In today's globalization era manufacturing industries are facing toughest competition not only in cost reduction but also in quality output, and speed at which they can deliver. In order to meet these demands more and more companies are reorganizing the manufacturing plant to introduce hi-tech equipments such as automated conveyor belts/assembly line, CNC equipment, robotic equipments such that consistent performance is expected, human intervention are less, and ensure delivery is quickest.
Now it is one thing to introduce hi-tech manufacturing, but real complexity is introduced when more and more companies are introducing customized products and expects it to be delivered at the speed of standard off-the-shelf type products. Naturally when customized or semi-customized products (pre listed options like car seat color) are introduced manufacturing companies have dual motive. One is to reduce the investment and cost while the other is to give more options or choice to customer and deliver it just in time.
All these requirements converge when the factory automation application integrate with ERP, and can interact with PLCs that control assembly line or hi-tech equipments like CNC machines or robots. For example, Factory automation application can integrate with Bill of Material data to gather components list and operating instructions for the assembly and send that list to component picker while simultaneously sending it to the assembly operator. It can send this information to the right operator in a long assembly line by interacting with PLC and knows which assembled product is in front of which operator by reading barcode or RFID tag attached to the assembled product. Similarly, as the production happens inventory of the product manufactured can be updated, any quality inspection details can be updated etc.
We at Kalpa recently worked on number of such projects to do a synchronous communication with PLCs, MES (Manufacturing Execution System) and ERP. Please refer our Case Studies for further detail.