Monday, May 22, 2006

Software integration demonstration is on-site

Software specialist has set up a technical demonstration suite at a leading UK production machining contractor to provide practical explanation of how different systems can be integrated.

Seiki Systems, the Brighton, UK-based manufacturing software specialist has set up a technical demonstration suite at the Tewkesbury site of leading UK production machining contractor Kenard Engineering to provide an on-site practical explanation of how different systems can be integrated and benefits that can be derived simply by monitoring day to day production activities on the shopfloor. The setting-up of the Seiki Systems iMES, Integrated Manufacturing Execution System, enables workloads across all CNC machines installed in the workplace to be graphically scheduled following either direct integration with an existing MRP system or for smaller companies, using enterprised resource planning (ERP). In both cases iMES enables real-time feedback with constantly updated predications of workloads on machine tools creating dynamic information such as projected completion dates and performance reporting in a totally paperless environment.

Indeed, with the installation at Kenard Engineering, where some 18 CNC machines are in action, iMES has also been integrated with benchworking, painting, sheetmetal production and assembly areas to provide total day to day control of events on the shopfloor and gather 'real-time' data for management information and reporting.

For instance, visitors to the demonstration suite can be shown how a five machine flexible manufacturing system (FMS) with 72 pallets, which runs mostly unmanned through 24h/day at Tewkesbury, can be instantly and remotely interrogated for its past, current and future performance.

The use and benefits of real-time data collection was recently demonstrated involving the high productivity loading of the FMS when 1,828 mounting blocks were running through multiple fixturing set-ups and fed from the Fastems automation.

These parts were then followed up by three batches of different chassis prototypes of 10, 20 and 150 parts, a batch of just four special valve bodies and then a batch of 200 plates for machining.

Each component batch had already been 'approved for production' by iMES because everything such as program, fixturing, tooling, material and inspection had been automatically confirmed as available and the batches depicted 'on schedule' for customer delivery.

However, while 'real-time' production scheduling and monitoring are the major advantages of Seiki Systems' iMES, it is that 'what if?' function capability that sets it apart from competitor software.

This can be used to determine the consequences of proposed changes in quantities, delays, panic requirements, general capacity or equipment availability.

All these elements can be quickly and easily shown on the screen at Tewkesbury as part of the live demonstration of the true benefits of 'real-time' management information.

Digital kanban cuts inventory by $2 million

Digital kanban technology has reduced a Tier One automotive supplier's inventory by approximately $2,000,000 - the company says it has had zero part shortages since going 'live' three months ago.

A materials manager from a Tier 1 automotive supplier noted the impact of digital kanban technology from Durham, UK, NC based Datacraft Solutions: 'We scan over 5000 cards a day, have just added 1500 parts from out tool crib, and have had zero part shortages since going live three months ago. Our inventory has reduced by approximately $2,000,000.' The Datacraft Solutions' digital kanban product, Signum, received 'raves' (great enthusiasm) from Jim Malch, director of operations, Pacific Scientific, EKD: 'Pacific Scientific Electro-Kinetics is excited over the short-term results achieved with Signum in just four months. PS/EKD has forecasted a minimum of 20% increase in inventory turns by year-end, and we've seen a reduction in the transactional processes that were necessary in the FAX Release system Signum replaced.' Ken McGuire from MEAC noted, 'Why would any true lean manufacturer invest big money in software for managing Kanbans when what they really need is an effective Kanban communications service?

The evidence is mounting against the 'elusive' systems with ERP integration many IT people are promising and hoping for.

When they are finally achieved, if ever, they are found to be largely unnecessary and wasteful administrative 'boondoggles'.

Forrester Research found that only 41% of business executives at large manufacturing and distribution companies have realised any perceptible ROI from implementing Supply Chain Systems.' Signum is the Digital Kanban tool from Datacraft Solutions.

According to founder Matthew Marotta, 'Datacraft Solutions' Internet-based on-demand delivery platform offers key benefits from the very beginning of an implementation - namely, the elimination of lengthy, complicated and expensive infrastructure upgrades before a company can even begin to see positive ROI.

There is simply no faster or easier way to begin exploiting the power of Digital Kanban in a lean manufacturing operation.'

Digital kanban systems avoid confusion

IT managers should implement digital kanban, because a leaner production method is not created by paper kanban instructions that result in lost orders, duplicated orders, or supplier confusion.

The current issue of India's 'Industry 2.0' magazine includes a feature article by contributing editor, Thomas R Cutler about digital kanban. Reducing lead times through detailed flow techniques is the concept of a kanban system with a 'push' manufacturing environment. IT managers are asked to develop methods for implementation of digital kanban systems, because a leaner production method is not created by paper (or card) kanban instructions that result in lost orders, duplicated orders, or supplier confusion.

Constant breakdowns in information flow are a common problem in the manufacturing sector.

While there may be no obvious connection between Digital Kanban and Linux, according to Justin Diana, CTO of Datacraft Solutions, 'Linux makes better economic sense to develop or run a digital kanban solution versus Windows.' According to Diana, 'There is a paradigm shift in the investment and development community relative to 'open source' technologies.

The benefits that come from a global base of developers have made many of the open source technologies move to the forefront in many application areas.' Cutler is president and CEO of TR Cutler, the USA's largest manufacturing marketing and public relations firm, based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

* About Industry 2.0 magazine - Industry 2.0 ( is published monthly.

With a controlled circulation base of 30,000, more than two hundred thousand monthly readers across India have relied up this vital publication since 2002.

Covering twenty industry sectors, Industry 2.0 reaches key decision-makers.

65% of the publications readers are managing directors, CEO's, vice presidents and other senior executives.

Industry 2.0 is for manufacturers and suppliers of industrial, factory and process automation, motion control, machine control, process control and instrumentation products and services.

* About Datacraft - Matthew Marotta founded Datacraft Solutions, an application service provider that develops powerful software applications to automate complex business processes.

Datacraft Solutions specialises in providing their clients with the tools they need to rapidly replace outdated manual systems with technology that speeds process flow and improves accuracy.

Datacraft's premier product, Signum has been developed around the Kanban concept of replenishment, and provides an invaluable tool for manufacturing companies to monitor process flow, lower administrative transaction costs, and improve decision-making ability.