Manufacturing Execution System • May 22, 2018

Understanding the Uniqueness of Complex Discrete MES

Michel Gadbois Michel Gadbois

Complex discrete MES is unlike any other. There is no substitute for the domain knowledge that is provided by the complexity of the products engineered for an MES of this type. This comparison becomes quickly apparent for many. In addition to a longer product lifecycle, a complex discrete MES can properly manage multiple levels of subassemblies along with the required tracking capabilities. This blog will discuss several important characteristics of MES packages when implemented by complex discrete manufacturers.

Tailored to the Shop Floor Technician

With complex discrete MES, shop floor technicians should sit in the driver’s seat. Instead of remaining on the shop floor to oversee the highly automated processes required for report completion and quality control management, a technician can work with a package tailored to their workflows and processes. This enables technicians to receive visual instruction and collect a variety of data types.

Technicians represent approximately 20-60% of the cost of assembly due to degree of human involvement, intervention and review that are required by MES application. They do the bulk of the work. As a result, the quality of the visual guidances and data collected play a high level of importance for a shop floor technician.

Low Product Volume

Consumer electronics producers deal with millions of component and products. BMW’s United States plant produces approximately 1,400 cars per day on their own. However, product volume differs drastically with complex discrete manufacturers. A complex discrete manufacturer may only produce one plane, one MRI machine or one aircraft carrier to a single set of specs. In addition, throughout production, as many as 50 engineering changes may take place. No other industries deal with this degree of change. When selecting an MES, it is important to select a package that comfortably copes with the changes in design and execution, that will occur over a long period of time, before delivering a single product.

Flexible Routing

For a complex discrete MES to be function successfully, it demands highly flexible and adaptable routing, optimized for tiny order quantities. With complex discrete MES, routing is written on a part by part basis, rather than by part number. For example, an individual MRI machine will have tailored instruction sets adapted to that particular technology. This also applies to submarines, airplanes, and helicopters. Appliance instructions vary in iteration from one step of the assembly line to the next and are subjected to many design and execution changes due to advancements in technology.

Integrated Non-Conformance and Deviation Processes

During device assembly, a unit can and will change considerably from from the original plan. These revisions in unit history contribute to how a complex discrete MES differs from as-builts. As a result, an ironclad non-conformance and deviation process that is completely linked to the unit or device has to be in place for complex discrete manufacturing.

Digital Twin and Serial Tracking

Modern discrete manufacturers now deliver a digital twin – a virtual replica of the product. Digital twins are available during the as-designed, as-planned and as-built phases. This digital companion offers the ability to model and simulate changes before they are executed in the real world. This can save enormous amounts of time during the design and execution stages, and aid in tracking accuracy and consistency.

Serial tracking of suppliers and factories is done every step of the way in complex discrete manufacturing. Materials must be tracked at a highly granular level across the entire supply chain. In many cases, units are pre-tested before they arrive at receiving and inspection. No other industry has to deal with this type of tracking and rigor.

Due to all these unique factors, a complex discrete MES provides an unexampled manufacturing solutions. iBase-t Solumina is an MES package that is tailored to the shop floor technician. It is ideally suited to the low product volume, flexible routing and serial tracking needs of complex discrete manufacturers. Digital twin capabilities are also available.

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Michel Gadbois
About the Author

Michel Gadbois

Before coming to iBASEt, Michel started his career in operations as Plant Superintendent of a chemical packaging facility. For a few years, he implemented several MRP II systems, and then joined a manufacturing management consulting group that specialized in productivity and quality improvements. After that, he became the Vice President of Manufacturing for Flow International. It was at Flow that Michel was exposed to advanced Scheduling Concepts and Paperless Manufacturing Technologies. While in Seattle, Michel became the Vice President of Commerce and Industry for the Chamber of Commerce and a member of the University of Washington’s Science Advisory Council.

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