“Proving that automation can contribute to the bottom line, even in midsize production builds, was one of this project’s main goals.” —Rick Roelle, Manufacturing Manager, L-3
ERP upgrade tightens shop-floor control, eases workflow
As a maker of rugged computers and displays for military and public safety customers, L-3’s Ruggedized Command & Control Solutions (L-3 RCCS) division needed an equally heavy-duty ERP system to keep up with competitors. The primary goals: maintain existing data integrity, reduce touch labor by 10%, and migrate to Microsoft SQL Server 2008 through a data warehouse and data marts.
L-3 RCCS’ Manufacturing Enterprise System (MES) upgrade provides shop-floor control for each product as work orders are scheduled. The MES system now connects seamlessly to ERP. Other features include quality assurance (QA) and as-built, as designed tracking; automated testing; Web-based metrics; and advanced screening techniques.
Besides SQL Server 2008, the project used Telerik programming tools and LabVIEW software from National Instruments to develop the core functions of the system. The upgrade was bolted onto L-3 RCCS’ existing ERP system. Reporting was enabled by SQL Server 2008 and the Telerik programming tools, based on Microsoft’s ASP.Net (4.0) and AJAX.
Automated test programs were developed specifically for the project. These programs were designed to identify defects and record them in the SQL database, permitting real-time Web-based reporting. The user interface was minimal during the testing, allowing one operator to run multiple test stations simultaneously.
As for QA, all evidence of manufacturing process and test operation data can be accumulated and summarized for review. The system highlights gaps in the completion record for each asset, so QA staffers do not need to review paper records to identify gaps.
L-3 RCCS’ customers have also benefited from the upgrade due to more accurate scheduling that helps ensure consistent on-time deliveries of products.
The project was completed in only seven months. According to L-3 RCCS, hard-touch labor costs have dropped by 19%, easily besting the initial 10% goal. ROI was achieved in a little more than three months.
Says Manufacturing Manager Rick Roelle, “Proving that automation can contribute to the bottom line, even in midsize production builds, was one of the main goals of this project. This success will help us in our future planning and execution.”