How well is your part ordering system working? | Part 3 of 4

How to Evaluate the Nesting Process

Steps to Evaluate the Nesting Process

In the last two blog posts we’ve first laid a foundation for evaluating a process, then applied that foundation to the CAD to CAM process or geometry acquisition and data cleaning and storage steps.  As you know the nesting process takes input from two areas – design and scheduling.  Now we’ll turn to the other side of the equation (parts + orders = nests), and evaluate the order entry and order communication process as it relates to nesting.

Every manufacturer has a capturing and communicating order information approach.  It can be a paper-based system with travelers and making use of the “sneaker-net” to transfer the information.  It can be an Excel spreadsheet with a list of customer orders and associated parts, or it can be a sophisticated MRP/ERP system which is updated in real time.  Regardless of the tools in place, there are fundamental process requirements that can be described, evaluated, and compared to alternatives.

Here we go.

Collection or input of orders

The order name, part name, quantity, material, due date, priority among other data is collected somehow, by someone, and stored somewhere.  Here we drill down to describe exactly what that process is.  You may be surprised to discover some gaps or oddities in your process.

Describe the order capture and processing process

  • What information (part #, due date, quantity) is captured with each order?
  • Where are the orders created, stored? Are the orders in a digital format? Paper format?
  • Are the orders in a MRP/ERP system?  Excel file? Is the information (quantity, material) in the CAD file?
  • Who has access to the orders?
  • How many orders are there?  Does it require a lot of manpower just to keep up, or is it a steady or infrequent trickle of orders?
  • How frequently do new orders arrive?  How quickly must they be addressed?  Hours?  Days?  Does it depend on the type of customer? Do some customers get priority service?
  • How are orders communicated to manufacturing? Is it a paper and/or verbal system that delivers the “word” to manufacturing?
  • How are “hot” orders, change orders, or rework orders handled?  How and by whom is the order priority set?   How and by whom does the order management system get updated – by the machine operators, design, scheduling, programming?
  • How do kits/assemblies/units remain together when manufactured? Or is order cohesion sacrificed to meet efficiency numbers or delivery deadlines?  Is order cohesion even important?
  • Do the orders reflect a make-to-order process or make-to-inventory process?  Is it a Kanban system?  How does the order system reflect or not reflect these processes?

Evaluate the process

It is very easy to get comfortable with a process. It’s also easy to fall back on the reason, “that’s the way we’ve always done it” as justification.  Take a look at each step in your process and ask, “Why?”

  •  Among the data captured with the order, is there information missing that would be helpful downstream?  Why?  If due date or priority, for example, is missing from the information transferred, does that cause a problem or put someone in the position of asking or making a decision without the information?
  • Are orders handled in a timely fashion? Are the right order priorities assigned? Are any orders lost or mis-communicated (wrong material, quantity, revision)? Is there a wait downstream for orders?  Why or why not?
  • Are parts from different orders mixed together?  Why?  Why not?
  • How well are hot orders or change orders reintegrated to the process flow? What does a rapid response to the orders do to material efficiency?
  • What makes a hot order “hot?”   Why?
  • Is there a feedback loop from the sheet metal software to the MRP software to communicate nested parts & materials consumed? Would this be helpful?

Evaluate alternatives

Finally, after describing and evaluating the process, look for policy, procedure or technology tools to bridge gaps or fill in holes in the process.

  •  What’s the most important aspect of this process?  What are you trying to achieve….in terms of adding value to the product? How can it be improved?
  • Does every step add value?  If not, how can it be eliminated or improved?  Would automation help?
  • Would better communication help?  Would technology help smooth communication links?
  • Would instituting an MRP system help?  Could it be integrated into the current system?
  • Would a CAM to MRP software integration make things run smoother?
  • What would you hope to gain of any change? Would it benefit the bottom line, reduce stress, add value?

Now you have an arsenal of questions with which to tackle your order process.  When you take a good look at it, you may find opportunities for improvement.  Some improvements may be a process change, some may involve new technology and some may take a greater strategic review and involve policy changes.  Wherever this discussion leads you, just take one step at a time and keep in mind your ultimate goals – adding value, cutting costs, or whatever you deem most appropriate.

And let us know how it’s going.  Touch back and offer your insights or comments here.

In the meantime, if Optimation can be of assistance to help review your process or discuss automation technology that may be helpful, just give us a ring.

Notice: This work is licensed under a BY-NC-SA. Permalink: How well is your part ordering system working? | Part 3 of 4

One comment on “How well is your part ordering system working? | Part 3 of 4

  1. Pingback: Evaluating the Sheet Metal Nesting Process | Part 4 of 4 | Optimation Nesting Software Blog

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