Manufacturing Execution System for Process Improvement 2009-01-2855
In an era of global manufacturing and reduced costs, it is imperative that the manufacturing floor is visible to top management in a boardroom to enable them to make key decisions. Manufacturing Execution System (MES) is a method of connecting the shop floor to the top floor covering the complete gamut of activities from production sequence to finished goods. It aims to reduce the delay in transmitting production related data by linking the Production environment, Quality management, IT systems and Delivery.
At Ashok Leyland’s Commercial Vehicle manufacturing facility in Ennore, India, an engine and axle components machine shop have been networked and data pertaining to production of Cylinder Block, Cylinder Head, Camshaft, Crankshaft, Axle Arm and Axle Beam components are accessible from anywhere in the company irrespective of location. Data such as Production count, Machine cycle time, Downtime, Alarms generated, Energy consumption, Work in Process, Genealogy tracking etc. are captured real-time and made available to engineers and production executives. With this captured information, key metrics such as Productivity, Performance, Quality and Utilization of the machines are logically computed and summarized to top management. This helps in rapid response to stimulus, thereby reducing wastage of time and misdirected efforts. The output proves to be useful in planning the capacity of the line, decreasing breakdowns and improving the machine uptime and hence the Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) and Overall Line Efficiency.
The ground work in this exercise involves connecting to each machine controller Programmable Logic Controller/ Computer Numerical Control (PLC /CNC) through Local Area Network (LAN) and identifying the outputs that are required towards meeting the project objective. Owing to the wide variety of machine controllers available in the shop floor and non-availability of interface software that can capture information without any configuration in program of the controller, the paper outlines the challenges faced in the integration of about 100 machines. The next activity is bringing all the output signals to a common platform using commercially available software packages. The output is displayed in real-time and also archived to generate graphs, tables and trend charts. The paper goes into the detailing and execution phase where the captured output was used to make process improvements on the line thereby resulting in direct cost savings.