Sparta Production Management System Banner - Part 2

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This is Part 2 of a series of posts on Sparta’s production management system for manufacturing. You may want to read  Part 1 in this series before continuing.

Introduction to the Sparta Production Management System

Hi, this is Jason from Sparta Engineering and I would like to take a few minutes today to go through our advanced production management system. This system was designed as a partnership between Sparta Engineering and CBI Manufacturing. Our intent was to streamline communication between engineering and manufacturing. Specifically, we wanted to get the engineer’s computer talking directly to the manufacturers’ system (computers and equipment) without needing a lot of human interaction [intervention] between the two.

I am going to go through the steps and the benefits of using a production management system.

Model in SolidWorks

The life of this project starts off in SolidWorks and we create a model for every part that gets manufactured. When we go to release a project like the one you see in front of you, we generate a virtual part (called a production file) for every part the manufacturing shop needs to make.  These production files are just shells that hold information linking back to the SolidWorks file. For example, this file has a part number, description, quantities required, processes, heat numbers, and a spot to input more information. This production file is linked to the SolidWorks file and is generated when we release a file.

This platform is based on PDM which is a SolidWorks plugin. You will see some native PDM stuff and some backend programming. PDM is a really fantastic system and has changed the way we engineer. We didn’t feel it was quite capable to do what we were trying to force it to do so we added some custom coding. Part of PDM is the ability to add workflows to files inside of that system. I am going to show you the workflow next.

Production Workflow

This is our production workflow. The gold boxes are the states that files can be in and the blue boxes are the logic of how it moves from one state to the next. So everytime we make a part, a production file gets made and is a virtual copy of the actual manufactured part. The part follows a work path controlled by this visual representation and affects how the manufacturing shop reacts to that production file.

In production –  a bunch of logic is used to figure out which station the part needs to go to first. For example, does the part need to go to plasma first, or waterjet first, or saw first. If the destination is the waterjet table, then the part moves to the waterjet table and that triggers the corresponding part to show up in the to-do list for the waterjet table. This tells them they need to cut it. From there, the process can be complete from the waterjet table and there is another set of logic to determine where the part goes next (welding or break, etc.).  There is also an engineering loop where you can initiate an engineering change. This concludes the workflow that controls the production files. This process mimics how parts flow through the actual manufacturing process.

The Process Viewer & Advanced Process Control

There is one process viewer for every station. A station is just like a manufacturing station or a process. A saw will have one, the machine shop will have a different one, welding will have a different one, etc.  Each station has custom information depending on what they need to see.

The one we are looking at is the saw view. As you can see there is one line for each part in production. The system can handle quite a few different projects and quite a few different parts. The work order numbers are on there, the process flow (where it needs to go next and where it is coming from), materials, as well as links to assembly files, drawings, and PDFs. These links are actually linking back to the SolidWorks files. These are live updates and if we change something in engineering, they will be reflected here is real time (instantly). You also have your revision control, quantities needed, and how many have been processed so far.

This process is built around Q1 quality programs and allows users to input heat numbers for traceability. It also allows users to input their name and how long they processed the part for to assist with time tracking and part tracking. This process also allows them to connect back to engineering. We have an engineering change system built right-in. If a guy finds a problem he can initiate a change right at the source and doesn’t have to go through a bunch of paperwork or people (he and can talk directly to engineering). At this point, they can set priority and release what they have already cut to the next station. This summarizes the advanced process control that Sparta offers.

Production Management System Advantages

Some of the advantages include:

  • reduces and eliminates some of the project management load

  • advanced model management – each part has a production file and a drawing to assist with the manufacturing process. (You don’t have guys at the saw trying to sort through a bunch of drawings to figure out what he needs to cut and what he doesn’t need to cut. The system lists it all for him.)

  • advanced production management workflow – project managers can use the system to select work order numbers, select blocks of parts and set priorities. This allows the guy at the saw to cut whatever is at the top of the list.

  • ability to initiate an engineering change – the guy at the saw can initiate an engineering change that removes the part from production and puts it back on the engineer’s desk for review.

  • advanced reporting – you are able to run flexible searches where you queue up your search based on any field in the database. This helps project managers stay on top of their projects; and assists others who want to know the status of specific parts.

  • monitor a project from anywhere in the world using the production management system

I hope you enjoyed learning about some of the advantages of having a structured production management system in your shop. Send me an email if you have any questions.