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Emcien Receives NSF Grant to Research Optimization of Product Configuration

2005-06-15 - Atlanta, GA, USA: Emcien, Inc., the pioneer company in Product Variant Optimization, has been awarded a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) to support development and commercialization of techniques for reducing manufacturing lead time and inventory through the optimization of product configurations.

Emcien's technology enables companies to integrate product variety into manufacturing planning and execution. Emcien software helps companies address issues surrounding product variants, positively impacting product cost, inventory levels and turns, and customer lead time. Emcien's solutions are built on patent-pending product description and optimization technology based on more than 12 years of research started at Georgia Institute of Technology and developed through industry partnerships.

Emcien was awarded the grant through NSF's Division of Design, Manufacture and Industrial Innovation, which helps improve the competitiveness of the country's manufacturing base. Emcien's solutions have already resulted in millions of dollars of material cost reduction for automotive and heavy machinery companies. The NSF grant will help to further Emcien's research and support the commercialization of additional modules.

"With a growing number of features and options, along with shorter product lifecycles, manufacturing companies today struggle to cope with the impact of product variety," explained Radhika Subramanian, Emcien's CEO. "Our product helps companies answer fundamental questions about how configurations impact inventory and customer lead time, what parts should be stored and how inventory can be managed."

Emcien say that their existing Product Variant Optimization answers fundamental questions for manufacturers, including:
- How do my configurations impact inventory and customer lead time?
- What parts should I store to react to the configuration demand?
- How do I manage inventory with changing features and options?

The trend toward mass customization to meet customer demands has created a complex issue that manufacturing companies must address to remain competitive, notes Robert Springfield, a manufacturing specialist at the Georgia Institute of Technology's Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program.

"Mass customization and the unrelenting competitive pressure to increase customer-selected features and options is an enormous problem for manufacturing companies," he said. "The complexity of large-scale customization results in raw material and finished goods inventory imbalances, order fulfillment problems and disruptions in supply chain. Emcien's optimization technology deals with the core issue of what combinations of features and options will yield the best results."

Springfield says more traditional approaches to the optimization problem strive only to improve the business processes that support mass customization.

Building the right product configurations to meet customer needs is essential to competing in today's marketplace, Subramanian added. "Companies do not build Model Ts. To survive in the global market, manufacturing companies need solutions that can help manage their product variety, and react efficiently to changing feature/option demand," she said. "We are honored that the NSF recognizes the importance of our mission to help manufacturing companies be more competitive."

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