Case Study: MES Solution Helps Aerospace Manufacturer Grow Exponentially

  • May 13, 2021
  • ShopVue - Cai Software
  • Case Study
Case Study: MES Solution Helps Aerospace Manufacturer Grow Exponentially
Case Study: MES Solution Helps Aerospace Manufacturer Grow Exponentially

Headquartered in Kent, Wash., (just outside Seattle), Exotic Metals Forming, a division of Parker Hannifin, specializes in the design and manufacture of complex sheet metal fabrications.

With ShopVue, Exotic has achieved:

  • 20:1 Return on every dollar invested
  • 25% reduction in overtime hours
  • Millions saved each year

“Collectively, we are saving thousands of man-hours each year because operators spend less time on simple
reporting tasks,” said Jeff Eaton, Exotic’s director of business processes. “ShopVue makes it easy to bring new employees up to speed--we’ve added over 400 new operators in the last few years without any negative impact to our efficiency metrics.”

The challenge: Recruiting & retaining quality talent in a highly competitive market

With explosive growth came several challenges; namely:

  • An underdeveloped workforce: Two-thirds of Exotic employees have worked for the company for less than five years.
  • A competitive talent market: Exotic operates in a thriving and highly competitive market with Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Blue Origin, and others headquartered nearby. Thus, attracting and retaining bright, highly trained, skilled employees is critical in an industry where manufacturing tolerances are incredibly challenging.


The solution: Choosing the right MES provider

“We have a world-class, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility, but we had old green screens for the production workers. The shop floor data collection and time and attendance systems were on three different databases and heavily reliant on paper processes,” said Eaton. “It was archaic and hurting us in recruiting and retention. And, we needed better visibility into our shop floor performance and the real-time ability to manage production.”
“Exotic needed a real-time, modular, manufacturing execution system (MES)that would give management better visibility, flexibility, and control, while also giving our team members on the shop floor all the information they need at their fingertips,” added Eaton.
Exotic selected ShopVue as its full-suite MES Provider, and opted to configure and implement five key modules:

1. Comprehensive time and attendance
2. Shop activity/labor, labor-management including employee certifications
3. Direct machine interface, to connect to and monitor essential resources
4. Graphical sequencing, to effectively schedule the factor
5. Management reporting, for real-time information

ShopVue stood out as the best solution for Exotic for two reasons

1: “ShopVue’s experience in manufacturing is exceptional; they know what works, what does not and could deliver a solution that met our demands and very high standards," Eaton said.
2: “ShopVue’s support is the best of any software company we work with. No other company is even close,” Eaton said.

The result: Improved labor efficiency & higher machine utilization

 “ShopVue’s success is measurable and helped us increase both employee and machine utilization, as well as efficiency,” said Eaton. “Our initial and ongoing investment has been repaid many times over. ShopVue helps us effectively manage over 1,400 employees working more than 224,000 labor hours a month, and over 16,000 monthly Production Orders. We also have immediate, real-time visibility into production and machine state ― all at our fingertips.”
Today, all Exotic shop floor employees, supervisors and management have real-time access into all attendance, labor and performance metrics via ShopVue. The system automatically manages Exotic’s policies, and the company has eliminated multiple systems and databases and allowed for the re-allocation of numerous employees. Furthermore, supervisors can control production by dispatching worklists on the fly to machines and operators.

ShopVue helped improve Exotic’s operations in two key ways

1. Improved labor efficiency
Everyone spends less time reporting but has real-time access to more accurate labor data. Every employee uses ShopVue for attendance, and all paper-based processes or custom applications have been eliminated. Daily tasks of managing absences, reviewing, editing and approving time and labor transactions are more straight-forward, timelier, and user-friendly for supervisors.

Additionally, ShopVue offers pragmatic solutions to everyday situations. For example, if an employee forgets their badge, they have real-time access to a list of covering supervisors and their phone numbers, eliminating the production time lost due to an employee wandering from building to building to find a supervisor to assign a temporary badge.

2. Higher machine utilization
Paperless Dispatch eliminates the ‘cherry-picking’ of work. Operators are presented with a prioritized worklist for the shift, and the Graphical Sequencer enables supervisors to expedite ‘hot’ orders and quickly adjust the production schedule by machine or work center. Supervisors get instant feedback on parts per hour or per shift, efficiency metrics, and they even get an alert if the machine is ‘down’ for more than a fixed amount of time.
ShopVue also independently collects machine time and labor time. For example, Exotic has some engineering processes requiring 40 hours of machine time, and only two hours of labor. With ShopVue, Exotic now quickly reports on both metrics.
“Investing in a leading manufacturing execution system (MES) like ShopVue is investing in our people and helps us in a competitive labor market," said Eaton.

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