Getting in sync to meet business goals

Getting in sync to meet business goals

Manufacturing synchronization is helping companies become more customer driven and profitable.

Manufacturing synchronization is helping companies become more customer driven and profitable.

An affiliate of Deere & Co., Industrias John Deere, Monterrey, Mexico, uses Berclain's MOOPI for optimizing production schedules. The plant produces over 60 products comprised of 4,000 components in 650 sub-assemblies.

MOOPI screen depicts a work order by machine Gantt chart.


Progressive manufacturers are discovering a more cost-effective path to face increased competitive pressure caused by structural changes in their markets, more stringent performance and quality demands, and intense global competition. Rather than adding buffers in the manufacturing chain by adding capacity, building stock levels, and outsourcing jobs to deal with unpredictable short-term demands, manufacturers are turning to a concept called manufacturing synchronization.

Sometimes termed optimized scheduling, synchronization helps companies become more customer-driven and profitable through the simultaneous coordination and timing of all production activities to match customer demand. Synchronization systems coordinate overall plant-floor activities, as well as availability of all resources contributing to each order, to ensure optimized use of people, machines, tooling, and materials to maximize production.

Manufacturing synchronization is the missing link between planning and execution, comprising a robust type of detailed, finite-scheduling software that can stand alone or bridge the gap between shop floor data collection and long-term enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. By serving as an intermediary between market and plant, synchronization makes it possible for manufacturers to meet defined business goals.

Benefits of optimized scheduling
Results tracked by manufacturers who have implemented advanced manufacturing synchronization and scheduling software into their shop floor operations are measurable and often dramatic. These results include:

  • 20 to 70% reduction in manufacturing cycle times.
  • 10 to 60% work-in-process reduction.
  • 10 to 55% reduction in finished goods inventory.
  • 10 to 90% throughput increase.
  • 20 to 40% asset utilization increase.
  • 20 to 70% due-date performance improvement.

In addition, manufacturers have reported returns on investment of less than one year and better coordination of customer demands, materials, supplies, and production.

Key features for successful synchronization
Selection of manufacturing synchronization and scheduling software is critical to a company's ability to strike the right balance between internal constraints, customer demands, and profitability. As commercially available systems are evaluated, certain criteria need to be considered:

Interface with existing systems. If the plant uses a variety of manufacturing information systems, it is critical that the synchronization software interface smoothly. The system needs to run on or with multiple Windows and UNIX-based systems, including Windows 95 and NT, UNIX-based DEC Alpha, Sun SPARC stations, Hewlett Packard HP 9000, and IBM RISC System/6000.

The scheduling system should also be able to take input from data collections, manufacturing execution systems, process and equipment control, or other plant data systems such as a feedback loop, to see the actual status and to update for the next rescheduling run. It should also accept the order book from ERP and be able to update the planning system with schedule results.

Fully scalable open-system architecture. The most up-to-date synchronization software is built on scalable open system, client/server architecture, using standard TCP/IP communications protocol letting it support both LANs and WANs.

Additional user-friendly features to look for include a Windows-based graphical user interface, built-in data links, centralized access, and a data monitoring agent to ensure that everyone has access to the same up-to-the-minute data.

Accurate plant modeling for optimum production synchronization. Many software applications that balance materials and resources focus on mid and long-range planning. To achieve agile synchronization, the software should be able to rapidly and dynamically model the capacity, time-phased availability, qualifications, and interdependence of all internal resources directly impacting production, including possible constraints. A system breaking down the schedule to actual orders and jobs, not just product families, greatly improves synchronization and agility.

Assignment of resources to optimize factory operations. This is achieved by flexible software grounded in overall business rules and priorities. The software must also recognize local optimums required for the reality of production like forced sequences on a machine or tool/machine compatibility.

Global optimizing logic. This lets the software set up scenarios that maximize the opportunity to get every customer order out on time, considering the specific needs of each order and operation.

Rules-based protocols. By assigning resources using rules-based simulation, production supervisors will have the ability to quickly and accurately assign, reassign, and synchronize all shop floor resources to meet changing production goals. The system needs to handle complex resource assignments in situations where multiple jobs compete for use of the same resources, or when demands for customization make customer orders highly unpredictable.

Implementation partner. While the manufacturing synchronization technology selected is important, the relationship with the software provider is key to a successful implementation. It is important to seek a partner with a highly qualified project management and consulting staff, good references, and a well-planned implementation methodology and schedule.

TAGS: Features
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