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Who knew that you could balance 100's of work orders simultaneously?

Our electronics manufacturing factories today are finally picking up steam. This is creating pressure on many companies who are looking for ways to improve performance-to-schedule. One of the most important factors in attracting and keeping customers, is the ability to continuously meet delivery commitments for production and to keep the delivery time as short as possible. This is especially true in consumer electronics where product life cycles can be extremely short and the demand cycles are volatile. Therefor the rate of on-time delivery (measuring your ability to keep your promises) and the span of time from order to fulfillment (measuring the value of your promise, assuming you keep it) are arguably the two most critical Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for the success of a manufacturing operation. Mentor Graphics may be one the first companies ever to deliver one solution that can solve both of these problems at the same time! This solution is our new Line Executive (i.e. LX) product. You can see many of the product details in the data sheet, plus several interesting use cases, but I want to call your attend to a few of the more amazing capabilities of this tool.

One of the most difficult challenges for manufacturers who build many different products (high mix and ultra-high mix), is how to assign work orders to the right line and in the right sequence to achieve the fastest production. This is a complex problem. The complexity comes from the many factors that are in play. I’ll try to list them here without getting a head ache:

  • Capacity of each machine in terms of an honest placement rate and how many feeders are can be installed based on the variety of feeder widths needed for different component sizes
  • Don’t forget, that just because the machine can hold say, 100 feeders of a certain mix, does not mean that you have 100 feeders available of the correct size to load part numbers you need for your present plan!
  • Combined capacity of each line defined by rolling together the individual machine and feeder data
  • Don’t forget that you may be relocating a line to a different factory, or a line may be down for preventative maintenance, or this, or that , etc. etc.
  • Number of different part numbers in each work order and the build quantity and expected delivery date.
  • Don’t forget about the fact the some jobs are more important than others regardless of the delivery date in the work order!
  • Knowing which machines and feeder types are qualified to handle each different part number in each BOM in each Work Order in the plan
  • Don’t forget that some machine use Dual Feeders which requires certain qualified pairings of part numbers, and which are very time consuming to change over, so you want to pick components pairs that work for as many Work Orders as possible!
  • Knowing how many work days are available this month or this week, or how many shifts are assigned for this line or that line
  • Don’t forget about Holidays!

Now just when you think you’ve got all of the variables listed in your spreadsheet and all your formulae dialed into perfection, there is still a serious problem. How do you know if you have enough material available to execute your perfect plan?

And then, you start your day with the perfect plan, only to get that phone call where the VP Sales tell you company XYZ must have their shipments expedited by 3 days! Good bye perfect schedule. The dominos start to fall and all you can think about is that vacation coming up soon.

OK, I think that spells out the complexity pretty well. Who knew that there was a software solution to this problem, one that comprehends the vast complexity and dynamics of the shop floor? The keys to success of the Line Executive tool are 1) all the variables are dialed in and can be adjusted so easily and 2) the Line Executive applies all these details to generate intelligent product groupings from the work orders that fit the requirements dictated by the BOMs and line configurations. The magic happens when all of this is done for hundreds of work orders instantly and the newly formed groups are assigned across all the lines within seconds, in such a way that the best delivery plan can be achieved according to your needs and priorities of the day.

Now when the VP of Sales calls to scramble your production plan so he can win a massive new contract for the company, within seconds you can tell exactly which other accounts are going to suffer from being bumped. Before you send the plan to the floor, you will also know exactly how many of each work order you can build with the inventory you have on hand, and equally important, how many you cannot build until the component shortage is resolved.

One more thing to highlight before you run off to read the white paper or the datasheet: When you want to see the trade-offs between adding another shift or adding another product line, you can run a what-if analysis and make decision based on objective evidence. Man, I wish we had tools like this back in the day of my youth, when all we had were pocket calculators and big chief yellow tablets!

If I have your interest and you would like to see a demonstration of this software tailored for you, please let us know.

Line Executive

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About Bruce Isbell

Bruce Isbell“Bruce Isbell is seasoned professional within the electronics manufacturing industry. He has served the industry for more than 20 years in both wafer fab and in SMT board level assembly as a manufacturing engineer in both high volume consumer electronics as well as high reliability systems for the military and aerospace segments of the market. The past 10 years Bruce has been applying his manufacturing background and communications skills in sales and marketing organizations to promote technologies which advance the industry in both manufacturing efficiency and quality.” Visit Manufacturing Operations Management

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