Category: Mixed Mode Manufacturing, Case Studies, Shop Floor Data Collection, Customizable ERP
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Panoramic Goes Mobile And Virtual
Located in Janesville, Wisconsin, Panoramic manufactures thermoformed packaging products for the food industry as well as non-food industrial and retail clients. With more than 900 custom and stock parts in their repertoire, Panoramic’s products range from basic bowls and trays to specialized packaging that looks like footballs or basketballs and align with events like the Super Bowl or NCAA Basketball Tournament.
Since initially going live with the software, Panoramic has continued to find new ways to use Global Shop Solutions more effectively throughout their business. For example, in order to gain greater access to information on the shop floor, management recently installed Shop Floor Data Collection screens at every thermoforming machine workcenter. Employees now have 24-inch touchscreen monitors to run the GUI system, and can access all the information they need at their workstations.
But the company didn’t stop there. Panoramic’s complex machines can have up to 350 different settings that need to be adjusted every time they run a new part. And by itself, GUI doesn’t track that information the way management wanted it to be tracked. Assistant CFO and IT Manager Justin Wendorf didn’t just find a solution, he created it.
Using the Global Application Builder (GAB), he wrote a custom script that tracks machine settings by work order. Now, employees can review previous jobs to determine the settings for a particular part and use them as a baseline for new parts. The script also enables workers to review quality requirements and identify problems with a particular part or material on a specific job.
“I wrote the script in GAB and tested it on Global Shop Solutions’ Playtime account before rolling it out to our production system,” says Wendorf. “I haven’t done a study yet to determine exactly how much time it’s saving us, but it’s huge.”
“We have 14 machines in a 75,000 square-foot room. Before putting in the GUI stations, every employee had to go back and forth between two central computers in the middle of the room to get their machine settings and other job-related information. Now they do everything at their machines. No more walking around. No more congestion at the middle of the room. And no more waiting to use one of the computers.”
Going Mobile and Virtual
What else has Panoramic been up to?
Wendorf wrote another GAB script that enables employees to access quality documents from their GUI screens while working at their machines. And the company is now using wireless label printers on the shop floor to streamline WIP to finished goods transfers, monitor inventory more accurately, and get current running scrap totals.
“We’re in the process of testing a program to make the labels auto-generating, so that nobody has to hand-make them anymore,” Wendorf. “Currently, we have one person who does nothing but print labels all day. Once we get this program up and running, we can have that person doing something much more productive.”
Perhaps the biggest change has come in the area of virtualization, a recent IT development that allows companies to run multiple operating systems and applications on a single computer.
Panoramic used to have a separate server for every function. With virtualization, they now have one server that performs many different functions. Instead of every employee having a physical computer at their workstations, they now have virtual desktops that use “zero clients” — hardware that allows users to log in to their virtual desktops through a third-party software application called VMware. VMWare interfaces with Global Shop Solutions through a feature called VMwareView.
Virtualization offers many benefits, including reduced IT costs, more efficient IT management and maintenance, and easier deployment of new applications. According to Wendorf, the biggest benefits for Panoramic have come from virtualizing the firm’s production computers, as well as some of the sales and administrative staff computers.
“When people want to work remotely,” says Wendorf, “they can use a VMWareView login to connect through their phone, tablet or computer and have the same experience as if they were here in the office. We’re also starting to roll mobile out into the warehouse by putting tablets on the forklifts and connecting via VMwareView. Whether on the shop floor or away from the office, our mobile productivity is growing by leaps and bounds.”
GAB customization is also helping Panoramic get rid of unwanted third-party tools. For example, Wendorf is currently working on another GAB script involving HR record keeping. That way, the company can avoid the extra cost of an outside HR software application while keeping everything in the Global Shop Solutions system. Wendorf has also written a Crystal Report that can produce a full product catalog ready to go to the printers – a process that used to take a few weeks to a month to complete, depending on how many changes needed to be made.
“We believe in doing as much as possible in-house to limit the number of external companies we have to interface with,” concludes Wendorf. “By keeping it all in one system, Global Shop Solutions helps us do more on our own and do it more efficiently.”