"The demand for speed, agility and responsiveness in production operations has never been greater. As a result, real-time performance management—which offers the most significant opportunity for revolutionizing manufacturing—must be the cornerstone for every profitable company." That's Kevin Roach, vp of Global Solutions, GE Fanuc Automation (Charlottesville, VA; www.gefanuc.com). Not surprisingly, GE Fanuc is launching a new line of software and services under the label "Proficy." One of the objectives is to have a unified data model that integrates all production applications, and which encompasses everything from human machine interface (HMI) to plant supervisory control. As real-time is key, there is a web-based info portal included in the offerings, which not only permits access to information to all concerned parties (e.g., employees, customers, suppliers), but which also can be integrated with ERP and CRM systems so as to provide them with fresh input. There are also automated production scheduling, tracking broadcast, and routing control capabilities. In addition to execution, there are also quality tools, based on GE's own use of Six Sigma methods. As Roach explains, "Using Six Sigma rigor to meet our customers' needs, we have built on our capabilities, acquired additional, proven solutions, and developed a new integrated platform with one of the most powerful toolsets available today. We are using these technologies in our own world-class manufacturing facilities and, as we have done in the past, combined them without our application knowledge base to bring the real-time enterprise and the resulting competitive advantage to customers."