Plexus Systems, developers of Plexus Online, the first true on-demand performance management system, announces the release of "The Lean Benchmark Report: Closing the Reality Gap." The independent study, co-sponsored with the Aberdeen Group, is available for a limited time at http://www.plex.com/ at no cost. As noted by researchers, Plexus Online is designed around lean principles, letting manufacturers identify continuous improvement with unparalleled visibility. Lean manufacturing, quality management, ERP/MRP functionality and inventory tracking are central elements of Plexus Online.

The timely research findings are vital for many of today's manufacturing companies faced with tight profit margins, escalating costs, demanding customers and increasing competition. The research uncovers what is needed to institutionalize processes, improve productivity, prepare for new product launches, and drive culture change throughout the company and supplier base.

An in-depth analysis of 300 manufacturers reveals key characteristics shared by companies that have achieved operational excellence through a lean strategy. Industry sectors studied include automotive, industrial equipment, and metals, with implications for aerospace, consumer goods, and industrial equipment among others.

The report cites the Plexus Online installation at GR Spring & Stamping of Grand Rapids, Mich. "GR Spring and Stamping has integrated pokayoke into the daily lives of its operators. They use the Plexus Online operator control panel to validate orders before they go into production by enforcing the setup, ensuring inventory availability, verifying that selected operators have received the correct training, and ensuring that all needed tooling is accessible. This solution also facilitates root-cause analysis and corrective action, including a formalized process for issues notification and problem resolution reporting that extends back to the supplier base," states the researchers in the final study.

"In today's competitive environment, it is imperative that lean manufacturing techniques cover the entire value chain. Plexus Online makes this happen," said David Hofer, Plexus Systems chief marketing officer. "No additional efforts or applications are required to look up and down an enterprise, view the entire enterprise or for that matter to look across enterprises."

Hofer adds, "All aspects of the Plexus Online system support lean manufacturing, including the Electronic Kanban System, the Electronic Pull Scheduler and the Online Customer Replenishment System."