Integrating Magic or MES?
by Christine Bergeron, Planit Canada Technical Consultant
I recently had the opportunity to collaborate with Jonathan Saucier, Product Manager at WEB-CAB to integrate Production Assistant software for CiF Lab Solutions at their facility in Vaughn, ON. The impressive shop specializes in finished wood projects, such as school laboratories and furniture for educational institutions. Their primary reason for integrating the Manufacturing Execution System (MES) with their existing CAD/CAM software was to better manage damaged parts and to implement RFID labelling and tracking at their 5 shipping docks. My primary reason for being there was for training – and to geek out on some incredibly cool tech.
The process; magically free of interruptions
Upon arrival, the first thing we did was conduct a tour with the shop manager, Adrian Florea. This allowed us to confirm that we were all on the same page about the shop’s processes, and how WEB-CAB will be used to reduce bottlenecks.
We started by configuring all of the stations, doing one dry run, and making any necessary adjustments. We then took Adrian around to ensure that everything was set up for their specific needs and objectives.
You’re probably imagining us running around like minions, trying to get everything installed quickly so that you can get back to work ASAP, right? Well, the magical thing about the integration is that it doesn’t even require the interruption of your operations at all while we’re there. We install it, test it and modify it using projects simulations while you work. And then it’s ready to roll.
There are absolutely no changes made to your process, it’s the same flow but with added checkpoints: an enhancement in order to fine tune production.
Once the installation is up and running, in this case on the third day of our four-day visit, we trained Adrian who, in turn, will train his staff. It is typical for the shop managers to do the training – as they are the ones who know their staff processes best. We assist to answer any follow-up questions and make any necessary clarifications.
We’ll do a follow-up visit about 2 weeks after the integration, to make sure that the software is running smoothly and that they are already seeing significant reductions in time spent managing damaged parts.
No more wasting time or money on damaged parts
The primary goal for CiF Labs was to better track and manage damaged parts. As a result of the implementation,
anyone in the shop can now easily report a damaged part for x, y or z reason, and define it in any which way. This sends out an alert to the appropriate party who will then offer a solution, and how to proceed.
In addition, as part of phase 1, they’ve implemented RFID labelling for finished assemblies. As a future project, they intend to implement RFID for all individual parts.
Meeting targets on a daily basis with Display Count
Setting objectives is an important part of staying on track, and Web-Cab does a great job of displaying targets and progress where it counts. If you’re targeting completed assemblies within a specific timeframe, for example, the Display Count on the screen tells employees on the floor if they’re on or off track. The screen keeps a live tab on progress, and if a project is behind, the employee at the station can react immediately in order to get the project back on course.
Having worked in wood shops for almost 2 decades, I can appreciate how disruptive a new software implementation can be; in terms of the initial interruption during setup and then the pain of changing processes, getting buy-in from staff, and learning new software. This system genuinely eliminates all that agony. No work interruption, and your work processes don’t have to change. The learning curve is short and the benefits immediate. Better communication, quicker identification of lost/damaged parts, and dramatically reduced reaction time.
About CiF Lab Solutions
- 18 stations with approximately 80 employees
- 2 automated finished lines (one water based and one with solvent)
- 3 saws
- 3 CNC machines
- 2 assembly lines
- 5 shipping docs with RFID labelling