Contract Manufacturers Use Cloud MES to Bring Industry 4.0 to Reality

The high-tech industry talks a lot about new technologies and how they will transform manufacturing and the supply chain. Until recently, though, we’ve had few real-world case studies that highlight the potential of cloud, additive manufacturing, automation, and more.

 Electronics manufacturing services provider Sanmina, though, is putting cloud-based manufacturing execution systems to the test in hopes of improving global supply chain visibility, real-time production control, and operating efficiency. 42Q, a provider of cloud manufacturing execution systems (MES), announced that Sanmina has reached the milestone of connecting more than 25,000 pieces of manufacturing equipment to its cloud solution. The contract manufacturer (CM) uses 42Q for real-time manufacturing visibility, process, and quality control across their operations, and as the backbone for instant IoT and manufacturing automation initiatives. The organization has 42Q deployed in more than 50 factories in 15 countries worldwide, including full integration with highly complex surface mount production and fully automated production lines.

Image source: 42Q.

Image source: 42Q.

Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) initiatives are the center of digital factory transformation. Combined, these technologies provide a framework for linking production, automation, and analytics; connecting low-cost storage and sensors; and leveraging artificial intelligence and analytics. Meanwhile, widespread adoption of SaaS in the cloud promise an interaction of the real and virtual worlds.

Clearly, cloud based MES is good for the CMs and their business operations. The question remains:  what advantages are there behind the scenes, for original equipment manufacturers when CMs leverage cloud-based MES? 

According to CTO at 42Q, Srivats Ramaswami, digital transformation and Industrial IoT are key strategies of the evolving fourth industrial revolution and have been rapidly disrupting manufacturing. And, it’s important for manufacturing executives to know their EMS company is current with new manufacturing systems for global supply chain and factory management. 

“EMS companies who have implemented advanced cloud MES, like 42Q, have done so in such a way that the OEM gets a forced quality framework,” Ramaswami told EBN. “That is, the cloud MES requires that assemblies are scanned at each workstation and follow a forced routing. Materials are also scanned at the workstation, so traceability information is automatically uploaded to an electronic traveler.” Quality and test records are also automatically uploaded so that a month, a year, or five years later, an auditor can easily access all product, process, and component information electronically.

Efficiencies are also greatly improved. Across dozens of production lines, limits are preset for WIP (work in process), yields, and throughputs. Alerts are sent to manufacturing engineers if such parameters fall outside preset limits, ensuring that manufacturing performance and costs are optimized. “The advantage of a cloud MES here is that all of this information is processed and alerts are sent in real-time, because all critical manufacturing equipment is passing data to the cloud in real-time,” Ramaswami said.

What’s more, multi-level supply chain visibility provides real-time component delivery information from suppliers, real-time status on work orders at suppliers, or factories manufacturing sub-assemblies shipped to the EMS company. This is possible within the EMS company, since a final assembly plant can query WIP levels at another “feeder” plant in real-time.  Moreover, with a cloud MES, the final assembly plant can also query inventory levels in process, for example products staged for final testing.

“This type of multi-plant, real-time in-process visibility greatly increases the confidence levels in ship dates to the final assembly plant,” Ramaswami said.

Basically, what’s good for the CM also has potentially big advantages for their OEM customers as well. Let us know what you think in the comments section below.  

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