Investing in new production processes is a major step for any business and requires a balancing of the costs in time and money versus the benefits the business will reap in the future.
In this article, I’ve summarised some of the key benefits our manufacturing clients have realised following their adoption of paperless manufacturing software.
Using an MES helps you to succeed by focusing on exactly what your customer wants at every point on the shop floor.
By using an MES the specific sequence of tasks that are required for reliable, repeatable production processes become defined for your business. As the business starts to grow, this helps production processes to scale by ramping up using the proven processes already in place.
A client created a production line driven by an MES to meet production requirements for a new customer. Once they had used the MES to define the production steps operators must complete, they were able to ramp up production volume by adding extra shifts with minimal training. As orders increased further, they created an additional two production cells driven by the same MES to meet demand.
Competitive Advantage Through Innovation
An MES allows the capture of a large volume of data from the shop floor which can then be analysed to identify opportunities for product or process improvements.
The semiconductor industry is a classic example of using large volumes of data from production processes to better understand their processes. They use this data to make better semiconductor chips, and to enable them to put more transistors on a chip. The manufacturers that understand their manufacturing process the best are then able to create the best performing, most innovative products.
Building Trust With Customers
Using an MES provides assurance to your customers that important production processes will be adhered to, and that there will be a repeatable system for creating their products.
Clients in the automotive industry use our MES to assist with their Production Part Approval Process (PPAP), this is a strict process during which manufacturers must produce data to prove they can meet the manufacturability and quality requirements of the parts supplied to the customer. Furthermore, they must then prove that the manufacturing process has the ability to produce the part consistently during the actual production run. An MES helps by automatically capturing the required data, then by enforcing that the production process is maintained.
Enabling Global Expansion
Whether you need to create a new production facility down the road or across the globe, by having standard production processes defined using an MES you will be able to transfer production reliably and repeatably. By tracking production performance using standardised reports from the MES, you will also be able to perform like for like comparisons across sites.
Clients with multiple locations worldwide store their production data on a centralised server. This helps them to see global trends across product families, then quickly identify and address any issues affecting production.
By having a traceable record of each product, you have the evidence to combat customer complaints when you were not at fault. If a supplier’s component problems arise, you will be able to contain product recalls to only the affected items, minimising disruption and cost.
Our clients use the traceability features of our MES to quickly identify which products have been shipped with specific batches of components. If a service issue arises where a component needs to be replaced, they can quickly run a report to identify the affected customers. This minimises disruption and cost of servicing.
In production processes that have large amounts of paper documentation to record quality checks and serialised components used, the use of an MES can reduce data capture time and increase labour efficiency. An MES can also be used to capture production cycle times for each production step, by using this data and comparing to standard times, it can be used to identify and solve problems causing delays in the process.
Several clients had lengthy paper-based manufacturing traveller documents. By replacing these with paperless manufacturing software, they achieved a 15% productivity increase leading to increased production output.
Enabling Culture Change
Using an MES can enforce quality and help the adoption of a culture of right first time at every step in the process. When an MES is configured with quality checks throughout the production process, products that fail any checks will not be able to progress forward until issues are fixed. Costs to resolve quality issues are much lower when they are detected earlier in the manufacturing process than at a final quality inspection.
Clients have configured our MES with quality-controlled stage gates in their production process. This ensures that only products that have successfully completed all operations are able to progress to latter production processes. This ensures that all production operators are focusing on following the production process and building products that will pass the next stage gate.