When a manufacturing company makes a product, the work flow usually revolves around work orders. The orders in ALERE are designed with the upmost flexibility.
There are orders to make items, rework items, perform maintenance, handle field service work, and even inherit serial numbers from components and assign them to finished goods!
Each order can have its own route, material list, and configuration. All of these can be edited and affect only that order.
Orders are transaction driven. They start operations, issue material, record labor, account for scrap, and any other activity that touches the order.
Transactions can be posted manually, with a bar code reader, imported, and even done automatically. The actual order document can be printed with bar code, including 2D code!
Partial quantities on a work order may be posted to inventory as they are finished and without completing the order.
Complete lot and serial number traceability is maintained.
"Express" orders can be used to auto build an item in seconds!
Mass transactions can issue material, record labor, and complete many orders at one time!
Routes are the instructions that detail the method of manufacturing an item.
Manufactured items can have their bill of material distributed over the operation steps that make up a route. In this manner a work order can be printed to show the list of material required for each step of the route. The material planning process (MRP) can then be synchronized with the actual production floor when work orders are scheduled. This approach permits a very sophisticated management tool for coordinating material requirements throughout the factory.
Routes support revision tracking to help you manage significant changes.
Each route can have up to 999 separate operation steps that can be built from an “Operations Library” or manually created as needed.
Each route includes the preferred work center to be used.
There is a shrink factor to account for increases or decreases in the WIP quantities.
Batch sizes can set how many of an item to process per cycle time.
There is a useful option to overlap steps by specifying whether or not partial quantities completed on a step will be immediately started on the next step.
Unlimited space is available to write up the instructions for the step.
There are fields to record the set up time required to prepare for the job and to record the cycle time to complete each item or batch of items.
Labor grades can be specified as a requirement to perform the set up work and run the job,
There is the ability to account for split labor when a person runs more than one machine at a time.
Hyperlinks can be embedded in the notes fields of each step to make drawings, data sheets, pictures, videos, and a host of supporting information readily available in one document.
Work centers are used for capacity requirements planning and detailed scheduling.
A work center can be defined as a specific production area consisting of one or more people and/or machines that can be considered as one unit for purposes of capacity planning.
It may also be an outside vendor or even an area that is used for activities not requiring an actual machine or person, such as paint drying.
Each work center has a description and specifies the days and times it is available for production.
In the event the work center is a machine, a serial number can be assigned to help track usage and repairs.
Since work centers may vary in their efficiency, a percentage can be used to measure that efficiency. This percentage is factored into scheduling calculations.
Work centers can be designated as having “finite” or “infinite” capacity and a list of acceptable alternate work centers is maintained where both play a part in scheduling.
An overhead rate per hour can be assigned whenever machine operation costs can be identified for a work center.
An ongoing activity of manufacturing is performing preventative maintenance on machines and tools. This includes periodic certification of equipment to make sure they meet standards.
The creation of maintenance routines, complete with routes and bills of material is supported.
Periodic maintenance work orders can be automatically created and included in ALERE’s normal materials planning and shop floor scheduling processes.
Maintenance work orders can be manually initiated and released to handle unplanned repairs.
The resulting maintenance records from work orders allows analysis to be done of the problems, the percent of uptime machine availability, and the costs involved in performing the work
The BOM (Bills of Material) is the foundation of a manufacturing system.
A BOM is a listing of all the subassemblies, parts and raw materials that go into making a parent assembly and shows the quantity of each required to make that assembly.
It is used in conjunction with the production schedule to determine the items for which purchase orders and work orders must be released.
Revisions are supported including building to a specific revision level. Each parent and each child on a BOM has active and inactive dates to support revisions and the replacement of components.
A variety of BOMs are supported, including the single-level bill of material, the indented bill of material, the modular bill, the variable bill, the phantom bill, and the costed bill.
If your company relies heavily on bills of material for products with features and options, then modular and variable bills could have a huge impact on the management of those bills and the costs associated with them.
Modular bills condense bills with options or choices into one BOM structure. Variable bills condense bills with the same components, but with different quantities, into one BOM structure.
The result of using modular and variable bills is that one indented bill structure can be used to configure many, even thousands, of possible finished goods.
These bill types form the foundation for a sales order configurator that is part of ALERE.
A BOM or work order can be used to disassemble an item, meaning it can take something apart and return the components to inventory.
Inverted BOMs can start with one raw material and “explode” into a wide range of end-products, co-products and by-products.
Components of one bill can be copied to another and bills can be imported from sources like CAD systems.
Changes to BOMs can be made using a mass replace function and will update work orders that are in process.
If you manage dozens or even hundreds of work orders moving across a manufacturing floor, then you understand the challenge of prioritizing and coordinating that activity.
ALERE employs finite capacity scheduling (FCS) to take each work order, assign it a priority, look at the route to build it, reserve time on the work centers it will use, and come up with a date when it is expected be done. With this method there is no need to manage queues as every step on a job has time slots assigned on work centers!
The scheduler supports Synchronous Manufacturing, a very advanced way of tying the production schedule to MRP planning. The key is that the components on a bill of material can be matched up to the route operation steps on which they are used. When the steps on work orders are scheduled you are also scheduling when the material is needed!
The scheduler supports both “Forward” and “Backward” scheduling on an order by order basis!
The scheduler can be set to have a resolution of one minute or one hour. The resolution that will be right for you will depend on the type of jobs that are scheduled.
The scheduler is amazingly fast. Thousands of route steps can be processed per minute.
A major feature of the scheduler is that it permits route steps to overlap. This means that the next step can start working while the current step is still finishing parts! This can significantly compress the time it takes to process a job and increase the utilization of expensive machinery.
There is a graphical overview of how work orders and work centers are scheduled with a “zoom bar” to allow you to view detail at a couple months or a few hours! Zoom in on how a specific job will proceed through your shop!
Drill down by clicking on the colored bars to display the jobs!
Use the overview to schedule technicians and field service work.!
The color-coded bars representing the operation steps can be manually rearranged using drag and drop.
All of the scheduling information is tied to 3D charts that are dynamically updated to graphically display loads and usage!
Perhaps the most powerful tool in ALERE is the Plan module where a full range of MRP (Materials Requirements Planning) techniques are provided.
MRP uses bill of material data, inventory data, sales orders, purchase orders, and the production schedule information to calculate requirements for materials. Using a time-phased approach, this is accomplished by exploding the bill of material, adjusting for inventory quantities on hand or on order, and offsetting the net requirements by the appropriate lead times.
In ALERE, all levels of a bill, from the item being manufactured down to the raw materials, are calculated in one pass instead of the traditional MRP method of one level at a time.
As a result of being time-phased, it can make recommendations to reschedule open work orders and purchase orders when due dates and need dates are not in phase and when quantity changes are required.
The MRP process provides you with the option to either calculate the material requirements using a bucketed system or a bucketless system.
If you are using the ALERE Schedule module, the planning process may be synchronized with your finite capacity production schedule to achieve “synchronous manufacturing”. This is a very advanced Just-In-Time (JIT) manufacturing technique whereby the material required for each work order route step can be scheduled to be delivered to the work center on which that step is to be performed, on the exact date and time it is required.
Work orders and purchase orders that are recommended by the planning process can be reviewed, changed, and then automatically created.
Recommended purchase orders can be converted to actual purchase orders and recommended work orders can be generated.
Extended MRP capabilities include allowing material planning to be done for a single item, a selected location, or a group of inventory locations. These capabilities also allow you to calculate requirements for a specified sales order which may have multiple different items.
A list of recommended changes that need to be done for work orders and purchase orders using order push/pull techniques can be made.
Recommended changes can be automatically implemented.
Companies that are in the manufacturing business need to know their production costs. This module provides a review and an evaluation of actual or anticipated cost data.
It helps to apply procedures that monitor the progress of manufacturing operations against authorized budgets, and take actions to minimize costs. These procedures include tracking the deviation of actual from budgeted cost for a given task.
There is a tool to estimate the costs to produce a product. It incorporates different quantities to be manufactured; allows a choice of average, standard or last inventory costing methods; and will apply multiple types of overhead.
Unit costs are broken down by material, labor and overhead, and by total. The percent each type of cost contributes to the total is included with the estimate.
ALERE employs tools to compare inventory costs to the manufacturing costed roll up costs. Selected changes may then be done to update inventory costs.
Provision has been made for concurrent general ledger postings that recognize the inventory valuation changes since changing the inventory costs may affect items with an on-hand inventory.
Work-in-process, or WIP, are goods in various stages of completion throughout the plant and is tracked by ALERE.
WIP can be reported based on an “As Of” date and broken down by material, labor and overhead. WIP reporting includes the ability to subdivide the costs by product class or type of work order.
A tool to find the average costs of an item is available for companies that may produce that item multiple times in the course of a month or year. The information includes the lowest and highest costs incurred.