Brooks Automation Launches Real-Time Enterprise Software Initiative

Software division debuts manufacturing apps intended to help discrete manufacturers capitalize on emerging IT, business trends

Software division debuts manufacturing apps intended to help discrete manufacturers capitalize on emerging IT, business trends

Chelmsford, MA — August 24, 2004 — Brooks Automation division Brooks Software today took the wraps off what it is calling its real-time enterprise software initiative, introducing a new organization and a suite of real-time manufacturing applications intended to help discrete manufacturers capitalize on emerging information technology (IT) and business trends.

A public company founded in 1978 and with headquarters in Chelmsford, Mass., Brooks provides real-time applications for enterprises with collaborative, complex manufacturing operations.

The provider said it had worked with its customers in the aerospace and defense, automotive, high tech, medical devices and semiconductor markets to improve and extend the functionality of its suite of real-time manufacturing applications. The goal: enabling enterprises to create an end-to-end real-time environment that reaches from the factory floor to enterprise-level business systems.

Additionally, Brooks has reorganized its software group with the stated goal of better addressing real-time growth opportunities in its key markets.

Brooks said its SenseDecideRespond real-time enterprise software solutions give discrete manufacturers the ability to "sense" critical activity at the equipment, factory and enterprise levels, as well as changing market conditions; "decide" how to optimize production resources throughout the plant or multiple plants; and "respond" by implementing informed, revised directives based on changing business conditions. With improved real- time visibility to critical manufacturing process and product information, manufacturers can connect their manufacturing operations into their broader enterprise strategies, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), supply chain management, lean manufacturing and business process management to make more informed business decisions, Brooks said.

The provider's focus on its real-time strategy aligns with the direction that various industry analysts see manufacturers taking with regard to their enterprise infrastructure. For example, Colin Masson, research director with technology consultancy AMR Research, wrote in a July 29 report: "Over the past several years, many companies have amassed a collection of powerful but disparate manufacturing execution systems (MESs). During that same period, these companies focused their ERP strategies on global visibility and process standardization. That completed, manufacturers are now turning their attention to the MES layer underneath. The pursuit is to establish architectures to incorporate this heterogeneous manufacturing application landscape into their demand-driven supply networks (DDSNs)."

As Brooks sees it, discrete manufacturers face growing business pressures from shrinking product lifecycles, collaborative business models, increasing regulatory requirements and growing warranty/recall claims, driving them to find new ways of connecting their manufacturing operations to enterprise initiatives to become more responsive to changes in the market. Additionally, radio frequency identification (RFID) technology has exacerbated the need for, and is driving manufacturers to implement, a real-time IT infrastructure throughout their enterprise so they can benefit from real-time data enabling smarter business decisions.

"To successfully compete in today's dynamic market, manufacturers must create a real-time enterprise that connects their manufacturing operations with other strategic planning, execution and supply chain initiatives," said Joe Bellini, senior vice-president of the Software Systems Group at Brooks Automation. "By integrating our SenseDecideRespond real-time manufacturing applications with other business-level initiatives, manufacturers are able to create a more flexible and responsive enterprise capable of quickly adapting to changes in market conditions and ultimately achieving a better utilization of assets, greater competitive advantage and increased profitability."

For years, Brooks has provided real-time execution applications for complex manufacturing environments. According to recent reports and rankings from industry analyst firms AMR Research, ARC and Dataquest/Gartner, Brooks is the largest supplier of execution applications to the discrete manufacturing industries. Now Brooks Software said it aims to help discrete manufacturers address new market challenges by offering solutions that employ critical shop floor and supply chain data within broader strategic enterprise initiatives.

Specifically, Brooks said it is offering SenseDecideRespond real-time software solutions allowing manufacturers to tie critical operations data in real-time to enterprise strategies such as supply chain execution, closed loop automation, lean manufacturing and enterprise performance management strategies.

"Brooks Software is uniquely positioned to serve the specific real-time enterprise needs of complex discrete manufacturers in multiple industries," asserted Bellini. "Our growing list of blue-chip customers in discrete manufacturing industries, combined with the emergence of new business and technology trends that are driving these industries, provided an opportunity for Brooks to adapt our company and product line to more effectively serve these target markets."

Brooks said that over the past two years the company has focused on optimizing the performance of its suite of real-time manufacturing applications while collaborating with its customers to incorporate industry-specific, best practice business rules. Additionally, the Brooks suite now complies with emerging industry architecture standards and provides standard integration to various ERP applications, which Brooks said will extend the suite's functionality while lowering customers' total cost of ownership.

Recently introduced SenseDecideRespond products address the equipment level (Brooks APC Platform), the factory level (FACTORYworks3) and the enterprise level (Brooks Activity Manager), leading the provider to assert that it now offers a complete application software suite extending real-time functionality within a single manufacturing site to support real-time, closed loop requirements across the enterprise and extended supply chain.

In addition, Brooks has reorganized its software assets into a single division led by Bellini. The company has established new industry vertical practices with the goal of leveraging its established practices and domain experience in providing real-time execution applications to aerospace and defense, automotive, high tech, medical device and semiconductor industries. Each industry practice is managed and staffed by teams with manufacturing experience specific to each vertical sector, Brooks said.

To further meet the specific needs of discrete manufacturing, Brooks has established solution teams for the enterprise strategies mentioned above, including supply chain execution, closed loop automation, lean execution and enterprise performance management.