Particularly in western countries the production strategy of many production companies is changing and is being redefined. In many cases companies shift to assemble-to-order production, focusing more on R&D, sales & marketing, purchase and production assembly. Additionally, to stay competitive these companies constantly focus on lead time reduction and search for ways to keep operational margins up to level. There is also a visible trend of adopting lean manufacturing principles.
Focus on order controlled manufacturing
In 2010 Exact launched a strong development initiative to shift its development capacity to focus on the order controlled business. By introducing smart solutions, we can reach the goal of helping customers to reduce operational costs and to shorten both office- and manufacturing lead times.
In part I of the overall project, Exact introduced the Visual Scheduler, which was released to market in the beginning of 2012. This solution enables manufacturing companies to drastically reduce time spent on their shop floor planning.
Where most other software vendors offer a link to a third party planning solution, Exact offers one integrated solution, which is part of the standard manufacturing suite of Exact Globe Next. It provides companies with a graphical plan board, finite automatic planning, and an easy to use “drag and drop” feature to resolve possible capacity bottlenecks.
Shop Floor Control
In part II of the project, it is time to further reduce the operational production costs, by “bringing the ERP information to the shop floor”. Traditionally information is offered to the operator on paper. Paper is also used to register actuals produced, materials used, and to communicate this information back to the office so it can be processed in the ERP. This results in double work, possible errors and longer (administrative) lead times. To register materials used and quantities produced, Exact offers its WMS solution for many years now.
To replace paper and to improve efficiency on the shop floor, offering just a workstation with the current ERP is not a solution. In order to achieve this, the operator on the shop floor should be offered a different type of user interface, with different information. Besides production order information, like work instructions, materials required, assembly steps, etc. other information is also needed; think about CAD drawings, product pictures, quality checks, documents with standard operating procedures, etc.
Finally the user interface needs to be designed especially for an operator. We need to offer an easy to use interface and offer a solution that works on devices which can operate on the shop floor environment, like a ruggedized machine with touch screen capabilities or on MES systems.
Closing the loop
With Shop Floor Control (SFC) solutions we use data directly from and to the shop floor to maintain and communicate status information of production orders or operations. With solid and easy to use SFC we “close the loop”, from real time planning to real time realization. It will streamline the integration between planning, scheduling, operational activities and realization of the activities performed. This will result in less operational costs and even shorter (administrative) lead times.
Want to know more?
Keep your eye on this blog as we will publish more on the actual status of the development including mockups and prototypes.