GE Software Takes on Complex Manufacturing

Oct. 8, 2013
Proficy for Manufacturing Discrete is designed to address management of the manufacturing process end-to-end—from work-in-process visibility, quality, and standard operating procedures to product records and dispatch.

Manufacturing execution systems (MES) have been around for quite some time and—for much of their existence—have often been a source of debate within industry. After all, with vendor definitions of what constitutes a manufacturing execution system ranging so dramatically, it’s easy to understand the variety of opinions in existence. Add to that the industry positioning of the technology over the years, which has seen MES referred to as everything from middleware (connecting control systems to ERP) to the equivalent of an ERP system for the plant floor to software that would likely cease to exist because of the growing capabilities of control and ERP software. And that’s not even getting into terminology, where MES has been redefined and taken on other names such as Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM).

With the release of GE Intelligent Platforms’ Proficy for Manufacturing Discrete (PfMD), the MES category has been broadened again with a product described as being “manufacturing execution management” software. GE says PfMD is designed specifically for complex discrete manufacturing environments, such as aerospace, energy equipment and heavy machinery. The aim of the software is to completely digitize paper-based processes.

Incorporating GE’s world-class manufacturing business practices, PfMD is said to provide digitized standard operating procedures, advanced dispatch capabilities, and structured capture of quality data to support real-time decision making and continuous process improvement in complex, engineer-to-order, and build-to-order environments.

As with other GE Intelligent Platforms products, PfMD has been tested in GE’s own manufacturing facilities. GE says that its experience with the software has resulted in:
• 70 percent reduced warranty investigation time;
• 10 percent reduced work-in-process (WIP) inventory;
• 20 percent reduced product cycle times;
• 25 percent reduced rework and scrap; and
• 20 percent reduced manufacturing costs.

A key feature of PfMD is its Dispatch capability which enables operations to be dispatched to lines and/or work cells based on route definitions in the form of jobs to be executed. The queue of jobs associated with a line and/or a work cell is comprised of comparable operations from multiple orders. PfMD’s documentation management capabilities allow production supervisors to manage documents used within the system, including the creation, modification, and revision control of documents, which can be routed through an approval process prior to production. In addition, PfMD provides detailed order scheduling, product management, order execution, route management, labor tracking, WIP management, and manufacturing instructions for operations.

Genealogy and Traceability features of PfMD reportedly capture a permanent record of as-built product data, including bills of material (BOMs), along with all quality data and routes/operations. The software also captures quality data associated with the product and/or process through quality forms and configures the qualifications and/or certification levels of equipment and personnel to ensure the right people and/or equipment are allowed to perform the operations.

The video below addresses GE’s digitization and standardization goals which were used to create PfMD.

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