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Software Solutions

Born to run

By Lynn Stanley

Above: With DELMIAWORKS’ (IQMS) ERP software, manufacturers can monitor, track, trace and communicate production processes and data faster.

Software helps fabricators adapt to the ebb and flow of industrial trends

February 2020 - “In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing.” Author Norman Maclean penned the words in his autobiography, “A River Runs Through It.” The book chronicles Maclean’s life on the Blackfoot River in early 20th century Montana.

For Steve Bieszczat, chief marketing officer for DELMIAWORKS (IQMS ERP), there is no clear line between ERP software and manufacturing but rather a “continuation of trends.” Headquartered in Paso Robles, California, DELMIAWORKS develops enterprise resource planning (ERP) and manufacturing execution system (MES) software for discrete and batch process production spaces. The software supplier has collected feedback from countless customers to make ongoing improvements to its products. “In a way, our system represents the combined wisdom of thousands of successful manufacturers,” Bieszczat says.

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The quality system reduces errors and improves decision-making.

On trend

Like the Blackfoot River, DELMIAWORKS’ IQMS ERP software, born on the shop floor, runs through the industry’s landscape, supporting the trends that influence manufacturing.

The widening shortage of skilled labor resources continues to grab headlines in 2020. Since 2019, 7.6 million jobs have remained unfilled and, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, only 6.5 million people were looking for work.

“Manufacturers are trying to find solutions or abatements for labor shortages” says Bieszczat. “I use that term intentionally because people are actively trying to find ways to deal with it from increasing benefits and making the work environment more attractive to instituting recognition programs and increasing the level of employee interaction.

“Companies are also automating manufacturing execution,” he continues. For example, some have installed digital monitors that can view the activities of four machines simultaneously, “yet require just one operator.”

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers Ltd. (PwC), 91 percent of industrial companies are investing in digital factories and expect to see efficiency gains of 12 percent over the next five years. Connecting machines to communicate across a common infrastructure is a first step to digitization, a PwC study found.

Eliminating dead time

“Automation eliminates dead time on the manufacturing floor,” says Bieszczat. “The No. 1 question people ask us is, ‘How do I become more efficient?’ But what they often really mean is, ‘How do I require less labor?’”

With IQMS’ ERP software solution EnterpriseIQ, manufacturers can monitor, track, trace and communicate production processes and data faster than other systems, its developers claim. Digital equipment counts cycles, parts, scrap rate, raw material usage and other key information. “A manufacturer can predict job completion with a higher degree of accuracy,” Bieszczat says. “Production and process monitoring also allows an ERP system to back flush or automate the accounting of material consumed for production at the time of confirmation. It eliminates the need to perform the task manually and reduces labor.

“The marriage of design, simulation and manufacturing is one of the biggest trends we’ve seen in the last few years,” he adds.

Previously common methods of employing freehand and mechanical drawings eventually gave way to computer-aided part designs. Over the past several years, CAD has freed designers to move from 2D drafts to creating 3D solid models that can be analyzed and tested virtually without the need to create a physical prototype first.

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Automation eliminates dead time on the production floor.

Shorter lead times

“Digital continuity between the design phase and actually producing parts is shortening lead cycles,” says Bieszczat.

Reshoring is another factor influencing delivery windows. The need to get products to market faster, improve response time to customers, and reduce the cost of transportation and warehousing are prompting more companies to bring manufacturing back to the U.S. According to the Reshoring Initiative, the rate of reshoring combined with foreign direct investment (FDI) job announcements in 2018, was up 2,300 percent from 2010, “representing a major macro-economic impact.” The organization suggested that “policymakers can use these continued successes as proof that it is feasible to bring millions of jobs back.”

With manufacturing operations migrating home, a trend to push quality control downstream is emerging.

“Customers want to see process history and quality control steps,” says Bieszczat. “They are expecting mainstream suppliers to take the same approach to quality as an OEM does. In many cases customers are saying, ‘If you can’t document quality, you can’t be our supplier.’”

EnterpriseIQ’s Quality Management software uses modules that link to enterprise planning and production data to help fabricators meet stringent quality standards. The IQMS quality system reduces errors and improves decision-making across the supply chain. EnterpriseIQ’s electronic data interchange (EDI) software provides a two-way automated information exchange that is able to translate incoming files and generate reports for customers and suppliers.

Sustainable

Sustainability is the next trend Bieszczat has observed. “Ten years ago, your typical mainstream manufacturer didn’t think much about the impact of their business on the environment,” he says. “Today everyone from large corporations to the small mom-and-pop shops are looking at their environmental footprint and taking steps to practice sustainability.

“Companies have also discovered a link between sustainability and profitability. Energy consumption and raw materials usage typically have large cost impacts on manufacturers.”

To implement and support sustainability processes, companies can employ ERP and MES software to automate monitoring and management. “Sustainability initiatives can help grow business, attract customers and increase a company’s bottom line,” Bieszczat says. “It’s a trend that is not going away.”  FFJ

Sources

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