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Production Processes Have Never Looked Better for This Defense Manufacturer Thanks to ERP Software

It takes a lot of expertise and know-how to keep U.S. military airplanes up and running, and Thomas Instrument has been providing both for more than 30 years. Thomas Instrument provides engineering, manufacturing, and repair/overhaul services to the U.S. Department of Defense.

Saving Time with Auto Move Tickets

In the air defense industry, on-time delivery is critical. But with 300 to 400 assembly and component work orders on Thomas Instrument’s shop floor at any given time, jobs can sometimes get out of sequence, causing unnecessary delays. Global Shop Solutions ERP software helped to reduce these errors by simplifying the move ticket process and ensuring that jobs in progress go to the correct sequence after completion at each workstation.

Within Thomas Instruments ERP software, the process is mostly automated. All the Shop Floor Data Collection stations on the shop floor are equipped with a move ticket printer. When a machinist logs out of a sequence, Shop Floor Data Collection automatically prints a move ticket and electronically sends a duplicate copy to production control. The machinist takes the move ticket from the printer and attaches it to the pallet. Production control uses its copy to locate the parts and move them to the next sequence in the workflow.

“With Global Shop Solutions, move tickets are faster and more accurate than the traditional barcoded work order,” says Mike Slamen, IT Manager for Thomas Instrument

Seamless Integration with Other Programs

In every business, managers like to see the data a certain way. At Thomas Instrument, Global Shop Solutions’ ability to seamlessly integrate with other programs – such as Excel and Crystal reports – allows managers to see
the data exactly how they want it. This includes creating a number of custom Dashboards that provide high-level overviews of each department.

“The shop manufacturing dashboard provides a detailed look at the whole shop floor. We can see detailed information from the work orders, where they’re at, and where problems might be occurring. One of the real benefits of Global Shop Solutions is its ability to work with other programs. We create the Dashboards in Excel, connected directly to the database.”

Mike Slamen, IT Manager for Thomas Instrument

Precise Capture of Labor Time

When machinists finish running the first part in a batch, the part must go to quality control for inspection – a process that can take up to two hours. Once the part is approved, machinists can finish the rest of their parts. During the inspection, however, they remain logged into the job, which doesn’t accurately reflect the amount of time it takes to run the parts.

To address this issue, Thomas Instrument created a Visual Basic “FA Login” program. Machinists log into the program to select their name and sequence from the list. From that point, the inspection time gets charged to
quality control rather than the machinists. When QC finishes the inspection, the time tracking reverts back to the technicians as they finish making the rest of the parts.

“We also created a custom Crystal Report that continuously tracks the inspection process on a large TV screen so everyone can see it,” says Slamen.

Managing Change Orders with Advanced Planning & Scheduling

The robust Advanced Planning & Scheduling (APS) application has dramatically improved scheduling efficiency and workflow through the shop floor. In particular, switching from infinite to finite scheduling has helped Thomas Instrument reduce the manual effort required to move work orders around.

Government contractors like Thomas Instrument depend on their ability to submit competitive bids to win their contracts. Global Shop Solutions helps with this process in several different ways:

  • helping to keep costs down;
  • providing accurate historical information on previous jobs to help with estimating and quoting;
  • and of course, helping to get the product out the door on time by simplifying the production process.

Download Thomas Instrument’s full case study to see all the ways that ERP software has helped them improve their business.

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