by Jim Connett, on July 18, 2019
We are presented with hundreds of choices every day. What clothes do I wear? What will I eat for lunch? Where should I go on holiday or vacation? On what side of the street should I drive? A vast majority of these choices have minimal consequences. If you wear the wrong clothes to work, you may need to return home to change. If you eat the wrong food for lunch, you may not feel well for the rest of the day. If you go to Antarctica instead of Zanzibar for vacation, well, enjoy your time in Antarctica because not many people get to go there! But if you choose to drive down the wrong side of the road, you could injure yourself and others. Every choice has a consequence.
In a high-volume manufacturing facility, one of the managers’ and engineers’ goals is to help operators make the best choice when it comes to what material to run next. With literally hundreds of options of material to process at any given time, an operator can be overwhelmed and may just “choose whatever” in order to keep the tool loaded. This choice may lead to delays and cost overruns. You can help your operators make the right choices with a dispatching application such as . Through a series of rules and priorities established ahead of time–combined with the current, event-driven, to-the-second status of the tool on which the lot could run–EDDi can present a list of lots that are considered “best to run at this time” by showing these at the top of the GUI’s dispatch list.
So, we can present the best lots to the operator, but how do we know the best material is actually chosen? That’s where EDDi’s Compliance Monitor can help. The Compliance Monitor module records the ordinal position of the material selected from the dispatch list by the user, along with other context information, and logs this selection into a database table. Using third-party business intelligence or reporting tools, this table can be queried in any number of ways to produce charts and reports based on your business rules and reporting needs. In sum, we have a historical accounting of operators’ selection choices.
It’s important to understand that, despite the authoritarian name “Compliance Monitoring”, this is not an enforcement tool. Based on our experiences in the area of dispatching, we intentionally do not recommend enforcement that says (for example) “you can only select the top three material on the list to run on this tool.” This type of constraint could impact throughput and utilization when (for example) all three material options are on hold or blocked from processing. Instead, EDDi will indicate that these are the top three lots to run by positioning them at the top of the list, and importantly, if they are not processable on this tool at this time, EDDi may be able to indicate to the operator why they are not processable (e.g. on hold, blocked for recipe or process capability reasons). Yes, we want to process the best material at this tool, but if the best material can’t run for some reason, then we want to process something on the tool. More importantly, despite the intelligence of the EDDi system, your floor operators may have information not available to the dispatcher that may put operators in a better position to choose the 10th material in the dispatch list rather than the 1st material in the list as presented by EDDi. We encourage these times of obvious deviation–where the operator makes a contradictory choice–as opportunities to discuss and determine the reasons behind the selection. It’s possible that your floor operators may be able to help you improve EDDi’s rules by incorporating human processing expertise into the dispatcher. In this way, the intelligence of your floor operators can be shared with other floor operators simply by using their skills to create the rules that can help EDDi present the best material to all operators. Making the right choice to monitor compliance can lead to positive consequences.
Written by Jim Connett
Jim came to SYSTEMA in 2016 and has 18 years of manufacturing and software automation experience in advanced automation environments, specializing in Workstream/COBOL customizations, tool integration, and data collection and aggregation. In 2014, he and his family spent two years in Ethiopia teaching English and Computer Science courses to international high school students. He enjoys traveling, reading historical and science fiction books, and all kinds of Japanese food.
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