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Keeping control of production

Modular software system allows ANR Manufacturing to make continuous improvements to its operation

Posted on 17 Mar 2020 and read 1202 times
Keeping control of productionTo ensure careful monitoring and control of every project, ANR Manufacturing — an ISO 9001:2015-accredited sub-contractor serving the electronics and engineering industries — has relied on production control software from PSL Datatrack for almost 20 years.

Moreover, ANR has been able to benefit from the modular structure of the software from
Bracknell-based PSL (www.psldatatrack.com), gradually investing in more modules over the years as part of a continuous-improvement policy; it is now running a much larger system than was purchased at the outset and meeting the challenge of providing a continuous level of high product quality, traceability, on-time deliveries and service.

ANR operates from a split-level factory in Bourne End (Buckinghamshire).

On the ground floor, a modern machine shop equipped with high-precision CNC multi-axis machines offers precision milling and turning capabilities.

On the second floor, the electronics division offers PCB assemblies, cable assemblies and full turn-key ‘box builds’.

ANR’s initial investment in PSL Datatrack was a result of needing to address the administration requirements associated with the purchase of materials and components for the manufacture of its vast range of assemblies.

From the outset, the company appreciated that the software was logical; the ease of interfacing and the control of quotes, times and schedules — along with the later addition of ‘status boards and charts’ — ensure that ANR can both understand and control (in real time) all aspects of its business, which now includes more than 27,000 material stock records.

PSL Datatrack manages all aspects of ANR’s business, including bills of materials (BOMs) and the generation of quotations, works orders, purchase orders, goods received notes (GRNs), inspection reports, bar code identification, delivery notes and invoices.

Furthermore, key revision controls are maintained and routed through PSL Datatrack, ensuring that all correct information is available to authorised users.

The BOM module is key to ANR’s operation.

The company can take material requirements provided by a customer and convert them into PSL Datatrack part numbers; this means that if a customer wants to change a quantity, or even the specification of a part, ANR has ‘complete control’.

It can also check if specific parts are used on any other items of a customer’s equipment, making it easy to create BOMs, quote customers and — if successful — transfer the appropriate data to purchasing.

Key capabilities

The purchasing element of PSL Datatrack is also key, allowing ANR to run ‘reports and status boards’ for any parts it needs, whether for a minimum stock level requirement or for a specific project.

Meanwhile, the pricing element of the system allows purchasers to ensure that the prices of materials on purchase orders match the prices on quotes.

Materials controller Dan Avery said: “We simply wouldn’t be able to run without PSL Datatrack.”

Nick Wilson, ANR’s managing director, said: “Without PSL Datatrack, managing the production of printed circuit boards would be a logistical nightmare; the job cards produced from quotations are a great help.

“These detail the process and all of the materials that go into the assemblies.

“Moreover, PSL Datatrack ensures that the quote is right, and that data can be re-used/copied throughout the rest of the process, minimising our admin time.

“Our requirements range from simple single-material components with in-depth processes through to 1,000-line bills of materials, yet PSL Datatrack controls everything — from enquiry through to invoice.

“Furthermore, the measurement of Key Performance Indicators provides real-time information, improving performance and ensuring that we meet both product quality and on-time delivery.

“This data is shown on dynamic status boards around the factory, allowing shopfloor staff to complete works order operations within the scheduled time and on time.

“We also have key business information displayed on status boards in the management office, thereby ensuring that data is always at the fingertips of the company’s directors.

“At a glance, they can see what the order book is, what the next few months are looking like, and what Customer Relationship Management tasks staff members are currently working on.”

Of late, ANR’s on-going investment in PSL Datatrack has focused on installing more status boards and bespoke reporting capabilities, as well as enhancing the efficiency of data entry and data processing.

For example, a status board at a Shop Floor Data Collection (SFDC) point (with colouring bespoke to ANR) provides information relating to time spent, time remaining and non-productive time on operations.

Mike Garside, operations director at ANR, said: “We need to ensure that communication is the focus for everyone in our production, logistics and management teams.

“We are looking to further develop real-time status boards and active ‘work to’ screens and speed up the processing of data — whether data entry or reporting.

“We need to ensure that the investment in plant is backed up by data flow and analysis, along with more dynamic ‘work to’ information that will reduce down-time between operations.”

In conclusion, Mr Wilson said: “ANR and PSL Datatrack have been working together for a long time, but in the last six or seven years we have really appreciated the true benefits of the system, enabling us to invest, diversify and add services to our business.”