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44 SMT007 MAGAZINE I JUNE 2019 Once the future state is iden- tified, a plan should be devel- oped which prioritizes imple- mentation phases based on the ROI of the various improve- ments. In the beginning, look at one-, three-, and five-year windows and focus on building a foundation which will con - sistently show a return along the way. Finally, adapt the plan over time as progress is made, technology improves, and chal - lenges change. As an example, consider the implementation of a manufacturing execution system on the shop floor. A phased approach could first address electronic work instructions as step towards a paperless factory. In this ini - tial phase, some initial investment will be made in engineering effort, computer hardware, and implementation, but there is an immediate return realized by removing wasteful paper documentation. A next phase could be elec - tronic data collection. Now, this added func- tionality is only an incremental improvement and investment that builds on what was imple- mented in the initial phase. Finally, machine data collection and process control may be implemented to complete the MES implemen- tation. With this approach, each phase builds upon the previous with additional value and return. Johnson: You wrote this white paper in 2018. A year or so on, how do you see the smaller shops plugging into your three-tiered factory infrastructure? For example, if I'm a single- facility shop, do I need enterprise-level apps? And how does that look different than a multi- location company? Elliott: Do not get hung up on the top tier being "enterprise only." The top tier is simply where high-level business requirements are managed. Without the corporate overhead, smaller shops are actually enabled to adapt and change more quickly than their enterprise counterparts. Although technology budgets may not be as large, smaller companies can eschew costly enterprise-grade solutions, which are usually more generalized, in lieu of pur- pose-built solutions streamlined for the electronics industry. Specialized solutions can offer SMB manufacturers a stream- lined implementation, focus on their industry, and ultimately more return sooner. Best in breed solutions available today offer a mix both of flexibility for good coverage of business pro- cesses and specialization to sim- plify implementation. Johnson: You talk to enterprise-level interest in factory up-time in the paper; some indus- try insiders make the point that reclaiming fac- tory down-time is the most efficient way to increase efficiencies. For example, a company may spend a lot of money and design time in optimizing their ops by 5-10%, but when their factory floor is idle 70% of the time, even a 10% reduction in idle-time overshadows the line optimizations in terms of overall payback. What are your thoughts on that? Elliott: These are areas that should be scruti- nized for quick wins in the overall smart factory strategy. Most manufacturers can benefit from a scheduling solution to optimize the myriad of requirements present in electronics manufac - turing, including materials, tooling, machines, and people. In general, optimizing the input to a manufacturing process–in this case the pro- duction schedule–is a fundamental first step to ensuring an optimal manufacturing flow. It's the old adage, "garbage in, garbage out." In any case, I may be getting ahead of myself in suggesting a scheduling solution. In this example, we do not necessarily know why the line is idle so often. Is it a lack of mate- rial, or maintenance issues, or operator prob- lems, or a mixed bag of all of these? Before embarking on an improvement project, it is important to understand the underlying root cause of the problem. Again, lean manufac- Zac Elliott

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