Cypress Semiconductor (San Jose, CA), a communications chip manufacturer, has realized a significant return on investment from using Advanced Systems Concepts' (Parsippany, NJ) ActiveBatch for cross-platform, distributed job automation and process management.
Cypress turned to Advanced Systems to provide robust process scheduling for its planning systems.
Cypress is using ActiveBatch to control its planning systems, which match orders against manufacturing facilities and decide what to build and when. Cypress acquired ActiveBatch in November 2001, and the system went into production in March 2002. The planning system involves 14 computers running 81 different programs from i2 Technologies every night. ActiveBatch coordinates more than 300 separate processes on these machines. "It acts like a concert master," says Dennis Bell, director of information systems operations at Cypress Semiconductor. "It decides when one program is finished, and when to start the next program. It also keeps track of all the dependencies and error conditions."
Cypress also uses ActiveBatch to transfer information between machines and control updates. "We're controlling the movement of data from system to system," says Bell. "A program like ActiveBatch automates what operators used to do 20-plus years ago for the mainframe environment."
By implementing ActiveBatch, Cypress eliminated the need to create a homegrown scheduling system. Bell believes it would have required at least half a year of programming time for his staff to create their own software to do the scheduling and coordinate multiple jobs on just one machine.
"We could never have run a planning system without a scheduling program," says Bell. "The planning system is a multimillion-dollar program with a multimillion-dollar payoff. Our initial estimate was that it would have taken at least 6 months to do the programming, and I don't know if we ever would have gotten it done."
ActiveBatch proved itself quickly once it was installed. "The payback was immediate," says Bell. "We paid about a third of what it would have cost to code it ourselves, and that's a very conservative estimate. It probably would have taken a lot longer to do the minimum functionality."
Cypress seamlessly integrated ActiveBatch with the i2 programs. "We had no problems with integration," says Bell. "As long as the job is executable at a command line, you can execute it from ActiveBatch.
Bell likes the fact that end users have interfaces into the system and can see how long their jobs have been taking and trigger jobs themselves. "That cuts the workload on IT," said Bell. "The information technology people don't have to keep running jobs, so the return on investment is quite high on operator time. The users don't have to call anybody to do things. They can just do it themselves."
Users of the planning system are much more satisfied because of the new scheduling capability. "The customers are very pleased to have control of their own jobs," says Bell. "That's a real plus. They can trigger the jobs on the planning system and for other areas, too. That's certainly something people want."
Cypress has increased revenue as a result of the combination of the planning system and scheduling system. With the two systems in place, Cypress was able to cut the size of its planning department in half, from 50 to 25 people. The company also reduced inventory by 30 percent and cut cycle time in the factory by about 10 percent. Bell estimates that the company is saving millions of dollars per year from the planning system.
Using ActiveBatch also means that Cypress doesn't need to have live operators sitting in front of terminals scheduling jobs, as companies used to do. "If we tried to have operators do that, we would have to have a 24-hour person on board," Bell notes. "Even if we used someone overseas, it would cost $70,000 to $100,000 per year."
For more information on ActiveBatch, call 800-229-2724 or visit www.advsyscon.com.