Tag Archives: Manufacturing

Principles of Agile Manufacturing

When facing competition-particularly fierce competition, it’s important to know all you can about your adversary and their weapons, the battlefield on which the fight will take place, and the best time to strike or retreat. In other words, knowledge is power, and the ability to remain flexible and fast to emerging or changing developments is a tremendous tactical advantage. This notion of changeability is at the heart of new movements in manufacturing based in production agility. While certainly a modern business concept, agile manufacturing goes beyond simply being another version of 1980’s-styled computer integrated manufacturing or 1990’s lean manufacturing. Rather, agile manufacturing represents a complete shift in the mindset of production industries in the 21st Century; one in which there is both a greater relationship between technology and worker skills, and greater customer access to, and demands upon, the core competencies of their manufacturers/vendors.

The basic concept of agile manufacturing is to develop what could best be called a nimble mindset when it comes to understanding market environment. In short, rapid changes in the market environment are not something to be feared, but are seen as opportunities to exploit for the purpose of beating the competition to the punch. Rapid changes in the market are moments that call for rapid responses. The manufacturer that has taken the effort to instill agility through enterprise resource planning has the competitive advantage when it comes to quickly transforming their own knowledge into new products and services for their customers. Indeed, in a global economy, market opportunities are often identified in new growth areas where wholesale and retail product needs were often non-existent until a few months ago.

In a global economy, windows of opportunity open quickly and the more agile the manufacturer the greater the rewards to be gained from being the first responder to customer needs. Such rapid movement requires more than versatility or the ability to merely adjust to changing circumstances. Expanding the customer-base through emerging markets necessitates the quick reflexes that result from the consistent improvement of business intelligence-the knowledge, skills, and empowerment of employees toward the idea of greater interaction with customers. In this light, progressive business knowledge is seen as a useful and dynamic proactive resource rather than passive data collection after the fact. That is to say, innovation in the market (innovation of product, innovation of taste/desire, etc.) provides the greatest growth opportunities for companies who are quickest because of their concerted effort to be agile.

A first step toward becoming an agile manufacturer is developing the means by which business intelligence of the marketplace is made meaningful, and production is wholly synthesized through integration. This means the employment of enterprise resource planning software (ERP) that brings all areas of the manufacturing operation into a single, real-time database where the actions of one department never happen in isolation; where all aspects of the operation are capable of responding quickly to present and emerging customer demands. Particularly suited for agile manufacturing, ERP software provides the basis for rapid communications and the exchange of data, as well as the means by which responsive actions can be quickly taken to ensure competitive advantage.

The Reflective Supply Chain in Manufacturing

The well publicised plight of manufacturing companies in the United Kingdom has led to an ever increasing demand for reduction of internal costs and now, more than ever, the focus has been on the cost of supply chains. The nature of supply chains and their structure is however often overlooked, and many of the internal costs can be eliminated by examining the overall supply chain strategy. By developing a supply chain that reflects the needs of the internal customers, many of the previously unidentified inefficiencies can be eliminated and subsequent performance improved.

There are three categories of product that can be used to define the supply chain strategy for a typical manufacturing company. Firstly there are the core products that are manufactured on a continuous basis and form the bulk of production volume in any given period. Secondly there are products that are manufactured regularly to meet customer requirements or to satisfy a recurring demand, and finally there are those products that are manufactured to specific customer requirements on an irregular basis. The three categories are sometimes referred to as Runners, Repeaters and Strangers.

There is an unquestionable link between the classification of these product types and the supply chain organisation that is required to support them. Each classification requires a different supplier strategy and stock policy in order to maximise inventory turnover. For example, replenishment systems such as Kanban may be highly applicable to components used in the Runners group because of the rates of consumption but applied to the Strangers group may introduce higher volumes of inventory on long lead time parts. The selection of the appropriate supply chain strategies will therefore lead to two distinct systems, one for the Runners and one for the Strangers. The Runners supply chain will tend to be highly efficient with a focus on component cost, quality and the suppliers delivery performance. The Strangers supply chain however, will need to respond to the irregular customer orders and the focus will be more on supplier lead time and the ability to meet these hard to forecast demands. The Repeaters are likely to incorporate both systems and require case by case decisions on which approach to follow for each component. The Repeaters therefore typically lend themselves to strategic stock holding which requires regular review but gives a defined capability for production.

The classification of the products in this way identifies the needs of production and in turn identifies the type of supply chain support required to achieve the desired output volumes. More importantly, and often over-looked, strategies based on this simple analysis are more likely to support the customers requirements.

Having defined the groups of products and the styles of supply chains required to support the differing needs of these product groups, the supply chains themselves must be developed in accordance with these needs. The resulting supplier development programme can therefore be tailored to suit the different supply chain requirements and so support production needs and in turn the end customer in the most appropriate way.

There are many tools and techniques available for improving overall supply chain performance, but few have been developed to help define a supplier development strategy.

One technique called ‘Supplier Positioning’ maps customer perception of the risk and importance of its suppliers and also most importantly, the suppliers perception of the customer in terms of importance and ease of business. This can provide useful information by identifying which suppliers are not likely to support supply chain improvements. For example, many manufacturing companies will continue to purchase relatively low volumes of parts from large retailers, whose part cost, quality and delivery is beyond the customer’s control due to the supplier’s perception of the customer being ‘low value’. These suppliers therefore have a disproportionate ability to detrimentally affect the manufacturing capability of their smaller customers.

In improving the supply chain and creating the development strategy, ‘Supplier Positioning’ can be used to ensure that the integrity of supply will be maintained by giving an understanding of how the various suppliers view the customer and the degrees of interaction required to maintain good relationships. This technique has an additional benefit in that it identifies potential weaknesses or mismatches in the supply chain relationships which, once highlighted, can be resolved.

The application of product classification and then developing the supply chain to suit the production requirements can undoubtedly help identify the strategic direction for supply chain improvement. The resulting activities will not only develop a leaner supply chain but will introduce greater control of inventory and a better understanding of the needs of the internal customers.

There is an extricable link between the three main influences within any manufacturing company. Identification of customer demand, production capability and the flow of materials to satisfy this must combine with clearly defined parameters and processes to generate the required output. Failings in any one area will cause a domino effect that will result in failure to deliver on time in full and ultimately unhappy customers.

The rate of demand defines the requirements for capability and material flow but must never be isolated or ignored as is often the case. Changes in demand or customer orders can only be fulfilled efficiently by having a balanced circle.

Each function in this model is dependent on the others and must therefore work within the same boundaries to achieve a common goal. The key therefore to reducing the inefficiencies in a supply chain lies in understanding and managing these relationships which is the start point for achieving a reflective supply chain.

The Future of Manufacturing

From catching a ride to getting instant medical attention, smartphones have completely changed the way people live and carry out their daily tasks. In a similar way, the rapid evolution of operating technology and production means have transformed manufacturing. Innovative companies like Tesla is the best example of how technology can materialize the seemingly impossible ideas and change our view of reality. Modern food processing equipment, robotics, sensor technology, and smart machines are no less striking.

There is something that drives manufacturers to constantly explore means for improving efficiency and agility. Managing market volatility is one of the biggest challenges manufacturers face today. In order to successfully handle this challenge, manufacturing leaders need a sound combination of speed, agility, and responsiveness. The characteristic of being agile and responsive can also help companies deal with a number of challenges, for example, fluctuating raw material costs.

Most of the successful companies focus on improving production processes and enhancing customer relationships. Small companies even pay more attention to meet customization demands and improve productivity. No matter the size of a company, the manufacturer struggles to maximize capacity utilization and achieve annual cost reductions. Implementing innovative production solutions carefully is the only way to achieve these objectives.

Industrial automation technology indicates that there is never any shortage of opportunities to grow and remain profitable. A business manager has to identify strategic opportunities and technologies that can offer the greatest profit potential. It is also important that a new solution should be in compliance with a company’s competitive differentiators and core capabilities.

It is highly likely that by the year 2020, business owners in every industry will have invested millions of dollars in a broad range of automation and fabrication technologies. Nano-manufacturing, 3D printing, artificial intelligence, smart machines, and the Internet of Things (IoT) will dominate the future.

Investment decisions can depend on a company’s priorities and objectives, market conditions and forecasts. Introducing new technologies is subject to a thorough cost-benefit analysis. The way of conducting cost-benefit analysis can vary from industry to industry.

Automation technologies such as robotic welding, smart sensors, quality control systems, metal fabrication, magnetic inspection, and material handling equipment can help companies achieve the following objectives:

  • High productivity
  • Improved data availability
  • Faster responsiveness to customer expectations
  • Production flexibility
  • Improved employee engagement

Small companies must learn how to implement automation and improve productivity in a cost-effective manner. The success in manufacturing now largely depends on how efficiently a company can adapt and meet market expectations.

Benefits Of Manufacturing Paper Bags Using An Eco-Friendly Paper Bag Making Machine

The paper bags have gained popularity since then the plastic carry bags is facing ban in various countries and cities. The product is manufactured with two ways; either traditionally, i.e. with the hands which is a labor intensive method or technologically i.e. with the help of automatic machines. The second method is capital-intensive. In other words, it requires less labor and more capital for purchasing land and machines. On the basis of the core business of the Paper Bag Making Machine Manufacturers, the machine has abilities to manufacture two different sized output with the fine finish and seamless quality.

Amazing Benefits Of Using A Paper Bag Making Machine For Manufacturing Paper Bags:-

  • Fine Quality: The foremost benefit of manufacturing paper bag from the automatic machine is the finest quality one can achieve throughout the process of production. When we make paper bags from traditional methods, the quality of the product doesn’t remain same throughout the process of production. It is quite difficult to manage the same level of quality with each unit. The paper bags manufactured through machine give similar and precise quality each time.
  • Saves Expenses On Labor: The introduction of an automatic machine for manufacturing process cut down the need for labor in the paper industry. A person is required to change the roll of paper only and collect the finished product after the completion of the production process. This saves unnecessary expenses on labor and you can invest in machines and land instead of labor. More machine and land can lead to double the production level of the business within the same time period.
  • Streamline Production Level: The quality and fast production are two key factors of any production process and the automatic machine for the purpose of the production satisfy both of these factors while streamlining the level of production. It literally saves time in terms of money and maximizes your production level when it is compared to the handcrafted methods. You can actually increase your production with time.
  • Saves Manpower: The automatic machine saves the working capacity of a person and helps to maximize the production level. Both the man and machine have the different working capacity. A machine can work more effectively than a person and require fewer work breaks than a man. You can have a good level of production with the machine. A machine can multiply your production level within the same time. However, a person can only increase the production because every person has the different working capacity.

Computer Use in the Food Manufacturing Industry

Food manufacturing and processing is one of the success stories of the global economy. Food production is now not just a local industry as food products are now transported across the globe allowing a huge variety of products to be available on our supermarket shelves.

One of the reasons for food productions success has been the embracing of modern technology that has allowed many processes in the food production industry to be automated.

The food industry does pose unique challenges when it comes to automation and computerisation such as the prevalence of water in food production areas. Various laws and good working practices mean that food production areas are regularly washed or hosed-down. This can cause obvious problems to computer or touchscreen if they are used nearby as water will have catastrophic effects on any computer system.

Many food production of manufacturing areas turn to waterproof computer enclosures to protect their computer systems from wash down. Industrial computer enclosures are designed to international guidelines to ensure they can operate safely in washdown environments with the waterproof PC enclosure even allowing the systems to be hosed down themselves.

The European IP 65 or International NEMA 4 rating system are often used to describe the waterproofing of a computer enclosure. Many wash down areas contain IP 65 computer enclosures as they can also be manufactured out of food grade stainless steel ensuring they don’t corrode and can continually be kept clean.

Waterproof LCd enclosures and waterproof touchscreen enclosures can also be manufactured from the same material.

Advantages of Tablet Contract Manufacturing Services

Contract manufacturing has easily become one of the most cost-effective ways of managing the growing demand for products without compromising on their quality. A professional manufacturing firm offering tablet manufacturing or encapsulation services at a lower cost and in a licensed facility is a far better alternative than producing the products at an in-house facility without the competence or expertise in the field.

One can understand the role of a contract manufacturing firm by understanding their advantages and benefits of using it. The tablet manufacturers specifically benefit from such firms as they witness an increase in their production without having to invest a lot of capital.

Some of the main advantages of using a tablet contract manufacturer include:

Quality Improvement

With professional contract manufacturers providing timely and competent manufacturing services for a pharmaceutical brand or product, the tablet manufacturer can focus on the key aspects of its core competencies. The research behind the quality and effectiveness of the product becomes the central point of attention for the manufacturers and they can serve their consumer base in a better way. The use of better ingredients, proper research and development process and channelized experiments are possible with impetus being laid on satisfactory results.

Expert Assistance

A seasoned contractor has been offering quality and satisfactory services in tablet manufacturing for over a long period of time. The firm is proficient enough in handling huge production projects as well. They offer their licensed facility for production purpose. They have the right expertise, adequate resources, and adhere to cGMP guidelines for quality production.

Quick Time

The availability of proper equipments and good resources makes it easier for contract manufacturing companies to develop products in quick time. Since, the manufacturers are dedicated to the production process, they focus on maximum production. Some of the major production services offered by them include tablet manufacturing, encapsulation, capsule manufacturing, tablet packaging and labeling, and also producing products.

Cost-effectiveness

Hiring a professional tablet contract manufacturer is a cost-effective way of producing or developing pharmaceutical products. One does not have to invest on the expensive infrastructure, equipment and other material for the services. There are many contract manufacturers offering premium services at competitive prices in the market.

It can be inferred from the above discussion that contract manufacturers for tablets and capsule production provide both a cost-effective as well as time-effective way to produce pharmaceutical product in bulk. Moreover, one is spared the effort of research and development related to the manufacturing process.

An Overview on Contract Manufacturing and Its Role in Chemical Industries

Contract manufacturing is a form of outsourcing in which a company hires another company with the right equipment and facility and skilled labor force to deal with the intricate process of product processing. Many industries and companies rely on contract manufacturers. We are talking about industries involving computers, pharmaceutical products, cosmetics, cars and vehicles, and electronic equipment. Contract manufacturers process raw materials to finish products and deliver them to the hiring company, which is able to free itself of the complexity and cost of production and manufacturing. The flexibility of this kind of scheme makes it suitable in many fields and industries. In fact, many businessmen are exploiting this kind of arrangement because it saves cost and allows them to undergo with the business without having to obtain all equipment and workforce necessary to get the job done. In addition, since they are freed from the complex yet vital task, they can deal with other important factors and other prolific functions of the business. Many have found the sheer advantage of this kind of scheme which has fast become a trend in the global economic scene.

This kind of dealings has been exploited by many companies working on chemical processing. Chemical industries provide raw materials for many other industries and sectors like agriculture, medicine, pharmaceuticals, petro-chemicals, automotive industry, healthcare services, food manufacturing and production, and cosmetic industry. Many companies involved in such businesses do not have the capability to procure raw materials for their products. They do not have the right equipment and facility for processing of chemicals, let alone produce standard chemical components for their finished products. In other cases, the contract manufacturer does the manufacture and production, including packaging. For instance, during chemical packaging, chemical packing bears the label of the mother company.

There a lot of reasons why the above-mentioned industries contract the chemical processing to another company. As mentioned earlier, this strategy relieves them from the cost of having to acquire or purchase equipment and hire the appropriately skilled labor force. The logic is simple. Why invest so much on equipment, facility, human resources, and training of the human resources if there is already an established firm or company that can handle the overall production? Why would you exhaust the assets of your company if you can efficiently procure the services of a business partner – the contract manufacturer?

Chemical manufacturing institutions not only free a business from dealing with the complexity of the manufacturing and production process but also ensure the quality of the products. Chemical manufacturers have the appropriate instruments and well-controlled laboratories, wherein chemicals of varied sorts are processed. By processing, we mean purification, formulation, blending, filling and packaging depending on what the main company asks for. Within the chemical laboratories is a collection of both hazardous and fairly safe chemicals. Chemical engineers and trained personnel work on and work with anything from glycerin to sodium hydroxide, from deionized water to acetic acid. Chemicals are not easy to deal with, especially if they are to be used as raw materials or ingredients for specific products. A fault in measurement or calibration of instruments could cause a poor quality of cosmetic or pharmaceutical products, for instance. But that seldom happens because any toll manufacturer doing bespoke services are regulated by certain industrial policies that must be observed lest suspension or, even, stoppage of manufacturing operations could be in order.

Companies specializing in chemical industry have the right professionals who can deal with chemicals in controlled and standard conditions. It is important that only highly skilled professionals will be working with hazardous and toxic chemicals because they know the basics in handling, storing, and mixing these chemicals otherwise freak accidents can happen. With controlled laboratory and production conditions and adept professionals, a chemical manufacturing company is able to ensure that the entire process, including blending and chemical filling, are appropriately carried out. This is an advantage to both the main company and its customers.

Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Steps for Production of Medicines

The pharmaceutical manufacturing unit follows a series of steps to produce effective medicines. All this points are very important and the total production process will be complete only when all these steps in production are perfectly completed. The manufacturing steps contain the design conception, withdrawal, dispensation, manufacture, alteration, liberation, packaging and storage. All this steps have to be followed by all Pharmaceutical manufacturing departments to produce effective medicines and many other pharmaceutical goods. This article highlights the important steps to be followed in producing useful medicines by all the pharmaceutical plants.

The pharmaceutical manufacturing process is divided into two parts. The first unit is primary processing level and the second unit is secondary processing level. The first processing level mainly includes the improvement of effective drug component. Certain research facilities managed by pharmaceutical graduates to supply useful pharmaceutical components also included in this stage.

The second part in secondary processing level of this manufacturing process is that mostly includes the change in pharmaceutical active components into effective medicines. So, with this process we can say that this the final step in drug processing, which is the most important in development of the products which can be used as pharmaceutical products in many healthcare organizations and are used for various health disorders by patients.

The final pharmaceutical products that are manufactured are in various forms like liquid, semi-solid and solid. The solid forms are capsules, tablets, creams, ointments etc. Pharmaceutical products in liquid form include solutions, gels, Suspensions, emulsions and injectables. Several external use only products like inhalers and aerosols which mainly contain butane and chlorofluorocarbons. We can conclude that pharmaceutical manufacturing units have added a lot for the medical field and helped mankind in fighting with several health disorders and are still trying to contribute more and more towards the medical world.

Shoe Industry Steps Into Green Manufacturing

In a world where one individual can own up to fifty pairs of shoes, the footwear industry has begun to see the need to adopt eco-friendly practices. Shoe manufacturers are improving their production methods to reduce the size of the carbon footprint they leave behind. However, recognizing that green assembly is not enough, the industry has incorporated recycled and biodegradable materials into their production of eco-friendly footwear.

Eco-Friendly Shoe Manufacturing

In the late 19th century when factories sprung up in the United States, domestic footwear manufacturing boomed. Due to inexpensive overseas production practices in recent years, shoe manufacturers have largely vacated the U.S. However, the creation of green footwear is bringing some of that business back home.

Less Energy, More Profit

Shoe manufacturers can actually save money by going green! The following production practices are becoming more and more popular in manufacturing because of their ability to cut costs:

– Wind energy

– Solar energy

– Waste-to-energy conversion

– Energy conserving machinery

Environmentally Friendly Materials

The use of green textiles and post-consumer materials within eco-friendly footwear manufacturing has already made a significant impact on reducing the negative effects of the industry on the Earth. Around since the late 1800’s, St. Louis based Daniel Green Company is one American shoemaker keeping pace with the green times. Their women’s Callie and Kenzie slippers are made from 100% recycled wool, more eco-friendly styles are expected soon, energy use and material waste have been reduced in their manufacturing processes.

Green Textiles:

– Recycled Wool

– Recycled Polyester

– Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)

– Organic Cotton

– Bamboo

– Hemp

Recycled Textiles

Making a shoe entirely out of recycled materials is nothing new. In 2008, Nike released its Trash Talk, the brand’s first-ever basketball sneaker made entirely from manufacturing waste.

Because the average textile mill consumes about 35 million kilowatts of electricity per hour, it is easy to see the benefit of reusing the materials that were initially produced. Some green footwear manufacturers have bypassed textiles entirely, using plastic bottles or old tires as main components in producing their footwear.

Other Eco-Friendly Practices in the Footwear Industry: Streamlining Processes, Green Packaging, and Overstock Donations

Functioning as a successful shoe company can take a toll on the environment simply, but today manufacturers have choices and economic success does not have to come at the expense of the planet.

Eco-friendly footwear companies are applying the green initiative to all aspects of their business by implementing sustainable corporate policies and green packaging methods. Boxes are being made out of recycled materials and catalogs are being printed on post-consumer paper with soy ink. More and more companies are choosing to eliminate waste by donating overstock and outdated shoes to organizations round the world.

Fields Utilizing Low Volume Manufacturing

The title is more than self-explanatory in itself to give a few ideas about the further details stored in the further segments of the article. Nevertheless, for the sake of formality itself, let us begin with a definition and understanding of what we are going to discuss. Low volume, as the name suggests is the total opposite of bulk manufacturing. The more pertinent question over here, however, is that why any manufacturer in their right mind would actually prefer to go for low volume manufacturing services instead of bulk manufacturing, especially when the latter leads to more profit owing to the reduced cost due to buying off materials in bulk.

  1. In a world of constant changes, clients more often than not suddenly change their minds about some or the other aspect of their good. Altering the same on a low scale is easier and economical as compared to that in bulk production.
  2. Again, in a world with constant and new types of demands, the need to satisfy customer wishes is always the priority. As such, keeping the market stocked with the appropriate inventory and stock becomes tedious as hell if the manufacturers insist on bulk production.
  3. Money is obviously the cause of all things. Every individual is always running behind money making it a very sensitive issue. And so, investing a lot of it in a single go in bulk productions always puts it at a risk until being delivered. Low volume manufacturing in that aspect thus keeps the investor money at risk for time durations that are acceptable to them as well.

Some of the fields that utilize low volume manufacturing services fully fledged are:

Injection Molding manufacturing companies are some of the biggest consumers of low-volume manufacturing services because-

  1. Plastic if and when exposed to the atmosphere for prolonged times without being maintained start giving off smells and showing signs of bacterial and fungal growth- getting rid of which is only a whole other set of overheads.
  2. For nature-friendly purposes too. Plastics, as we all know, are only a bane for nature owing to them taking millions of years to decompose. Hence the mass production of the same (when not needed) and polluting the atmosphere at the same time is totally senseless.

Another field that makes intensive use of low-volume manufacturing services is Injection Molding die making. This field is the partner in crime of injection molding manufacturing companies for the tools used to produce plastic and plastic parts actually come out of the molding die making companies. The terminology over here (particularly between molds and die) is really confusing, so let us try and clear some of them:

  1. A mold can be considered to be a cavity that is used to produce products (plastic, metal, or anything else)
  2. A die is nothing but a block of metal that conforms to a particular and special shape that is used for giving shape to other pieces of tools and products.

Artificial Intelligence In Manufacturing – Improving The Bottom Line



Artificial Intelligence and it’s Practical Application in the Manufacturing Environment

As the manufacturing industry becomes increasingly competitive, manufacturers need to implement sophisticated technology to improve productivity. Artificial intelligence, or AI, can be applied to a variety of systems in manufacturing. It can recognize patterns, plus perform time consuming and mentally challenging or humanly impossible tasks. In manufacturing, it is often applied in the area of constraint based production scheduling and closed loop processing.

AI software uses genetic algorithms to programatically arrange production schedules for the best possible outcome based on a number of constraints, which are pre-defined by the user. These rule-based programs cycle through thousands of possibilities, until the most optimal schedule is arrived at which best meets all criteria.

Another emerging application for AI in a manufacturing environment is process control, or closed loop processing. In this setting, the software uses algorithms which analyze which past production runs came closest to meeting a manufacturer’s goals for the current pending production run. The software then calculates the best process settings for the current job, and either automatically adjusts production settings or presents a machine setting recipe to staff which they can use to create the best possible run.

This allows for the execution of progressively more efficient runs by leveraging information collected from past production runs. These recent advances in constraint modeling, scheduling logic, and usability have allowed manufacturers to reap cost savings, reduce inventory and increase bottom line profits.



AI – A brief history



The concept of artificial intelligence has been around since the 1970s. Originally, the primary goal was for computers to make decisions without any input from humans. But it never caught on, partly because system administrators couldn’t figure out how to make use of all the data. Even if some could comprehend the value in the data, it was very hard to use, even for engineers.

On top of that, the challenge of extracting data from the rudimentary databases of three decades ago was significant. Early AI implementations would spit out reams of data, most of which wasn’t sharable or adaptive to different business needs.



The resurgence



AI is having resurgence, courtesy of a ten-year approach called neural networks. Neural networks are modeled on the logical associations made by the human brain. In computer-speak, they’re based on mathematical models that accumulate data based on parameters set by administrators.

Once the network is trained to recognize these parameters, it can make an evaluation, reach a conclusion and take action. A neural network can recognize relationships and spot trends in huge amounts of data that wouldn’t be apparent to humans. This technology is now being used in expert systems for manufacturing technology.



Practical application in the real world



Some automotive companies are using these expert systems for work process management such as work order routing and production sequencing. Nissan and Toyota, for example, are modeling material flow throughout the production floor that a manufacturing execution system applies rules to in sequencing and coordinating manufacturing operations. Many automotive plants use rules-based technologies to optimize the flow of parts through a paint cell based on colors and sequencing, thus minimizing spray-paint changeovers. These rules-based systems are able to generate realistic production schedules which account for the vagaries in manufacturing, customer orders, raw materials, logistics and business strategies.

Vendors typically don’t like to refer to their AI based scheduling applications as AI due to the fact that the phrase has some stigma associated with it. Buyers are perhaps reluctant to spend money on something as ethereal sounding as AI but are more comfortable with the term “constraint based scheduling”.



Constraint-based scheduling needs accurate data



A good constraint-based scheduling system requires correct routings that reflect steps in the right order, and good data on whether steps can be parallel or whether they need to be sequential. The amount of thorough planning that is required for a successful system to be launched is one of the largest drawbacks.

If a management team has not defined and locked in accurate routings in terms of operation sequence and operation overlap, and if it has not correctly identified resource constraints with accurate run and set-up times with a correct set-up matrix, what it winds up with is just a very bad finite schedule that the shop cannot produce. Tools like AI should not be thought of as a black box solution, but rather as a tool that needs accurate inputs in order to produce a feasible schedule that can be understood by the users.



Constraint-based scheduling within an ERP (enterprise resource planning) system



In selecting a solution, there are a number of system prerequisites that you need to look for. The better an enterprise application integrates various business disciplines, the more powerful it will be in terms of delivering constraint based scheduling. This means that if an application suite offers functionality cobbled together from different products the manufacturer has purchased, it may be harder to use that suite to deliver good scheduling functionality. This is because a number of business variables that reside in non-manufacturing functionality can affect capacity.

When an ERP package has been configured for constraint based or finite scheduling, it is generally routed to a scheduling server which calculates start and finish times for the operations with consideration to existing orders and capacity. When the shop order is executed, the scheduling system updates the information regarding operations and sends the results back to the enterprise server.

Scheduling functionality within an ERP solution ought to work in a multiple-site environment. Let’s say you need to calculate a delivery date based on a multi-site, multilevel analysis of material as well as capacity throughout your whole supply chain. The system should allow you to plan given all the sites in your supply chain and the actual work scheduled for each of those work centers. Manually or automatically, you should be able to schedule work and immediately give your customer a realistic idea of when the order will be completed.



More benefits of AI, constraint based applications



Apart from the immediately apparent capacity management benefits of constraint based scheduling, there are a number of less obvious analytical capabilities. Scheduling functionality typically allows you to conduct predictive analyses of what would happen if certain changes are made to an optimized schedule. So if a plant manager is pressured by a particular account executive to prioritize an order on behalf of a customer, that plant manager can produce excellent data on how many other orders would be late as a result. Furthermore, this functionality can provide predictive analyses on the effect of added capacity in the plant. This enables manufacturers to see if equipment purchases will truly deliver an increase in capacity, or if it will simply result in a bottleneck further downstream in the manufacturing process.

Important Manufacturing Metrics That Help in Increasing Efficiency

We may say a thousand things about business, but ultimately, business is a sheer number game. Essentially, everything in a business is decided by profit and loss numbers. Revenue generated, orders fulfilled and other such data have great importance in business. Some key performance indicators become the guiding metrics for a business. Correct assessment of those metrics is very important for running a business successfully.

Manufacturing is one of the most crucial parts of a business. However, it is also a part riddled with the biggest challenges. Achieving Manufacturing Efficiency is the toughest part of this. It involves too many players and gets easily affected. Manufacturing Processes are generally complex and heavily rely on other processes too. Unplanned downtime or inefficiency even in one process will bring down the performance of the complete unit. Therefore, one Manufacturing Metric cannot cover it all. From Manufacturing Downtime Tracking to monitoring OEE, everything is important.

Improving these Manufacturing Metrics can increase the profitability of the complete process. However, too many metrics can take away the focus from the main concept. So, for the ease of understanding, we will be discussing only the most important metrics here.

Key Metrics for Measuring Manufacturing Efficiency

Efficiency

Manufacturing Cycle Time

This is the base metric for most of the calculations in a manufacturing unit. It measures the ideal manufacturing time of any product from the beginning to the end. If you are able to reduce this time then your plant will outperform. If you maintain it then you will remain consistent, but if this time increases your process will become inefficient.

Throughput

This Manufacturing Metric tells the average production capacity of any machine or process. It is important to note that it is an average and not the peak ability. Hence, if the throughput of any plant or machinery goes down all of s sudden then it can mean some serious problems. It is easy to measure and assess. You can never ignore this metric.

Capacity Utilization

We always want to perform our best but when working in a team that’s not possible all the time. Some Manufacturing Processes outshine whereas others underperform. Capacity utilization is the metric to measure the percentage difference between the potential output capacity and current output capacity of the complete process. This important metrics brings out the inefficiency in the process.

Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE)

This is a globally recognized gold standard Manufacturing Metric for assessing quality, speed, and availability. The higher the percentage of OEE in your plant, the more efficient your process will be. A better OEE score will make your Manufacturing Process more reliable and profitable.

Quality

Yield

Rework has always been one of the biggest enemies of profit, time and reliability. Yet, every process produces some defective goods that require reworking. Yield measures the percentage of products produced correctly as per the specifications in the very first attempt.

Customer Rejects

This is a measure of the failure of your process in manufacturing standard products and it comes directly from the customers. The higher the number of customer rejects, the greater your loss of profit and credibility in the market will be.

Downtime

Percentage Planned vs emergency maintenance work orders

Maintenance is a critical activity in any Manufacturing Process. Machines that work will face damage and routine wear and tear. Planned maintenance helps in keeping them in shape and getting great efficiency and reliability. However, in spite of the best efforts machines can still break down all of a sudden and cause panic and chaos. But, such incidents shouldn’t be a regular scenario as then the maintenance costs can escalate multiple times. One of the most important maintenance matrics is the ratio between the planned and unplanned maintenance. The higher the difference the better your profits will be. Measuring Manufacturing Downtime and Equipment Tracking can help you in lowering such instances.

Availability Ratio

It is a simple metric showing the availability of assets. It is calculated by deducting the downtime from planned production time of any process or machinery. You will get the actual availability. It is important for assessing the potential of your plant as well as finding ways for increasing efficiency.

These Manufacturing Metrics help you in finding the key areas to work on in your plant. If you look closely you can find the missing pieces of the puzzle through these metrics which will help you in reaping higher profits.

Pharmaceuticals Contract Manufacturing

Pharmaceuticals contract manufacturing offers support for the design and manufacture of pharmaceuticals. Contract manufacturers usually produce high quality and highly secure pharmaceuticals at low prices. Most of the contract manufacturers help their customers in the production, finance, marketing, distribution and program management of pharmaceuticals. Many pharmaceutical companies seek the help of contract manufacturers to produce a product economically, within a time period. Contract manufacturers often work together with these companies to create the best possible products.

The major pharmaceuticals contract manufacturing capabilities include solid dose tablets, capsules and oral liquid production. Other pharmaceuticals contract manufacturing services are process development, clinical supplies manufacturing, analytical method development and validation, stability testing programs, technical transfer, process scale up and validation, regulatory consultation and unit dose blister packaging with bar coding. Many pharmaceuticals contract manufacturers deal with the manufacturing and development of sterile liquids and lyophilized products in solid, semisolid and liquid dosage forms. A few contract manufacturers also provide assistance with formulation and development, production scale-up, regulatory consultation, secondary manufacturing and primary and secondary packaging.

Pharmaceuticals contract manufacturers reduce the cost and time of production. Thus they provide a service extending capacity for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. Pharmaceuticals contract manufacturing is the high quality and economical alternative to small and medium sized biotech and diagnostic companies. Contract manufacturers usually serve as partners for the smaller and virtual organizations to provide services that require too much time and large financial resources. The larger pharmaceutical companies can also reduce their cost of production by outsourcing to contract manufacturers having more experience and resources.

Contract manufacturing requires clear deliverables to keep the project focused and to manage it easily. Pharmaceutical contract manufacturers need to immediately communicate with their clients when technical issues occur. The original companies should act as extensions of the pharmaceutical company. Since the main feature of pharmaceutical contract manufacturing is the quality of products, contract manufacturers must know all the needs of the customer. It is better to execute a quality agreement between the company?s responsibilities and expectations.

What Is Additive Manufacturing and What Are Its Applications?

There are many manufacturing processes in the world and many industries which use the same manufacturing processes. However, the one that is widely used is the additive manufacturing technique. Usually, in a normal manufacturing process the end product is produced by chiseling and carving the raw material into the desired product. However, this is not the case with the additive process.

In this manufacturing process, the structure of the products is created by adding layers of material one over the other in a significant way to create the end result. The layers added are minuscule and thin and is added with the help of cartridge filled with the desired material. The cartridge sprays the material slowly one layer over another in a gradual process to create the final result. The entire procedure is guided and handled by CAD software and a computer which acts as a printer to print the product.

Advantages of additive manufacturing

Some of the benefits of using this manufacturing technique are:

  • One can create products and final results which are complex and those which cannot be created using traditional methods. One can create a huge variety of shapes and figures as they will not be carved out of a single unit but will be produced using gradual layering.

  • The products which are created are also better in terms of strength and durability as there are no chances of flaws and weak points in the product. Also, the process of additive manufacturing helps in protecting the environment as compared to factory methods.

  • The additive manufacturing also makes the process of production flexible in terms of resources as one can make changes in the design easily.

  • The process is also cost and time effective meaning the process gets completed much faster with the help of CAD software. This is the reason why most of the companies are choosing this process over the traditional ones.

Applications of additive manufacturing

Some of the applications where additive manufacturing is used extensively are:

  • Turbos and turbines: the production of turbines is greatly helped by additive production processes these days. Mostly aerospace industry uses the technique to create lightweight turbos in minimum costing and designing complexity. Also, it helps in reducing the time consumption all the while keeping in mind safety.

  • Orthopedic implants: there are many kinds of products and implants that are used in the industry of dentistry like crowns, dentures, bridges, etc. All these products are created by the additive manufacturing techniques, these days to reduce the cost and also to reduce the production time keeping in mind the safety and quality standards.

  • Repair: these days the tool repairing is also done with the help of additive manufacturing, which is also called as metal laser sintering. This makes the downtime less and also help in optimizing the functioning life of the tool.

  • Jewelry: to create new and more intricate designs of the jewelry additive production processes are used. This way one can achieve the new and unusual kind of designs with complete metal density. This also helps in lessening the production time and cost.

How Manufacturing Will Benefit From Total Integration?

Open system architecture is possible by consistent data management, global standards and uniform interfaces for hardware and software. Integration brings together the virtual and real worlds, spanning product development and production process which increases efficient production in each process step from product design to product planning, engineering, and actual production process including services.

Productivity and efficiency are success factors for manufacturing industries. A central role is played by engineering as it relates to ever more complex machinery and plants. A high level of efficiency is in demand and the first step toward better production: faster, more flexible and more intelligent.

Totally integrated automation means efficient interoperability of all components. This allows for the holistic optimization of the production process which is as follows:

  • Efficient engineering is possible with cost savings.
  • Due to integrated communication there is high flexibility in production
  • Seamless integrated safety technology is possible with protection of personnel, machinery and the environment.
  • Due to integrated communication there is higher flexibility in production.
  • Due to data consistency there is improved quality.
  • Due to interoperability of system-tested components there is better performance.

The entire production process is managed in a open system architecture and is based on the consistent presence of shared characteristics like consistent data management, global standards and uniform hardware and software interfaces. These characteristics are shared and minimize engineering time. The ultimate result of all this is lower costs, reduced time to market and greater flexibility.

Due to relatively small production volumes and huge varieties of applications, industrial automation makes use of new technologies developed in other markets. Automation companies customize products for specific application and requirements. From targeted application, the innovation comes rather than any hot or new technology.

The new innovations have given industrial automation new surges of growth since the past few decades. The Programmable logic controller is now replaced by relay-logic and generates growth in applications where custom logic was difficult to implement and change. This controller is reliable than relay-contacts and easy to program and reprogram. In automobile test installation the growth was rapid and had to be re-programmed. The programmable logic controller has a long and productive life and has now become a commodity. Through the use of computers for control systems the programmable controller was developed. Similar such new developments in industrial automation have enabled higher growth potential.

We is an exclusive and dedicated platform for the Manufacturing Sector in India. It seamlessly bridges the gap between the industrial sector and professionals for on-demand consultation and services including projects. It connects SMEs and Large Scaled Industries with Industrial Consultants/ Experts and Industrial Product Suppliers over the internet for collaboration and success.

Low Volume Manufacturing: The Uses and Benefits

There are many types of product type and also there are many types of production size as well. Many industries tend to have low volume production batches where the units produced can be less than 1 thousand per year. However, there is always a certain factor that can change the number of units produced under low volume production. The size of the unit along with the geometry and manufacturing factors also affect the volume of the production. The difference can also be seen from industry to industry depending on the demand and advisable volume.

Need for low volume manufacturing

There are cases and conditions when there can be a need for low volume manufacturing in various industries. Those cases are discussed below:

  • Pre high volume production: before a high volume production starts there is always a phase between the final and prototyping phase. This phase is low volume production phase where the units are produced in lesser volume using the prototype hard tooling.
  • Replacement or repair parts: usually there is a need for repairing and replacement parts which are not being produced anymore. Therefore, to produce these unavailable parts, it is used.
  • Production parts: sometime after the completion of the prototyping phase the low volume production process is completed so that the produced parts are used as production tools.

Advantages of low volume manufacturing

Some of the advantages are:

  • Cost-effective: It tends to save manufacturing costs, which can be wasted on producing large amounts of products when there is only a need for a few thousand. Especially in an industry where the production is done by molding, casting, etc., this will prevent the shortage of cash flow when it is needed.
  • Flexibility: one of the major reasons why industries tend to choose it is because it can pave the way for more flexibility. With the flexible batch volume, one can make changes and also add new things to make the products which are durable and helpful in time without producing products with a design flaw. This will also help one in targeting the right market and also will help in making a place for the product in the market.
  • Easy to clear the inventory: making products in large volumes means they will increase the inventory and one may not be able to clear them out in time. Now that the market has a tendency to change and also that new products are produced every day, the chances of clearing an outdated inventory can be even more difficult. However, in low volume manufacturing the products can be cleared out to market in lesser time.
  • Mending defects: producing a large number of units and then learning that they have a defect and flaws can be a huge blowback. This is why low volume production means one can control the production units and can also make changes easily and curb the flaws in time so that large inventory is filled with defective or flawed units.

Oracle Production Scheduling Vs Manufacturing Scheduling

After Oracle’s acquisition of JD Edwards in 2006, Oracle has been promoting the best-in-class Production Scheduling (PS) software for all the obvious reasons. While more and more customers are adopting Oracle Production Scheduling to remove bottlenecks and improve performance on the shop floor, some manufacturing companies are still wondering why they should switch from Oracle’s Old Manufacturing Scheduling to Production Scheduling?

Here are the main reasons:

· Oracle PS is a versatile application that can be stand-alone or integrated with Manufacturing Planning and Execution Systems as opposed to Manufacturing Scheduling which mainly works in conjunction with the manufacturing execution system – Work in Process (WIP). With Production Scheduling’s close loop integration with Advanced Supply Chain Planning (ASCP), shop floor jobs can be best scheduled to both optimize resource planning and maximize service levels.

· Oracle PS with its powerful Key Performance Indicators (KPI) can be used as a tool to ensure that the scheduling scenario is meeting the corporate end objectives. Comparison of different schedule scenarios are instantly displayed in the Oracle Production Scheduling KPIs with Service Level, Inventory, Resource and Manufacturing utilization details. This makes decision analysis rather effortless. Many savvy schedulers using Oracle Manufacturing Scheduling had long wished for such powerful functionality.

· Oracle Production Scheduling can automatically detect resource floating bottlenecks as they move within a schedule. This understanding helps PS Solver deploy the most appropriate

Scheduling strategy to maximize the throughput and optimize the resource utilization.

On the other hand, resolving the bottleneck required a lot of constant tuning of the rules in the older Oracle Manufacturing Scheduling.

· Production Scheduling provides a number of views which can provide users with powerful analysis to support their decision making. Some of these views and user interfaces are:

o Production Pegging (Supply/Demand pegging with easy to drill down alert and root causes)

o Resource and Operations Gantt

o Resource and Item Graph

o Resource Gantt and Multi-Capacity Resource Graph

o Operations Editor and Graphical Routings

o Change over Editor

· Performance: Oracle PS uses smarter technology for constraint directed search which achieves the advantages of constraint-based scheduling with much better performance over traditional tools like Oracle Manufacturing Scheduling. This is another reason Production Scheduling becomes a tool of choice when production volume or production constraints are higher.

· Oracle PS is much simpler to setup yet delivers powerful scheduling strategies to optimize production without much trial and error. This reduces the total cost of ownership.

CONCLUSION

Oracle Production Scheduling is truly the best of breed next generation software which provides huge advantages over Oracle’s past Manufacturing scheduling tool. There are a number of additional PS capabilities (not covered in this short blog) that if implemented well, can make scheduling really productive.