Saturday, July 15, 2006

Software incorporates all aspects of manufacturing

Manufacturing business software incorporates all aspects of manufacturing and financial control within a fully integrated business system, and developed in-house.
Delta Business Solutions Limited are pleased to announce they will be exhibiting at the East Midlands Manufacturing exhibition being held on 16th - 17th September at the Donington Park Exhibition Centre near East Midlands Airport. Delta will be exhibiting their latest generation and successful software package Pyramid 3.0. The software incorporates all aspects of manufacturing and financial control within a fully integrated business system, and developed in-house.

Also being exhibited will be their additional products including Shop Floor Data Capture, Time and Attendance, Payroll, Contact Management and Human Resources.

The exhibition will be open from 9am - 4:30pm on both days and it is a great opportunity to see over 200 East Midlands organisations displaying the latest engineering parts, processes and technology.

Monitor and control machines in real time remotely

Virtual Factory provides a flexible, virtual representation of manufacturing facilities that enables monitoring and control of machines and devices via the Internet.
Virtual Factory enables shop owners, managers, and supervisors to monitor all aspects of their manufacturing and warehousing facilities from anywhere in the world via the Internet. The software can automatically send e-mails, pages, and telephone calls to designated parties whenever a pre-programmed event is triggered. Virtual Factory also allows users to directly control machines and other devices.

Sample applications - a.

Program Virtual Factory to automatically call your cell phone to alert you that a machine scheduled to run until 3:30 a.m.

actually stopped at 1:14 a.m.


Access the Internet from your factory in Denver and call up live, real time images of machines in both your Liverpool and Bangkok factories to ensure they are operating properly.


Check in on remotely located workers via video link or digital monitoring device to be sure they are following proper safety procedures d.

Run a report based on log data that lists all start/stop times for a particular machine over a two-week period in order to determine optimal usage patterns.


Set up Virtual Factory to automatically track and monitor the status of each stage of a laser cutting process for sheet metal - from nesting to scheduling to cutting - to ensure on-schedule operation.

Arrange for notifications about aberrations to be e-mailed to five key staff members so that immediate action can be taken.


Activate your factory alarm system and check for security breaches from home.


Have Virtual Factory send an alert to the cell phone of security personnel whenever someone is detected entering your facility without the proper RFID-equipped badge.


Just moments after an unscheduled machine stoppage, Virtual Factory is programmed to e-mail the floor manager with an MPEG or AVI file containing video footage of the machine immediately before and after the stoppage occurred.


Program Virtual Factory to automatically activate the factory lighting and cooling systems each day at 7:00 a.m.

in preparation for the day1s operations.

How it works - Virtual Factory gives users a complete virtual representation of their factory or warehouse on their computer screen.

The software treats each real-world machine, device, and worker in the facility as a virtual object that can be viewed using an ergonomic, tree structure-based user interface for easy data access.

Data constantly flows between Virtual Factory and machines/devices/workers in the facility for real time operation.

Virtual Factory can poll the current status of machines, PLCs, RTUs, HVAC systems, and workers every few seconds and then keep track of data about their activities in a data log for future reference.

The data can be used to instantly trigger actions by other devices, alert managers about potential problems, and generate performance reports for later review.

The software can carry out video monitoring and recording tasks and can accommodate Ethernet or USB-based cameras with built-in buffering capabilities.

Virtual Factory can interface with any number of external software modules, including scheduling and nesting programs.

Objects in Virtual Factory can be controlled either with pre-configured events or by users directly.

Users with no programming experience can easily set up events in order to mirror the inputs, outputs, and 3if-thený scenarios reflecting the needs of the operation.

Communication links with machines and other devices can be configured easily using a number of widely available digital input-output products.

About Orbit Technology Corporation - founded by manufacturing industry automation experts in 1993, Orbit has made its name supplying factory automation, CAD/CAM and Web-based collaboration software solutions to its base of clients in the U.S.

and Japan.

Orbit employs a staff of highly educated, multi-lingual software solution specialists.

The company's innovations continue to give its clients the power to access, manage, and control the data essential to their manufacturing success.

End-to-end manufacturing solutions support Linux

Epicor Software says that its Vantage and Vista end-to-end manufacturing solutions for SMEs now offer support for Linux operating systems.
Epicor Software, a leading provider of integrated enterprise software solutions for midmarket companies, today announced its Vantage and Vista manufacturing solutions now offer support for Linux operating systems. Vista and Vantage are complete end-to-end manufacturing solutions that address the core business needs of small and midsized make-to-order (MTO) and mixed-mode manufacturers. Linux support demonstrates Epicor's focus on enabling its manufacturing solutions to accommodate virtually any technology environment.

Linux is available now for Epicor's manufacturing customers running Vista 6.0 or Vantage 6.0.

Epicor has also committed to Linux support for its upcoming Vantage 6.1 release and its next generation manufacturing solution code-named Sonoma, announced earlier this year.

Designed to fit the size and scope of manufacturers from the lower to upper midmarket, this next generation solution and product roadmap will enable Epicor's manufacturing customers to adopt Web services technology at their own pace while protecting their technology investment.

Through a partnership announced last year with Progress Software, Epicor is leveraging the Progress OpenEdge platform to deploy a single collection of business logic components that will support a wide variety of technology platforms, including a native Microsoft.NET User Interface, enabling manufacturing companies to leverage the power of Web services and Microsoft .NET.

The addition of Linux support enables Epicor's manufacturing customers the option to deploy their Vista and Vantage applications on Linux and take advantage of the low cost of ownership, reliability and stability that Linux offers.

'Support for Linux is yet another way Epicor is responding to both emerging industry trends and our customers' requirements for flexibility,' said Paul Farrell, senior director of product marketing for Epicor's Manufacturing Solutions Group.

'Linux has continued to become more mainstream in the business world, through its high reliability and its low cost of ownership.

Vantage and Vista offer customers a wide range of options for deployment, including support for Microsoft, Unix and Linux operating system environments.

In this way, our customers have maximum flexibility to deploy the technology that best fits their individual requirements.' General Machine Works Company, based in Spencer, Iowa, has been an Epicor customer since 1992.

The company offers fabrication and machining of metal parts for the transportation, agricultural, industrial and recreational industries.

General Machine Works has selected Linux as its operating system to take advantage of Linux's stability and processing speed.

'Epicor's integrated manufacturing solution is the heartbeat of our shop, so we want to have it run on a platform that is as stable as possible to ensure streamlined operations,' said Joni Mehls, production control manager, General Machine Works Company.

About Epicor Software Corporation - Epicor is a leading provider of integrated enterprise software solutions for midmarket companies around the world.

Founded in 1984, Epicor has over 15,000 customers and delivers end-to-end, industry-specific solutions that enable companies to immediately improve business operations and build competitive advantage in today's Internet economy.

Epicor's comprehensive suite of integrated software solutions for Customer Relationship Management, Financials, Manufacturing, Supply Chain Management, Professional Services Automation and Collaborative Commerce provide the scalability and flexibility to support long-term growth.

Epicor's solutions are complemented by a full range of services, providing single point of accountability to promote rapid return on investment and low total cost of ownership, now and in the future.

Epicor is headquartered in Irvine, California and has offices and affiliates around the world.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Manufacturing planning software solutions tailored

Software provides manufacturing industry with tailored planning solutions for for lean manufacture, supply chain optimisation and strategic planning.
Orchestrate Software provides manufacturing industry with tailored planning solutions for optimum business performance.
Orchestrate is a brand new approach offering scheduling solutions for lean manufacture, supply chain optimisation and strategic planning.

'The combination of the Orchestrate advanced scheduling technology, robust support for VBA and powerful systems integration capability, enables customers to rapidly and easily deploy this advanced business solution to enhance and optimise their business performance.' Production Modelling recently become a Microsoft VBA Partner, having integrated VBA within our Orchestrate scheduling software

Modular software suite suits batch production

Modular suite of financial programs takes in capacity planning, purchase order processing, estimates and quotations as well as bills of materials and costings.
Delta Business Solutions have announced the latest generation of their successful software package Pyramid 3.0 incorporating all aspects of manufacturing and financial control within a fully integrated business system, and developed in-house. It is a modular suite of programs that can be configured to suit specific applications. It is suitable for both large and small organisations and has the built-in capability to grow as a company grows.

Pyramid 3.0, as it is designated, can function in different work environments, for example make to stock or make to order.

It is equally at home with JIT, MRP II, as well as batch or repetitive production processes.

Pyramid 3.0 has been developed to enable the additional functionality within the system to emphasise the user friendliness and the flexibility of the system.

It takes in capacity planning, purchase order processing, estimates and quotations as well as bills of materials and costings.

Shop floor data capture can be used for both job logging and stock control.

To ensure trouble-free installation, the modules can be implemented on a step-by-step basis.

On the financial side, all the normal ledgers are supported as well as credit control and BACS.

Other software can be used in conjunction with 'Delta's own Pyramid suite to offer seamless IT solutions.

For example, Goldmine can provide flexible customer management, sales and marketing control.

All aspects of HR and employee record keeping are possible with Vizual Personnel Manager.

Delta has in excess of 20 years experience in producing, implementing and supporting business systems with our expertise being in manufacturing.

Systems have been implemented across a wide range of industries eg: Machine Tools such as lathes and band saws, Vehicle Jacks, Aircraft Instruments and Components and Garment and Homeware Industry.

Delta offers a high quality solution and prides itself on the high level of service offered to its customers.

Production planning program aimed at SMEs

Stock control, production planning and traceability program for small manufacturers reduces ledger entry times by 70% and brings full materials traceability within minutes.
Robot Stores, a new stock control, production planning and traceability program from Cambridge software company Resoco Limited, is set to bring 'big company' efficiencies to even the smallest manufacturer at an affordable price. Robot Stores has been created for use by those with limited computing skills. Users report becoming comfortable with the system within hours.

This is largely attributable to its unique on-screen flowchart representation of the manufacturing process.

All of the information about a particular batch - the customer, the order, the production, the subcontractor and delivery details - are all accessible from a single screen.

Clicking on the appropriate flow chart frame or arrow presents the user with a familiar form to fill in.

'We're engineers and machinists, not computer buffs,' says Chip Millins, managing partner of Sudbury Components, whose 12-person production engineering firm has been closely involved in the development of Robot Stores.

'What we needed was a tool that was easy for our staff to use, would give us the traceability our customers were demanding, and was not going put us in hock at the bank.

Robot Stores has achieved that and removed many of the pressures of day-to-day operations, giving me the opportunity to concentrate on managing the business.' East Anglian trials have indicated that the elimination of multiple paper ledgers by Robot Stores can bring time-savings of up to 70% in entering and retrieving data.

It also generates significant efficiencies in stock holding, production prioritisation and scheduling, and can meet ISO9000 traceability requirements in minutes.

Conservative estimates, based simply on time saved on data entry and retrieval, put a typical payback period of less than four months on a 3-user system, including training.

'In working with small manufacturers', says Resoco managing director Raf Storr, an experienced production engineer, 'I recognised that while there were any number of Materials Resource Planning (MRP) programs available, their complexity frightened the staff or their price tags frightened the management.' Such engineering enterprises are often family owned with fewer than 20 employees yet, according to Office for National Statistics (March 2001), they represent almost 166,000 (around 85%) of the UK's total manufacturing business sites.

Current sales efforts are focused on the metal forming industries, but the program is equally suited to other sectors including plastics, food processing and electronics - indeed anywhere that requires stock control and traceability.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Computerised estimating software is in real-time

Computer-aided estimating software will support real-time cost estimating capabilities at a driveline and transmissions manufacturing group in concert with product data management.
Micro Estimating Systems, an OnCourse Technologies (OTC Bulletin Board: OCTH) company, announced that it would supply computer-aided estimating software to Metaldyne Corporation's Driveline and Transmission Group. The enterprise license provides worldwide access to Machine Shop Estimating (MSE) for Metaldyne engineering and financial users. This software order ranks as one of the largest contracts received by Micro Estimating in its 20-year history.

Operating under an enterprise-wide license on a centralized server, the MSE tool can support real-time cost estimating capabilities at all Metaldyne locations.

The MSE application will act in concert with a product data management application to complete the suite of products used to support the Metaldyne Driveline and Transmission Group's Proposal Management process.

Once fully implemented, authorized users will have immediate, worldwide access to estimates.

The Metaldyne contract specifies several custom design enhancements that make the MSE tool specific to Metaldyne and its product base.

Designers, estimators, and those in the approval process will benefit from a corporate- wide estimating system.

'The MSE tool provides Metaldyne with efficient and accurate corporate- wide costing standards,' said Chuck Beyer, president, Micro Estimating Systems.

'This is important especially when dealing with the cost savvy automotive industry.' Beyer sees an important message underlying this contract: 'Metaldyne's confidence in our software should prove to other potential customers that Micro Estimating Systems can deliver quality solutions for its customers' specific applications,' Beyer added.

Metaldyne, a leading global designer and supplier of metal-based components, assemblies and modules for transportation-related powertrain and chassis applications, serves the automotive segment through its Chassis, Driveline and Transmission, and Engine Group.

Headquartered in Plymouth, Mich., USA, Metaldyne has annual revenues of $1.5 billion.

For more information, please visit

OnCourse Technologies, (OCTH), a publicly traded company, is a market leader in developing intelligent software solutions for manufacturers.

More than 28,000 manufacturers worldwide use advanced OnCourse software to heighten efficiency in technical estimating, computer aided design (CAD), computer aided manufacturing (CAM), integrated e-commerce systems, and tooling management.

Do you just guess the price or really quote?

In many companies, quoting certain jobs has become a real problem, but there is now software that generates accurate quotes in a very fast and simple way.
Do you just guess the price or do you really quote? In many companies, quoting certain jobs has become a real problem. Up against delivery deadlines and accurate production plans, doing a quote can be a troublesome and time-wasting process, but nonetheless it is a crucial process.

Lantek has developed a solution to this with a powerful module capable of generating accurate quotes in a very fast and simple way.

The name of this new solution is Lantek Expert III Quotes.

Lantek Expert III Quotes enables the user to quote parts received in DXF format, existing parts in our database which have been produced before, and even parts sent by customers by fax or telephone.

One of the major features of the Quotes module is a quick drawing program which enables the user to make a sketch of a part in just a few seconds.

This is a very useful tool when receiving a hand made drawing by fax or when the dimensions of the part have been described over the telephone.

Taking this drawing as a basis, the user selects the machine that is to cut or punch the part, and the system calculates the cost for the operation, taking the following variables into account: 1.

Material cost.


Machining cost (machining time + consumables).


Additional processes (deburring, painting, folding, welding, shearing, etc).

When the machining time for a specific machine has been calculated, the software allows the user to go back to step 2 and select a different technology or machine for carrying out the job, in order to compare prices and choose the most profitable and economical alternative.

This process can also be performed for different materials.

Benefits * Time saving or up to 80% on quoting.

* Significant increase in quote accuracy.

* A sketch or a part can be drawn in just a few seconds, using a quick drawing assistant, with no need to go into the CAD module to actually draw the part.

* Quotes can be compared: if a job has been carried out with a laser machine, for example, the cost of doing the same job on a punching machine, or even on two different laser machines, can be calculated and compared.

* The profitability or a particular machine can be evaluated.

* Consumables and additional operations are included in the quote.

* The Quotes module allows the user to increase or reduce the profit margin and the quote can be recalculated with different profit margins.

* Remnants and scraps can be assigned in the final quote.

* When the quote has been accepted by the customer, it can simply be turned into an order and sent to production.

Computerised production control cuts stocks held

A key supplier of Formula 1 exhaust systems has reduced stocks of high value raw materials by 30% and boosted production efficiency using a computerised production control system.
A key supplier of Formula 1 exhaust systems has reduced stocks of high value raw materials by 30% and boosted production efficiency using K3 Business Technology's JobBOSS computerised production control system. Primary Designs both designs and manufactures high quality exhaust systems for competition cars. It is a leading supplier of make-to-order, low volume exhaust systems to many Formula 1 motor racing teams, Le Mans, BTCC touring car teams and historic Formula 1 teams.

The Thame-based company employs just 10 people and has a turnover of œ1 million, but despite its size is passionate about being World-Class through customer service and technical excellence.

The company operates in a niche market and such is its expertise and skill that the tightness of exhaust tube bend radii frequently exceeds the minimum considered possible by the tube Industry.

The use of inconel for Formula 1 exhausts, a notoriously tricky and expensive raw material, is what makes the job such a specialist operation.

In 0.5mm wall thickness tube, for example, a bend radius of 1x diameter is achievable.

This enables neater installations with less welding and a superior result from gas flow and ultimate engine power.

Along with the F1 teams, Primary Designs is continuously moving forward the 'boundaries of the possible' with the drive towards better exhaust efficiency and less weight.

Managing Director Pat Barrett says: 'Our previous planning and control system was basically manual, relying heavily on paper systems, spreadsheets and our knowledge of the jobs going through the factory.

With regards to stock control we were small enough to know what we had in stock and what was needed - or so we thought.

Our biggest nightmare was in planning the work because lead times were very short and the only thing predictable about our customers was that they were unpredictable!' An advisor from a local business link suggested that the firm consider a computerised production control system, and helped it draw up a requirements list which included: * Minimum time spent entering job data at different stages of order processing.

* Fast and accurate job costing and useage information on materials, labour and machines.

* Improved workshop utilisation through effective scheduling.

* Improved material and delivery scheduling.

* Immediate and accurate information on Job Status.

'In late 2001 we shortlisted a number of software products.

We subsequently tried a demonstration disc of JobBOSS from K3 Business Technology Group and chose the package for a number of reasons,' says Pat Barrett.

' It was designed for small firms like us and has been tried and tested in a job-shop environment.

It is also a Windows-based user friendly system and all the features we needed are in one place.

I am a great believer in shared information and JobBOSS helps achieve this because total integration within the modules means that you only need to enter data once and it is shared with the entire system.

We can also easily export information to familiar Microsoft packages like Word and Excel, and design our own management reports with Crystal Reports.

'Our main objective has been to improve our workshop utilisation through better scheduling.

Job costing is also very important because much of our Formula 1 work is repeat business so it is easy to check back via labour reporting.

Most of the core modules of JobBOSS have been fully implemented since July, 2002, and the system has greatly improved our efficiency and helped us identify areas for improvement.

It meets all of our specified requirements and some bonuses that we didn't expect.

'For example, JobBOSS identified a potentially disastrous situation with a particular component that was overstocked because a customer changed the specification - a regular occurrence.

Our tube bending department made too many parts, which could have been disastrous with a resultant cost of GBP 25,000 - which is a lot for a small company.

Fortunately, we realised this in time to be able to use this stock as it is all fairly fast moving.

But it wasn't a comfortable experience.

If we had the system earlier it wouldn't have happened.

Computerised stock control has been the really big eye-opener to us.

All the way through from order processing to purchasing we know exactly what materials are in stock and can get on with the jobs without hold-ups.

Overall, we have reduced stocks of raw materials - the majority of which are high value Inconel - by 30%.

'Formula 1 relies on sponsorship and is suffering due to the economy and low viewing figures, and all the teams are looking for cost cuts more aggressively.

JobBOSS has helped us considerably in the areas of quotations enabling us to be more competitive and win new business.

With good cost control we can accurately see where we can lower prices and still make a profit, and also increase prices on marginally profitable jobs.

Additionally, with more accurate planning and scheduling and 'what if' capabilities we can make more informed judgements about the consequences of taking on 'rush jobs'.' The system also enables production operations and costs to be controlled by identifying problems while a job is still in progress.

So if a delivery date is changed, for example, the system's auto-linking features automatically changes the schedule, purchasing, routing, sub-assemblies and components, allowing decisions to be based on current data.

'JobBOSS is extremely comprehensive,' adds Pat Barrett.

'It covers everything from quote processing, materials availability, job cards and office administration, and parts tracking all the way through to shipping and despatch.' For the future, Primary Designs plans to increase the system's potential by implementing shop floor data collection in the form of bar codes and time and attendance for labour reporting.

There are also possibilities for integration or exchanging data with the company's SolidEdge 3D design system.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Software allows real time progress chasing

A system that provides integrated management of the whole production process in sheet metal manufacturing environments passes on information generated to manufacturing.
Lantek Expert Management is a system that provides integrated management of the whole production process in sheet metal manufacturing environments. It allows the information generated to be automatically passed on to manufacturing. This integration enables the user, be it the sales, financial or production manager or their members of staff to know exactly how the manufacture of a given order is progressing at any point in time, as well as utilising the real manufacturing costs.

The following are some of its new possibilities: * Multi-order delivery notes: when a delivery note is made out for an order, several orders made by the same client may be selected.

* Multi-order invoices: this allows invoices to be made out for several orders made by the same client.

* Multi-delivery note invoice: allows invoices to be made from several delivery notes from the same client.

* Multi-product order: allows single orders to be generated from different existing products.

* Control of lost parts or parts not nested on manufacture: automatic creation of the parts pending manufacture or which have not been nested, to be added to another command.

* Predefined cost ranges or discounts for batches.

Some other characteristics of the production management module are as follows: * Receipt of orders and connection with other Manufacturing Management Program systems.

* Manufacturing.

This module gives the production manager total control of the order situation; whether the orders are completed, or how exactly they are progressing.

* Purchases.

This module generates purchase orders for suppliers based on the needs created by the customers' orders.

* Input of work vouchers.

The information in the work vouchers can be entered into the system.

This allows the production process to be followed up, enabling the user to see at all times the manufacturing status or a complete order, be it an assembly, sub assembly, or piece part.

* Definition of complex and parametric Products.

* Sales.

This offers the possibility of analysing all the sales-related variables, by employee, product, customer or invoice.

* Estimation.

As real production costs can be obtained and re-used within the system, estimates can be made which are much more adapted to reality.

* Predetermined nests.

* Multi-language y multi-currency.

* Store: the system covers the stock of products in the stores.

* Predefined cost ranges or discounts for batches.

* User management and security: it enables groups and users to be defined and users to have their respective passwords.

Management system yields rapid results

A series of software modules, that can stand alone or form a seamless suite of manufacturing management tools, bridge the gap between betweenautomation systems and business management.
A series of software modules, that can stand alone or form a seamlessly integrated suite of manufacturing management tools, bridge the gap between factory level automation systems and business management systems. Rockwell Automation introduces Plant Intelligence in a Box, a cost effective solution to analyse plant performance provided by a suite of fully functional Rockwell Software Manufacturing Businessware (RSBizware) pre-configured on a powerful, rugged Allen-Bradley industrial computer. RSBizware is a series of software modules that can stand alone or form a seamlessly integrated suite of manufacturing management tools that bridge the gap between factory level automation systems and business management systems.

Plant Automation in a Box is an easy to use, entry level system that enables manufacturers to make rapid improvements in plant performance and so see a quick return on their investment.

It uses raw manufacturing data collected from automation systems to produce usable reports on plant performance, and measure, monitor and improve Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), a key indicator of efficiency and productivity.

Pre-installed software modules include: RSBizware Historian, the complete solution for collecting, analysing, viewing and reporting data; RSSql, a powerful bi-directional transaction manager for handling the flow of data to and from standard databases; RSBizware PlantMetrics, a powerful yet simple set of tools to analyse the performance of production assets.

'Our aim with Plant Intelligence in a Box is to provide customers with a low cost means of seeing for themselves the tangible gains in efficiency RSBizware offers,' says Mike Croot, software manager at Rockwell Automation.

'It is not just demonstration software that expires after 30 days but a fully functioning, scalable software suite that can be expanded to cover a whole plant.' To ensure manufacturers obtain maximum benefit from the system, the highly cost-effective package includes installation and configuration by a Rockwell Automation engineer.

Plant Intelligence in a Box has been designed to overcome a widespread reluctance to invest in large, complex manufacturing execution systems (MES), which often involves a substantial upfront investment with long and uncertain payback periods.

These traditional MES have simply been seen as intermediate software layers sitting above a SCADA system, acting as repositories for production data such as manufacturing instruction sets.

But such MES are inflexible, offer limited functionality and cannot provide the integration with higher level ERP systems needed to bind the factory floor to the rest of the supply chain.

'As a result, manufacturers have been reluctant to embrace MES, either as a concept or a set of tools,' says Croot.

'Many manufacturers are data rich but information poor, in that they aren't able to extract meaningful information on plant performance from the wealth of production data generated by modern automation systems.' Even companies with high level enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems have often been unable to link them directly to the factory floor, leaving management to base strategic decisions on data that is out of date, inaccurate and incomplete.

RSBizware software overcomes these problems, providing seamless integration between the plant and most leading ERP systems and enabling companies without ERP to collect, analyse and report manufacturing data.

It includes database software to collate and store manufacturing data, a transaction manager to handle the flow of data, analysis tools that enable the database to be 'mined' down to individual device level and report generators that produce detailed yet usable information on plant metrics.

Plant Intelligence in a Box provides manufacturers with a risk-free entry into MES, enabling them to see rapid returns on a limited investment before rolling out RSBizware to other machines or production lines within a plant.

Software package covers a whole SME operation

Business software for small and mid market manufacturers, job shops and distributors includes all the functionality needed for accounting, inventory control, job costing and manufacturing.
TSG Software and Service, a growing software solutions provider, recently unveiled its new CF Series Accounting and Manufacturing package. This is a unique, customizable, fully integrated package for the small to mid-sized manufacturer in any industry. This package includes all the functionality needed for accounting, inventory control, job costing, manufacturing and distribution.

CF Series is a complete solution packaged with installation, training and support services.

Our total solution packages all the unique features our customers want: customization, support, product value and competitive pricing.

While many products on the market appear to be similar to ours, they are actually not.

The fact that they cannot be modified makes them inflexible and constrains the benefits.

Our CF Series can be customized for every unique business.

This allows each of our customers to have software that operates exactly as they request.

This cuts down on user time, frustration, and inefficiency, and saves them money.

Since TSG is a developer, we sell, support and install all of our software.

This provides our customers with a relationship they wouldn't get otherwise.

This means that requests for service or upgrades will be handled quickly.

On-demand service allows our customers to spend time making money instead of fighting issues.

Throughout our existence, our customers have reported to us they have saved thousands of dollars with our previously released products.

Our new CF Series incorporates all the past benefits as well as new ones.

Our product provides a single integrated solution allows you to easily monitor sales, inventory, production, scheduling and accounting to improve your entire enterprise.

Up-to-the minute reporting capability provides critical information at the touch of a button.

Features like variable Bill of Materials and multiple pricing options in the software allow users the flexibility to run their business in their own unique way.

Our CF Series pricing is different than most other software products.

We charge no annual maintenance or service fees.

We price the package based on an unlimited number of users.

And, we provide a 90-day money back guarantee.

These are all fundamental changes we are trying to bring to the industry to provide our customers with an up-front price that doesn't hide future costs.

This makes our customers independent and provides them with the flexibility to increase the number of users and make changes or upgrades as necessary.

Additionally, we believe this is the lowest total cost solution because expenses don't continue to accrue.

The new CF Series package runs on either a peer-to-peer network or with a standard server network.

Currently, we offer PC-based versions running on any Windows or NT operating system dating back to Windows 95 and up through XP.

The fully installed and supported package can be realized typically for an investment of $10,000 and $30,000, with no future fees.

TSG Software and Service is a software developer with 20 years of experience in the accounting and manufacturing software industry.

We currently have over 50 active customers and have recently expanded our operations from the South Central portion of the USA to now include the West Coast.

Along with the size of the company, our software has evolved over the years with invaluable client input.

As a developer, we are very knowledgeable about our product and pride ourselves on World-class support and services.

Our complete solution provides you with the highest quality product and service, so you can maximize the benefits of your software investment.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Easy to use software aimed at small manufacturers

Tailored to small manufacturers, an inexpensive, easy-to-use software package includes standard forms and modules to run both office and shop.
Cleveland-based Freedom Applications has developed AMMO (Access Manufacturing Management Overlay). An inexpensive, easy-to-use software package, AMMO includes standard forms and modules to run both office and shop. Tailored to small manufacturers, AMMO fills the application gap between simple accounting packages that only produce invoices and checks and more complicated ERP/MRP systems.

Recognizing that many small manufacturers and metalworkers already use QuickBooksƒ, Freedom Applications upgraded their software so that Version 3.2 integrates data with QuickBooks Pro 2002a and 2003a.

Uniquely, with AMMO, you can track time and materials through shop floor data entry; scan prints and sketches into engineering files and maintain an up-to-date inventory.

Scheduling software handles multiple factories

Scheduling software has a fast, multi-line order promising capability that can handle real-time interrogation of live schedules in multiple production locations to optimise capacity.
Preactor International continues its global strategy of providing innovative scheduling solutions with the launch of Collaborative Enterprise Scheduling. Designed to meet the growing scheduling requirements of today's manufacturing companies, this technology is also being simultaneously introduced into the US. Collaborative Enterprise Scheduling will be available via an existing upgrade route in version 9.2 of Preactor APS and also through a new solution entitled Preactor Enterprise.

Preactor APS 9.2 includes a fast, multi-line order promising capability that can handle real-time interrogation of live schedules in multiple production locations to optimise capacity utilization and on-time deliveries.

Preactor Enterprise is a solution for companies who wish to roll out Preactor APS and Preactor Supply Chain Scheduling (SCS) across an enterprise and retain the control of the configuration, rules and interaction allowed at each plant.

The package comes with 10 Preactor Run-time licenses that can be installed either as Master Scheduling Systems or Supply Chain Servers.

The solutions are first created and compiled on the Preactor Enterprise System, then passed to the user of the Run-Time system.

Also on display will be a long term Capacity Planning system driven by forecast demand that can be used to compute the required production and manage stock levels based on target stock/days of cover.

Real time scheduling makes planning realistic

Real time scheduling system allows a precision gear subcontractor to plan and give its customers realistic lead and delivery times and detect immediately when things are not going to plan.
Encountering more than 400 works orders a month involving some 65 machine tools plus sundry operations such as deburring and outsourced subcontract requirements, juggling priorities and general production demands was becoming a time consuming nightmare for precision gear specialist and subcontract machinist Gibbs Gears. Today, however, after installing Seiki Systems' Real Time Scheduling system, managing director Reece Garrod said: 'We can plan and give customers realistic lead and delivery times, detect immediately when things are not going to plan, determine the impact of any changes we want to make to production and make sound management decisions based on factual information.' With the company doubling turnover to GBP 2 million in less than three years, the use of the Real Time Scheduler has, over the last six months, made work in progress manageable and in turn, helped to improve cash flow. As a result, Gibbs Gears is investing in new equipment and is looking forward to a move to new premises as well as developing further its IT and specialist skills.

Based in Tring, Hertfordshire, UK, the company has a history based on some 50 years of gear cutting and it still provides a 24/48h emergency service and the occasional 'reverse engineering' task.

These can even include the production of single gears and crown wheel and pinion sets produced for the likes of classic car buffs.

This highly specialised knowledge of gear cutting is still core to the business, but the company is also reaping considerable success in subcontract machining involving up to five-axis turning and milling.

Today that does not always involve the adding of gear teeth or splines and, as part of the company's progression, it is also investing for the future in 3D modelling that will further strengthen the machining services provided.

On the back of new projects for petrochemical and offshore customers and a recent contract for design and manufacture of miniature gearboxes, the company is also planning expansion into the motor sport and aerospace sectors.

It already supplies specialised gearboxes to the medical, food and satellite sectors, often in very difficult to machine stainless steels.

Also, bespoke anti-backlash, high torque worm and wheel bevel gear boxes are produced and shipped to Scandinavia, Italy, France, Spain and India as well as the UK.

To produce this range of work a company needs the equipment and so on the shopfloor there are some 40 gear shapers and both conventional and CNC hobbing machines able to produce gears from 2.5 DP to 100 DP, 0.3 to 10 module.

The company also produces spur, helical and bevel gears, worms up to 6in (150mm) diameter, rack and pinions, serrations, splines, sprockets and timing pulleys.

In addition there are machines for pencil hobbing, a Gleason bevel generator, Reishauer, Niles and Matrix gear and thread grinders and broaches plus the CNC metal cutting capability.

All these machines were being managed prior to the adoption of Real Time Scheduling, using a labour intensive Gantt chart and card index system that became a chore, demanding continuous attention and was forever being updated.

Explained Garrod: 'Because there were so many operations we spent between 800 and 1,200h/month setting machines.

When we look back, the shopfloor appears to have been running the business and everyone was multi-tasking.

Worse still, with 40% of work being new components or contracts, the business was characterised by perpetual fire fighting.

We were even too busy to realise the roll-on effect that making a decision on the spot could bring causing a detrimental effect to many other contracts.' With the Real Time Scheduling system in place, Gibbs Gears can now view on screen the immediate influence of any changes.

He said: 'We can set up ghost operations for urgent jobs and immediately see the effect it will have on our order book and deliveries and make a decision on what line of action we should take.' The company has also found its customer relationships have improved.

Because live production data is a matter of a couple of key strokes, information is factual and the customer can immediately be updated on progress and they certainly appreciate a realistic view.

If need be, we can quickly check the outcome of split batching to deliver parts sooner, and check if we can double up machines.' Looking in the short term he feels they are well over 60% on target now but within another five to six months, 'This should be closer to 90%,' Garrod predicted.

Garrod described how the issue of a variance report means they are able to see what he describes as the 'Trend of Losers' which he maintains is very good to help focus the business.

You can see where the bottlenecks are, identify spare capacity and quickly appreciate the consequences of making changes.

As the operators can also view the work queue on the shopfloor, this helps them plan their day and we now spend less than an hour a day updating the system - previously that was a full time job.' The decision to buy Seiki Systems software followed lengthy investigations.

An MRP/ERP production software package had been installed first and growing Kanban and consignment stocking for customers meant greater demands on management time.

The MRP/ERP was ideal for machine loading and creating a list of jobs, but it had no relevance with the capacity of the machine and other factors that tend to influence when a job starts and ends.

Also, Gibbs Gears had a one operator to three or four machine working arrangement on certain machines that had long production cycles.

This meant the Real Time Scheduler package was required to cater for operator availability when he was working on another machine' 'The competitor systems we looked at could not handle this type of strategy,' maintained Garrod.

He insisted: 'This was not an easy scenario to handle and we are still working closely with Seiki Systems to hone the 'what if?' factors due to our changing operator working practices.

When we made the decision to buy, this was clearly the best system that we could see would meet our needs.

From the four systems investigated the Real Time Scheduler interfaced well with our MRP/ERP system and the way it is being developed around us shows the understanding and commitment their software engineers are prepared to make.' As Gibbs Gears is moving forward with its IT and lean manufacturing strategy, it is planned that the new premises will include a small training area with a dedicated toolroom and classroom.

Said Garrod: 'We need the skills in IT, production and gear technology and the only way to get this is to train our own younger people in-house'.

'The same way that Seiki Systems Real Time Scheduling has had such an effect on the business, we need to blend this level of IT technology with our specialist knowledge in the workplace.'

Monday, July 10, 2006

Planning and scheduling solution synchronises plan

One of the UK's biggest manufacturers of rigid and cellular PVC products has invested GBP250,000 in an advanced planning and scheduling solution to practice synchronised finite planning.
HW (Heywood Williams) Plastics, one of the UK's biggest manufacturers of rigid and cellular PVC for use in window frames and roofs, has invested GBP250,000 in an Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS) solution from Geac Enterprise Solutions, a division of Geac Computer Corporation. The system will provide synchronised finite planning of both manufactured and purchase items, and extends the HW Plastics investment in Geac System21 software. The go live date is scheduled for the second calendar quarter of 2003 and will be implemented in three production sites.

The projected net effect of the implementation will be to maintain excellent customer delivery service levels whilst reducing finished goods inventory by approximately 20%.

This alone would produce an immediate return on the investment.

HW Plastics business requires it to fulfil the majority of customer orders within 24 hours.

Supplying hundreds of fabricators throughout the UK, each with different requirements and lead times, has meant the planning process has been very complex, yet conducted manually.

But such calculations have become more problematic as customer demands have grown whilst product and production requirements have proved increasingly complicated.

And, like many businesses, the company has had to seek ways to reduce operational costs.

HW Plastics chose to work with Geac's APS system because of the advantages of working with a single integrated supply chain optimisation system.

There will be 85 users of the Geac system, all linked to one IBM iSeries (AS/400) model 800.

The software will be rolled out to three sites following a business process reengineering programme.

'Although we're going through a business transformation exercise I believe one of the biggest hurdles we will face is the culture change.

Our production planners will no longer be required to make adjustments to the plans - they'll be asked to trust the plans that the APS engine creates.

Instead we want them to focus on improving the quality of our forecast data by spending more time discussing customer requirements and dealing with suppliers.

In this way we really can use the power of the APS engine to the fullest in order to create a very smooth supply chain.

As the housing market continues to thrive so will we - but only if we can maintain our efficient position within the middle of this supply chain,' said Steve Mabbott, head of supply chain planning and processes at HW Plastics.

HW Plastics has three production facilities in Macclesfield, Scunthorpe and Congelton, as well as an operation for purchasing ancillary third party products.

It has also introduced Geac inventory management Software and Warehousing to help manage its central distribution operation in Stoke-on-Trent.

Mabbott concluded: 'When people talk about supply chain successes they tend to quote the big retailers and their automated channels.

I've worked in many of these supply chains already and know that this isn't necessarily the case.

Our integrated Geac system will allow us to operate a supply chain way better than many of the leading retailers.

And I know - I've been there.' About Geac Enterprise Solutions - Geac Enterprise Solutions, a division of Geac Computer Corporation, offers a wide variety of feature-rich ERP software applications, and Web-enabled ERP extensions to those applications that allow users to not only maximise their existing technologies but to also take advantage of today1s e-business opportunities.

The Company's client/server (SmartStream), IBM zSeries (E Series and M series) IBM iSeries (System21), Windows NT (StreamLine) and PC/LAN (TotalHR and World-Class Financials) product suites are quick to implement with a depth of functionality that is unmatched within the industry.

With almost 40 years of experience as a software developer, Geac Enterprise Solutions product suites enable organisations within key vertical markets to streamline business processes throughout their enterprises, and across multiple platforms.

More importantly, Geac adds value to its core software applications by surrounding them with complementary solutions and people who understand the industry - both its business-critical and e-commerce requirements.

About Geac Computer Corporation - Geac Computer Corporation (TSX:GAC) headquartered in Markham, Canada, is a global provider of business critical software and systems solutions.

Geac solutions include cross-industry enterprise business applications for financial administration and human resources functions, and enterprise resource planning applications for manufacturing, distribution, and supply chain management.

Geac also provides industry applications to the real estate, restaurant, property, and construction marketplaces, as well as a wide range of applications for libraries, government administration and public safety agencies

Windows-based manufacturing package for small user

Aimed at small companies, a comprehensive and powerful Windows-based manufacturing package delivers the features and functionality required to efficiently control and manage production.
Trakit Manufacturing is a unique, comprehensive and powerful Windows-based manufacturing package from Knonix, NZ ( Available in Europe from AB-Tech (Somerset) it is now available in North America from Saelig Co ( Designed for small to medium sized manufacturing organizations, Trakit delivers the features and functionality required to efficiently control and manage any or all of five main manufacturing processes: Inventory control, Sales and Purchase Orders, Bill of Materials, RFQ's, and Material Requirements Planning.

Trakit Manufacturing automates many of these tasks, while maintaining an intuitive, easy to use interface, and without sacrificing the flexibility to allow for unique special cases.

Where it excels is in assembling RFQs into the cheapest/fastest build!

There is still scope for production improvement

The inability to access reliable and timely plant information and knowledge that only exists in peoples' heads are among reasons why production can be improved, reports Citect.
There is still more scope for production improvement The inability to access reliable and timely plant information and knowledge that only exists in peoples' heads are among reasons why production can be improved, reports Citect. Even with the major advances achieved in productivity and efficiency over the last decade, it is clear that a majority of production facilities still have enormous potential for improvement in their performance. The question is: why so many: and why have these enterprises not invested in technology to make their existing assets more productive?

Well, some of the general reasons given are the inability to access reliable and timely plant information; ad hoc approaches to production improvement; knowledge that only exists in peoples' heads; and the lack of a well-defined method of measuring plant performance.

Perhaps this situation is now all about to change with the latest consolidated approach to performance improvement, which offers commonality across a diverse range of industries.

The consolidated approach is based upon the use of a KPI (key performance indicator) known as Overall Equipment Effectiveness (or OEE).

While not a new concept, OEE is only now being recognised in industries far removed from its historical roots in automotive and pure manufacturing.

What is significant about this development is that now, for the first time, there is a well-defined method of measuring plant performance that has both universal understanding and acceptance.

Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) is a key measurement of efficiency in manufacturing processes at machine, manufacturing cell or assembly line levels.

The concept had its roots in the Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) concept first conceived and used in the Japanese automotive industry in the 1960s and 70s.

In its simplest form OEE is the cumulation of three factors - availability, performance and quality.

These can be defined as follows: * Availability = Actual Production time / Planned Production time.

* Performance = Current Run rate / Ideal Run rate.

* Quality = Good Product / Total Product.

* OEE = Availability x Performance x Quality.

The essence of OEE is improvement: it provides data that enables improvement opportunities to be recognised; but the business still has to act upon the data for the OEE solution to be effective.

There should be no question of this, because by using OEE as an analysis tool, businesses can benchmark their operations against world-class performance in their operating sectors.

However, a simplistic comparison can be misleading if the sector specific variations (based on industry, type of equipment, level of customer demand (etc) are not factored in.

As an aid in this area, the following OEE benchmarks are widely quoted as being 'best practice' scores for a continuous manufacturing process.

OEE Factor - World-Class score.

Availability - 90%.

Performance - 95%.

Quality - 99.9%.

OEE - 85%.

While the above scores are best practice, experience shows that most production operations typically operate with OEE scores in the range of 60-70%, indicating that most organisations have significant scope for improvement in the way that their manufacturing operations are run.

The key to achieving effective OEE is capturing and analysing data in real-time (or close to real-time) from production equipment, and presenting the data to plant operators and manufacturing management in a format that enables the data to be understood.

These operations are generally performed by MES (manufacturing execution software) packages provided by companies such as Citect.

MES packages such as Citect's Ampla, generally interface with existing SCADA/HMI, other process control and automation systems and business systems.

They provide information and insight to all relevant stakeholders - corporate level executives, plant managers, shop floor maintenance engineers, process engineers, QA, IT (etc) - using a variety of graphs and charts that can be personalised based on the stakeholder's information needs and preferences.

Typically the implementation of an OEE package takes between one to three months depending on the level and scale of adoption.

Most of this time is devoted to planning rather than actual implementation.

The planning process attempts to address the key needs and concerns of the business within the context of its actual operations.

It asks key questions such as: what 'causes' impact on production the most?

What cause-based data points need to be measured?

What definitions need input from the shop floor?

What is the time-usage model adopted?

What outputs does the business require at shop floor level, at corporate level and by department?

What KPIs need to be displayed?

At all stages of the planning and implementation phases, OEE solutions should be regarded as an investment, not as a cost, Why?

Because they bring significant benefits to organisations through improved profitability, better asset utilisation and virtually immediate ROI: For example, a Citect Ampla Downtime module implemented at BHP Billiton's Cannington mine, in Queensland, Australia delivered initial savings of A$1 million and continuous improvement in operations, maintenance and throughput.

Similarly, using Citect Ampla's integrated suite of modules, Impala Platinum's Base Metal Refineries (BMR) near Johannesburg, South Africa achieved its 2005 throughput target of 2 million ounces of platinum well ahead of schedule.

Both systems achieved full payback in a matter of months.

The OEE solution provides these economic benefits in a number of ways: * It identifies 'lost production' - the hidden potential in a machine or a cell that can deliver additional throughput to improve overall plant performance.

* It provides fast identification of the actual causes of problems that have a detrimental effect on production; whether through human input (process/operator issues) or machine/material issues.

* It facilitates more predictable production, allowing for better planning, quicker decision making and execution and lower time to market for new products.

* It provides the key to improvements in product quality, leading to lower product costs and higher customer satisfaction.

* It delivers cost savings through increased production consistency and reduced waste.

* It allows organisations to move from reactive approach repair and maintenance to a more proactive approach.

What the above benefits demonstrate is that once a system that captures data in real time is implemented, then the power of analysis can be unleased, revealing real 'cause based' issues that can be resolved through a variety of improvement initiatives.

Moreover the process should not stop there.

Improvement gains need to be both sustainable and consistent.

A good OEE will improve the production of the operation but consistent application of OEE will go further by rewarding the bottom line of a business.

* About Citect - Citect is the leading, global provider of industrial automation, real-time intelligence, and next generation manufacturing execution systems (MES).

Leveraging open technologies, CitectHMI/SCADA and Ampla connect to multiple plant and business systems.