Manufacturing Decision-Support Systems

Awareness of the relevant facts at the right time can improve the profitability of operations.

Manufacturing Decision-Support Systems are those systems which support manufacturing plants in their operational activities by ensuring that:

  • raw materials are available
  • production units are operated efficiently
  • product is within specification
  • product is available for dispatch when required.

They must also provide information for longer term strategic analysis and planning:

Operational Decision Support:

Manufacturing systems must assist in answering the following operational questions:

What is the current quality of the product ?
What is the current cost of production?
Are emissions and effluents within environmental limits ?
How can we optimize quality and cost ?
Can we increase the production rate ?
How do we solve problems on the machine ? (and other parts of the plant) ?
How do we record production, losses, observations, maintenance needs, set up and tuning ?
And how do we recall that information ?
What are the Key Performance Indicators of this shift ?
When is the best time to change grade and how do we best set up for the next grade ?
What do we do if the machine is not performing correctly - change grade? If so, which grade ?
What do we do with product that is out of spec? Downgrade it? Recycle it?
How do we trace back to the raw material batches from the finished unit ?
How do we find information on procedures, training ?
How do we communicate information to others ?

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Strategic Decision-Support

Manufacturing systems must assist in answering the following strategic questions:

What are the trends (over a shift, week, month, year) ?

  • production vs. standard
  • machine efficiency, time efficiency, finishing efficiency
  • Nett Tonnes per Hour
  • chemical costs
  • grade costs
  • off-quality product
  • quality tests

What are the relationships between process and quality variables ? eg. refining vs. strength correlation

What is the profitability of specific grades ?

What is it costing to maintain each asset ?

Both the operational and strategic needs must be addressed by manufacturing systems.

Systems must present the information in a suitable form to support the decision making of operators, and provide incentive to use them by providing feedback of Key Performance Indicators on which operators are rewarded.

Initiatives which support operators and contribute to the 4 most common business objectives include:

Initiative

Improved Customer Service

Consistent Product Quality

Cost Reduction

Empower Employees

Cost Of Production Systems    

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Grade Registers  

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Test Result Feedback  

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Product Tracking Systems

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Test Laboratory Automation  

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Diagnostic Expert Systems  

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Dynamic Scheduling    

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Plantwide Operating Status      

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Process/Quality Database  

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On-Line Operating Procedures      

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Document Management      

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Statistical Analysis      

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Automation of Daily Report    

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Load Planning

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Performance Feedback to Operators  

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Critical Success Factor Calculations  

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On-Line Operator Logs      

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Plantwide Alarms

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Product Quality Display to Crews

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The majority of these initiatives support the empowerment of employees. The concept of self-directed work teams requires that all the relevant information needed for decision support should be available.

For consulting in any of these areas, Contact Procex!

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