Advancing Error-Proofing via MES Control
By Anthony Borges, Marketing Manager, PINPoint Information Systems
Error-proofing presents a constant challenge for manufacturers in their quest to produce products with the utmost quality and efficiency. With the advent of advanced automation techniques, the IIoT and Industry 4.0 concepts, the question remains the same; what is the optimal method to eliminate or mitigate defective products made by human or machine?
The answer is to identify the root cause of the manufacturing problem, and to make the necessary changes to stop those actions or correct those individual process steps that led to the defect. One can imagine the difficulty in performing such an investigation, and the time needed to do so. It requires the analysis of manufacturing data, and whether you have a lot of data or not, the human is still a factor in determining how to manipulate that data into a report that makes sense enough to lead to an improvement.
Ideally, the more manufacturing data available for analysis the better; no single bit or process step in the assembly of the product should be overlooked. Including cycle time or Takt, which is also integral to optimally configuring processes. The data should also include the specifics of the human or line worker performing the steps, in order to answer questions such as:
- Was the line worker or station operator logged in?
- Was she/he trained and verified to work on those process steps?
- Were they presented work instructions, or quality alerts; and did they acknowledge reading them?
- Were there any process steps they performed incorrectly? Did not pass; or took too much cycle time to complete?
- How did the line worker communicate their issues? Was the andon communications system optimally utilized; and what can be learned from how the line worker communicates problems, and how quickly they are resolved?
The list of possible defect causing actions is endless, especially considering the unique manufacturing operations of every facility regardless of product. The common thread is all manufacturers must make effective actions, right down to the individual process step being done perfectly in order to produce quality products. Integral to this is how you monitor and control all the manufacturing activities on your plant floor.
As outlined by ISA-95, the manufacturing activities relating to the individual steps required in the assembly of any product compose level 0, level 1, level 2 and level 3 of the model; with manufacturing execution system (MES) or manufacturing operations management (MOM) activities making up the whole of level 3. It is the MES/MOM level of the ISA-95 model alone that relates directly to the monitor and control of the assembly line and each and every product it outputs. The MES system is responsible for the work flow, or the recipe control to produce the desired end products. MES is also essential for maintaining the records or manufacturing data that can be later used to further optimize production processes.
Every-single manufacturing activity by human or machine below the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) level 4 of the ISA-95 model relates directly to whether a quality product will be assembled or not. The plant floor is where the action happens, where ‘physical’ process steps are completed to produce ‘physical’ products. It is the MES system overseeing all this that affords the manufacturer the means to produce quality products in the most efficient way possible (in an acceptable timeframe, and with less waste produced). The MES system also affords the manufacturer the means for continuous improvement; because even if you are producing a quality product today, the question follows if you are doing so efficiently or not? The MES system empowers manufacturers to fine-tune cycle time; to make on-the-fly adjustments to process step sequences, and cycle time. Cycle time in itself is a factor in error-proofing, as in the example of a process step cycle time being too short and causing the line worker to hurry and make mistakes.
Note that to be successful it is imperative that the MES system be the central hub or nervous system of your manufacturing operations; i.e. the MES system is to both ‘monitor’ and ‘control’ the assembly line. All assembly line devices connect to it including the programmable logic controllers (PLCs), and all humans interact with it creating a closed-loop of accountability. To maximize the error-proofing result the MES system must control both human and machine, with the ability to halt progress and/or turn tools or devices off as needed. This ensures a solid defense against defects being overlooked or bypassed without supervisor approval. It is the only all-encompassing error-proofing solution, and the means for any sized manufacturer to improve since MES comprises all aspects of manufacturing optimization, including manufacturing intelligence and business intelligence.
The future of advanced error-proofing is by way of MES control. Leading automotive, heavy machine, aerospace, military, marine and power sports vehicle manufacturers across the World already use the MES system as their go-to tool to do things better, quicker, and with less waste; to only produce quality products efficiently. MES software can now be integrated by any sized manufacturer; there is no limit on the number of users or work stations or assembly lines, or products or process steps – the MES system is designed for the long-term, it is fully flexible, and scalable to expand as manufacturing operations grow.
The MES system can be implemented by Engineers in as little as a few days, and full training ensures your confidence in its operation; which is actually simple since the software is accessed from a website browser on any computer or phone. It is an intuitive software with a familiar drag-and-drop interface and WYSIWYG experience. On a daily basis the MES system is the center of operations, conversing as effectively with the ERP system where the orders originate and progress is reported, as with the plant floor where every single aspect of production is tracked, critiqued, reported, and adjusted. It is the configurability of the MES system which makes it any manufacturers ally in their quest for quality and efficiency.
Where to find MES Software?
PINpoint Information System’s manufacturing execution system (MES) software is designed and tested to ‘Information Technology Infrastructure Library’ (ITIL) standards before any official version release. PINpoint’s andon and MES System software have been developed since 1997 and continue to be evolved and pushed-forward by leading manufacturers. The software is in use daily around the World in multiple languages by leading manufacturers. For more information, visit: http://pinpointinfo.com/
About the Author
Anthony offers over a decade of manufacturing optimization knowledge, with an aptitude for solving problems which increase manufacturing efficiency. He has 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.
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