When it comes to enterprise resource planning (ERP), Gary Flum keeps sharpening his thinking to the realities of the production process. Flum, who is general manager, advanced manufacturing solutions with ERP solutions vendor QAD Inc., describes those realities in terms of the growing need for collecting data from the shop floor as well providing data to the shop floor -- in a real-time mode.
"It's basically an updated MES [manufacturing execution systems] approach -- being able to go all the way from the ERP system to the PLC [programmable logic controller], provide it with data and then collect gathered data for the ERP system," he explains. "I'm looking at MES with an overall business perspective, not just optimization of assets and processes."
Flum's vision is for information to go from the shop floor to the top floor and also from the shop floor to the supply chain to assure delivery of key materials. He says the goal is a "bucketless" type of planning system -- one that is immediate enough to be measured with a watch, not a calendar. The idea is to give manufacturing management greater awareness and control over the production process, which will offer a competitive advantage.
"Inventories will be able to be drawn down as the switch is made from running full lots to running just what's necessary," he notes, citing as an example a QAD JIT Sequencing solution deployed at 15 European sites of Johnson Controls. In September QAD plans to release an online planning and execution system.