Companies use Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) to measure and control critical production activities, offering improved traceability, productivity and quality. MES controls process flow and reduces any chance of mistakes in the process. It gathers data every step of the way including who operated on the process, when it was done, how long each process took, equipment used for the process and other parameters . Further, it provides immediate data visibility for each work order, what the current work-in-progress items are and what stage they are in. MES systems serve numerous functions, such as equipment tracking, product serialization, labor tracking, inventory management, costing, task completion capture, and defect and resolution monitoring.
In order to fine-tune the production process and hone in on areas for improvement, a more detailed visibility is needed into these areas. This requires data capture in raw material tracking which leads to inventory management tracking; costing, WIP tracking, equipment and labor tracking. By effectively digitalizing data collection and controlling the entire system, an MES can realize manyfold improvement in manufacturing efficiency and productivity. Traditional MES systems employ barcodes and/or manual data collection during all the phases. However, the gap between physical flow of product and material and information flow in the MES is too large to provide accurate visibility. Automated data capture via AssetPulse’s RFID tracking system transforms a traditional MES system into a Real-time MES system.
AssetPulse’s RFID Tracking System
AssetPulse’s RFID tracking system automates data collection which includes reporting of raw material consumption in real-time, which in turn, allows for real-time updates of inventory; WIP Tracking, Tool, Process Instruction Document and Operator tracking. All this information feeds into the MES to afford real-time updates of the entire manufacturing floor including real-time status of all the jobs on the floor where potential issues crop up.
Without automated data capture from AssetPulse’s RFID tracking systems, updates to MES were being provided whenever it was convenient to enter the transaction into the system. E.g. When raw material for the next workorder is sent from ‘Supermarket’ (warehouse) to be staged at the assembly line, an ERP transaction might be completed as soon as it leaves the warehouse instead of when it actually arrives at the line. This may be done, because it is easier for the warehouse to complete this transaction since there might not be anyone at the line to receive the components at the staging area of the assembly line and then enter it into the system.
With AssetPulse’s RFID tracking system, a transaction is completed only when the inventory actually arrives at the line. Similarly, WIP status is captured in real time, i.e. exactly when the operator starts work on the WIP and when he finishes. In a traditional MES system, the start time may have been the completion of the previous operation, since that is the time the operator transacts in the system.
AssetPulse’s RFID Tracking system automatically captures the presence of all tools and equipment used on the line, travelers, documents and even the operators working at each workstation on the line. This allows alerts to be issued if and when incorrect tools, past-due calibration-equipment and documents are present. Further, it can flag operators and technicians present on the line, who haven’t completed the necessary certifications or training to perform the work.
There are numerous such examples where deployment of RFID can vastly enrich an existing MES system in order to gain maximum improvements in operational visibility, efficiency and improved quality.