Value Stream Mapping and MES

Are piles of paperwork causing problems on the factory floor?

Studying the flow of product on the factory floor may be easier than you think

In today’s competitive manufacturing world, one way to increase profitability is by eliminating wasteful manufacturing activity.  To start, take a snapshot of your factory floor activity, capture the data and analyze areas of improvement.  A Manufacturing Execution System (MES) can help you accomplish this.

Why use MES?

With an MES, you can analyze shop floor production, track assets and employee activity and then focus on the value-stream to optimize part flow and minimize both inventory and product delivery.  The consolidation of this part/employee/machine job flow process is usually evaluated using some KPIs or manufacturing metrics. With the data you glean from measurement software, you can cut waste-time and increase factory productivity.

Several studies have shown the value and cost savings that analytical software can provide to manufacturers.  A recent study called “Pursuit of Performance Excellence” surveyed a large number of manufacturers and producers to evaluate the role of plant performance metrics programs.  The study was a collaboration between the Manufacturing Execution System Association International (MESA), industry analyst firm Cambashi and a council of industry representatives.

The findings demonstrated a great need for manufacturers to improve their methods of reporting data to operators and technicians in order to improve efficiencies. The report states “consistent use of metrics in the plant and up through executive ranks can drive not only involvement, but common understanding and business performance improvement.”  By collecting the data through the use of MES software, it becomes easier to communicate needs in the factory, improve workforce management and increase labor productivity.

“MES software enables manufacturers to be more strategic and uncover ways to be more profitable,” said Julie Fraser, MESA Outreach Director and an industry analyst.

FACTIVITY’s unique approach

FACTIVITY’s intuitive user interface allows the capture of value stream data as a bi-product of operator and supervisor factory floor system interaction.  Labor personnel work with the touch screen system to obtain part information, operational instructions and provide the results of daily shift production.  Through this interaction, the system provides key value-stream measures that can help produce a lean approach by highlighting areas of waste.

Bottleneck Analytics from FACTIVITY provide useful insights into the production flow – or lack of it.  First is the more common term which normally refers to the wait time or “queued” time in front of each and every operation in the facility.  These queued parts reflect areas of improvement if the wait time can be decreased.  But the queue time comes in two flavors:  The total amount of productive time (set-up plus value-add time) for each job waiting at each machine/cell/line or work center.  FACTIVITY calls this “Future Value-add Queue Time” (FVQ).  There is also the amount of time that the jobs have been waiting. That is the total amount of time since the part left the prior operation until it finally gets into production at the current operation.  FACTIVITY calls this “Current Operation Queue Time” (COQ)

Both of these measures have meaning when evaluating the value stream, as FVQ might be reduced by improving the product mix through better sequencing.  Alternatively, the COQ time might reflect the availability of the asset and amount of shifts the assets is operational.

Not having this data can be costly, time consuming and disruptive. Trying to solve problems without it, plant managers may end up with floor inventory build-up or assets acquisitions. They may try to solve issues by purchasing more machines and mechanical equipment.

“It’s crucial for managers to have a method to study the flow of product on the factory floor,” said John Leibert, President FACTIVITY.  “FACTIVITY software provides an easy-to-learn and easy-to-use operator interface. With this info in hand, you can then evaluate the data and make informed and cost effective decisions to make changes as needed.”

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