Contact

Automation of production workflows: Execution

Axes Software » Automation of production workflows: Execution

The company you own is involved in the production of goods or you are a production manager in such a company. In your factory, raw materials are turned into finished products through production processes with structures ranging from simple (packaging) to complex (a wide variety of technological operations involving a multitude of parameters). You’ve worked hard and succeeded in the market. More and more customers want your products. Everything is going well, but as the production capacity has increased, it has become harder and harder to manage everything by traditional methods. Automating your production flows is now necessary to make your team’s work more efficient.

What does the production process involve?

The production process involves three important steps. The first stage is planning. We have already covered this in one of our previous articles on automated production planning, which we also recommend you read. In this article, we explain in detail the benefits you may gain from using xTrack MES.

Production planning is followed by the actual execution of production orders. Execution refers to the physical process of transforming raw materials and materials into finished products and can be tracked step by step with our software solution. The automation of data flows through xTrack MES during production activities enables simultaneous coordination, synchronization and tracking of the execution status of all technological operations.

How can you automate your production workflow?

Production workflow automation can be looked at from two perspectives:

Automation of data flows related to actual production processes. This is achieved by implementing software solutions that plan production, collect and process data during the physical processing operations, thus ensuring a tight control of raw materials, WIP and finished products, machinery, as well as increasing worker productivity. Automation of data flows ensures a real optimization of activities, which can easily be seen in practice.

Automation of actual production flows. This means the introduction of modern, high-performance equipment and machinery, which results in a much better use of resources due to higher efficiency of physical processing operations. However, the coordination of production processes also requires software solutions to manage all operations, i.e. automation of data flows. In other words, automation of the actual production flows necessarily includes automation of the data flows.

We can thus note that the implementation of production management software solutions is the common denominator of activity management for both types of automation. The difference is that automating data flows does not necessarily require the purchase of smart and expensive machines, as implementing an MES solution generates significant efficiencies even when the machines are not ultraefficient.

Assess the need for process automation

Each company has its own investment priorities, established after the assessment of its process automation needs.

If the technological processes in your production facility do not require urgent investments in machine replacement, implementing a software solution for production planning and tracking, as well as monitoring the status of technological operations is necessary to optimize activities and reduce consumption and costs.

If the need for process automation requires massive technology replacement, you must also consider the software component that becomes the digital link between users, the materials to be processed or processed and the high-performance machines that collect and send data to production management systems.

In both cases, xTrack MES ensures efficient management of data flows related to production processes, which leads to positive financial results.    

Identify the right software solution

A flexible software application tailored to your business requirements is far more suitable than an off-the-shelf solution that doesn’t offer the degree of optimization that a custom software solution offers when automating your workflow.

An application with the right functionalities for the specific needs of your business will visibly improve the management of your production processes.  In addition, integrating such a solution into your existing IT system can bring additional benefits. For example, interfacing xTrack MES with an ERP system or a warehouse management software solution (including xTrack WMS) helps to ensure traceability of raw materials and WIP throughout the production flow, calculate replenishment requirements and maintain tight control over consumption.

Implement the solution and move towards the entire business digitalization

At first, you can start with a solution that meets either the basic needs of the production facility or those existing at the time of implementation so as to optimize production processes and avoid wasting precious time and financial resources. Then, gradually, as the initial streamlining of activities leads to business development and diversification of production processes, the functionalities of the application can be expanded by automating new workflows that require attention and tight organization. After all, automation enables continuous production development and development requires constant automation.

The xTrack MES application

The xTrack MES application tracks the manufacturing process step by step, with the advantage that it optimizes all parameters using complex algorithms that can take into account a multitude of factors involved in large-scale production.

To understand exactly how the application works, let’s start by defining terms. All the requests you receive from your customers are recorded in the system as production orders.

Types of production orders

Production orders are of various types, depending on their complexity, and each type of order has a number of ‘subdivisions’.

Operations are represented in charts for easy tracking by your team members. This is what the chart for a master job looks like. The chart is based on the manufacturing “recipe” for each component and shows the sequence of technological operations required to produce a finished product. Each rectangle represents a technological operation, the red dot marks the raw materials and/or WIP replenishment and the blue dot indicates the resulting finished product.

Types of information processed

In order to automatically create production orders, you need to enter as much detailed information as possible into the xTrack MES application:

How does the production order execution module work?

All operations in the production order execution module are based on tasks. These sets of information and instructions are transmitted on mobile terminals to the workers who actually carry out the operations required by the technological process. Tasks replace printed documents, i.e. you get rid of all the ‘paper’ in the factory. In addition, the workers will no longer receive a list of all the operations or other irrelevant details, but information or instructions strictly related to what they have to do.

The way orders are executed takes into account both the stocks and the machines and personnel available to carry out technological operations. Algorithms link aggregate lists to the stocks of raw materials needed to complete products ordered by customers.

When an aggregate list type of order is launched into production, the algorithm checks the stocks and assesses the raw material requirements for each technological operation. At the same time, it clearly identifies their location in the warehouse and generates a cascade of replenishment tasks. Thus, the types and quantities of raw materials and/or WIP required, as well as the specific tasks to collect them from the warehouse as quickly as possible are automatically determined.

In addition to tight stock control, the production order execution module also efficiently manages scrap, which may or may not be reusable.

Benefits of automation:

The benefits of using order execution automation in production are manifold, and the result is the optimization of your company’s activities.

Elimination of human errors

Automated stock control is accurate, so any errors in calculating or recording the inbound raw materials or WIP and outbound finished goods disappear. When human operators manage things, errors due to fatigue, inattention or carelessness can occur. At the same time, situations when more scrap is produced than would otherwise be the case, or larger quantities of components or finished products are produced, disappear. Why do they disappear? Because absolutely all technological operations are rigorously monitored by the application!

Flexibility of the xTrack MES system

If the unexpected happens – an employee goes on sick leave, a machine breaks down, you don’t have enough raw materials, a new higher priority order comes in – you need to re-plan production. Once the new schedule is generated, the new production data will automatically be sent to the system. The order execution module automatically picks them up and recalculates everything on the spot. The entire execution process is reset according to the new data, without any setbacks that might occur if the data were processed by a human operator.

Less time and effort spent on picking and replenishment

Replenishment is also tightly controlled by the application. People picking raw materials and WIP from the warehouse quickly find out what needs to be brought into the production hall, where and in what quantity. The application also automatically shows them, via tasks received on their mobile terminals, where in the warehouse the materials are placed and the shortest picking route. In this way, the number of trips to and from the warehouse is reduced to a minimum. Replacing speech with short written instructions transmitted automatically significantly reduces the time needed to communicate with the team.

Stock control and synchronization

The application keeps track of stocks (raw materials/WIP and finished products). The information is continuously updated because the algorithm processes data entered manually or collected using mobile terminals.

Mobile terminals play an important role in the production process. They are used to collect data related to the raw materials (at the start of the manufacturing process) as well as to the products at the end of each technological operation. Those who monitor production activities see in real time what and how much has been consumed, what and how much is left, what and how much has been produced.

Integration with the Quality Control module

This integration allows the differentiation of the products resulting from the processing processes into finished products that meet QC requirements and rejects. In this way, the manufacturer has a reliable, real-time record of the finished ‘deliverable’ goods stocks.

Waste management

The scraps or rejects do not meet the quality requirements but some can be reused and other, disposed of. Keeping track of reusable scrap is essential when calculating the stocks of raw materials and WIP available after the completion of a master job.

Reduced raw materials/WIP consumption and lower related costs

Automatic calculation of raw material and WIP requirements is much more accurate than that done by a human operator. If you don’t use automation, the calculations you make will only be approximations, which can vary from order to order for products of the same kind. Such an approximate calculation can result in excessive quantities being allocated to the execution of a production order. On the other hand, automatic control over technological operations at the order execution stage helps to meet or even reduce the originally planned consumption.

Why is it even possible to reduce the originally planned consumption? We’ll tell you in a moment! Automatic metering of raw material and WIP consumption also involves metering of quantities produced and rejects or scraps. Reusable scraps become part of the stock of raw materials and WIP that can later be used for a new order. In this situation, their reuse not only reduces consumption, but also the costs related to the procurement of new raw materials.

Optimization of the production process

The production order execution module is closely linked to the planning module. Production order execution is the implementation of planning. Compliance with the elements established through planning contributes decisively to the efficiency of activities in the production plant. This is why this module is dependent on the production planning module; it is part of the xTrack MES application, but can be integrated with other applications (xTrack WMS or other WMS applications, for example) to be able to retrieve and process all necessary data.

Configurability

The production order execution and the planning modules can be adapted to the requirements of your production strategy: MTO (Make to Order) or MTS (Make to Stock). This functionality, which allows the modules to be adapted to the specific needs of each company, contributes significantly to production optimization.

Would you like to enjoy the benefits of digitalizing production data flows via xTrack MES? Fill in the form below and our consultants will get back to you within 48 hours.

12 August 2020

Over 250 successful software deployments

Our customers come from various sectors of activity that have a common denominator: the need for logistics software solutions.

+ 30%

Optimization of warehouse processes

+ 25%

Increase in transport performance

+ 30%

Improvement in production efficiency

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Request a quote

Request a quote
Antim Mogos
Sales Manager
Sign up for our newsletter

Subscribe for weekly logistics insights & news!