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Plexus Online Enables Business-Government-Academic Collaboration for Advanced Technology Institute

On-demand solution optimizes research company's database

AUBURN HILLS, Mich., June 19 /PRNewswire/ -- Plexus Systems, Inc., providers of Plexus Online on-demand software for the manufacturing enterprise, today announced the Advanced Technology Institute (North Charleston, SC) is using Plexus Online to facilitate collaboration, coordination and information-sharing among its partners -- governmental, industrial and academic.

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Plexus Online is the official Tool Uploading System for forging companies, OEMs and government agencies that participate in the National Forging Tooling Database (NFTD). The NFTD is a web-based tool that was developed in association with the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), which handles purchasing for the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), and the Forging Defense Manufacturing Consortium. The University of Toledo led the development of the NFTD, which was developed under a cost shared, Manufacturing Technology Program known as PRO-FAST.

As weapons systems in the U.S. arsenal go out of production, the acquisition of forged repair parts becomes more difficult because supply chain information disintegrates over time, especially in respect to tooling. In addition, some weapons systems are being kept in service much longer than originally intended. As this happens forged parts that were designed to last the life of the weapon have to be replaced and the location of tools to make the forged parts becomes lost.

The DOD commissioned the creation of the NFTD to enable forging supply chains to quickly locate forgers with tooling for legacy aircraft, vehicles and weaponry. The NFTD was developed to give defense customers, especially the Defense Logistics Agency, a centralized database of the tooling available.

"We really look upon Plexus Online as a tool to help us facilitate collaboration among our partners," says Jon Tirpak, Program Manager and Executive Director of the Forging Defense Manufacturing Consortium. "The Plexus system brings order, structure and accessibility to our database, which is extremely large and complex, containing the stock numbers and other important records for more than 280,000 forging tools and dyes."

The data uploaded into the database are warehoused in another powerful tool called Haystack Gold which is provided by IHS of Denver, Colorado. Haystack Gold links tooling to a repository of procurement data related to these critical parts. The cost to duplicate this tooling is estimated at approximately $5 billion. Even if only one percent of the tooling in the NFTD is used to make forger parts, the savings would be about 50 times DOD's project cost. In most cases, the more important benefit is that replacement parts can be made quickly so weapon availability is increased and warfighter safety is enhanced. In one case, early in the development of the NFTD, DOD had been searching for a qualified supplier for an aircraft part for two years. After one contractor failed to deliver the part because the forged part could not be located, the NFTD was invoked. Within a few minutes the tooling was located and the finished part was delivered in thirty days. Today, the NFTD is routinely used to locate tooling. The Plexus Upload Software is available to all organizations with tooling data that wish to upload new data as well as refresh existing data.

In addition to making complex databases manageable, Plexus Online offers over 350 functional modules, providing manufacturers instant access to vital information and management functions using a simple Web browser. The on-demand solution features enterprise resource planning (ERP) functions such as accounting and finance modules, customer relationship management (CRM) features such as order entry and tracking, manufacturing execution systems (MES) functions such as production scheduling and machine integration and supply chain management (SCM) functions such as supplier quality and traceability.

About the Advanced Technology Institute

The Advanced Technology Institute (ATI) is a 501c (3) private non-profit research company that helps organize national and international collaborative efforts to develop and implement solutions for industry and government entities in manufacturing, aerospace, automotive, maritime, metals and healthcare industries. ATI-led collaborations attract world-class talent from premier companies, universities and government agencies to define technology roadmaps and research matched to business demands that will provide the resources to solve shared challenges. ATI's partners report improved market transition and return on investment with reduced risk, which enables downstream benefits such as safety, timeliness, affordability, competitiveness, environmental protection and energy conservation. In the case of the NFTD, ATI supported the collaboration of Plexus Systems with IHS and the business school of the University of Toledo. Together they conceived and nurtured the NFTD.

About IHS

IHS, an internationally known provider of information systems including significant work with DLA, showed interest and was selected to provide the platform for the NFTD. Because of this decision, the NFTD is part of an integrated system, called Haystack Gold, which includes more than 70 databases with information on millions of parts purchased by DLA. This integration multiplies the value of the NFTD by linking it to procurement history and other relevant data. IHS has been in business since 1959 and employs more than 3,000 people in 35 locations around the world. Customers range from governments and multinational companies to smaller companies and technical professionals in more than 180 countries. For more information about Haystack Gold and the integration with NFTD, link to our web site at: haystack.htm (Due to length, copy and paste URL into web browser.)

About the University of Toledo

The University of Toledo (UT) is a student-centered, public, metropolitan, research university. UT has developed more than 125 patents and has more than $60 million in research funding. The College of Business Administration, under ATI's leadership, has worked with Plexus and IHS to design, develop, implement, and market the NFTD. These efforts in helping to rebuild the forging supply chain for legacy weapons are consistent with the College's research excellence in manufacturing and supply chain management.

About Plexus Systems, Inc.

Since 1995, Plexus Systems, Inc. (Auburn Hills, Mich.) has maintained a singular vision -- to drive significant cost, quality and productivity improvements for manufacturers, from the shop floor to the top floor. Plexus Online(TM) is an on-demand software for the manufacturing enterprise. Plexus Systems originated as an internal solution at a manufacturing company, designed to resolve quality challenges, including production, distribution and global supply chains management issues. Today, Plexus Online enables businesses to manage accounting, financials, compliance and human resources and other critical priorities. Plexus Systems serves a global cross section of manufacturing industries (OEM and suppliers), particularly automotive, defense, medical device and aerospace companies. In 2006, Apax Partners ( ) made a strategic investment in Plexus Systems, joining the founding investment group as stakeholders in Plexus. For more information, visit .

SOURCE Plexus Systems, Inc.
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