How manufacturing operations management improves shop floor control, compliance and risk management


Analogue machines as well as manual and paper-based systems are still dominant within the manufacturing sector. A recent industry whitepaper indicated that “Reliance on manual processes is (still) deeply entrenched across all functions. From data entry to communications, document handling, and employee and customer management – all critical processes are managed by a maze of several interconnected and interdependent manual processes.”  

The problem is, if you are writing anything on a piece of paper, it is very limited.  SYSPRO’s research into the inflection point for the factory of the future echoed this and showed the dire consequences of reliance on legacy manual systems, where only 38 per cent of businesses felt that their business systems were adequate to cope with the disruption caused by the pandemic. 

Industry is demanding more and more stringent controls and continued innovation. Businesses are now realising the urgency to replace legacy and manual systems with technologies that will improve visibility of critical data, increase productivity, reduce waste, lower production costs, enable greater quality control and improve the management of schedules and production rates without having to manage multiple systems from various vendors.  

But before investing in a digital solution, manufacturers need to understand what industry requirements exist, which packaging or product pain points require the most attention, and how to mitigate overall risk.  

Unpacking industry requirements  

Reliance on manual systems can be a hinderance for industries that are governed by regulatory control – there is great a possibility for human error. 

The Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA) is responsible for regulating medical devices and other healthcare products such as cells and tissues, medicines and blood products in Australia. As some medical devices pose greater risks than others the TGA classify and regulate medical devices based on their level of risk. 

The food and beverage industry is similar to the medical devices industry in that it also requires extensive record keeping as a measure of control. Packaging for the food and beverage industry requires retention samples of all raw materials beyond the shelf life of the products.

Tinned food manufacturers, for example, need to coat the inside of the can with a specific lacquer to protect the tin plate from the food product or ingredients and at the same time, a sealant needs to be applied over any welds to protect the product attacking the compromised area, and the can corroding from the inside out. With those measures in place, a tin may have a significantly extended shelf life. Samples of the internal lacquer and sealant will need to be kept by the supplier for a specified number of years. 

Understanding product or packaging pain points 

Beyond the need to comply with regulatory requirements, manufacturers also need to keep a close eye on their packaging and product performance. The electronics industry is an example, where quality control is an essential part of the process. The industry is reliant on batches of components, which are sourced from multiple suppliers and multiple locations. There is a risk that a component from a single supplier is of lower quality and may affect the overall quality of the final product.  

For the food and beverage industry, shelf life should be carefully monitored.  Australian households throw away an average of $1,036 worth of food every year. While there are several reasons for food waste, overpurchasing often leading to food reaching its expiry date, is a major factor.  

Dr Sina Naficy from Sydney University’s School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering is searching for a solution through food sensor technology. Food sensors refer to a range of technologies used to identify and monitor food characteristics such as temperature, defects and spoilage.  

Dr Naficy is investigating the design of printable gas sensors. The idea is to create a type of ink for food packaging that can detect the gases generated by bacteria in packaged food. Certain gases such as ammonia, hydrogen sulphide, nitrogen dioxide and carbon dioxide are crucial indicators of the quality of the food. By creating food packaging that can detect these gases, the industry can start to gain an accurate indication of food expiration. 

Until we can introduce food gas sensor packaging, we will still need to determine a shelf life for a food product and its packaging needs to be monitored under controlled conditions in a laboratory for several years. Once approved, packaging cannot be changed without redoing the tests. 

Complete visibility and control of the shop floor 

During manufacture, frontline managers need complete visibility and control of the shop floor to prevent problems such as overruns, bottlenecks, downtime, poor employee or machine performance and excessive scrap.  To achieve this, modern software needs to be combined with a digital strategy that ensures that the critical information is available digitally. 

Now, many manufacturers are automating the simple jobs and relying on people to manage the remaining processes, this often places a heavy demand on human resources.  As an alternative, a sophisticated system like Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM), integrated within an ERP solution, can be implemented to support the complete manufacturing lifecycle, without the risk of human error.  

The benefits of MOM in optimising the shop floor for increased control 

A MOM solution enables manufacturers to automatically connect with machines to collect critical data without manual inputs.  

MOM helps manufacturers in three ways: 

  • Measure performance of overall equipment effectiveness (OEE). This refers to how well machines run and the measurement is based on a combination of uptime, speed and quality. The MOM should not track every single machine but should ideally just track the bottlenecks or older machines. 
  • Measure overall labour performance (OLE). Often a lot of time and productivity is lost through human error. 
  • Measure total effective equipment performance (TEEP) or the amount of downtime .

By measuring these three elements in unison, manufacturers can identify specific challenges on the shop floor and optimise operational efficiencies through the better workflow of core manufacturing activities. Improvements in OEE, OLE and TEEP results in the reduction of the “Six Big Losses” in manufacturing. 

The six big losses in manufacturing 

  1. Equipment Failure: Defects and failures in equipment results in downtime, financial losses, variances in inventory and a lack of quality control. This scenario can play out for several reasons. It could be a result of unplanned downtime, no available operators and even a lack of raw materials.   
  2. Setup and adjustments: As the name suggests this refers to when equipment is scheduled for production but is not running due to a changeover or other equipment adjustments.  
  3. Idling and minor stops: This refers to when the equipment stops for a short period of time. 
  4. Reduced speed: This is when your equipment operates at a slower time than the ideal cycle time. 
  5. Process defects: This refers to the need to account for defective parts produced during stable (steady state) production. 
  6. Reduced yield: This refers to the defective parts produced from start up until stable (steady-state) production is reached. 

The role of MOM in reducing these losses 

Thanks to legacy systems, manufacturers had no clear visibility into the manufacturing process and could not always tell where issues had arisen, or where the bottleneck was occurring. Now with MOM, manufacturers have a single source of data and in turn, full visibility of production.  

While MOM may seem like the obvious next step for manufacturers to optimise operations, many have been reluctant to move away from their traditional legacy systems. The reality is that the industry has reached an inflection point, where digital transformation and the need to fast track to a smarter factory is vital to remain competitive in the coming months.  

Manufacturers should ideally consider a MOM solution that adheres to world-class manufacturing standards and is importantly fully integrated into their ERP, to leverage a single platform to monitor and improve factory performance. This will transform how an organisation manages people, equipment and processes to drive better business performance and strategic outcomes. 

By Paulo De Matos, chief product officer at SYSPRO 

Register now for the live webinar on Wednesday 15th September at 3pm AEST on Digitising your factory and improving productivity with Manufacturing Operations Management.

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