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70 SMT Magazine • February 2014 expected to achieve material inventory integ- rity without help. MES systems have helped this situation because materials can be tracked throughout the processes. They do not ad- dress, however, the routine process generated spoilage and still depend on manual processes to gather additional information for ERP. The "missing link" in the supply chain, the connec- tion to the machines to gather information di- rectly and accurately, has to be a part of the so- lution. To date, systems linked to machines are limited, because shop-floor tools are often on a machine-vendor proprietary platform, with sig- nificant limitations of accuracy and communi- cation ability to be dependable in live produc- tion for total material accountability. Once the material inventory is under con- trol, the poor practices are redundant and can be replaced with lean-manufacturing technolo- gies, such as warehouse-to-warehouse kanban replenishment and just-in-time (JIT) material logistics. ERP operation and performance is en- hanced by this additional piece of supply-chain management, with reliable and dependable visibility of material availability as well as the progress of the current plan. Changes in plan to suit changing customer need can be executed with surgical precision. Investment in excess materials stock can be eliminated, space re- duced, logistics tasks reduced, all contributing to enhanced competitive performance. The real question here is not really why ERP or MES are so limited, but really, why are facto- ries so limited when considering their options? Sometimes, operational momentum should be challenged, especially because it is the key fac- tor that will contribute perhaps the most signif- icant effect to the bottom line of the business. Time to boldly go… SMT Michael Ford is senior marketing development manager with Valor division of Mentor graphics Corporation. To read past col- umns, or to contact the author, click here. WHy are erP aND MeS SO LIMITeD IN eLeCTrONICS? continues ThE ESSENTIAl PIoNEEr'S SUrVIVAl gUIDE CliCk To View Video Interview Dr. Andy Mackie discusses new developments in high-temperature, lead- free solders for die-attach applications, with particu- lar reference to mixed- solder-powder pastes based on bismuth-silver and "ingredient X." High-Temperature Lead-Free Solders by Real Time with... Productronica

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