How Additive Manufacturers Implement Better Controls on the Production Floor

How Additive Manufacturers Implement Better Controls on the Production Floor

Bright AM

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Quality is free. Poor quality comes at a price. The high price of nonconformances can derail highly efficient processes and crush productivity. Customers generally don’t care how much time or money you spend on quality. They just want the job done right. However, the cost of quality can suck up profits in any manufacturing operation. In Additive Manufacturing (AM), poor quality can be devastating. For AM manufacturers, the pursuit of quality begins by implementing better production floor controls.

Implementing Better Production Floor Controls

Part quality in Additive Manufacturing is highly dependent on rigid process control. In too many AM shops, this process control is inadequate to produce reliable and consistent parts. That leads to high levels of waste, scrap, and costly rework. Creating higher quality at lower costs begins by implementing better production floor controls.

Leading Additive Manufacturers have adopted Manufacturing Execution/Quality Management Systems (MES/QMS) to manage much of the production pathway and associated workflow. Here are various methods used for implementing better production floor controls in Additive Manufacturing by leading companies.

Quote to Invoice
Work order management controls the flow with an end-to-end solution. The right MES/QMS provides a paperless workflow for every phase of the project, from quote to invoice.

Managing the Production Pathway
A key to implementing better production floor controls is managing the production pathway. It’s crucial to empower operators with access to critical information, including detailed real-time and historical data associated with work orders.

Self-Serve Customer Portals and Notifications
You can reduce the amount of staff time dealing with customer questions by giving customers 24/7 access to order status, work order history, certification statements, and more. While maintaining control about what is shared with customers, a self-service portal gives you flexibility while improving customer service.

Advanced Specifications Management
In AM, details are crucial. Advanced specifications management automatically creates a fully documented audit trail with accurate version control and detailed change history.

Intelligent Part Planning
Intelligent part planning is necessary to manage applicable industry specifications and guidelines, such as ISO, Nadcap, API, AS, TS, ITAR/EAR, MecAccred, Prime Contractors, and more.

Advanced Production Scheduling
Many Additive Manufacturers struggle with the optimal scheduling of qualified crew members and equipment. Advanced production scheduling tools make load planning easier and more dynamic to handle changes.

Integrated Maintenance Reporting
Another area that needs management is maintenance. Downtime or equipment that hasn’t been properly maintained on schedule leads to higher failure rates, nonconformances, and maintenance costs. Integrated maintenance reporting tracks maintenance and automates work order generation based on available equipment and priority.

Delivery Scheduling and Tracking
Managing your delivery scheduling and tracking helps optimize the shipping area of your business. This includes tracking and alerts to drivers and customers, digital signatures, photos, and notes.

Enhanced Risk Analysis
This method requires a completed risk analysis before a quote can be generated. This helps identify and control threats that can cause problems even when implementing better production floor controls.

Advanced Control and Sampling Plans
You can allow work orders (job travelers) with part-specific control plans. This helps create process control improvements over the life cycle of a part or product to reduce scrap and waste.

Streamlined Document Access
Documentation is another crucial area. If you’re still managing this manually, tracking on paper, or printing and filing your documentation, it’s easy to misplace key information or waste time hunting for something. A system to access, create, collaborate, approve, change, and file documents in a single system saves time.

Statistical Process Control
When test results are added, charts are automatically updated and alerts are sent if there are any issues with the process. Upper and lower control limits are automatically calculated based on your proforma. This helps you quickly spot trends before they become problems.

Better Supply Chain Management
In Additive Manufacturing, much of your efficiency is determined by how you manage your supply chain. It takes quality materials and a system to manage the process, such as tracking AM powder genealogy.

Integrated CRM
Rather than a disconnected CRM, integrating your MES/QMS with your CRM allows for centralized communication and workflow.

BoL Generation
A bill of lading (BoL) is one of the most important documents in your shipping and delivery workflow. It’s a legally binding document for the driver and carrier to process the freight shipment. Automating this workflow eliminates human error.

Mobile Management
Finally, the ability to manage every aspect of your AM production via mobile devices such as tablets or smartphones gives supervisors, managers, and business leaders 24/7 access.

These are the methods that leading Additive Manufacturers are employing when implementing better production floor controls. Here’s the tough question to answer: Does your system do all these things?

Bluestreak | Bright AM QMS+MES provides all these functions for better visibility, control, and quality.

Better Production with Bluestreak | Bright AM

Your AM process is only as good as the parts it produces. If it’s not producing parts efficiently that meet customer specs at your target margins, it’s time to make a change. Contact Bluestreak | Bright AM for a demo today.

If your service includes Additive Manufacturing, we provide specific solutions in our Bright AM software. To request an Additive Manufacturing software demo, click here!