Whether your Manufacturing Execution System (MES) is paper-based or a partially-implemented software system, you can waste a lot in Supervisor-level salaries performing constant cycle counts on your raw material coil inventory. This is normal for most companies because they lack an automated, systematized process for capturing coil inventory data as coils are loaded onto machines.
Everyone wants to say, “My guys are really diligent about writing down their coils.” Those same people have production paperwork showing coils that are 60,000′ long! Those are some impressive coils.
The reality is that an Operator’s focus is to get the machine running and get production out the door. Now. Once a new coil is threaded, the motivation is to get the line back into motion, not to carefully write down (or key in) the new coil’s inventory number. This the failure point in the process that requires countless hours of counting coils on the back end. The only way to prevent this problem from occurring is to automate the process of prompting the Operator for a new coil’s inventory number – on the front end.
If the computer system that runs the machine has sensors and settings to physically track the changing of a coil, then the computer itself can prompt the Operator to update the entire system:
- What happened to the last coil? Was it completely consumed or backed off?
- What’s the new Coil’s inventory number?
Then, you must actually collect the new coil’s information by software-enforced policy. The computer that runs the machine can refuse to allow the Operator to take the next step until the coil inventory number is entered by barcode scanner or hand-entry.
This type of system automatically detects a coil change and prompts the human Operator to collect the critical data point, enter it prior to applying any scrap or good footage a coil, and quickly categorize whether the coil is returned to inventory or permanently removed. With minimal IT effort, this data is then returned to the company ERP system within seconds of what physically happened on the shop floor.
If you have frequent coil back-offs, you can install a Coil Tag printer to reprint tags with fresh barcodes and updated footage totals. As coils are physically brought back to the storage location, the forklift driver or crane operator grabs the fresh tag that’s waiting at the printer by the time the coil is even banded up to be pulled off the mandrel.
A powerful side-benefit of this system is the ability to clean up Scrap reporting. Without a functioning coil detection system integrated to the machine controls, you will incur a certain amount of “phantom scrap” on every coil load. It’s directly related to the distance from the measuring wheel on a roll forming line to the shear. Each time a coil is threaded, that distance will be measured and miss-reported by the system as starting scrap on the first manual crop performed by the Operator.
For example, if a machine has an encoder wheel mounted 14 ft upstream from the cutoff, an automated system that detects the changing of a coil should also account for the starting distance from where material is measured (the encoder wheel) to where it’s cut.
If you’re managing a roll forming operation and you already have AMS Controls installed, you probably have this functionality sitting on your machines right now. Setting it up so you’re automatically collecting accurate data? That’s usually a more complicated story.
In most cases, the necessary sensors and settings required to utilize coil tracking are a few hundred dollars and a few hours of Maintenance to install and configure. If you already have the system tied back to your ERP, it’s just a matter of tallying coil totals in the data and killing inventory numbers as completions are passed back.
The sooner you push to drive this solution, the sooner you can begin benefitting from the system. Contact me today to talk about your options.