Agile planning Manufacturing Execution System minimises lead times for mould maker
To manage the dynamics of day-to-day business in mould making and minimise lead times, an agile planning and control system is required. At Formenbau Krug, the Hummingbird Manufacturing Execution System (MES) makes available resources and associated data at the right time and in the right place, and allows for a quick response.
Time to market is a high priority for Formenbau Krug, a manufacturer of die-casting and injection moulds based in Breidenbach in central Hesse, Germany. On the way to Industry Standard 4.0, the company of the Krug Group is therefore continuously working towards more digitalisation, transparency, process optimisation, reproducibility and consistent project management. To improve production planning and control, a Manufacturing Execution System (MES) was sought to complement the existing ERP system ratio.net and was found through the mediation of the company Schubert Software und Systeme: The Nuremberg-based companies Hummingbird Systems and Hummingbird Services jointly developed and distribute an MES for agile planning and clocked control of production, which is used in particular in one-off production companies with fewer than 15 to more than 400 employees throughout Europe.
“MES is often still uncharted territory in tool and mould making. Mostly, production planning is covered by the commercial ERP system, Excel tables or a planning board. However, these are too rigid as well as too costly and cannot optimally map the dynamics in mould making,” explains Marcus Kalbacher, Managing Director of Hummingbird Services. “Our smart MES, on the other hand, is fast and agile like its namesake, the hummingbird — very much in the spirit of Industry 4.0.”
Advantages immediately visible
Three weeks after the introduction of the MES, the set-up of clocked block production was already well on its way; in some cases, it took a quarter less lead time to plan and schedule deadlines. Take eroding, for example: The process was previously not clocked, each department planned individually when it would start and be finished. The MES now helps to plan deadlines, machines and personnel in a capacity-oriented way. The automatic production and machine data acquisition (PDA/MDA) makes manual feedback of operations superfluous. Idle times, backlogs or overcapacities as well as emerging problems are immediately visible.
Automation and digitalisation now rule the shop floor. Instead of routing slips, there is a screen workstation at each machine that shows a digital Hummingbird job list. If the schedule is changed, the job lists automatically re-sort themselves in real time. The order of the jobs is automatically sorted and prioritised based on the planning. Conversely, it becomes immediately clear when a plan is getting out of hand.
Unstructured work is also prevented. For example, when milling, the task is only visible in the digital job list when material and NC programmes are available for it. In addition to the ERP system ratio.net, all three CAM systems as well as the milling and wire cutting machines are also connected. The MES takes over and manages all NC programmes for the corresponding machines and makes them available on time and in a process-safe manner.
Maximum transparency at all levels is one of the greatest advantages of the system. Krug's production staff can now organise themselves better because they have their worklist visibly in front of them. When changes are made, the next task is processed directly without further inquiry. CAD, CAM and assembly work are now also scheduled in the MES, so that a complete production process overview is now available in real time. “We can see the capacity utilisation of individual machines and areas straight away, can plan or reschedule better overall and can see the effects immediately,” describes Timo Blöcher, authorised signatory at Formenbau Krug. Marcus Kalbacher quantified the overall advantages for Krug: “In purely mathematical terms, you could say that this project can bring a capacity gain of at least one milling machine or about two employees per year.”