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FLEXO Magazine : February 2011
Technologies & Techniques Converting’s Cloud You Can Manage Your Print / Packaging Production line via Wireless Devices & Apps By Tim Daisy Consumers increasingly expect to conduct banking busi- ness when and where they chose, order products through their mobile device, and stay connected to friends and family wherever there is a WiFi or wireless signal. Data, applica- tions, and communication tools are increasingly hosted in the cloud and savvy consumers can run their mobile lives from a multitude of devices like smart phones, tablet computers, laptops, and public computers connected to the internet. Businesses that serve consumers are offering these services, in most cases, free of charge. Some even charge a penalty for accessing information and performing transactions with a live person. Airlines have been charging us for years to make res- ervations through telephone agents, and some banks provide higher interest rates for “online” savings accounts as long as all transactions occur electronically and without a teller. The same expectations consumers have for accessing information and performing transactions remotely also drive the same individuals to run their business lives in a similar fashion. For example, staying on top of accounts receivable and payable information, changing the priority of a job in the production schedule, monitoring the performance of a piece of equipment on the shop floor in real time, are activities available in leading edge management information systems (MIS.) The management information system, or enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution, is the lifeblood of most con- verters. MIS supports estimation, job planning, die manage- ment, inventory, shop floor data collection, and accounting among a myriad other modules and functionality. Just about all employees access or input data into the MIS at least once a day and the ability to allow this interaction through wired and unwired devices is increasingly important for quick cycle times and low costs. ROI Of mobileMIS The ROI of an MIS is through the automation or semi-au- tomation of most business processes, resulting in increased employee productivity and decreased cycle times of adminis- trative and manufacturing processes. Moving data consump- tion and software interaction outside of the four walls of a converting plant magnifies these savings. Even moving transactions away from a stationary computer increases these savings. One of the most straight forward ways to capitalize on mobileMIS is to al- low access to business measurements anytime or anywhere. Business man- agement has evolved to the point where the winners have access to, and act on, key performance indicators (KPIs) 24 hours a day. The losers, well, they go out of business. For a direct sales operation, KPIs include total sales by salesperson by period, projected sales per person per period, the conversion rate of estimates to orders, and order profitability by salesperson. All businesses can stand to monitor customers by contributed revenue, out- standing debtors, and on-time shipping performance, to name a few. The key to mobileMIS is to access KPIs, anywhere and through any device; from any internet browser, from any smart phone, from the home, from the airport, and from the golf course. PROduCtIOn PROduCtIvIty A more advanced application of mobileMIS requires a data connection to production equipment and workflows. Any production manager will tell you that he or she always knows what jobs are running where, what equipment is down, what equipment is running behind schedule, and which employees are in the plant or out. And they will also tell you that, when they are in a meeting or away from the plant, they feel discon- nected from production. The technology to electronically query production equipment has been in the marketplace for well over 30 years and with the advent of networks and the internet, this data now has a fast track to anywhere and any device in the world. mobileMIS in the production world can provide a real-time view into job and equipment status. This view is only limited by the electronic machine interface installed on the production equipment. Figure 2 shows an example of information available via a browser showing equipment status and speed, job counts, time to go, queue of work, production speed and the operation sta- tus of the equipment. mobileMIS is just that – mobile! Fig- ure 3 shows production information in an iPad browser. Mobile production in- Vital Data & its Delivery • MIS / ERP is the lifeblood of most converters. • Business management has evolved to the point where the winners have access to and act on key performance indicators 24 hours a day. • Gone are the days of batches; in are the days of real- time access to raw materials, work in progress, and finished goods quantities and values. fIguRe 1: sample KPi Dashboards. 38 FLeXO FeBruArY 2011 www.flexography.org FLX_Feb11_mech.indd 38 2/16/11 8:51 AM
Sustainable Winter 2011