Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) and Production Quality Management
By Annette Grotz, Product Marketing Manager, Deltek
Post five in a dedicated series reviewing sections from the eBook “What is MES in Complex Discrete Manufacturing,” written by Conrad Leiva, vice president of Product Marketing and Alliances at iBASEt. This post summarizes the section on production quality management.
Most Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) cover a large of amount of quality control territory. More specifically, defect containment and corrective actions to prevent reoccurrence are managed throughout the in-process inspection and verification steps, statistical process control (SPC) procedures, alerts to out-of-control conditions, and integrated handling for discrepancies found during production.
When building complex products, labor and parts costs can add up quickly. As a result, reworking products is often the preferred choice over scrapping them completely. Rework, repair and deviation handling procedures are best managed by MES, thereby ensuring their documentation as part of the product’s history, as well as their dissemination so that the deviations are reviewed and approved by the right people.
What is MES in Complex Discrete Manufacturing
Production Inspection Planning and Execution
Inspection, test and verification requirements are often handled by inspection planning. Modern manufacturing practices have shifted inspections to be completed throughout the life of the project rather than one final inspection. Additionally, more random sampling inspections are performed rather than reviewing 100% of project pieces. This of course makes tracking and documenting both more challenging and more important than ever before. Those in production also tend to bear more ownership of product quality. MES plays a part by helping integrate quality measures into the production process. Set up correctly, MES can require in-process inspection with a signature before proceeding to the next step in the production process.
MES can also call out which tool or gauge should be used and track this information, providing important documentation, when needed, should a gauge develop an issue in the future.
If a measurement is required to have statistical process control (SPC) oversight, the MES can collect measurements across different work orders to display on SPC charts during production. Here is where a MES’s quality enforcement power really comes into play, as it can issue alerts for out-of-spec conditions and use rules to issue alerts for SPC out-of-control conditions.
AS9100 is an aerospace standard based on the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 9001 quality system requirements established in order to satisfy Department of Defense, NASA and Federal Aviation Administration quality requirements. It requires First Article Inspection (FAI) or Product Process Verification (PPV) for the aerospace industry. These inspections are triggered by major product or process changes and validate that “the manufacturing process still produces the expected results according to the engineering specifications.”
Production data for each product unit or lot, as well as the corresponding inspection, test and final inspection results, are stored in the MES and can be easily accessed and delivered with the product if required by the customer. The MES can also report if there are delays due to inspections waiting to be completed.
Product Configuration Verification
Every manufacturer wants to deliver what was ordered. For engineer-to-order manufacturers this is challenging as many changes occur throughout the production process. The manufacturing system needs to ensure that the final product was built to the engineering specifications. The Device History Record (DHR or As-Built Report) can help as it includes a list of engineering change notices (ENCs) for each product. Plus, there is always reconciling as-built to as-designed configuration with deviation approvals as needed.
Nonconformance and Defect Management
On top of counting defects, scrapped material and calculating yields, MES must track the disposition and management of nonconformance findings. It must include deviation approvals and the execution of the planned manufacturing process.
“Defect containment actions may include corrective action requests sent to suppliers, orders for assessment of products and materials in inventory, alerts to potentially affected production orders in process, and product recalls (or warnings) issued to customers.”
If an inspection finds a nonconformance to engineering specifications, it should be documented. Once routed through a disposition and approval process, the product or part will be categorized to be: scrapped, returned to vendor, reworked, repaired or used as is. Rework or repair instructions can rarely be skipped by the mechanic if the production and quality management systems are integrated.
Different types of discrepancy disposition and approval routings are needed for the different issues and severity levels of nonconformance found. Some may simply be approved by the quality assurance team while others may need product engineering’s approval.
Classifying defects and nonconformance issues by defect, cause types and responsible department, helps with reporting, and once the data is analyzed, may detect where process improvements should be worked in. MES can initiate corrective actions to “resolve repeating issues documented in discrepancies.” These actions should be tied back to the discrepancies so improvements in design, processes and suppliers can be tracked.
Read a review of Deltek’s Costpoint Manufacturing Solutions to learn how manufacturers are improving process efficiency and cost containment across their entire enterprise through the integration of manufacturing operations systems with financial management and other core business systems.
Be sure to catch up on previous installments in this series:
- What is Complex Discrete Manufacturing? What is MES?
- The Capabilities of MES for Complex Discrete Manufacturing
- How MES Helps Engineering Change Management
- Managing Resources with a Manufacturing Execution System (MES).
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