QAD Explore wouldn’t be possible without the support of our wonderful Sponsors.  For the next two weeks, we will feature three of our Explore Sponsors as contributors on the QAD Blog.  They have prepared several informative articles around manufacturing, tax automation and the benefits of upgrading your ERP solution.   

Our first featured article is prepared by our friends at Factivity.  Since 1984, Factivity has been a leader and innovator in information systems solutions for manufacturing companies.  For more than 10 years, Factivity has been a QAD Partner providing products that help manufacturers manage inventory better, shrink cycle time, and increase productivity.  

Do you need an MES for your factory floor?

Generally speaking, there are two major categories of factory floor systems in the market and both help minimize, control and analyze factory activities.

You can group these systems into two categories. The first is SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition), which controls machines and equipment. The second is MES (Manufacturing Execution System), which controls the activities on the factory floor both within and between each operation.

SCADAs main focus is using computers (also known as programmable logic controllers or PLCs) to control the equipment movements and obtain information such as speeds, feeds, temperature, pressure, etc. Labor tracking is secondary, if at all.

The MES is focused on ensuring that the entire production process and all its activities are controlled to maximize efficiency, minimize waste, and improve the accuracy and timeliness of production information. MES can control activities starting from material issues, all the way through to the operational activities to finished goods. This assures the accountability of all the resources required (labor, machines, tools) and necessary documents (job packet, WIP tags, instructions, drawing, quality sheets, and time sheets, etc.) are available in one system.

Both systems minimize or eliminate manual activity, and maximize accuracy and reliability in making parts. SCADA integration is with the equipment and can be tied on a factory network to an OPC (Open Process Control) Server. MES integration is mainly from the ERP system. Integration can also be to a document library or payroll systems (for Time and Attendance). Integration can be with machines (without SCADA) through an OPC Server to assist the operator in accounting for production and identifying downtime and other OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) analytics. Click here for more information more about OEE (http://factivity.com/why-factory-floor-automation-projects-fail/).

MES also must have an easy-to-use operator User Interface (UI). The User Experience (UX) must be simple and intuitive. Information should be captured through push buttons on touch screens and unique specialized intelligent keypads promoting a “one-click” approach to production and labor tracking. Dispatching is dynamic adjusting to floor and customer changes quickly often from an Advanced Planning and Scheduling System (APS) that can schedule and reschedule with finite (level loading) accuracy in seconds. For more information on APS follow this link.

By coordinating all the activities and resources, the MES provides a paperless system (electronic, real-time and interactive) for improving the accuracy and timeliness of floor activities. As a result, operators and supervisors have immediate feedback on performance while management has detail and granular analytics for lean manufacturing process improvements.

10 drivers to implement an MES on your factory floor:

1. Data analysis too late to be useful
2. Little or no traceability of materials
3. Minimal accountability at the operator level
4. Little or no visibility into WIP production process
5. No “compliance” to the production schedule/rate
6. Too many floor transaction and transcription errors
7. Need a visual systems approach to Lean Manufacturing
8. Multiple copies of the same documents or too much paper handling
9. Too many different systems for the floor and no uniformity of floor systems
10. OEE metrics becoming a necessary floor metric that is wanted by management

Engineer And Apprentice Using Automated Milling Machine

For more information about FACTIVITY, MES and QAD come see the ERP & MES Session at Explore, Tuesday afternoon http://explore.qad.com/agenda/#rdv-calendar or stop by the Factivity booth in the Solutions Expo.  See you in Chicago!

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