Today Metcam uses its ERP system,
Syteline by Infor, to schedule and
track costs on the shop floor. But the
manufacturing steps identified within
the ERP still go by process-oriented
definitions. To produce a part may
require punching, bending, hardware
insertion, welding, and painting, and
to track orders, workers must log
each job before and after each process.
That’s a lot of data entry.
To simplify matters, the front-office
team is attempting to change the ERP
software’s process definitions to include a “cell” as one operation, each
requiring a certain amount of time
and number of people. This way, just
one person needs to log jobs, and only
when these jobs enter and exit the cell.
This simplifies data entry and reduces
the chance for errors.
The details get tricky because of
the highly variable nature of job shop
work. For instance, two adjacent cells
on the floor have a punch press, several press brakes, and hardware insertion presses. Depending on capacity
levels, workers may move jobs to other cells. For instance, say they punch
and bend on one cell, but then find
that the hardware machines are busy
with a batch of complicated parts.
So to keep parts flowing, they might
send that work to hardware insertion
machines in an adjacent cell. The company now is identifying all these potential routings. Ward admitted that it
is a complicated task. But, ultimately,
the system may help streamline operations even further.
For example, say one job requires
the operator to contort the part awkwardly to insert the fasteners. Looking at the ERP data alone, a manager
would see how long it takes for the
hardware operator to make it through
a batch of parts, identify that as a constraint process, and may add another
hardware press to boost productivity.
Tracking time on a cellular level,
though, can identify hidden opportunities. Consider the same part, but
now the ERP system is tracking only
how long it takes for the job to flow
through an entire cell. The ERP iden-tifies an inefficiency but just with the
cell, not a specific fabrication process.
The technicians at the cell see this inefficiency and brainstorm. What if a
brake operator bent these pieces halfway through the sequence, went over
to the hardware press to insert the
fastener, then finished the bend sequence? It turns out this arrangement
can increase throughput without additional people or machines.
This kind of thinking is what has made the cellular concept work so well, Ward said. The cells have been changed
since the initial layout last year, and they undoubtedly will
change again as new orders come in and the product mix
changes. Every change aims not to increase capacity of a
certain cutting center, bending machine, or paint line, but
to shorten overall manufacturing time. If more products
don’t ship in less time, the fastest cutting, bending, or welding technologies really don’t make much of a difference.
“Since we changed to a cellular layout, we have never
looked back,” Ward said. “My only regret is that we didn’t
do this sooner.”
Senior Editor Tim Heston can be reached at timh@the
Metcam Inc., 305 Tidwell Circle, Alpharetta, GA 30004,
AIS Inc.., 371 Gees Mill Business Pkwy., No. 300, Conyers,
GA 30013, 770-760-8779, www.automotiveindustrial
Infor, 641 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10011,
PEM Corp., 320 Mallard Lane, Mankato, MN 56001, 888-
Reliant Finishing Systems, 2541 Highway 67 S., Somerville,
AL 35670, 256-355-9000, www.reliantfinishingsystems.com