have the ability to drive accountability for performance improvement across their operations," said Activplant president and CEO Dennis Cocco. "Both product launches and ongoing production benefit, as key performance indicators and other metrics are delivered to stakeholders in real-time."

To better enable ease of integration and the connectivity required to gather data across the manufacturing enterprise, Activplant builds its solution on Microsoft .NET.

"Automotive suppliers and OEMs have a critical need for better access to the right information at the right time," said Kyle Solomon, industry manager, Automotive and Industrial Equipment at Microsoft. "Activplant continues to drive plant performance and visibility for manufacturers by providing customers with real-time manufacturing intelligence based on Microsoft technology. By building on .NET, Activplant has empowered its customers to improve decision making and performance as the result of better communication and collaboration across the enterprise."

Activplant in Automotive Manufacturing

The Activplant solution is now connected to tens of thousands of plant floor assets (machines, controls, robots, gauges, sensors, and much more) at more than 40 original equipment manufacturer (OEM) facilities in Australia, Canada, Europe, and the United States. The Activplant manufacturing intelligence solution is being used to drive plant floor performance at virtually every type of OEM facility, including assembly, powertrain, stamping, and component plants.

In addition to Tower Automotive, Activplant is also collecting production metrics from thousands of plant floor machines at many of the world's largest Tier 1 and Tier 2 automotive suppliers including: Accuride, ArvinMeritor, Bridgestone, Dana, Draexlmaier, GKN, Hayes Lemmerz, Lear, Magna, Robert Bosch Australia, TRW, Visteon, Webasto, Wescast Industries and ZF.

About Activplant Corporation

Activplant is the leading provider of Manufacturing Intelligence software. Activplant software enables manufacturers to collect, store, analyze and distribute critical information throughout the manufacturing enterprise in real-time. Activplant consolidates raw plant floor data into relevant real- time information and historical data. This visibility allows plant managers and corporate executives to make faster, more informed decisions that drive operational efficiency, product quality and plant profitability. Activplant is a privately held company based in London, Ontario.

Product and company names herein may be the properties of their respective owners.

CONTACT: Robert Lendvai, VP Marketing of Activplant, +1-519-668-7336,
ext. 281, mobile: +1-519-857-3383, Email Contact ; or Ray Chalmers,
PR Director of G. Temple & Associates, +1-248-324-9800, Email Contact

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