The structure of the CAD model and
BOM needs to reflect the reality of
how the job flows on the floor. Specifically, the model should match the
hardware that needs to be inserted
after forming with a specific subassembly (not the final assembly) and
with the lower-level BOM tied with
that subassembly work order. This
way, when the brake and hardware
insertion press operator looks at the
work order, he sees the hardware that
needs to be inserted.
Essentially, having the right CAD
model and BOM structure ensures
that all work orders give operators
everything they need to get the job
done. In one sense, it’s like applying
the 5S concept to the digital world of
CAD and ERP. The “tools” in this world
are data points (this hardware type,
that material grade and thickness),
and like 5S, these data points need to
be organized and easy to find.
The Last Step
Testing is critical to ensure data flows
correctly from CAD to ERP. This usually involves configuring the output
from the CAD, pushing it into the ERP
system, and validating that everything is appearing correctly. This can
take several iterations, because naming conventions may differ depending
on where the model comes from. For
instance, someone may use structural weldment profiles in Solid Works
while another may not.
This also involves standardizing
units. This doesn’t just involve imperial versus metric. It also involves
establishing what baseline measurements are. Some operations have
“one sheet” or “one extrusion” as
one unit, which can create confusion
should the size of the source material
change. If one 18-ft. extrusion is considered “one stick,” a 9-ft. extrusion
would be “one-half of a stick.” But
what if the shop starts buying extrusions in 20-ft. lengths?
A shop may decide to change units
of measurement to reflect how material is actually consumed, not how it is
purchased: so instead of “one stick,”
the unit would simply be inches; instead of “one sheet,” the unit would
be square inches or square feet to
match the baseline measurement of
most nesting software.
Make Data Easy for the Shop Floor
Information from CAD and ERP needs to make it easy for
the people on the shop floor. If it’s not easy, and if operators need to hunt for the right information, troubles will
arise. This again gives rise to tribalism and knowledge silos.
People find their own ways to get jobs out the door. Processes remain undocumented and nonstandard—a recipe
Smart data management, starting in CAD and flowing
seamlessly to ERP, helps modernize and simplify the man-
ufacturing process. It reduces the amount of engineering
time and expense in each job. It eliminates errors and re-
work caused by data-entry mistakes. And it simplifies docu-
ment revision while making it more visual.
The bottom line: Using a CAD interface with an ERP can
ensure data gets to the shop floor faster and more accurately and can generate a significant return on investment.
Most significant, it can help improve the entire production
process. After all, that is what ERP software is supposed to
Justin Werth is a consultant at Global Shop Solutions,