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Please Note: This is part 1 of a two-part series. Additional details of the production management system are discussed in part 2.
What is Sparta Engineering’s Production Management System?
Sparta uses a stand-alone production management system for manufacturing that can be used by any manufacturing shop. This system is designed to help manufacturers build Sparta products more efficiently, and give project managers a tool to organize and interact with our drawings. Sparta ships this production management system with every drawing package.
Image 1.0 – Sparta Production Management Excel File Screen Capture
Production Management System Overview
I would like to take a few minutes to describe our production management system that we ship out with all our products. This system is designed to help project managers at other manufacturing shops produce our products as efficiently as possible. It works really well if you do not have a production system already in place. I will spend some time walking you through how to use the Sparta system and how to optimize your manufacturing process.
What you see in front of you is a Sparta Mud Can that we designed a few years ago. This product has been through the design process and is ready for production. Every part that is made on the floor is modeled in SolidWorks. As you can see, the parts get modeled exactly how they are produced. For every part there is also a drawing that is used to communicate production details and an AutoCAD DXF (Drawing Interchange Format, or Drawing Exchange Format) that can be used to communicate directly with your CNC machines. A complete project from Sparta has all of these components and a completed custom property list that includes materials, cut sizes and different process instructions.
What Do We Do With All This Information?
We collect all of the information into the main assembly in SolidWorks and export into excel. It appears in Excel as a bunch of data. This is the file we ship to you. The first page is not that useful to someone who wants to use this data. Really the only thing to manipulate on this page is the quantities. So if you want 10, you put 10 in this box and it automatically populates the list. This first page is really only raw data.
Linked View Tab
The next tab over is the link view. This is good for anyone on the technical side. It allows you to open all of the files in the project. Down the left there is all of the files. In this box you can select which type of file you want to open. You can simply type “solid drawing”, “solid part”, “DXF”, etc., and then you can click and open any of the parts.
Organization by Audience
The next step is to breakdown the files by audience – what each person in the manufacturing process needs to see.
The plasma table operators look at the parts that are going to the plasma table and not all the parts in the project.
The purchaser can see the steel he needs to order and the purchase parts he needs to order, but not necessarily everything that gets fabricated in the shop.
Steel Order List Tab
This is the first tab relevant to the end user. This information is automatically generated based on SolidWorks data. This includes material type, feet or square feet, weight, max cut length and max width. You can use this data to order the correct material as well as the total material for the project or take it out of inventory depending on how your system works. You can see how this is a really nice summary of all the raw material.
Organization by Process
This is where we break up everything by process. There is one process tab for every common area in the fabrication shop – Plasma, Saw, Brake, Water Jet, and Machine Shop. What this does is it sorts all the parts so that only the pieces that go to the plasma table show up on the plasma table list. This is different than most traditional engineering packages. Most packages have lots of information on a few sheets and force fabricators or project managers to sort and get the right information to the right people. This system does it for you. Your plasma table does not need to sort through the whole project to find the pieces they need inputed. It is all in one spot with all the information they need.
In the first two columns of the plasma tab you have your part number, quantity (linked to the DXF files), description, material, and raw cut size. It also shows the process stream. In this case, it goes to plasma to get cut and brake to get bent. There are some cases that go to weld and others that are bolt-on and go straight to assembly. If you are a plasma table operator you probably have software for nesting these cut pieces. If you click on the link it will open the DXF automatically. Mine opens in AutoDesk software but it will go to whatever software you have been using. This brings up the actual DXF. You can click and add it to your nest and start cutting really quickly.
Now the saw doesn’t read DXFs so all of its parts are linked to drawings. In the Saw tab there is the material cut length that is linked to the drawings and it goes through all the processes. It doesn’t matter what the first process is, or if there is a second process. It lets the operator know where to be expecting the piece from.
Purchase List Tab
This is not the steel order list but the actual purchase components. It has a link to the drawing, a quantity and purchase information. This case also includes bolts.
This links to actual assembly drawings. This is more for your welders and assemblers. They do not need to look at the individual parts or DXFs. They are looking at the files for the overall project-level. There is a list of all your sub-assembly and main assembly drawings in the last tab.
This is the production management system that comes with every Sparta project. This is a nice and simple way to help the project manager and will hopefully help other manufacturers avoid the common scenario where someone print-outs the drawings for each team to make sure the right people are looking at the right drawings.
Image 2.0 – Sparta Production Management System Files
If you have any questions about the Sparta process or production system, don’t hesitate to contact me.