Technical Article

Automating Traceability includes GS1, PTI, and AFS

WAREHOUSE MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS 

Traceability challenges surface in many different forms throughout lean manufacturing and warehousing process.  Basic queries of accurate inventory on hand, location of the inventory, where it was sourced and where is it going happen many times throughout the day.  Automating these data ensures the right mix of SKU’s based on history and compliance issues.

Regulatory compliance complicates traceability

GS1 and PTI compliance are required and many solution providers fail to meet those compliant standards.  Being a long-time technology partner on both the PTI Steering Committee and GS1 Standards committee, AFS Technologies (www.afsi.com) is an active leader in the produce traceability movement.

The Phoenix-based technology leader offers a WMS (warehouse management system) solution strategically developed to align with evolving industry standards and requirements. As a result, distributors are able to rely on a single WMS tool to gain better visibility into food traceability, automate data throughout the warehouse with a single scan, and ensure PTI compliance both now and in the future.

Joe Bellini, CEO, AFS Technologies

Joe Bellini, CEO of AFS Technologies shared, “The AFS WMS release handles PTI and Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) compliance right out-of-the-box for 3PL companies. Companies have the ability to scan a GS1 label once, extract multiple data elements including GTIN, lot and quantity and automatically parse all of the embedded data into the WMS solution. This single scan functionality results in 99 percent plus accurate data and reduces scans by 300 percent, adding value throughout the supply chain as well as downstream for the customer.”

The new PTI functionality adds even more capabilities and benefits to distributors, including PTI voice pick codes and compliant hybrid pallet labels. It integrates easily with ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems. The software also enables organizations to track inventory expiration dates and eliminate physical errors to improve accuracy and order fulfillment. As more retailers enforce PTI compliance, distributors will now be equipped with the tools needed to reduce the risk of rejected shipments.

PTI’s vision is to achieve standardized, electronic (computerized) traceability across the supply chain. Recognizing that each handler in the supply chain already has its own internal traceability system, the initiative’s solution calls for adapting those systems to track two common pieces of information on every case which moves through the supply chain or external traceability.

The information to appear on each and every case is:

(1) a Global Trade Item Number (GTIN), which will identify who the “manufacturer” is (the owner of the brand that appears on the product case) and the type of product inside that case;

(2) a lot number specifically identifying the lot from which that produce came. This information will appear in both human-readable form and in a machine readable GS1 barcode. The GS1 barcode provides each trading partner in the supply chain the ability to scan and maintain the encoded information in each trading partners’ computer systems. The GTIN is a globally unique product identification number based on GS1 global standards.

These standards are time-tested and market proven for product identification, having been used in grocery stores for more than 40 years in the form of Universal Product Code (UPC) barcodes.

The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) was founded in 1939, and was based on the vision of a small group of scientists who believed that communication among professionals involved in food science and technology was essential to the progress of these emerging disciplines.  More than seventy-five years later, IFT has grown both in numbers and in impact. With members from virtually every discipline related to food science and technology, and from more than 95 countries around the world, IFT has become a voice for those dedicated to the science of food.

Recently, IFT examined traceability (product tracing) in food systems under contract with the US Food and Drug Administration Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.  It collected product tracing related information from industry representatives through telephone discussions and meetings with targeted groups, and from a number of other resources.

A total of 58 food companies categorized as produce (38%), packaged consumer foods (14%), processed ingredients (7%), distributors (5%), foodservice (17%), retail (12%), and feed (7%) were consulted. Non-food industries examined included automobile, pharmaceutical, toy, parcel, clothing and appliance. These industries use diverse product tracing methods, some of which are technologically sophisticated.

IFT analysts evaluated the motivation for traceability in each industry; they concluded the challenges of product tracing directly correlated to an understanding and rationale for the use of particular product tracing solutions. IFT also examined regulations, standards, and initiatives pertaining to product tracing around the world.

Automating the traceability process getting easier

Once each handler of the product is given these two pieces of information – the GTIN and lot number – they can search internal traceability systems to retrieve the necessary information about the path of that case, one step forward and one step back. The Produce Traceability Initiative does not create a centralized database to hold all the data for the entire supply chain. However, each member of the supply chain will be able to track these two fields in their individual databases and quickly determine where the produce came from, and where it was shipped.

Bellini noted that the current release of the AFS WMS platform is also fully integrated with AFS G2, a data analysis application that helps to oversee and course-correct business performance. This enhancement enables senior management to access advanced analytics anytime and on any Apple or Android tablet or laptop.

The goal is to identify and remove suspect product from the marketplace as soon as possible to safeguard public health. At the same time, product not implicated in an outbreak can stay on the market, and business can return to “normal” as soon as possible.

Article Courtesy:

Thomas R. Cutler

Author Profile:

Thomas R. Cutler is the President & CEO of Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based, TR Cutler, Inc., (www.trcutlerinc.com) Cutler is the founder of the Manufacturing Media Consortium including more than 6000 journalists, editors, and economists writing about trends in manufacturing, industry, material handling, & process improvement. Cutler authors more than 500 feature articles annually regarding the manufacturing sector and is the most published freelance industrial journalist worldwide. Cutler can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and can be followed on Twitter @ThomasRCutler

Performance Impacting Metrics: Operations Metrics are Actionable Metrics

MANUFACTURING METRICS TECHNOLOGY

 

©2016 Synchrono LLC

Performance impacting metrics are not intended for overall business analysis; instead, operations metrics provide insight to drive action to improve flow, manage constraints, direct continuous improvement efforts and more. Automating actionable metrics is at the heart of lean manufacturing in 2016 and beyond. It moves data beyond simply eliminating waste in an operation.

Manufacturers are trying to drive business based on far too many metrics; metrics that often conflict and put employees in a state of oscillation between contradicting goals. Pam Bednar, VP of Marketing for Synchrono shared, "Manufacturers must create a distinction that operations metrics are actionable metrics."

Moving toward Demand-Driven Manufacturing requires looking at the business through different lenses, including what and how to measure and the impact on behavior. One of the main culprits that wastes time and money is constant expediting. A system that helps control and prioritize the release of orders into the production process based on true customer demand significantly reduces – or eliminates – waste and disruption costs associated with expediting.

Automating real-time data allows manufacturers, particularly discrete, ETO (engineer-to-order) manufacturers, are now aligning behaviors and processes with performance goals for measuring lean initiatives.

Over-production is a major form of waste. If the full capacity of a machine is not needed to meet customer demand, then the cost of these machines standing idle is much less than the wasted effort to keep them humming without actual demand. It is far from lean to blindly build inventory completely decoupled from demand. Ensuring perfect capacity utilization is defeated when there are still thousands of dollars of parts waiting for an order that never arrives. In a synchronized environment, lean manufacturing activities center on flexibility of resources; they can flex and bend to stay in alignment with actual demand.

Measuring for Continuous Improvement

Continuous improvement is a process for becoming increasingly competitive by improving efficiency and quality through systemic, incremental changes normally driven by kaizen (focused improvement) events. In demand-driven environments, continuous improvement efforts look to address the most significant disruptions to production flow. Often, synchronization (connecting people, machines, materials, and methods) is used as an initial continuous improvement tool to quickly find constraints that inhibit flow. Bednar noted, "Getting closer to data through synchronization ultimately allows manufacturers to apply a more critical focus to continuous improvement efforts. Technology like Synchrono uses analytics gained from monitoring machine and materials data to pinpoint quality issues that negatively impact flow. Data does not lie and the volumes of truths that a synchronized enterprise can lead to a continuous improvement program.”

Demand-driven leaders know that the only thing that will ensure success is empowering people to find the constraint, managing the constraint to protect flow, and creating a culture that drives individual ownership of processes so that it is continually supported and improved at a global process level, not through localized efficiencies. 

Automating the Challenging Demand-Driven Transformation

Leading a demand-driven transformation is challenging and some companies are not ready to migrate from cost-centric to demand-centric analytics and/or manage the change in behavior needed to support the associated metrics. The old Push methodologies adjusted everything according to forecast. Reactive organizations are characterized as functional units that are "aligned against specific business unit objectives" which often live in systems that track traditional cost accounting measures for success. A cost-accounting viewpoint is based on past performance with little or no attention paid to the actions taken to meet customer demand.

2016 and Beyond – Why Automated Pull-Based Solutions are Essential

If the production floor fails to meet projections and meets every customer expectation instead, they can still be viewed as a failure. The Push-based metrics of the past worked well-until manufacturers had to react rapidly to new and emerging customer demands. Demand-driven factories change virtually all their metrics because previous measures were based on local efficiencies and supply-optimized push philosophies, not pull-based, demand-driven methods focused on actual customer orders. With the ability to visibly follow the customer demand signal through the supply chain, the metrics change – for the benefit of the customer.

A Demand-Driven Manufacturing Platform becomes a system of differentiation by synchronizing all layers of manufacturing and freeing data across systems for collective reporting, analysis, and decision-making. Differentiation is gained through improved quality, increased capacity, on-time delivery, and more. Like Demand-Driven Manufacturing itself, the Demand-Driven Manufacturing Operations Metrics for Action are based on synchronization and managing constraints to drive flow.

Improvements in these areas lead to improvements in the core metrics of throughput, inventory and On Time Delivery. Bednar concluded that the role of measurement in the demand-driven value chain can now be easily measured, and followed with suggested actions for continuous process improvement.

Article Courtesy:

Thomas R. Cutler

Author Profile:

Thomas R. Cutler is the President & CEO of Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based, TR Cutler, Inc., (www.trcutlerinc.com) Cutler is the founder of the Manufacturing Media Consortium including more than 6000 journalists, editors, and economists writing about trends in manufacturing, industry, material handling, & process improvement. Cutler authors more than 500 feature articles annually regarding the manufacturing sector and is the most published freelance industrial journalist worldwide. Cutler can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and can be followed on Twitter @ThomasRCutler

Automation at the Cellular Manufacturing Level Transformed with New Innovations

MATERIAL HANDLING TECHNOLOGY

Too often the idea of automation in large manufacturing facilities starts with pre-conceived robotics imagery. Ironically the simplicity of new automation technology can be viewed at the manufacturing cellular level, rather than the entire plant floor.

A manufacturing cell is an efficient grouping of all the resources required to manufacture a product. These resources, which usually include people, supplies, machines, tools, and other production equipment, are arranged in close proximity to enhance communication and allows everyone to see what is going on at all times.

Modern Machine Shop reviewed cellular level manufacturing more than a decade ago and concluded then what is still known today, namely that cellular manufacturing is a tried and true process that has reduced product costs, while improving lead times and quality. Cells have prospered because they work, and they work in almost any type of Processing a part more than is required to make it function properly is another form of waste. Cells address the waste of over processing through close proximity of all processes and the strategy of only making what can be used. Unnecessary processes such as packing and unpacking are eliminated because handling is reduced, and that which remains poses little risk of damage. Parts in the cells are processed sooner, so any of the other product protection processes can also be eliminated. The close proximity of all the operations makes it easier to identify the processes that are not adding value to the product.

There is significant wasted motion in a typical manufacturing process. This often results from a poorly organized work area. By putting everything together in a manufacturing cell, wasted motion can be reduced, if not eliminated entirely. Eliminating travel to other areas to get parts is an obvious improvement, but what cannot be underestimated is the reduction of motion within an individual process. With a well-designed cellular operation, motion shifts from non-value added to value added. When emphasis is placed on conveniently locating everything that operators need to do their jobs, much wasted motion is eliminated.

One of the most common causes of waiting is an unbalanced workload. Manufacturing cells can reduce waiting by supporting more synchronized flow. With all the required resources grouped closely together, synchronized product flow is easier. Worker flexibility within the cell will also help reduce waiting time because operators can help others when they are not busy.

Transporting a part through the shop is a wasted effort. A manufacturing cell can reduce part transportation because the close proximity of the cell's resources makes part transportation almost non-existent. As a result, material handling equipment can be reduced or eliminated altogether.

Technology innovator Magline, best known for two-wheel hand trucks used in the beverage industry, has solved the tool and die heavy lifting problem in manufacturing facilities. Magline's LiftPlus provides an all-in-one lift, transporter, and positioner. The LiftPlus is a workforce multiplier that kicks in productivity with no need for special training or licensing. The LiftPlus was designed for ease of use, higher productivity, and to keep workers on the job and free from injuries; lifting 350 pounds easily with an all-metal frame platform and a screw-driven lift that delivers smooth precision that hydraulics or chains just cannot match.

Waiting for a forklifts to move product in a manufacturing cell is eliminated. Andrea Horner, Magline's vice president of marketing stated, “This powered product demonstrates a commitment to the manufacturing sector and those customers who requested durable, ergonomic, and quality equipment allowing safe use and transport without wasting time waiting for forklifts. The improved throughput and productivity is a direct result of time efficiencies achieved with the LiftPlus within the manufacturing cell.”

To view a video of the LiftPlus, go to: http://bit.ly/1rJ6pSM

Eliminated Fork Trucks to Maximize Manufacturing Work Cells

 

LiftPlus           

 Fork Truck

Investment

Low

 High

OSHA Certification Required

No

 Yes

License Required

No

 Yes

Turning Diameter

6 Feet

18.5 Feet

Space Required

Minimum

Maximum

Fuel Required

No

Yes

Accessories/Other Applications

Yes

No

Fork Truck Free

Yes

No

Article Courtesy:

Thomas R. Cutler

Author Profile:

Thomas R. Cutler is the President & CEO of Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based, TR Cutler, Inc., (www.trcutlerinc.com) Cutler is the founder of the Manufacturing Media Consortium including more than 6000 journalists, editors, and economists writing about trends in manufacturing, industry, material handling, & process improvement. Cutler authors more than 500 feature articles annually regarding the manufacturing sector and is the most published freelance industrial journalist worldwide. Cutler can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and can be followed on Twitter @ThomasRCutler.

Industrial Automation: Why it Matters

INDUSTRIAL INTERNET OF THINGS - IIoT TECHNOLOGY 

The ongoing quest for increased efficiency and productivity is putting more and more pressure on operational and maintenance excellence. As is the need to feed fast growing businesses in developing economies like India. Industrial automation is currently in its adolescent phase but is catching up very quickly. Industrial Automation is ahead of most other industries in the readiness for the Internet of Things (IoT) and more specifically for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). When one looks at the deployment of the sensors, actuators, and low-level devices that are needed to enable IoT or IIoT, Industrial Automation has an advantage.

Internet of things and increased industrial performance

The Internet of Things is coming and in some industries is already here but is in its infancy. Most industries are waiting on the deployment of the low-level connected devices to enable Internet of things in that industry. Industrial Automation on the other hand already has over a billion connected devices deployed. On a curve of connected devices needed to make Internet of things effective, Industrial Automation is much higher up the curve than other industries.

Powerful development tools helped crane controls manufacturer NTK to boost intelligent safety by using the built-in maths functions of ABB's new safety PLC.

NTK is fitting an advanced new ABB safety system to its tower crane cabs - which are recognized easily by the company's distinctive circular or oval windows.

Major construction sites are tending to become very congested - in efforts to better exploit the available building space and speed project times. The workhorse tower crane is critical to the efficiency of such sites, and crane operators today often have to work in very complex 3D space envelopes with many potential collision zones.

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