Manufacturing Software Helps Aerospace Assembler Track Production

07/10/2017 6:040 commentsViews: 11

Airline passengers may not be familiar with the manufacturer SAFRAN Landing Systems (SLS). But, for the past decade, the company’s braking, landing and monitoring systems have enabled millions of passengers to arrive safely at their destinations.

SLS is a large company (more than 7,000 employees), with design and manufacturing facilities across the globe. Assembly is performed in Asia (Seremban, Malaysia; Suzhou, China), Europe (Molsheim, Bidos, and Villeurbanne, France; Gloucester, England), Canada (Montreal), Mexico (Querétaro) and the United States (Walton, KY; Seattle).

Not surprisingly, the company faces production planning and scheduling problems at one or more of these facilities at different times. In fact, the biggest problem SLS has faced in recent years is knowing, at any moment, the true production capacity of each plant.

To meet this challenge, company management considered various types of management software. Ultimately, SLS settled on TrakSYS from Parsec Automation Corp. because it is configurable and scalable, provides Web-based reporting, and can be modified and expanded using internal resources.

In late 2015, SLS used the software at one plant as a test case. TrakSYS was installed on one server and connected to 12 CNC machines (on two assembly
lines) and their control systems via an Ethernet LAN. Machine operators were able to interact with the systems at all times and view production and performance information, reports, enter observations and categorize events.

As for plant managers, they focused on how the software benefitted the plant in four areas related to production. First and foremost, managers used the software to analyze production and equipment data to determine true asset utilization. Also closely analyzed were production planning and scheduling accuracy, the production stream of the facility’s lean manufacturing program, and the impact of continuous-improvement initiatives like 5S, single-minute exchange of dies (SMED) to reduce equipment changeover time, and lean money indexing (LMI), which combines lean manufacturing with activity-based costing.

“Within three months of deploying it [software], we were able to identify the root causes of production problems, prioritize them by their impact, and focus on measurably improving production capacity,” explains Christophe Joubert, industrial vice president of the wheels and brakes division at SLS.

The software provided managers with correct and detailed production information in real time, including reports about major and minor bottlenecks. This enabled them to accurately determine process times and labor hours, correct resource allocations and utilizations, and, ultimately, increase the daily production of each CNC machine by an average of one hour.

Increasing production by this amount made it possible for SLS to achieve an ROI on the software in just three months, rather than 1 year as initially expected. TrakSYS’s cost-effectiveness, combined with its production benefits, convinced SLS managers to implement the software on another 10 production lines at the plant.

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