The importance of Visual Factory Automation has become very apparent over the recent years.
The MicroStep group has developed a program solution MPM that integrates production and storage with control systems of the CNC machines and software for creation of cutting plans of Asper and mCAM.

The company MicroStep, spol s.r.o., is a renowned Slovak producer of CNC machines used for cutting material using a wide spectrum of technologies (plasma, laser, oxyfuel, waterjet).

Furthermore, MicroStep machines offer additional functions like drilling, tapping or marking.
The company is also developing and producing transport and manipulation systems, intended for bringing the material into cutting zones and taking away the cut out parts.

MicroStep focuses on high-end customers with large production facilities, who put emphasis on effectiveness and high level of automation. Complying with these requirements, MicroStep provides an in-house developed CAPP application called MPM (MicroStep Production Management), which is an integration platform for different parts of the business – material storage, orders department, department for creation of cutting plans and department of CNC machines operators, allowing automation of information flow between them.

In this crazily, advanced digital world that we live in, it is becoming more important and apparent that you know the exact cost of a part in your manufacturing set up and that you are able to give your customer an exact time line as to when his goods will be completed and delivered.

MicroStep understand the complexity of such a process and has therefore come up with a visual factory automation solution process. With this solution you are able to do the following:

  • Get quotes for raw material
  • Place orders
  • Track orders
  • Create job cards per machine and operator and adjust these job cards according to communication from raw material suppliers, regarding fluctuation of lead times. (i.e. your supplier does not deliver raw material on time. The automated job allocation interface willer-adjust the job card to accommodate the later shipped raw material)

Our visual automation software, can be integrated into your companies ERP system, which means that all the above can then be managed from your own system.

Once raw material is received into the stores process via your stock keeping system, the storeman allocates the relevant material to the correct job. The beauty of the software is that it integrates into your normal job allocation process.

The production manager then allocates these parts to the relevant cutting machines, cleaning, bending, assembly/tacking, manual or robotic welding, painting, packing and dispatch.

At each station you are able to programme or track the following:

  • Set up time
  • Total time of combined manufacturing time (cutting, cleaning, bending, tacking, assembly, welding of parts, packing, dispatch)

Let’s go through the entire process step by step.

Cutting

From Cad you generate solid drawing and then extract parts and generate a DXF file that you are able to nest either automatically or manually. Once this is done, you will have established the cutting time. This cutting time will also include the total running costs.

Bending

Parts that need to be bent will be entered into the software of the Pressbrake and a bending simulation is then performed to estimate the bend time.

Cleaning

Parts that have got dross on,  i.e. cut via plasma or flame, are then set through an automated cleaning system or sent to a deburring bay where parts are cleaned manually with a grinding machine.

Tacking and Assembly

Parts are sent to boilermakers which assemble parts which have been pre-numbered with plasma etch marking, laser engraving and micro punch marking or ink-jet marking. Ease of assembly due to marking that was done and then onto manual tack welding.

Robotic Welding

Parts that are to be welded are simulated, as to determine the welding time, which in turn gets communicated to the MPM system.

Manual Welding

The Production Manager gives the welder an estimated setup and welding time per assembly. This is also communicated and loaded into the MPM system.

Painting

The Production Manager gives the painter an estimated setup and welding time per assembly. This is also communicated and loaded into the MPM system.

Packing and Dispatch

This is where the final product is then sent to the packing and distribution area and collection and shipping is organized. This too is loaded into the MPM system for tracking.

With this total process one is able to see which parts are at which station and how far from completion this project is.

Each station above has a colour coded system as to determine at what stage of production each individual operator is at. *i.e, setup time=yellow, machine might have issue=red, in production =green, no material at station, operator must replenish=blue)

The most critical situation in a production environment is an idle operator. Unproductiveness leads to reduced OEE (Operational Equipment Effectiveness)

In general the OEE of many organizations is between 20-30%. Our aim with MPM is to enhance your OEE to be more than 60%.

In closing, the benefits of Visual Factory Automation, outweigh any costs and in this day and age your company cannot do without it. Industry demands have increased, considerably and customers are growing more and more pressured to deliver and therefore rely on their suppliers to be reliable.

Don´t delay. Get your MPM software today and help grow your business from good to great.

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    Main Office: Unit 1B and C1, Isando Business Park, 10 Hulley Road, Isando 1600
    Office: 011 397 6356
    Ludwig Oellermann: +27 (0) 83 463 0999
    Email: info@microstepsa.co.za