Manufacturing life-cycle solution finds defects before it's too late—or too costly

A flawless inspection process is essential to building a 20-foot power boat that costs $50,000 to $90,000. Production defects can result in astronomical scrap and rework costs. Correct Craft, with an 83-year history in boat manufacture, plans to prevent such costly defects with a new quality execution system from AIMS Co.


A flawless inspection process is essential to building a 20-foot power boat that costs $50,000 to $90,000. Production defects can result in astronomical scrap and rework costs.

Correct Craft , with an 83-year history in boat manufacture, plans to prevent such costly defects with a new quality execution system from AIMS Co. that assists the Orlando-based company with inspection management and real-time alert notification in a wireless environment.

“Each boat must go through eight inspection gates before final assembly,” says Matt McGinnis, quality manager. “We have a station-to-station alert process where unsigned issues are highlighted on the screen. If a defect isn't signed off or there is a back-ordered part, then that notice continually pops up until it's resolved.”

Inspectors carry tablet PCs with grid overlays that list defect codes and illustrations to pinpoint exactly where problems occur.

According to AIMS President Perry Smith, most manufacturing users of the AIMS system deploy it for improving track & trace scenarios and minimizing recalls. “Almost 90 percent of our install base uses the system for shop-floor processes, while 25 percent use it for the other modules,” he says.

The purchasing and supply functions, which also include a supplier portal and supplier scorecards, work in tandem with the order side.

“By inputting a serial number, for instance, a transaction can be pushed to another person via email or pager,” says Smith. “Users can outline thresholds or set certain criteria for different stages in the inspection process so that inspections are done at each station instead of waiting to correct all defects at the end.”

Additionally, an analytics module with reporting functionality enables real-time status alerts and production data delivery from equipment to drive operational efficiencies.

Quality management—or “MES light”—systems may function independently or integrate with larger manufacturing execution systems, product life-cycle management, ERP, or aftermarket services systems. The challenge is maintaining a centralized database, says Simon Jacobson, a director with Boston-based AMR Research . “In many cases, multiple inspection plans sit in multiple databases with no dedicated hub to manage data dissemination.”

Without a centralized database, it's difficult to perform root-cause analysis and trace the event back to the source.

Being able to close the feedback loop is one way to address this challenge, says Jacobson. “Smaller niche players may need to partner with larger companies to stop the downstream issues. But there still is a need for specialty players like AIMS since not all ERP systems have the same depth of functionality.”

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Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

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