Manufacturing has always been a highly competitive market. Suppliers constantly try to examine their processes to ensure they operate as efficiently as possible. With the advent of new technology, they are able to monitor more components more closely than ever before and ensure healthy operations. However, they need a place to consolidate all of their new data points, and a Manufacturing Execution System (MES) takes on that work.
Manufacturing is a complex undertaking where many different elements, devices, and individuals interact to create the final product. In some cases, manufacturing processes flow smoothly, and in others, problems -- small and big --arise. Companies collect information to help define, capture, and analyze how healthy their operations are. They want to gain visibility into individual events, determine how well they operate and take action as needed whenever they uncover snags.
For this to occur, team members need to be able to easily understand the factory’s operational health. They require quick access to metrics based on operations outcomes, so they gain useful insights. Different pieces need to be put into place to gain such visibility.
An MES Unifies Fragmented Systems
Manufacturers typically manage the production process reactively. They examine reports after the system has run and are unable to make changes during the process.
In the past, what was happening in each step in the manufacturing process was known only to individuals directly involved in that step. For instance, the quality control team knew how many defective parts were being produced. Performance information was stored in a variety of locations: spreadsheets, email transmissions, and even on paper. Later, that information would then be consolidated and analyzed.
Such data silos and data collection processes need to be unified in order for employees to fully understand what is happening in the supply chain and the production line. An MES system, like Syscon’s PlantStar, serves that function and becomes the foundation for technology advances supporting modern Industry 4.0 concepts. The solution integrates supply chain, machine, production line, and shipment data, removing the need for managers to manually collect and correlate such data. The change empowers employees, so they access more information, make better decisions, and the facility operates more efficiently.
Gain Real-time Visibility
The PlantStar MES supports production monitoring and process monitoring and houses real-time information. In essence, the solution has the data needed, so personnel understand what is happening now and can take corrective action if problems arise. However, the rafts of numbers that today’s systems produce can be challenging to wade through. In response, software vendors, like Syscon, created visual, user-friendly dashboards that illustrate performance trends.
Personnel see clearly what is happening and can drill down to add context to the high-level picture presented. Receive instant text, email and even Voice alerts based on production and process parameters. Consequently, they react faster and work more efficiently. When issues arise, for example, a work order changing right before a production run, they take proactive steps, so the factory operates near peak capacity.
Continually Improve Operations
An MES integrates production systems, machines, workers, and real-time data into a single ecosystem. Consequently, factory workers not only access and analyze data, but the system also continuously learns from their experiences. As it collects, consolidates, and then interprets data, trends emerge, and managers use the information to recommend new manufacturing workflows and automate many time-consuming, manual processes.
For instance, maintenance is becoming more efficient. Historically, manufacturing companies followed preventive maintenance, where checkups are scheduled on a set basis, say every three months or when a machine completes a function for the 500th time. In this case, they sometimes make such changes before or after they may be needed. Predictive maintenance relies on the asset’s actual condition to determine when to service it. It may need to be tuned in two months or after 550 completions. With it, manufacturing companies reduce costs and improve their operational health.
Standardize and Enforce Best Practices
An MES provides a framework to control business processes for single-site and multisite manufacturers. The system enables departments to implement standardized workflows and procedures. The company outlines the most efficient processes and then replicates them throughout the organization, replacing the ad hoc routines that emerged via department decision-making. Furthermore, the change ensures control and consistency, so suppliers conform to any internal or external governance regulations.
Maximize Use of Manufacturing Assets
An MES drives efficiency. Systems can be programmed to create alerts, both positive and negative, and send them to plant personnel whenever certain events occur. At the end of a production run, a plant manager begins the changeover process. If a robot starts to operate haphazardly, they troubleshoot the device and get it back to fully functioning ASAP. With such information at their fingertips, plant executives act now rather than later, ensuring higher productivity, improved quality management, and healthier business operations.
Manufacturing is often a volatile process, one where companies need to constantly adjust as work ebbs and flows. Nowadays, suppliers have lots of information at their fingertips. An MES collects that information and presents it to them in a way that ensure the facility’s maximum health.