Getting the Most out of Technology
Technology is coming on like a wave… or more like a tsunami. Every time you turn your head there is a new piece of kit that will revolutionize your team, your production line, your company, or your sector. These are almost daily innovations to all areas of your shop: Hardware, Software, and Methodologies. As the prices become ever more reasonable, more of your competitors are adopting the new automated technologies. With things like better robots and digitized tools to smarter planners and production processes always coming online, how can you keep up with all the new automated pieces that you hear your competition is implementing?
Saving Manufacturing with Technology
Automation has always been a core part of manufacturing. The biggest difference of the last decade has been how manufacturing has had an added need to move toward automation to fill in jobs at an ever-alarming rate. You will often hear the call that no one wants to work but the truth is that with every passing year, there are more jobs available on the shop floor than there are people to fill them. OnRamp Solutions has seen this happen at many of our customers and we are actively developing tools to help our customer with hiring, training, and retaining the staff they can. But that still leaves a gap in the staff required vs. the workers that are available. Which takes you back to automation, but it can be difficult to reach for the transition to more automated systems, since this type of implementation can be prohibitively expensive.
This doesn’t have to be the case. While a new automated welding robot would be amazing, you don’t have to reach that deep into your bank account, or call on investors to get the capital to free up workers. Instead, you can look for simpler tools that add a little extra productive capacity to your already sterling workforce.
Right now, what you need is something that will let you keep on with your hardware and improve your efficiency at a fraction of the cost. You need to add an MES (Manufacturing Execution System) with direct connections to your work centers. What you need is an MES+. By adding shop monitors that can feed information from your operations into your main ERP (Enterprise Resource Planner) database and cobots (collaborative robots) that can be programmed and controlled by the shop monitors, you will have a better view of what is happening on your shop floor while enjoying the added precision that comes from an automated helper.
You may already know about shop monitors and how they will improve your real-time data reporting, with added bonuses like:
- Integrated work order processing
- Precise lead time calculations
- Improved material usage calculation
But to this, you can add benefits from using automated machines to assist your operations. Benefits like:
- Streamlined parts handling
- Faster paint preparation
- Better dependent-function operation
- Better overall quality
- Improved workplace safety
- Higher work center efficiency
- Better labor usage
How OnRamp Helps
An excellent example of how an MES+ system improves operations can be seen in the operations of an OnRamp Solutions customer. OnRamp was able to assist by adapting their cobot technology to seamlessly integrate within their operations. Here, by collaborating with the OnRamp teams (Back-End, Front-End, Hardware, and Implementation), this customer implemented a new cobot-enhanced weld station, which improved the quality, efficiency, and reliability of the welding process. Besides holding the part to weld, the cobot was automatically fed information from OnRamp ERP as to what Work Order and what part was being processed. This means that the cobot itself will know what it has to do, where on the part it should grab, and how to position it for the weld station.
The new cobot and weld station combination has already shown positive results in welding and in the next routing steps of the part manufacturing process including paint, part handling, inspection, and packing. There is also an improvement to the shop floor safety record. The welding center cobot is setup to automatically trigger a smoke extractor unit that has increased air quality around the weld center and improved visibility, thus greatly improving workplace safety within the area where it was deployed. Overall, there has already been an increase in satisfaction for the clients of our customer while actually freeing up labor to focus on other parts of the shop.
Another example of OnRamp paying for itself can be seen at another customers painting and coating operation. Here, our MES+ was used to remove a terrible production line bottleneck, where parts were taking up added time moving along the line. OnRamp teams consulted with the customer and deployed a part tag, that was applied by the shop monitor-assisted cobots, to better track the parts as they moved through the production process and a vision system to calculate the paint density on the parts. The added information led to a 20% increase in capacity, an improvement in paint coverage and quality, all the while decreasing paint and labor usage. The overall savings to our customer were in the hundreds of thousands over a 6-month period.
These are noticeable improvements in the workplace environment that OnRamp Solutions is committed to advancing wherever we can for our customers.
OnRamp’s MES Module Features:
- OnRamp cobot integration that allows you to program more automation onto your shop floor
- Work Order integration with the Work Center/ Nest
- Immediate updates for when a work center starts and ends an order
- Automatic downtime notification
- Automatic Lead Time calculation
- Integrated Vision System
- Order Information on screen, including Work Instructions
- Automated suggested purchase orders
- Accounting integration
- Rough Cut and Detailed Capacity Planning
- Integrated Resource Planning
- Integrated Maintenance Management
- Labor Tracking
- OnRamp Scanner app to quickly process printed work orders and scan warehouse and inventory tags
- Inventory control and warehouse management
- Auto create shipping documents when completing a shipment
- Track defects and scrap with data sent to the QMS
- Quality alerts sent to QA