Unable to determine the efficiency of their machines, a manufacturer of steel products approached Current Directions for a solution. Their needs were clear. Install a system that can monitor the production of each machine, measure raw material usage, and calculate production progress on each order. The Current Directions team turned their knowledge into a software solution using Intermec barcode equipment.
Intermec 9560 barcode readers and Intermec 4100 barcode printers were installed on each production line to scan the bar-codes identifying each employee, order and coil of raw material. Connected to the readers are two monitoring devices. The first is a robotic arm that sends a signal to the reader when a carton has been packaged. The second is a linear foot meter that records product usage and can be queried at various stages of production. Because this company's raw material is measured in linear feet, the reader keeps track of the beginning and ending linear foot values. At any given time the printer can produce a barcode label with a unique raw product number, type of product and amount remaining. As each carton of finished product passes the robotic arm, the reader records it and immediately updates the PC. Thus, the exact status of every order is available at any given time. Because the PC puts a date-time stamp on all production information, it is easy to learn how long it takes to complete an order. The readers also record machine on/off time and scrap production using a bar-coded sheet identifying standard problems.
All readers and printers are connected to a centrally located collection PC via an Intermec 9154 crossbar controller. Because production runs 24 hours a day, the data collection program is designed to run nonstop as well. Data is continually collected, and sent to the office mainframe. The PC receives updated orders from the mainframe.
The Windows operating system was selected for its multitasking functionality and ease of use. This allowed Current Directions to provide the application in two separate programs. The first program provides data collection and runs continuously. Program two provides the support functions that include: printed reports, on-screen queries, mainframe communication functions, and system configuration.
The consumption information has enabled the company to create an accurate perpetual raw product inventory. With partial coil identification, product usage is more accurate, and resources better employed. Use of scrap and down-time information has enhanced factory performance. Production tracking has aided customer relationships while providing information on machine capacity.