Manufacturing Execution System Enables Aerospace Manufacturer to Produce Safety Critical Electronics | Automation.com

Manufacturing Execution System Enables Aerospace Manufacturer to Produce Safety Critical Electronics

Manufacturing Execution System Enables Aerospace Manufacturer to Produce Safety Critical Electronics

By Anthony Borges, Marketing Manager, PINPoint Information Systems

Introduction / Summary

This document summarizes the manufacturing execution system (MES), or manufacturing operations management (MOM) solution implemented by an Aerospace parts manufacturer in order to introduce full-accountability into their assembly processes. The MES/MOM delivered “integrity of process” by providing a control system which managed all aspects of the assembly process; and created a closed-loop of accountability, delivering the desired results every-single-time.

A critical aspect to the achievement of their goal was the management of a new assembly line workforce. The true test of the dependability on the MES/MOM system was it empowered operators with little to no experience to build sophisticated electronic components to the highest quality standards. It is also noteworthy that the MES/MOM was able to be integrated and operational in a very short timeframe in less than four (4) days.

Due to the speed of implementation and the reliability of the MES/MOM system the customer was able to ramp up production quickly while ensuring quality. Ultimately over the long term the Aerospace manufacturer found the MES/MOM so reliable that they were enabled to scale-back on expensive testing
that was designed to catch defective products, which in itself represented significant cost savings.

Background / Problems
             
As a part of the proving process the Aerospace manufacturer had already implemented the MES/MOM on the first assembly line. It was thought the following plant-wide implementation would be months later, although due to end customer delays this turned into nearly a two (2) years wait, which was much more time than needed to prove out the system.

During this time the manufacturer was able to define the best methods or process steps (based on facts and figures) in orderto manufacturer the highest quality electronic motor controllers destined for ‘Dreamliner’ jet airliners (see Figure 1).           

Figure 1: Qatar Airways 787 “Dreamliner” jet.

It had actually only taken the Aerospace manufacturer a few days to figure out and realize the power of the MES/MOM and how it would be invaluable once full production across all four (4) assembly lines started. They were ready to fully-implement the MES/MOM, but the Original Equipment Manufacturer’s (OEM) schedule for delivering the 787 airliner kept getting pushed out.

The OEM delays continued month after month; the Aerospace manufacturer would be instructed to ramp up production and then stop, then again ramp up and stop. This happened over and over and therefore delayed the Aerospace manufacturer’s decision to fully integrate the MES/MOM, preferring instead to wait until manufacturing revenues were sufficient to proceed with the capital purchase.

It was all of a sudden when the Aerospace manufacturer was requested to produce higher volumes, to start supplying parts in only one (1) week; and therefore the MES/MOM software had to be implemented and operational across all four (4) assembly lines as soon as possible.

Once integrated, the next step was to configure the system, taking into account a new workforce with little to no experience in Aerospace parts manufacturing, who were set to start once the system was operational. The MES/MOM system had a significant responsibility to fulfill and was being relied upon as the integral aspect of the project’s success. The challenge was to guide the line operators step-by-step and error-proof in real-time so absolutely no bad parts would be produced and reach the end customer.

Solution

The quick integration and configuration of the plant floor management system was possible given the turn-key nature of the MES/MOM software, which is accessible from any web browser on any computer, tablet or Smartphone. The client was extremely relieved and impressed when they saw the system installed and operational within four (4) days, i.e. an inexperienced workforce was producing high-quality ‘safety critical’ parts within a week.

The solution was to scale-up the proven MES/MOM system in order to ensure plant-wide error-proofing in all processes on the assembly lines, be it by tool or device, or human. The manufacturing execution system contributed to an over-all paradigm shift by introducing a culture of ‘full-accountability’ into the
customer’s manufacturing operations.

The Aerospace manufacturer was able to use the MES/MOM to configure the communications presented to assembly line workers in a way most meaningful to them, with easy to understand paperless work instructions including pictures, graphics, and videos demonstrating the tasks they are to perform. Line workers were guided step-by-step, with the MES/MOM verifying each and every step for conformity.

The intuitive nature and ease-of-use inherent in the MES/MOM enabled the Aerospace manufacturer to become self-sufficient faster, which is exactly what was needed. The level of control the MES/MOM provided the manufacturer drastically reduced or eliminated the opportunity for a poor quality motor controller to be produced and shipped to the OEM. MES/MOM allows its users to error-proof on-the-fly, with the capability to even ‘physically track’ a product/serial number, e.g. to verify where a defective product is on the line, such as to confirm if it is physically located in a repair work station, or not?

In addition to the rapid integration, line worker education, and process verification, the MES/MOM steered the customer towards a future path of maximized or optimized manufacturing operations. The ‘Production Analytics’ program included in the MES/MOM is a powerful continuous improvement tool;
producing thorough reports via multi-dimensional database searches.

The analysis of the data being generated from all the processes is invaluable manufacturing intelligence to the discerning analyst and only leads to manufacturing optimization. Reports can be output to display a variety of metrics, and preloaded reports were included, although the customer was able to modify those, or create new search queries and save any as ‘favourites’, including the ability to schedule or create recurring reports which are saved daily for review at a certain time. The user was able to report on KPI's, OEE, TEEP, number of defects, downtime, over cycle situations, man hour losses, and much more.

MES/MOM Software

The MES/MOM software has been developed since 1997 and it continues to be evolved and pushed-forward by leading manufactures. Thoroughly proven it is in use daily around the world in multiple languages by leading automotive, aerospace, heavy machinery, agricultural, and power sports vehicle manufacturers.
The software is meticulously designed and tested to ‘Information Technology Infrastructure Library’ (ITIL) standards before any official version release.

Conclusion

The Aerospace manufacturer was able to achieve their goal of a plant-wide integration of the MES/MOM solution, and use the system to guide and empower inexperienced assembly line workers to build sophisticated electronic components to the highest quality standards. Due to the ease-of-use of the MES/MOM and its WYSIWYG usability the customer was enabled to become self-sufficient sooner.

MES/MOM introduced full-accountability into their manufacturing operations, and provided ‘integrity of process’ by delivering a process control system that managed all aspects of production. The MES/MOM instilled a closed-loop of accountability and delivered the required results every time.

The speed in which the MES/MOM system was implemented and operational was touted. Within four (4) days the customer was manufacturing defect-free electronic motor controllers across all assembly lines.

This allowed the Aerospace manufacturer to gather quality and process data right away in order to further fine-tune processes. MES/MOM made “continuous improvement” an unending practice and to date continues to help evolve the Aerospace manufacturer’s business.

About the Author

Anthony offers over a decade of manufacturing optimization knowledge, with an aptitude for solving problems which increase manufacturing efficiency. He has successfully provided solutions to various multinational manufacturers involving the latest technology in sensors, laser (detection, measurement, welding, cutting, and marking systems), PLC, machine vision, microscope, and software solutions.  

About PinPoint

Headquartered in Burlington, Ontario, PINpoint services industry internationally from their offices in Canada, the United States, and China. For more information please contact 905-639-8787[email protected] or visit the website http://pinpointinfo.com/solutions

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