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Implement ERP For Integrating Machines Successfully

by Biru Gupta, CIO, Uniparts October-2016

In this globalized world, where the markets are turning fast into online marts, Information to be available at the click of a button is the need of the hour. Product life time cycles are shrinking and customer is driving the demand. Such changes requires quick analysis and response which build up the customer perception and can make or break the organization. The organizations need to manage their knowledge & business processes and constantly adept them to meet the ever changing demands of the customer.

With advent of disruptive technologies like Cloud, Mobility, Analytics, IoTetc., our approach to Information management has changed significantly. The manufacturing Companies cannot be far behind in the implementation of these disruptive technologies else they risk to lose out in a longer run. These changes require the management of information in a way that the decision can be made at the right time by right person at the right place and at the right cost. This calls for the automation of the shop floor information management such that with minimum input and efforts, maximum information can be captured. 

What is getting made on what machine with quantity and quality information is impervious for a production manager to know before it is too late. Writing Production data onto a daily shift wise production register will inhibit the organizations ability to respond to such changes. Hence the need for the manufacturing companies to have information systems integrated with the ‘Gemba’, the place where the product gets made. This requires information to be retrieved, reviewed and analysed in the real time. 

A Real Time Reporting system allows the production data to be captured in real time and gives the visibility to the Production Manager a real-time view of the shop floor. Wireless or handheld barcode scanning devices or touch screen systems available on the shop floor allow the information to be captured in the backend ERP systems. Information such as Machines in breakdown, planned vs actual production and Overall Equipment Effectiveness gives him control to respond in real-time. If a critical machine is in breakdown, the Production Manager can take informed call to transfer production to the next available machine or outsource if the capacity is not available internally. 

The bar-coded cards also facilitate the information for material movement once the process is completed in one work center. With the availability of the Process steps information to make the final product, it becomes easier to identify to which next work center, the material needs to go, thereby streamlining the material flow on the shop floor. No more, mixed or lost material on the shop floor. 

If a product has a quality defect or technical change reported by the customer, it would be disastrous if the information is not immediately communicated to the line and production stopped to avoid any losses. Banking on the manual processes or human driven triggers will hamper an organizations ability to respond to such incidents or changes if not addressed through technology. This requires integration of information systems where the customer relationship management (CRM) has ability to pass information to the back end ERP systems so that the Production can get a signal of an event (Quality Alert or Technical Change) taking place in real time, thereby saving hundreds of dollars in scrapped inventory.

Another advantage of the Real-time reporting system is the ability to track the inventory level on the shop floor and help Production Manager achieve better inventory planning and management. 

Such automation can be implemented in yet another critical area of the manufacturing which is inventory receipt and despatch. The Barcode or RFID can be effectively used to improve the inventory management. Inventory receipt or despatch thru barcode scanning coupled with lot control and location controlled inventory management system can effectively reduce the efforts required to manage the inventory and improve the accuracy thereby enabling the organizations ability to quickly respond to customers and reduce the inventory levels thereby impacting its bottom line as well as cash flows. 

In near future, it will be possible to integrate machines intelligently on the shop floor with back end ERP systems using Internet of Things (IoT) whereby the machines will themselves record start/stop times, Qty produced, breakdown etc. and reduce the efforts required to capture the data from the shop floor. The human intervention will then be limited to reporting quality defects only. 

Such an integration of shop floor with the back end information systems, addresses the dichotomy of lean manufacturing as well as dynamically adapting to the customer needs.