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How to Avoid Mistakes in Handling Real-Time Factory Floor Information

Wiring-up your machine to a central server to collect data for evaluation of Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) metrics or using bar code readers to facilitate a factory floor Data Collection project might sound like a productive thing to do, but it could be a hindrance and in actuality be putting you on the wrong "lean manufacturing" track.

Many projects derail as a result of management not totally understanding some of the important issues and requirements needed by their floor people during the production process.

In order to better understand how the collection of floor data involves more than hooking up machines and/or bar code readers, the production process can be broken down into into three general categories of activities based on the movement of parts through the factory floor.

These three areas of activities, although different for each and every manufacturer, often present similar control and management concerns when examining the manufacturing process. They can be classified into:

FACTIVITY's Manufacturing Execution Software (MES) collects data from these activities on the factory floor and provides metrics needed to implement lean manufacturing practices. The system monitors equipment availability, performance and quality to visually display OEE in real-time, and integrates fully with ERP.

At FACTIVITY, they have found that most of their customers are now wanting to report actual raw material usage at the initial "start-up" manufacturing operation. By moving the actual reporting directly to the line you can remove errors associated with tracking of component usage and:

Allowing an operator to select from an available lot list for example, using a touch screen, can improve this activity both in time savings and reduction in errors. Some ERP systems pre-assign lot numbers but material people sometimes pick the right part but wrong lot.

Other times, a lot of material is completely used-up and another new lot must be assigned to the production which again can cause problems in tracking correctly. Additional logic such as real-time inventory validation inquiry along with an improved User Interface (UI) specifically designed for ease-of-use just might be the best solution. This type of functionality can be found in a Manufacturing Execution System (MES) using touch screens instead of a bar coder RF device and their required paper travelers.

"Grouping" requirements of production orders which are not necessarily run in serial fashion can be found in the middle of a routing. These grouping of jobs might be a result of using:

Trying to collect data at these operations is not easily accomplished with the normal data collection RF bar code system designed for the standard sequential order/operation bar code scanning. Easily tracking these "grouped" orders requires more systems logic at the floor level.

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