Paper-Less: Delivering a Holistic MES Solution

Paper-Less: Delivering a Holistic MES Solution

CIO VendorMike LeRoy, President Since the industrial revolution, the manufacturing process has been a conjugation of the 3 Ms—Man, Machine, and Material. With the advent of globalization, manufacturing enterprises are witnessing major propulsion towards agility and lean manufacturing, and the integration between the 3 Ms has taken a whole new turn. More and more manufacturers today seek modern IT applications to manage everything from balance sheets, plant floor processes, and controls. This has opened many doors for deployment of Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES), delivering necessary agility required to keep pace with the rapidly advancing manufacturing ecosystem. “A significant downside in this scenario is that although MES has been around for decades in one form or another, it remains a solution that is not well or consistently understood by many manufacturing professionals,” remarks Mike LeRoy, President of Paper-Less. Since its inception in 2000, Paper-Less not only develops comprehensive MES software, but believes in educating top suite executives on how manufacturing solutions can serve their needs for continuous improvement. Paper-Less’s software solutions and warehouse applications provide extensive functionality and yet are configurable, adaptable, and time saving. Primarily, the company strives to help manufacturing firms digitize and enhance their manufacturing information flow so that they can better utilize real-time and historical data for actionable production and business improvements

"Paper-Less enjoys the challenges that each project brings and tailors their product"

MV2: Much More than Traditional MES

Recognizing the fact that most businesses cannot achieve maximum efficiency without some form of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Paper-Less perceives MES as a strategic extension of ERP. The company uniquely understands ERP and MES and promulgates business decisions which reduce redundancy and resulting inconsistencies. “We offer solutions that complete the lifecycle of data to and from ERP,” says LeRoy. After it branched off from Information Systems Engineering (ISE)—a manufacturing system integrator, Paper-Less came into effect owing to a need for complete production management solutions and as a result of selling MES software to ISE customers. Initially, basing the MES software on IBM’s AS/400 platform, in 2005, Paper-Less began the development of MV2 (Manufacturing Visibility and Velocity) software on the Microsoft Windows Server platform and SQL database. Today, the MV2 is offered as an ERP agnostic best of breed MES solution for discrete manufacturers with a web browser based user interface. A holistic manufacturing execution system—Paper-Less MV2 is a comprehensive MES software solution which increases visibility and responsiveness in production operations enabling streamlined processes and greater delivery performance.

Unlike other MES solutions, Paper-Less MV2 offers unique digital shop packets, deep integration with production workflows, browser-based user interface, and multi-language support. It integrates the most commonly required functions necessary to capture and make use of real-time manufacturing information and archives historical data for later analysis.

Multifarious Advantages with MV2

Today, with the insurgence of technological developments, adoption of a digital business is imperative for manufacturing organizations. However, many companies succumb to a multitude of disparate solutions which further makes it difficult to fully harness the power of data necessary for effective decision making. Paper-Less MV2 synchronizes the data with ERP or similar office or accounting management systems, and closes the loop of the information life cycle within the organization. “This eliminates data redundancy and increases the value of the status reports and manufacturing efficiency insights,” explains LeRoy. Another pertinent challenge faced by CIOs is adoption and acceptance of new manufacturing technology solutions. Paper-Less MV2 does not require extensive user input and offers an intuitive user interface. Additionally, MV2 is designed to interface with a multitude of ERP systems, making it possible to move to a new ERP system transparently for end users or add new plants running different ERP systems. MV2 also supports Kanban methods and brings visibility into Kanban statuses and activities that are not available under traditional tracking methods. While manual Kanban methods can create downstream issues with keeping ERP up to date, MV2 solves this challenge with tools that integrate Kanban and ERP requirements through one solution. “Uniting Kanban with the capabilities of a computer based systems offers a lean technology, creates the opportunity for process improvements, material reductions, and simplifies decision making,” informs LeRoy.

The company uniquely understands ERP and MES and promulgates business decisions which reduce redundancy and resulting inconsistencies

Paper-Less MV2’s ease of learning and use is often cited by the company’s longtime customers as the key strength of the solution. In the case of Wisconsin based Norlen, a metal fabricating and stamping company, the use of Paper-Less MV2 paved the way for the company’s managers and personnel to experience greater accuracy and higher productivity. Norlen was afflicted with a paper-generating, multi-system shop floor environment and wanted to opt for a system that was streamlined, paperless, and fully integrated with their ERP system and work instructions. Furthermore, they wanted to improve quality conformance, accuracy of reporting customer order status, and on-time delivery performance. After weighing the pros and cons of four MES solutions, Norlen settled for Paper-Less MV2 as it met all of their requirements.
Now, the company managers and designated personnel in Norlen receive real-time notifications of production floor problems and are able to review archived production floor operations data for fine-tuning processes. Jobs are electronically released in the shop floor increasing efficiency and supervisors save two hours per day due to reduced paperwork. “Using Paper-Less MV2, Norlen now advocates sustainable manufacturing and they continue to reduce their shop paper consumption as they further integrate the MV2 product,” says LeRoy. Most importantly, Norlen's overall operational shop floor efficiency has improved by 25-30 percent.

All about a Continuous Improvement Environment

Since customer centrism is primary for Paper-Less, the company regularly evaluates the needs of their customers, partners, and industry analysts and constantly enhances their solutions in line with client needs. Ascribing to continuous improvement and incorporating incremental and breakthrough enhancements, shop floor information exchange and workflow processes, Paper-Less presents electronic shop packets, or travelers. A Paper-Less Shop Packet makes manufacturing order details, setup instructions, and procedural information available online for immediate access by production workers. This reduces time and energy and eliminates common problems in production. “These tools present mission critical information from the office to the shop floor and emerge as a tenet to lean manufacturing philosophies,” explains LeRoy. Moreover, the company also holds expertise in production management, manufacturing operations, and engineering consulting services, aiding discrete manufacturing companies in gaining a competitive edge in the market. Embracing a “we can do anything attitude,” Paper-Less enjoys the challenges that each project brings and tailors their product and services to fit customer requisites.

Implementing Progressive Technology Trends

Based on creative contributions from consultants, business analysts, and marker trends, Paper-Less has invested heavily in the native deployment of their application on the Microsoft platform as a web browser based application. “Presently, we are nearing completion of migrating our legacy applications from the iSeries to the Microsoft platform,” reveals LeRoy. To ensure that applications are developed accurately, Paper-Less conducts design walkthroughs with project sponsors which are administered at critical points in the development lifecycle. Maintaining a deep commitment towards customer and partner relationships, Paper-Less will continue to infuse progressive technology trends in their solutions, even in the future. “While mobile applications are key in our existing system, we are also leveraging IoT as an extension of intelligent automation. Other areas of focus for the company are social networking, big data analytics, robotics, and process integration. “Our commitment and track record with existing customers and partners will remain our top priority, emerging as our most noteworthy differentiator,” says LeRoy. The once rigid and work-station based MES application is today capable of accommodating and even orchestrating complex manufacturing flows. With time, MES is only expected to become even more agile, collaborative, and analytical. Owing to their vast experience and state-of-the art MES solutions, Paper-Less is bound to cost-effectively and viably meet the needs of discrete manufacturers across a wide range of industries for years to come.

- Sandeepa Majumdar
    October 09, 2015