6 Ways Tracked Cycle Times Improve your Shop Floor

Author: Paul Henriques in: Hardware
MES

May 19, 2023

6 Ways Tracked Cycle Times Improve your Shop Floor

In an ERP, even the simplest and most common of measurements has its place. This is as true when it comes to raw materials, finished product, or the time it takes to complete a task. These times, the cycle times, are one of the most valuable metrics that can be used to help you find wasted actions and improve your productivity and decisions.

When we implement OnRamp ERP at a new customer location, we have been stunned by the number of shops that are not properly tracking their cycle time and, as a result, missing out on ways to improve their bottom line.

What is Cycle Time

Cycle times are usually subsets of the part lead time. That is, the cycle times are added together to calculate the part lead time. Cycle times are usually broken down into the following types:

  • Setup time – the time it takes to setup a work center to make a part
  • Cycle time – the time it takes to run a part through a work center, from when the operator starts working on a part at the current work center until it is handed off to the next routing step
  • Cycle count – the number of cycles completed during a shift
  • Cycle part count – the number of parts made per cycle
  • Downtime – The amount of time that a work center is not in operation. This can be regularly scheduled maintenance or staff breaks and doesn’t necessarily mean an unexpected outage.

While most ERP systems will have database fields where you can manually add this information, most new ERP systems will have a built-in Manufacturing Execution System (MES) with Shop Monitors that can feed cycle information back into the ERP, allowing you to have a better view of your operations.

Having an ERP with an integrated MES, like OnRamp ERP, you can broaden the ways you understand and use cycle times in your decision-making process.

Cycle Times with ERP + MES

The benefits from tracking cycles times automatically via MES and having access to that information in your ERP are numerous, such as:

Maintenance and Training

Abnormal cycle counts can be an indicator of a work center needing attention. Using an MES to track your cycle counts can help you see a problem before it becomes a problem. This means you can see if the cycle times are a problem due to a component that needs replacing or a worker that needs training. Your view of machine cycle times can also help you decide on when you should schedule maintenance in a way that doesn’t impact your production schedule

Inventory and Warehouse Management

By having a precise view of cycle times and parts produced, you can take proactive action to ensure that the raw material is at-the-ready when it needs to be and take away finished product. All this means that you are minimizing wait times, which minimizes waste. And with the MES automatically feeding information into the ERP, you have an immediate view of accurate inventory data.

Scheduling and Purchasing

By automatically collecting the cycle time data and pushing it via MES, your ERP can automatically interact with your production scheduling and purchasing. The automation will do this by recommending new orders to procurement and suggest changes to the scheduling department.

Sales and Support

Having more precise cycle times in your ERP means that your whole operation has a better view of how everything is going. This means that you sales team will have accurate knowledge of how long it would take to produce an order for a customer, means there are less surprises and even less late deliveries. This also works for your support staff, since they will have a clear view of the location of a customer order without having to leave their desk. With this, your support team can even schedule a partial delivery of an order while the customer awaits the remaining order to be completed.

Quality and Control

Just like in maintenance and training, having your cycle times track and report when the time is off means that you can send a notification to your quality control team so they can inspect any parts that are coming off that improper process and verify that the parts are still within acceptable tolerance. Thus, tying the cycle times to inspection notifications will help you better control your part quality.

Decisions and Responsiveness

Having access to real-time data is a game changer. It’s the difference between hoping and knowing. Receiving immediate updates from the shop floor to all units in your company means that everyone, from the live operator to the CEO, gets the information they need when they need it. And this overall view will allow you to make better decisions on how you respond to any issue that may arise.

Conclusion

The above are just some of the benefits you can receive from improving your cycle time data capture from your shop floor and feeding it from your MES into your ERP. This can allow you to find tremendous opportunities for a competitive advantage.

When you are shopping for a new ERP for your manufacturing company, be sure to look at how well it tracks your cycle times and if the ERP has a way to automatically capture work center information.

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