The initial install of a FMS system is a hectic time. Parts must be proved out, operators and managers must learn their tasks, and last-minute manufacturing changes might be needed. Initially, the system will not have enough work to keep the machines busy so managers and operators might form habits that will eventually prevent full machine utilization. By working with the automation, software, and tools throughout the initial FMS install, all stakeholders can become comfortable that the system will operate properly.
During initial FMS install, parts are gradually proved out and thus typically there is not enough demand to keep the machines busy. Operators and managers are pressured to just get system working; they take shortcuts and develop habits and techniques of operating the system which work fine with a low-demand, lightly loaded system but prevent high machine utilization when the demand increases. For example, manually moving around pallets and manually running programs is familiar to existing standalone machine operators but once the system is fully loaded, manually moving pallets is a recipe for traffic jams and huge OEE problems. Also, cell controllers require a large amount of manual data just to get a single pallet to move automatically.
Our SeedTactic: OrderLink software is designed to eliminate the tedious data entry and allow simple automatic operation from day one. OrderLink uses the existing, previously developed flexibility plan and takes part demand from a simple spreadsheet which just lists the part name, quantity to produce, due date, and priority. OrderLink then automatically uses some simple optimization techniques and enters all the data into the cell controller. Thus during initial FMS install, only a few fields in a spreadsheet need to be edited for the system to run in automatic mode. (OrderLink supports automatically importing orders from ERP and customized optimization, but those can and should be delayed until after initial FMS install. The default optimization provides decent OEE and for now orders can be manually entered into a spreadsheet.)
Proving Out Parts
Proving out a part usually requires a large amount of tweaks and iterative program modification. The SeedTactic: OrderLink software eases the data management tasks by supporting prove out parts. A part can be marked as prove out or production ready; when the part is marked as prove out, no orders will be processed for this part. Instead, with a couple clicks in OrderLink, a user can manually create a schedule for the prove out part. OrderLink will automatically create all the required data inside the cell controller so that the automation will know about the new part, move the pallet to the correct machine, and start the program.
A major goal during initial FMS install is to build confidence in the automation at a time when learning and experimentation is possible. Our SeedTactic: OrderLink software enters all the correct data into the cell controller so that it can operate in automatic mode from day one. OrderLink supports part-demand from a simple spreadsheet or manually generated prove-out schedules and takes care of the rest, allowing managers and operators to focus on other tasks.