Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Lean Six Sigma Logistics

principles of Chaku-Chaku

Chaku-Chaku is a takt flow job in which the operator moves the parts to be processed from one machine to another, walking a fixed path loading and unloading the machines.

In this example, the operator walk around the cell and unloads-loads the machines (automatic or semi-automatic) in the order of sequences 1 to 6.

The principle of Chaku-Chaku is to design the layout of necessary machines and equipment in the order of the work sequence, the closest from one another as possible.
The operator loads the part to be processed and walks to the next machine, and so on. If the machines do not unload themselves automatically, unloading will remain part of operator's job.

The parts don't dwell anymore in front of the machines, neither are they moved in batches, but are processed in a streamline, with a drastic reduction of leadtime.

Another highlight of this approach is the full responsibility given to the work cell for the entire production cycle and therefore a better management of deliveries, quality and traceability.

The key to line or cell Chaku-Chaku efficiency is the synchronization between operations and the operator path, in order to maximize his occupation. The U shaped cell is very suitable for this usage.

Can MES Play a Lead Role?

Can MES Play a Lead Role?
by Stephanie Neil

Posted on Wednesday, February 06, 2008 2:50:50 PM

The criterion for selecting a manufacturing execution system has just changed. It used to be that if a company needed an application to schedule production, trace work in progress, or manage quality, the buying decision was based purely on software functions and price. Today, however, there's a new dimension that determines which MES software will take center stage: ERP alliances.

"We would not have selected a vendor that didn't have a relationship with SAP," says George Chappelle, CIO of Sara Lee Corp.

The reason? Pressure. External factors ranging from regulatory compliance, to global competition, to increasing customer demands are putting pressure on manufacturers to integrate internal operations so that everything runs like clockwork.

Sara Lee is under pressure from the FDA to implement a robust traceability system that can track materials and ingredients in case of a recall, for example. "In the food industry, traceability requirements are stringent today, and they'll be more stringent in the next three to five years," Chappelle says.

So, if Sara Lee's SAP ERP system is ordering raw materials, and its MES system, which is Siemens AG's SIMATIC IT, is consuming the materials, naturally the two must interface so that when something changes in one system, it is automatically reflected in the other. But these systems use data in very different ways. ERP is transactional; MES, on the other hand, works in real time. Aligning the two disparate systems to seamlessly share data in a global landscape can be a challenge. And Chappelle, like many CIOs, can't afford to have staffers spending valuable time doing the nuts-and-bolts integration work.

That's why, when Chappelle went searching for an MES system, he made at least one thing crystal-clear: "Our criterion was that the [MES and ERP] systems have technology integration," he says. And because Sara Lee already had SAP installed, it relied on Siemens to prove that the integration could be done — and done with no pain to Sara Lee.

Indeed, these days, it is up to the MES vendors to step up their integration efforts. ERP software vendors, such as SAP, Oracle Corp., and even Microsoft Corp., are already entrenched in user companies. These ERP companies have spent the past few years rebuilding technologies around Web services and composite applications that are flexible. So ERP is in a leading role and doesn't have to prove much to its manufacturing audience. Rather, it's time for the MES vendors to step into the corporate spotlight. The question is, can MES deliver a great performance?

It was only a few years ago that industry observers and plant managers, alike, described MES as "a mess" — the result of an unruly evolution that led to a complex, monolithic footprint requiring mass-customization. In fact, many companies, Sara Lee included, didn't even use commercial MES applications, but rather pieced together their own homegrown solutions.

Understanding the need to make MES a strategic part of the manufacturing enterprise, many MES vendors are gravitating toward a new manufacturing enterprise model that is based on industry standards and maps out in very specific terms how to connect production operations with business operations in order to meet corporate initiatives. In devising the model, MESA International, an industry organization, broke up the monolithic MES monster into value-added pieces that have a direct impact on whatever key business processes are important to the end user.

The hope is that MES will take on new meaning. " 'MES' is still a term that people recognize and can hang their hat on, but when you get down to specifics, it means different things to different people," says Matt Bauer, director of information software marketing at Rockwell Automation and chairman of MESA International.

MESA's collaborative plant-to-enterprise model focuses on functional areas, such as lean manufacturing, quality and regulatory compliance, PLM, the real-time enterprise, and enterprise asset management. These are all areas that have business impact versus the more technical functions — quality control, key performance indicator (KPI) measurements, and overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) — that MES traditionally has performed.

"We are starting to talk about [MES] as manufacturing excellence applications that lay across the infrastructure," Bauer says. For the first time, MES is gaining recognition within the enterprise as a value-added application. "There is a lot of shakeout going on in our space now," he says. "The lines that used to be drawn between the enterprise and the plant level are history at this point."

May the Force Be with You

Erasing the line that has always stood between the plant and the enterprise requires a great force. In this case, that force is ERP.

Enterprise software vendors SAP and Microsoft are both members of MESA, working alongside major automation players, such as GE Fanuc, Invensys' Wonderware, Rockwell Automation, and Siemens, as well as large manufacturers, including Chevron, International Truck and Engine Corp., and Sara Lee. It's a community of alliances on a mission to redefine the role of manufacturing operations management within the enterprise, members say.

Manufacturing plants are significantly different in 2008 than they were in 1998, says Chris Colyer, worldwide solution director for manufacturing operations at Microsoft. The advent of Ethernet and wireless technology is exposing the plant to the corporate network. "That presents a huge opportunity to drive efficiency, better data models, and better collaboration across multiple plants and multiple time zones," Colyer says.

To get that scalability across the organization, a large number of MES players have built out solutions on .NET Web services under a partnership program with Microsoft. That same group is also lining up behind SAP to become NetWeaver-certified or to build composite applications based on SAP's xApp, Manufacturing Integration and Intelligence (xMII).

SAP tried to break into the MES domain a few years ago and quickly realized it does not have the industry expertise required to deliver a robust end-to-end solution. As a result, the company established an ecosystem of dozens of partners, including most of the MES companies — but not all (see sidebar).

SAP established three levels of partnerships. The basic level is NetWeaver Certification. Siemens, for example, has five certified SAP interfaces for SIMATIC IT. It is what SAP calls a "low-touch" engagement" but is still a worthwhile notch on the MES belt. "It shows a commitment to make sure the applications are using the most effective ways of communicating with SAP's infrastructure," says Maryanne Steidinger, in Siemens' discrete industry marketing group.

The second level is a joint-development effort, involving integration roadmaps and co-marketing agreements. Wonderware sits in this category, having jointly developed three composite applications using xMII to unite aspects of MES and ERP within the same data model. iBASEt, too, has built composite applications, investing lots of time and money in development for the sake of integration.

"We can't have it be that integration scares off everybody and detracts from the value proposition," says Conrad Leiva, vice president of product marketing at iBASEt.

The third type of SAP partnership is a reseller agreement, which SAP, to date, has only with Visiprise. SAP's own staff sells and maintains the product, under the name SAP Manufacturing Execution by Visiprise. SAP has closed a handful of deals since the reseller agreement was set in place last summer.

But the agreement, which basically gives SAP an MES solution, helps Visiprise, too. Having that tight connection to SAP is a dealmaker, says Carter Johnson, senior vice president of corporate development at Visiprise. "There have been deals that we won through SAP that we otherwise would not have been involved with," he says.

But it's more than just a marketing and sales agreement. There is coding and integration happening in the background as well. "The benefit to the customer is that we are taking the burden of integration on ourselves," Johnson says.

Indeed, that's what end users are asking for. "I don't want to do any more integration," says Mike Brooks, staff technologist at Chevron. "What's more germane is interoperability." Chevron looks to the vendors to do that as well as standards, he says.

In fact, standards could be even more important than industry alliances, Brooks says. That's because they can provide the real framework that allows application plug-and-play. In reality, "this stuff should just work together without [our] having to do anything," he says.

At Chevron, Brooks encourages vendors, such as Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Microsoft, and SAP, to come up with a set of products and services centered on work processes, he says. MES, regardless of the brand, should drop in with little to no configuration involved.

And it shouldn't matter what ERP application it is either. Even Oracle, which claims to have its own MES solution, is starting to revamp its partner program to include vendors with industry specialties, industry observers say. Today, technology is aimed at open architectures.

"We are pushing for non-proprietary solutions anchored around pieces that handle meta-data and modeling solutions that understand processes in an open way," Brooks says. That's the mission behind the OpenO&M initiative, a collaborative effort between MIMOSA and the OPC Foundation. It's also MESA's mission.

To that end, manufacturing execution would evolve not as a system, but rather as a framework built around a company's work processes, culture, and industry directives. That means getting a fresh take on MES.

"It is a narrow slice of what needs to happen," Brooks says. "MES has become a brand for certain products out there, but it should [occupy] the space between control systems and business systems, and [define] how you manage operations there."

MES' Moving Pieces

MES should also integrate horizontally across the plant — even into engineering. That's why, if you take a close look, you will see that there are not many independent pure-play MES vendors still around. Many of the companies are getting scooped up by big automation companies that recognize they've been missing a big piece of the plant operations puzzle for far too long.

MES orchestrates what's happening on the factory floor and in the plant. As a result, many vendors and end users are beginning to see the value in connecting MES to applications other than ERP.

"I think a greater integration of the supply chain beyond the first tier will also be important in the coming years," says John Plassenthal, project manager of strategic integration at International Truck and Engine.

And with talk of the digital factory, tighter integration with PLM will be just as important. Siemens, following its acquisition of UGS last year, is working on creating ties between these two domains. And in the aerospace & defense industry, where engineering and manufacturing departments are beginning to work in tandem, corporations are urging best-of-breed MES vendors, such as iBASEt, Intercim, and Visiprise, to establish PLM alliances.

Intercim, for example, which merged with Pertinence earlier this year, recently rolled out a product suite based on .NET 3.0 that is designed to easily integrate with ERP as well as 3D engineering models.

The Intercim product, called Pertinence Suite powered by Velocity, is designed to be easily configured by subject-matter experts who don't have to know how to run program code. "We put business rules in to define how business functions," says Judson Plapp, vice president of marketing and corporate strategy at Intercim. "It has the ability to quickly implement new rules and changes so it can constantly evolve."

The company also has a new pricing model: "The software is free. You pay for credits based on usage," Plapp says. The software-as-a-service approach — much like the way many cell phone plans work — offers the product for little to no cost and lets the customer pay only for the amount used. That is a dramatic departure from buying a multimillion-dollar software license to accommodate multiple sites, Plapp says.

The Intercim technology and new pricing model are clear indications that MES is changing drastically.

"People are getting a better feel for where they are competitive," Rockwell's Bauer says. "But the chess pieces are still moving around. The game is still in progress."

While the vendors figure it out, it's important that manufacturers not become a passive audience, warns Chevron's Brooks. Get involved, whether it's through MESA or an industry-specific organization, he said. If everyone comes together and it's executed right, MES could steal the show.

DeepDive: Technology Directions - How Is Your Vision? by Stephanie Neil

DeepDive: Technology Directions - How Is Your Vision?
by Stephanie Neil

Posted on

These days, manufacturers are thinking long and hard about the technologies they introduce into the enterprise. In recessionary times, those investments increasingly must follow the three “L’s” rule: They must be low-risk, low-cost, and layered.

Recognizing manufacturers’ need to do more with less, business intelligence software vendors are introducing “lightweight” tools, most of which are available in a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model. Emerging vendors, such as my-DIALS, Transpara, and PivotLink, claim these SaaS tools will empower the average user to make real-time operational and enterprise business decisions while controlling up-front costs. Not to be left out, established BI vendors, such as SAP, and best-of-breed software suppliers, such as SPSS, Inc., are simplifying user interfaces while maintaining some back-end heavy lifting in the form of sophisticated mathematical algorithms.

Of course, in these turbulent times when every penny and relationship count, companies are scanning the entire supply chain and manufacturing landscape to ensure that they are delivering the right product at the right time with quality built-in — to avoid recalls, warranties, and any other nasty and costly product problems.

While words like “optimization” and “efficiency” are often tossed about as the manufacturing mantra, managers are beginning to peel back operational layers to see what being more productive actually entails.

Layered Look

Before a company can effectively accelerate performance, it must have the right tools in place. And, following the trend toward lower risk and lower cost, vendors are offering new tools that layer on top of existing systems and extract actionable information.

Transpara, for example, offers a lightweight, Web-based tool that includes BI and visualization and can access existing back-end applications, from plant floor historians to finance systems. Transpara’s tool can track key performance indicators (KPIs), such as equipment utilization rates, and it repurposes the data for delivery to mobile devices — for example, a BlackBerry or iPhone. This layered approach makes larger back-end applications more accessible to the everyday user or executive on the road.

“The market is moving faster than a company can decide what to do,” says Transpara founder and CEO Michael Saucier. “The only way out of that dilemma is to push decisions down the food chain,” and, more important, “arm people with the right information.”

Similarly, myDIALS is a SaaS, lightweight BI tool that provides a dashboard in addition to some of its own business analytics. It, too, can connect to any business or operational system and pull customized KPIs into a visual display on a desktop. The result is an easy-to-understand summary of what’s happening behind the scenes in any particular operation. Customer Snap-on Inc., for example, taps into factory floor metrics using myDIALS in order to improve safety conditions.

While these two tools focus on what’s happening within the enterprise, PivotLink focuses on demand forecasting, optimizing inventories, and understanding cash flows.

The PivotLink product, delivered as an on-demand service, includes a data warehouse that collects sales, financial, and other operational data; a set of analytical tools that can generate reports against the data; and a Web browser interface for viewing graphical representations of the reports generated, which includes the ability to do “what-if” calculations.

The key, PivotLink CEO Quentin Gallivan says, is the ability to access BI for demand management in an easy-to-use SaaS model. “Traditional business intelligence [deployments] take six to 12 months. PivotLink can be up and running within 20 to 30 days and at one-tenth of the price” of a traditional on-premise application, he says.

While traditional BI vendors — from IBM to SAP — would argue that they, too, have Web-enabled versions of their products that make it easy to access information, these are typically more robust, complex versions of BI that are great for answering strategic business questions, such as whether to enter or exit a market. The lightweight versions offer a more on-the-spot vis-ual analysis well-suited to quick operational decisions.

“Traditional BI players still have value for strategic decision making when used in the hands of the business analysts,” says Wayne Morris, CEO of my-DIALS. “But [everyday users] don’t want to make the big strategic decision. They are totally focused on how to improve operational performance.”

Little Things Make a Big Difference

CDC Software is another technology vendor focused on enabling operational workers to use BI and analytics to make decisions. The company’s CDC Factory division makes an electronic kiosk that operators can use on the factory floor. A touchscreen interface with user-friendly graphics helps operators input information about the shift, the product, and the machine runtime, for example. If there’s a bottleneck slowing down the line, an early-warning signal flashes on the screen for operators and supervisors to see. Not only does this provide a clear, real-time picture of what’s happening on the line, but it also captures all of the information and provides plant performance metrics.

That kind of visibility can lead to performance improvements, experts say.

“What motivates people to do something is competition and peer pressure,” says Mark Sutcliffe, president of CDC Factory. “Obviously, if you do things more effectively everyday, the big numbers follow. It’s not rocket science, but it does require discipline and a framework and the [right] tools,” he says.

Another small vendor, As One Technologies Inc., delivers tools that work with existing plant systems and provide easy-to-use analytics. The company recently introduced a product, called Catalyst xM, that captures plant floor processes that manufacturing execution systems don’t typically capture. Catalyst xM, for example, tracks machine maintenance and pulls historical data that can be used to identify events that could yield a problem, says Jay Mellen, executive vice president for business development at As One. The system will send a text message, e-mail, or automated phone message to escalate management action.

“It automates the mundane actions to reduce the time it takes [to get things fixed],” Mellen says. And, while inspired by corrective and preventive action (CAPA) applications, “[Catalyst xM] is more focused on the automation of workflow,” he says.

The product also prompts users to enter information on why certain decisions were made on the plant floor, which can be fed into a BI system for analysis.

Of course, in production, quality is one of the most important business drivers. That’s why makers of quality management systems, such as IQS and CIMTEK, are adding analytical engines to their applications.

IQS recently added a quality intelligence reporting layer to its software that uses SAP’s Crystal Reports platform, as well as a quality analytics engine using MicroStrategy Inc. technology.

“What you want to know with quality are things like early-warning indicators,” says Lori Gipp, vice president of marketing at IQS. “With business intelligence, we are able to look at materials when they come into the plant or at the information going back and forth between engineers’ design changes.”

The point, Gipp says, is to manage changes in a manner that mitigates risk.

Similarly, CIMTEK offers a predictive analytics engine that can integrate with ERP, PLM, and MES systems, and can be used to build a complete quality record. The Magellan Quality Lifecycle Management is a SaaS product that provides OEMs with insight into the entire lifecycle of a product, from component quality to manufacturing testing.

Much like the PivotLink product, Magellan includes a data warehouse that can be used for analytics and to spot trends. The tool also sends out real-time alarms so that manufacturers can ensure that contract manufacturers, for example, are testing products correctly.

“The key to the system is the ability to get early warning signals before any disaster occurs,” says Chris Rehl, CIMTEK’s director of marketing. This wards off recalls and cuts costs related to warranty expenditures, he says.

But gaining actionable insight into quality issues is just one important way to drive performance. Increasingly, manufacturers must also factor in risk management and market volatility created, for example, by rising energy costs.

SAP has designed a Web-based business performance management framework that lets manufacturers plug in tools such as SAP’s Business Objects Risk Management product, which analyzes operational, financial, and human capital risks. Manufacturers can use the tool to perform what-if analysis, for example, looking at energy price trends.

Inside Out

Once you have visibility into your own enterprise’s performance, it’s time to start looking at everyone else in the supply stream. The supply network is becoming increasingly complex, and manufacturers need to be aware of what is going on not only with first-tier suppliers, but also with second- and third-tier suppliers. Also, as companies expand globally, new regulations and logistics risks enter the picture.

“The number one thing I get calls about is the feeling of being exposed,” says Jim Lawton, vice president and general manager at Dun & Bradstreet’s supply management solutions business. “After pursuing cost reduction strategies, [companies say the effort] is making their supply chain more brittle and susceptible to supply chain issues.”

Management Dynamics, a maker of on-demand supply chain and global trade management software, has layered SAP’s Business Objects BI technology on top of its applications to give manufacturers the ability to monitor overseas suppliers. The BI tools let manufacturers set and monitor KPIs, such as compliance with export and trade agreements or other issues that may produce supply chain bottlenecks.

Similarly, Dun & Bradstreet provides an on-demand service that helps manufacturers predict things such as when a second- or third-tier supplier may be in danger of going out of business. D&B tracks roughly 100 million companies in a database that includes variables such as financial, legal, regulatory, and operational data. On top of that, it adds predictive analytics to generate what it calls a “supplier stability indicator.”

“It can tell you if there’s a 37% chance that a company is going to go bankrupt within the next 90 days,” Lawton says. “The other piece of the equation is getting your arms around another company’s issues that may or may not be a problem for you.” For example, if a third-tier supplier is ready to go under, the D&B tool can help sort out how this change will impact your organization. The tool assesses factors like how much money is spent on the company, how many parts are bought, and which part of the product lifecycle is affected in order to help formulate next steps.

This can help a manufacturer accelerate its own performance because “it is clearly weeding out bad performers,” Lawton says.

Production Management and Analytics Lead Pharma/Biotech Technology Investments

Production Management and Analytics Lead Pharma/Biotech Technology Investments

Stephanie Neil is a Senior Editor at Managing Automation magazine. She joined the publication in 2000, covering factory floor automation technology trends and case studies. Since then her cover story and special report coverage has expanded to include all aspects of the manufacturing enterprise in order to provide information on sensor-to-boardroom applications and business processes. Prior to joining MA, Neil spent 11 years at eWeek (formerly PC Week), a weekly IT journal, where she was Managing Editor of the Features department.
')" href="mailto:editorial@thomaspublishing.com?subject=Mail%20bag:%20Stephanie%20Neil" style="color: rgb(0, 51, 153); ">Stephanie Neil, MA Editorial Staff

A new report by ARC Advisory Group predicts widespread automation investments in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries, despite tightening budgets in the current financial crisis.

The report, “Automation Expenditures for Pharmaceutical and Biotech Industry Worldwide Outlook,” forecasts that these industry segments will invest more than $3 billion in automation technology by 2012. Much of that money will be directed at projects that will deliver immediate return on investment in areas such as manufacturing operations consolidation and applications standardization across the enterprise, the report says.

Because the discovery and commercialization of new drug products will remain the cornerstone of competitive advantage, pharmaceutical and biotech manufacturers are also focusing on production management software — such as MES — andanalytics software to increase productivity and flexibility as well as ensure product quality. The industry will also be focused on regulatory compliance and increasing automation while shortening time to market.

To that end, some suppliers offer analytics to help reduce production cycle time and throughput. Others provide analytics that can evaluate numerous solvent extraction schemes, reducing the number of experiments performed during the drug development phase. This ARC study will help users learn what others in the industry are doing and the capabilities of each supplier. The report also discusses strategies and tactics that suppliers and manufacturers can use to succeed in the rapidly changing worldwide pharmaceutical and biotech industry.