Western Cape Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  16 Jan 2011

LOGISTICS: Supply Chain Optimisation


Recent Western Cape Business News

SHOP floor data collection and control has proven to be a vital component in the employ of lean manufacturing and inventory optimisation practices.

The principles behind inventory optimisation are simply defined as those that encompass the constant pursuit of ensuring inventory levels are set to a point satisfying customer service levels while maintaining the minimum amount of inventory held. Lean manufacturing on the other hand encompasses the endless pursuit of waste reduction or cost elimination.

It remains crucial that in order to even attempt any of the above in an accurate and effective manner that we have access to clean, up to date and reliable data.

The types of data required as outputs are amongst others inventory levels, both raw, finished goods and work in progress; detailed manufacture data such as potential comparative or utilisation data such as manpower usage, machine downtime, scrap quantities, rework materials, electricity, space utilisation etc. In addition to this and addressing the distribution aspects, would be the status of pick or dispatch of items or those received and awaiting inspection, to name just a few.

To understand the purposes and the mechanisms of data capture and control, it is critical to understand the primary components or system types involved. In order to do this we look to the two most obvious of current systems; shop floor data collection or shop floor control systems and the warehouse management systems (WMS). Both system types in essence, and depending on their programming and integration to ERP theoretically, should perform two completely different functions, shop floor data collection would allow for the capture of job specific detail such as machine efficiencies and/or detailed production activities where WMS will provide a level of detail surrounding activity management within the warehouse.

Output types required must be defined by intended purpose, examples of these are:

Are there requirements for direct ERP integration and thus a level of transactional integration, this generally reflected as inventory movements and as a result replicated in the appropriate ledgers and sub ledgers. This in essence fulfilling the financial ERP requirements.

The housing of data either used for the purposes of enhancing system functionality such as gap filling on ERP shortfalls; data analysis; general reporting; enhanced traceability requirements and/or directed operator activity functionality to name a few.

With a better understanding of the system types, your required outputs and the software capabilities, we have a greater ability to align your requirements to the forms of system available. With system type recognized, we are now in a position to determine the physical interfaces required, and those that will suit your environment as well as your operators.

The physical data capture is more commonly handled through the use of touch screen devices as well as mobile RF devices such as barcode scanners. All technology varieties should be selected to suit the environment and specific situation, this being potentially rugged or light industrial, scanner or touch screen etc. All software interfaces should house as few options as is necessary and as large a set of icons or buttons that can fit to the screen, the driver here being simplicity, cognitive guidance and ease in capture.

Over the years EOH Impact Africa has been instrumental in the design and implementation of numerous computer based systems. It is important to understand that although the above mentioned detail defines larger more comprehensive solutions that we do not discount the smaller quick win or value add opportunities. Examples of this may be for the provision of simplified, standalone capture interfaces at receiving or at the end of work in progress, upon transaction completion providing for automatic update of ERP and subsequently auto generating labels for application. The benefit gained at this point is the reduction in error, removal of the recapture process as well as for the labeling of items for either scanned or simplified stock take, issue or dispatch at a later date,” says EOH’s Marc Seymour.

In summary, it is important to understand the value of production data as core to improving operational efficiency as well as cost cutting within any organization. With customer service levels defining the difference between success and failure, it would prove unwise to ignore the technological enhancements adopted by your competitors. EOH Impact Africa, with a wealth of experience, offers consulting and implementation services and can provide a business with the opportunity to employ the principles found in a lean manufacturing and/or inventory optimization toolset.

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