An efficient system for managing consumable use and wastage
One of our Electronic Manufacturing clients asked us to address issues they were experiencing with consumables such as solder bar alloy, solder paste and flex. Usage levels appeared high, and needless waste was believed to be the root cause.
Electronics manufacturing operations often struggle with this issue because it’s very difficult to ensure all operatives and machinery are using consumables correctly. In some cases, the wrong or expired consumables are used, which has implications for both consumable waste and product quality.
To effectively manage the use of consumables, manufacturers audit trails that verify that the correct options were used in the right processes — and in the right way. Without such trails, the safe and effective operation of hardware can’t be guaranteed. And that’s bad news for any manufacturer.
Our client needed a system that would create transparency and detailed audit trails to avoid the issues caused by the misuse of consumables.
We can’t create and deploy solutions without assessing the minutiae of the operations we’re assisting. That’s why our first job was to collaborate with our client and key individuals to get a clear understanding of the entire manufacturing process.
What we came up with was, initially, a web-based system for recording all incoming consumables. As these items arrive at the factory, they are marked and checked in line with their supplier, lot number and expiry date. They’re then given a unique barcode which identifies them as a specific consumable.
As part of the workflow design process, the task output had to be a specific type of consumable with detailed properties. This is an essential part of the task outcome and is needed to continue the process.
Alongside the web app, we developed a mobile application to allow operatives to scan consumables against the task in question. The system cross-references the specific barcode with the assigned consumable to ensure it’s the right one and hasn’t expired. If the app flags an issue (perhaps an incorrect consumable or an expired product), the operative can’t continue the process.
When one of our manufacturing software solutions delivers tangible results shortly after implementation, we get an immense sense of satisfaction. That’s exactly what happened here.
Our client reported a sudden and significant reduction in the misuse of various consumables. The solution also succeeded in reducing production line downtime.
This consumables management solution gave every consumable that entered the factory a clear set of identifying information — stored and accessed by a barcode. With the use of our mobile scanning app, we were able to track every consumable’s route through the process. This was essential in creating a clear and detailed audit trail and ensuring all the correct procedures were executed.
All in all, this was one of our most successful custom manufacturing solutions.