A COMMITMENT TO LEAN MANUFACTURING AND STANDARDIZATION
Phifer formed a committee of key stakeholders to come together with a consulting team from Sikich and create a vision for what a new MES software solution would look like. A crucial requirement would be to deliver a system that would support Phifer’s commitment to a lean manufacturing model. Sikich provided an initial analysis of the current system and then built a prototype with the software programs and modules that would form the complete MES solution – JUST PLM, JUST Planning with modules for weaving, beaming, and yarn production, and JUST Monitoring for weaving looms and beaming machines.
The solution implementation posed a significant challenge due to the complexity of Phifer’s operations within the three separate manufacturing divisions for metal screening, fiberglass screening, and specialty products. “There are three divisions at Phifer that each have a different way of working, and even sub-divisions inside of those divisions with different ways of working,” stated Project Manager Carlo Cranchi. “There are eight different kinds of planning logic inside the system that makes the scheduling system very complex, and a lot of people that needed to be trained on the system.”
After a successful implementation of the JUST suite in the metal screening division, Phifer employees immediately began to realize major efficiency improvements in the handling and movement of data. The MES and ERP systems are now completely linked. Getting material data from production to IT to front office used to require a change request and tedious spreadsheet conversions, and has now been replaced by a one-click sync process. Mass changes to spec data had never been a possibility, but now through the JUST PLM system, are executed with ease. “The old system was kind of geared more toward what we do, and not as much as how we can use the data we are collecting to make us better,” said Phifer Director of Product Data Management Laura Jackson. “I think with the JUST suite that we have now, we have the opportunity to do that…to take us to the next level when it comes to manufacturing excellence.”