IQMS: Smarter Shop Floors for Better Visibility

IQMS: Smarter Shop Floors for Better Visibility

The conveyor belts halted to a stop, and the ‘whir and buzz’ at the plant floor of a local confectionery receded into an abrupt silence. Upon observation, the maintenance department declared that the breakdown was caused by a single malfunctioning machine. The shop floor manager was later confronted with the fact that they could have easily nipped the plain-sailing issue in its bud, had it been monitored and fixed days before, but the lack of a systematic shop floor management mechanism had drawn into this complex predicament.

Every executive who manages a plant floor can relate to having run into a similar roadblock, at some point of the manufacturing cycle, throwing production in the doldrums and inviting business risks. Since its inception in the year 1989, IQMS has been helping manufacturers streamline internal processes, by providing the much-needed transparency into the entire production lifecycle. Leading the organization from its front lines is Gary Nemmers, CEO and President, IQMS, with his adeptness in taking companies to the next level of operational excellence.

"The customers we have at IQMS are part of that backbone of America that employ people and provide career opportunities for people"

To help manufacturers avert major production mishaps that may result in tarnished reputation, the company has purpose-built manufacturing software tools that meet the whole slew of shop floor specific requirements, including process streamlining, proactive monitoring, and total control over the production lifecycle. However, the high cost coupled with extended deployment timeframes, for long has restrained the skeptical factory managements to adopt shop floor management tools. A trendsetter in this climate, IQMS has stamped its authority in the manufacturing domain with its affordability and practical applicability of shop floor management solutions for repetitive, process, and discrete manufacturing companies.

Constant Production Vigilance

Along the lines of better shop floor control, IQMS’ hassle-free, error-free solutions proffer a visual front-end to manufacturing plant floor performance and control. Easily deployable, the solutions come with a plug-and-play interface that can be integrated to the enterprises’ existing manufacturing business model. Developed and driven by intelligent engineering, the IQMS shop floor portfolio brings customer manufacturing units an inch closer to industrial automation.

IQMS’ shop floor solutions encompass a broad spectrum of smart software products that can be used in conjunction with sturdy hardware gear to enhance and manage plant floor operations. The RTStation Touch is one such device, which eliminates the use of bulky computers and displays inside the shop floor. Providing plant personnel with real-time access to Manufacturing Execution System (MES), and ERP activities on the plant floor, the RTStation is a touch screen interface that gives a collated visibility into the manufacturing, supply-chain, and other human resource workflows.

The solution also aids an organization to reap the benefits of optimal work center efficiency, improved reaction time, and paperless document control.

With an endless pool of wireless and wired connectivity options—including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, HDMI, USB, and Serial RS232—designed for the RTStation tool, IQMS ensures its customer organizations stay in the loop of consistent and reliable communication framework. This human machine interface (HMI) gadget provides a graphical representation of performance and productivity metrics of the MES for benchmarking and tweaking purposes.

Automated Manufacturing

On the software front, IQMS’s shop floor solutions aid organizations to cohesively create a paperless manufacturing environment. The Document Control software module of IQMS’ ERP tool, EnterpriseIQ allows shop floor managers to manage workflow-related documents—such as designs, blueprints, and drawings—and other external documents, accounting for absolute control and visibility over the production value chain. The module envelopes essential functionalities such as document creation, approval, implementation, revision control, and retention, along with a secure central repository that has appropriately authenticated, color-coded indexing, and circulation mechanisms.

IQMS’ indigenous application, RealTime addresses the manufacturing, monitoring, and data collection needs of an enterprise’s factory unit. Eponymous to its name, RealTime is calibrated to record and convey production information with minimalistic time delay, as and when the parts are being manufactured to fulfill order lists. The software then automatically updates the data repository with schedule details, downtime, finished product counts, scrap, rejects, and quality data. It also includes modules for mistake proofing the scheduled setup of production jobs, verifying product specifications, regulator approved materials, packaging, and label formats prior to initiating the process chain. Additionally, RealTime increases the overall productivity and efficiency of the manufacturing process and at the same time performs quality checks on the end product.

RealTime Action in Real Time

RealTime facilitates M2M collaboration with a variety of PLC based devices, allowing the user to dynamically define the desired performance statistics, calling for flexible configurability for its customers. On one occasion, a leading tier-one supplier for major automotive manufacturers, Miniature Precision Components faced operational challenges with their in-house MES. In the process of amending changes to their legacy ERP system to support custom third party functionalities, MPC had impeded the performance and functioning of its system. MPC chose IQMS for its premier manufacturing solutions that tied up the various siloed tasks of serialization, tracking, and corrective actions request together.

IQMS’ hassle-free, error-free solutions proffer a visual front-end to manufacturing plant floor performance and control

In the parlance of MPC’s manufacturing director, Jim Schneberger, RealTime’s immediacy had given the reins of running the shop floors coherently into the operator’s hands. Shifting from monthly to real-time and activity-based costing paradigms with IQMS’ tools, helped MPC to realize significant RoI, including reduced software maintenance costs, better allocation of labor resources, and immediate visibility to make informed decisions quickly.

IQMS’ prominent and rich customer base also includes several names that are ruling the roost in the automotive, medical, aerospace, defense, food and beverage, and metal industries. Taking pride in serving their customers, Nemmers extols, “The customers we have at IQMS are part of that backbone of America that employ people and provide career opportunities for people and make wonderful products.” From plastic bottle caps to medical devices and automotive parts, IQMS has a crucial role to play in an average consumer’s daily life. Maintaining a ‘continual and collaborative dialogue and development environment’ with its customer base, the company has a customer discussion forum, the MyIQMS community, from where they constantly take note of customer feedbacks for product development. The company has a solid footprint across North America, Mexico, Europe and Asia, constantly scouting for prospective partnerships to keep manufacturing processes lean, competitive, and profitable.

As a means of aligning its goals and objectives with that of the rapid tempo of technology—more particularly, Industry 4.0—ongoing developments inside IQMS’ innovation labs advocate the prolific adoption of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), big data, and analytics. Tools like RealTime and IQMS’s EnterpriseIQ (ERP software) are already knee-deep in deriving insightful information from vast proportions of industrial data for proactive monitoring. The evolution of IQMS’s manufacturing and more specifically, shop floor solutions is dotted with increasingly momentous milestones, from wireless and mobile capabilities to collaboration and communication. That said, the logical course of direction for IQMS is bound for better shop floors and ultimately, better standards of manufacturing.

- Chithra Vijayakumar
    July 27, 2016