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44 SMT Magazine • November 2016 Partially used materials have an automat- ically and accurately maintained count on a per carrier basis, and so they can be reliably re- turned directly to the warehouse for reallocation to other work orders. The material flow is qual- ified at the materials verification stage, as ma- terials are loaded on to feeders and/or as feed- ers are loaded on to specific machine locations. This is normally a standard feature for the ma- chine software using "smart feeders," where the unique material IDs can seamlessly integrate the machine-centric material-management en- vironment into that of the whole factory. At a factory level, all of the material logistics jobs can be aggregated over all processes. These would include the put-away of materials into the warehouse, the pick of materials from the warehouse for production (including such rules as "first-in, first-out"), the transfer of materi- als to the machines and process, the return of the materials from the machine into the ware- house, and an integrity check of warehouse lo- cations when there is available time. Logic with- in the logistics "engine" can again look forward at the expected material needs, predicting busy times for logistics operations and bringing for- ward certain tasks to smooth out the task load- ing. The implementation of such a logistics management system has been shown to reduce the need for material operators by around 30%. All of this has been made possible through the use of the data collected from all of the ma- chines and processes in the factory. Where a single format for the data collection has been adopted, such as the use of the Open Manufac- turing Language (OML), it is quite a simple pro- cess to integrate all possible points of materi- al consumption, including manual stations, re- pair stations, and even material quality-inspec- tion processes. However, this kind of solution has various layers. For example, machine vendors offer lo- cal material carousels or storage towers that store materials close to the line, which is of val- ue when production of specific products is con- fined to specific lines. Moving materials from one line or shop-floor–area carousel to another should be avoided if possible. A simple kanban extension to the overall factory materials logis- tics engine, however, can also set up dynamic kanban controls for the flow of materials be- tween warehouses, including even from exter- nal supplier warehouses as required. For many operations, a single warehouse is sufficient for a whole site. In other cases, a hierarchical series of warehouses may be used, especially in EMS companies that have dedicated lines to specific customer products. As we can see, the smart Lean materials solu- tion is quite distinct from the old-school materi- al management practice. Rather than "pushing" materials out in kits based on a factory schedule well in advance, the Lean "pull" system ensures that only materials that are needed are on the shop-floor and that every consumption of ma - terial is accounted for. The ERP and associated MRP operation can now run far more efficiently, which can then typically help reduce warehouse stocks by around 50% because of increased in - ventory accuracy. With all of the other benefits realized, such as the reduction of WIP materials on the shop-floor, the space saving, the logis- tics savings, the removal of the need of physi- cal stock check, and also the eliminated internal material shortages, a rapid ROI is assured, which, in some cases, has been demonstrated in a mat- ter of a few weeks. Once again, this is clearly not just "smart for smart' s" sake. Here is a real, tangi- ble benefit that is just as applicable to EMS man- ufacturers as OEMs, even where consigned ma- terials are used. Few other examples can demon- strate where such a modest investment has such a significant impact on the operation. This is just one more example of the ad- vanced application of data that we are now able to collect using a factory-standard specification such as OML. In the first part of this series, we saw the justification of the use of an approach based only on asset utilization and productivi- ty enhancement. Now, we can add the supply- chain benefits on top of that. Next time, we will look for even more. SMT Michael Ford is senior marketing development manager with Mentor Graphics Corporation Valor division. To read past columns, or to contact the author, click here. SMART FOR SMART'S SAKE, PART 2: MATERIAL MANAGEMENT

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