By Ed Potoczak, MSEE, CHBC, Project Manager and Product Specialist, Plex Systems
The products you make and sell don’t simply appear out of thin air.
A complex and critical process is needed to envision, design, produce, sell and, ultimately, remove them from the market when no longer necessary or useful and as the cycle begins again for new and better replacement products.
Most ERP systems often begin as accounting packages and then make necessary “accommodations” to somehow attempt to control and report on the physical reality of your plant floor. But Plex Online was built from the ground up to manage, quite literally, the nuts and bolts of your operation.
Let’s take a look at some of the most crucial tools necessary for successful product lifecycle management, or PLM.
The lifecycle of products starts with defining part master information, which forms the foundation of the Plex Online ERP and Manufacturing Execution System (MES). With part master, attributes, BOM and process routing, users can describe the structure and production process for products that conform to each customer’s requirements.
A range of program management tools also help manage the essential disciplines for successful project management, including capturing customer product plans information, tracking associated customer orders, linking to part master attributes, tools and inventory and maintaining and reporting program schedule statuses, both in detail and through a broad overview.
Within the product launch management tools, Plex Online users are able to tailor APQP checklists to fit specific product and process requirements, manage process runoff with capability and gauge R&R studies to assure conformance to customer requirements in volume production. By utilizing specialized launch/startup quality inspection check-sheets, users can capture key characteristics data on measures derived from product specifications, FMEAs and control plans.
Finally, utilizing either engineering change and/or program management systems within Plex Online helps guide the process to transition series production parts to service-only status and, eventually, to sunset parts. Smooth shutdown planning and tool retirement, while organizing operations team activity with workflow notifications and checklists, reduces wasted time, cost and inventory during product end of life retirement.
With all of these pieces in place, it becomes significantly easier for manufacturers to respond to market demand, minimizing waste of time and money while creating cradle-to-grave products and sales histories, from quoting through retirement.