The Importance of Real Time Information in a Manufacturing Environment
To remain competitive in today’s global manufacturing space, companies need to be able to install corrective actions on time. Knowing that the company under-performed on a job is very valuable, and it even provides information for future runs. Many times, we need to be running a particular job to be aware of production issues and to be able to test if the proposed corrective actions resolve them. In instances when the products are made to order, there might be no future runs or those runs might be at a much later date.
With new technology and an easier flow of capital in the 21st century, competition for US manufacturing companies is a lot tougher than in the past. The only way we can expand our manufacturing base is by achieving the highest possible levels of productivity and excellence.
Luckily, the accessibility of hardware and software has made it possible to reduce the cost of data acquisition. This reduces rework, shortens lead times, improves efficiency, and increases customer satisfaction. Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) are the vehicles by which data can be collected and made available to decision makers on a real time basis. This allows timely corrections to take place. Like other computer systems, MES have evolved from being a technology available only to large companies to currently being widely available to small and mid-size businesses.
Providing real time information to responsible parties is just one of many benefits MES can bring to a manufacturing company, it is a key benefit because of how essential these systems are in facilitating that improvement. Most companies today have deployed ERP systems and they report results through those systems but the timeliness of that reporting is off by at least a shift or a day. Some companies have recurred to keeping close to real time track of performance outside ERP systems using Excel Spreadsheets or other personal computer sub-systems but this information is usually not available company wide. Manual record keeping of manufacturing results is extremely time consuming and is often inaccurate due to human error.
MES provide a comprehensive solution to real time data acquisition and making it available to the people that can take corrective action.
Neither commodity nor specialty products type of businesses can afford delayed remedial action. For manufacturers of commodity type products, the speed of production and the competitive nature of the pricing will determine the loss caused by the delay; for manufacturers of specialty type products, the high value of the lost output will.
Lenox Inc., a metal-cutting specialist found that “finished products don’t pass first inspection 20% of the time and need rework.” Companies should consider if this happens in their business. Can the company stay competitive with its current level of rework? Can rework be reduced by the accurate flow of real time information?
These questions show that an investment in an MES is one of the most important steps companies can take to stay competitive in today’s market.