How MES Can Optimize Automotive Manufacturing

How MES Can Optimize Automotive Manufacturing

We all know how devastating a product recall can be to an automaker. But while catastrophic events capture the headlines, these are just the most visible threats to a manufacturer's reputation. Those annoying problems that may not be a safety concern – but have buyers repeatedly returning to their dealerships – also quietly erode consumer confidence, brand equity and profitability.

Regardless of issue scope, a robust manufacturing execution system (MES) is often key to a timely, appropriate response and mitigating future risk. An MES provides automakers with ways to unlock their process data so they can identify abnormalities sooner and better contain negative outcomes. It also allows them to lock-in their processes to drive manufacturing consistency.

Today's flexible automotive manufacturing environment can meet the demands of globalization and consumer preference faster than ever before. However, the new technologies that enable this flexibility can also increase system complexity. The result is often a proliferation of smart assets and disparate systems on the plant floor, but no easy way to share and contextualize the data these systems can deliver.

Given this environment, how can an automaker efficiently identify and contain product abnormalities?

Fortunately, it's a challenge a robust MES like Rockwell Software® AutoSuite™ can meet head-on. An MES integrates plant-floor production and ERP systems, and allows manufacturers to share data – and manage key quality issues from the design system through dealership service maintenance. As a result, automakers can use real-time information throughout the lifecycle of their vehicles to help pinpoint potential safety and customer satisfaction concerns – and even minor complaints that negatively impact brand loyalty.

And once a product abnormality is identified, the data and analysis tools needed to determine the root cause of the issue are readily accessible through the MES.

Take a look at how this automaker utilizes the AutoSuite MES to establish a digital genealogy for each vehicle and then track and trace it throughout the production process and supply chain. This capability provides the data needed to successfully investigate an issue – and speed any required remediation.

Perhaps even more important, an MES can automate and enforce adherence to established manufacturing processes and business rules – and contain non-conforming vehicles. Through quality management and error proofing capabilities, an MES can identify an abnormality at any point in the process and route the vehicle for rectification well ahead of final inspection.

Keep in mind, the power of an MES extends beyond risk mitigation and the integrity of the products leaving the line. An MES can also significantly impact the efficiency of the production process itself. By capturing, unifying and analyzing a wealth of data, an MES provides timely visibility to operational performance issues – from equipment downtime to scheduling and workload balance to operator training.

Whether it's a potential recall, a troublesome warranty issue or a continuous improvement initiative, an MES leverages plant floor and system intelligence to manage complexity and optimize the automotive manufacturing process.

Learn more about how Rockwell Automation helps automakers around the world bring manufacturing optimization to new heights.

Todd Montpas
Posted May 11, 2015 By Todd Montpas, Product Manager, Information Software, Rockwell Automation
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