The modern experience of work of manufacturing enterprises in the field of mechanical engineering, instrumentation is characterized by a common trend. Many of them in recent decades have invested large financial resources, organizational efforts in the automation of their production processes. Computer equipment was purchased, network infrastructure connected production units, machine tools were modernized and connected to the unified network, the software for the automation of technological, industrial and financial processes was purchased or independently developed. In some enterprises due to long-term efforts, CAD, PDM and ERP systems are used. However, the vast majority of them admit that the effect of these investments expressed in reduction of terms of products output on the market, in reduction of production costs, increase of production quality, controllability of processes is minimal and noticeable in the solution of certain individual production tasks only, and the general result in the form of a single correctly working system is absent.
At the same time, the situations at the enterprises are very diverse. Some enterprises have successfully mastered 3D-design tools, produce high-quality design projects, form the composition of the project, but this information is not transmitted further down the chain in technological, production processes, the development of PAU as such is not available in electronic form. Some enterprises have established accounting systems: materials, equipment, financial support, but the information on kitting of manufactured products and means of technological equipment is entered into systems “manually” with errors and does not correspond to the real production situation. At other enterprises planning systems do not provide correspondence between order specifications, purchased materials, use of production facilities. Somewhere, the implementation of complex and costly integrated systems stopped at the initial or other stage: something works, but there are no resources to move further and the result is unclear.
Today many managers come to understanding that the real increase of productivity can be reached only due to integrated approach to the problem solution, when the information correctly created at all production stages becomes available, according to the access rights, to all participants of the process. The existence of such an understanding does not give an answer to the question of how to implement it in practice.
There are a number of IT companies on the market who offer to take their system, give up everything old (albeit working) and come up to the Light and Great Solution. As the saying goes: “…to the ground and then…”. Some enterprises take this step, and enthusiastically begin another “circle”: new expenses, new training of specialists, rearrangement of business processes or painful adaptation of acquired systems to changing tasks, actions that lead to another technical, organizational, psychological breakdown of the production process. In this case, even with a relatively successful version of such implementation, the customer at the end of the road may face serious problems. The software solutions created on the client-server architecture in the 90s-00s, showing good results on the test projects, begin to “slow down” significantly on the real production tasks, and in the questions of support and development of the functionality, the customer becomes dependent on the solution provider.
Is there an alternative and what is it? What would you like? We would like not another revolution, but effective reforms. We would like the existing production process of the company to continue functioning, progressively developing and optimizing, so that the company’s existing information systems, software, possibly outdated, but implementing its functionality for the solution of specific tasks, would continue to be used in the process of modernization of the information environment into a comprehensive system of production automation. It is important that the personnel, who have accumulated the baggage of knowledge in their field of activity, when working with certain tools, understand their relevance, see the prospect of modernization and help in its implementation, reaching new competencies in the process of building an end-to-end system of “electronic paperless production”, feeling the benefits of transformations. It is desirable that the functioning of the created information environment was minimally dependent on external suppliers of software solutions, was modern and could be maintained and developed by the employees of the production enterprise.
Such wishes may cause a smile, but the modern development of information technology provides the tools to meet the above requirements.
De facto, such a toolkit today is not something new. In fact, this is a configuration and implementation in the production process of well known to all in everyday life web-technologies. For the first time, this technology called web-sphere was announced by IBM in the second half of the 2000s. It took a certain period of time for the ideology of the representation of the production process of the enterprise in the form of a web portal has received its development in the domestic market. In a number of enterprises, the introduction of such technology was called Infosfera. For realization of such technology there was developed a complex of software and hardware tools APS-Infosfera, providing creation of web-environment, consisting of a set of servers, containing a complex of procedures, functions, services, closely interacting with each other by means of web-protocols, XML.
How does this toolkit work?
At the stage of system implementation for each service of the enterprise, which is a “project participant” at a certain stage of the product life cycle, the rules are prescribed, according to which this service works in this project. For the service the data (a data model), with which it works, and what the service does with this data in the process of its work (a process model) are prescribed in detail.
The organization of data storage is carried out according to the heterogeneous principle. For example: design data lie in the used PDM system (TeamCenter, Enovia, Search, etc.), technological production preparation (TPP) data – in its own database under control of Oracle or MS SQL, production data – in its own one.
Data access for different user groups is configured depending on the role performed in the system. Any user within the corporate network can potentially have access to corporate data. To do this, he does not need to have special software on his computer. Ordinary web-browsers are enough. The login and password entered by the user determines the level of access to the data. If necessary, access to corporate data may not be limited to the local network of the company and can be carried out from any location.
Screen interfaces for different services (groups of users) are very easy to set up. Thus, a user belonging to a certain group sees the data in a familiar and convenient form, and only the data he needs, filtered for a particular task or user.
Web links are used throughout the system. Using these links, the user can easily navigate between subsections, moving from one data to another.
“APS-Infosfera is a web-environment that accumulates an up-to-date base of knowledge about all the stages of product manufacturing. The system, being in essence a data bus, integrates the work of the services of an enterprise or enterprises in accordance with their role in the product life cycle. At the same time, the automated systems that were used in the corresponding services and the information accumulated in them are used in “APS-Infosfera”. Therefore, the enterprise may not abandon the “old” software solutions, but upgrade them later together with the development of the system.
As it was already mentioned, the users of “APS-Infosfera” work in standard web-browsers. Access to information is given by the system in accordance with the rights set for user. Input information for the work of “APS-Infosfera” is an electronically created document of a product or product portion launch, i.e., electronic structure of the product within the launch document and corresponding reference information, defining production resources.
Today APS-InfoSphere has the following sections: design, technological, production and TCD (Technological Control Department).
After the approval of the Launch Document (LD), the Design section publishes all the design information required for the manufacturing and acceptance of the product (PAU) within the LD. Namely: launch document with necessary attributes, structure within this LD, each element of the structure with necessary attributes (properties) for manufacturing and acceptance, including links to corresponding electronic models, documents. All information is up-to-date, i.e., when the corresponding change notification (CN) is approved, the information is changed in accordance with the CN and a new attribute (aka link) appears, indicating that this APU “lives” according to this CN.
In the Technological section to the data, created in the design section, the necessary technological data are added, which are worked out by technologists in their specialized systems: shop-to-shop routing and labour intensiveness of production, consumption norms for basic and auxiliary material, links to the corresponding consolidated reports on nomenclature composition, materials, labour intensiveness, etc. In this case, if any documents on the production of the processed PAU exist in the system, the system will display a prompt about it and provide the technologist with an opportunity to use the previous developments.
The toolkit of the Production section is used in the shops. Thus, all attributive information about the PAU routed to him is available in the shop. A deadline is set and the results of the stage are approved. The technologist designs all the necessary technical documentation for the production of the part (a technical process, specifications for the tool, a billet, cutting cards, sketches, views, cuts). Similarly, information is worked through in the following sections: POB of workshops, BTC of workshops, PROST of the manufacturer’s and consumer’s workshops, MTS (material and technical support).
Planning of resources, materials, means of technological equipment (MTE), CNC is performed in strict accordance with the need, based on availability. At the same time, the system provides relevant information about the existing stock and groundworks. If there is no corresponding material available, a shortage is formed and the corresponding web service sends a request to the supply contract system.
The Chief Controller’s services in the TCD section have access to all the information created in any of the other sections. Various control documents and reports are generated here.
Each section of “APS-Infosfera” has so-called service-information parts, which allow to control and trace production requests, determine the availability of MTE and CNC for particular PAUs.
The system maintains up-to-date information on each manufactured product, which can be further transferred to the maintenance services.
That is, the system APS-Infosfera solves the problem of integration of heterogeneous systems existing in the enterprise, provides access to the data created and stored in these systems, provides continuity of existing developments in the enterprise to create an information web-environment.
In the absence of necessary systems of document elaboration in an enterprise, APS-Infosfera can integrate with the specialized modules of APS-Enterprise system, among which are these modules:
– the organization of an electronic archive and document management;
– the design of technological processes, material and labour regulation;
– the preparation and formation of the production program;
– production planning, taking into account resource constraints in production orders (equipment load, availability of materials and components, etc.), operational rescheduling when changing the nomenclature of the production plan.
Thus, the system “APS-Infosfera” together with functional modules of the “APS-Enterprise” system provides up-to-date information about production progress, fulfilment of deadlines, availability of material and technical resources and about problem places at any stage of product manufacturing.
This solution has powerful adaptation means based on modern tools. That allows enterprises to further develop the system independently.
The presented technology of modernization of production processes of the enterprise is not the construction of a new information space, but the reconstruction of the existing one. This allows you to use the existing potential and make the modernization process more economical and less painful compared to the introduction of a new integrated system “from zero circle”.
Aleksandr Paramonov, JSC «Arkada»