Article by Alberto Martínez, CEO of Lantek
In this way, it picks up the orders and transfers them to production to be fulfilled in a manner that best suits the business requirements, resulting in greater flexibility, speed and efficiency.
In this case, we are not talking about software for a particular machine, but a solution to manage the plant as a whole. A scalable solution, covering all production areas, materials management, maintenance, with a modular structure, whose functionalities can be configured to the needs of the plant. Because when it comes to optimizing production in a factory, we need to work with the most appropriate software, which allows us to be the most competitive player in our sector. A bad choice can mean we are doomed to fail.
Therefore, to make the right choice, we need to know clearly the performance level of four production areas in order to make the necessary improvements using the Manufacturing Execution System. The areas in question are the following:
- Process management: This option consists of automatically managing the manufacturing processes, from the delivery of the work order to the finished product. In other words, it allows real-time knowledge of the manufacturing phase that each part is currently in so it can be tracked and monitored using different searches, such as machine, material, thickness, delivery dates, customer, etc. In parallel, it enables a view of the workload in the workshop, in such a way that, if necessary, planning can be made more flexible, giving priority to some orders over others, for example. To top it all off, a comparative analysis of the real costs and any deviations from them can be performed. In short, it is about simplifying and streamlining all production processes, optimizing the costs and delivery dates as much as possible.
- Validation. This solution validates the operations carried out in the workshop using key data collection tools in the production process: status, labor, materials, inventory, availability of machines, etc. Data collection that is carried out in real time, providing an accurate and detailed view of the production process, thus eliminating unnecessary administrative tasks. It also includes options associated with nesting and machining operations, offering an even more comprehensive view. Moreover, it makes it easier for the production manager to assign machines for jobs and to keep track of the status of each manufacturing order. All this with total control over consumption, canceling the cut or machined materials and registering the finished parts, as well as the generated scrap.
- Mobility. Data collection and management can be done from anywhere and, as always, in real time, since the information can be read from any mobile device, be it a smartphone or a tablet. This tool is designed so that different processes can automatically and remotely record the duration of the tasks and their completion.
- Inventory. It allows you to know at all times what is happening with respect to stocks, be they raw materials, finished products, scraps, etc. And not only the actual amount, but also the different availability statuses. In other words, if the material or product is available, reserved, pending receipt, etc. Moreover, for each reservation there is a record that indicates its origin and the recipient. If there is any modification within the warehouse, the system updates the actual cost of the products automatically. In this way, the real stock situation and even its value is known, thus providing the necessary information to minimize stocks efficiently.
In addition to these solutions, other added value that should be considered when choosing the right software is whether, like the heart which communicates with the different organs through veins and arteries, the chosen MES can be integrated with other programs, such as the different design modules (CAD), machining modules (CAM) or the enterprise resource planning system (ERP). Integration with other operating or business management systems will facilitate the taking of correct decisions, in line with corporate objectives and strategies. Therefore, this solution has greater potential if it is open, capable of working with other proprietary or third-party software, from any terminal and from any place.
But we’re going to go a step further in order to move towards Industry 4.0. The MES that we choose has to help us to carry out the digital transformation of our plants to be able to, for example, prevent possible breakdowns, predict or anticipate future orders and automatically plan production. In this way, production will adapt in real time to demand, stocks and delivery times. All this through the analysis of data, which provides a historical vision of all our production, providing solutions to different contingencies and helping people to make better decisions. Everything, as usual, in order to stay competitive.
Let me give you some practical examples. Until now, if an urgent order came in, the workshop manager would ask the machine operator to check the pending orders and the inventory manager to check the stock. Now, with this new solution, in real time and automatically, the system will evaluate the existing material in the warehouse and will distribute the workload between the different machines to deliver it on time. If there was a possible shortage problem, it would alert us to make a new purchase. Even if what was left was a damaged item, it would also let us know. As you can imagine, the savings in time and, therefore, in money would be significant. This would positively affect productivity, costs and product quality.
As you can see, the advantages are many, but we have to choose the right partner to help us provide all the production organs with the necessary energy to make our plants smarter and more competitive.
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