Driving a Digital Transformation with MES System Integrators

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By Chuck Eggers, Director of Quality and Manufacturing at AbelConn Electronics, a division of Atrenne Integrated Solutions

Digital Transformation

At Atrenne Integrated Solutions, customers include some major Aerospace and Defense companies, requiring the utmost quality control and production efficiency. On the factory floor, an integrated MES system provides a form of “manufacturing intelligence” to drive Digital Transformation. Operators use Aegis’ FactoryLogix MES for real-time visibility into production, allowing them to streamline processes and ensure quality.

Even just 5 or 10 years ago, manufacturers stood to benefit from choosing a single, strategic business database and using it for 10+ years. Now, with today’s ever-evolving data requirements (largely driven by industry regulations) it’s critical that we “check in on” our data platform choices far more frequently.

At Atrenne Integrated Solutions, we review our technologies often to ensure that they enable the latest digital innovations to support the changing needs of our customers. The Atrenne culture values customer-focused improvement while identifying and eliminating negatives, and abolishing waste with real-time problem resolution. Implementing an MES in our factories allows us to drive a digital transformation, resulting in improved productivity, actionable insights, and better business agility.

Improved Productivity

Since the build process is being monitored constantly, operators are immediately alerted of issues when they happen, allowing them to halt production and reduce the number of materials that need to be scrapped or reworked. When building subsequent jobs, the ability to quickly make changes, and implement them for the next build reduces the lag time in a documentation cycle, allowing immediate “next job releases” to the production floor. Both of these examples translate to faster jobs and significantly improved efficiency, allowing us to deliver the best-quality product, and increasing our competitive advantage.

Actionable Insights

Simply collecting data from a single source would be meaningless, but harvesting and analyzing data from multiple software platforms enable us to connect and make sense of “siloed” information. As manufacturers, we are dealing with more data now, from more sources, than ever before.

Since “going digital” with an integrated MES platform, all departments from Engineering to shop floor Production to Management are connected to their personalized form of “manufacturing intelligence” - insights that inform their daily priorities. Shop floor dashboards display configurable reports of critical information, including quality, performance, materials, OEE, alarms, WIP, and predictive job management data.

The result? The entire Atrenne enterprise benefits from more accurate and more efficient processes.

What is The Future of the Paperless Factory?

There are two other advancements that are already exhibiting substantial benefits for the Smart Factory. The first is regarding the devices used to view electronic documentation and the methods in which it displayed. For example, assembly workers currently need to constantly look back and forth between their work and computers for instructions, which not only causes physical pain to their neck hands and eyes but is also a distraction.

By using a digital headset, glasses or other forms Augmented Reality (AR), productivity and concentration improves by providing a visual display eliminating the need for workers to look away from the task at hand. Through the use of AR headsets, complex step-by-step instructions are displayed for assembly, inspection or test information to the operator in real-time. Learning time can be reduced and the possibility of errors can be removed. Even if there are adjustments to the product or work-order the operator can receive live guidance and hands-on instructions that is visually overlaid onto their work. These advancements make a huge difference for high-mix cell-based Lean production by improving productivity and reducing operators stress. It is estimated that the rate of production could increase 50 percent.

The second promising initiative is in the improvement of digitalized MES software itself. Today, disparate data can be turned into value-added KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) by using advanced algorithms. Eventually these algorithms will further evolve into Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms that will further improve production in real-time. Eventually, the leveraging of AI will enable products to be introduced automatically as well as the controlling of amounts and timing needed for production, to satisfy the changing requirements from the customer. At first, AI will aid management by providing suggestions and choices in the decision-making process. Human intervention will not be needed as AI becomes more sophisticated and trusted.

The products digital twin and the digital shadow of production data must be exact and precise for these AI algorithms to be effective. The vast amount of different meanings and formats of communication content make gathering data from multiple machines from many vendors very difficult. As equipment vendors, manufacturers and solution providers begin to use the new IPC Industrial IoT standard, Connected Factory Exchange (CFX) this restriction will disappear.

Business Agility

Reaction time to customer demand is everything in today’s world, and as a contract manufacturer, we must have the business agility to respond to changing demands, while still controlling quality and cost. Customers change the priority of their products based on market need, and occasionally need orders sooner than anticipated. With access to a live overview of the plant floor, we can quickly react and make informed decisions, driving the best value for our customers’ time-to-market.

After all, staying competitive nowadays depends on how quickly and efficiently we can turn data into actionable insights. Using an MES platform enables us to reap the benefits of today’s “digital revolution”, and we’re excited to see what’s to come with the next generation of software features. 

Learn more by visiting Atrenne Integrated Solutions

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