GE’s WIP Manager provides plant-floor visibility

Oct. 6, 2016
The module provides visibility into the location of work orders in the manufacturing plant with the intent of increasing schedule-adherence and lowering working capital.

GE Digital announced the availability of the latest Brilliant Manufacturing module, WIP Manager. This module, enabled by Predix, GE’s operating system for the industrial internet, works with existing systems to provide visibility into the location of work orders in the manufacturing plant with the intent of increasing schedule-adherence and lowering working capital.

According to GE Digital, WIP Manager is particularly valuable to companies in the heavy industrial space where cycle times are longer, assembly space on the plant floor is widely
dispersed, and raw materials more expensive. With increased material visibility, managers can ensure the right material is available to the manufacturing process at the right time and in the right place.

“Many companies don’t know where their orders are in the plant without walking the shop floor,” said Marc Mailman, product manager for GE Digital. “It has been mainly a manual process to date where they don’t have visibility into timing of orders, no way to re-prioritize orders in real-time, and can’t easily coordinate materials to take advantage of production flow. With WIP Manager, they can see dynamic queue times for work centers, highlight slow or stuck orders, and get an ‘ETA’ of orders based on progress—without walking the shop floor.”

Order-tracking and material-movement management reduce labor costs, while reducing clutter on the shop floor for future orders. The intent is that manufacturers are better able to meet promised schedules and provide “tracking” information so they know exactly when to expect their order to be completed.

"Heavy industrial assembly and MRO operations can see a step increase in productivity by just knowing where the component parts are when they're needed," said Greg Gorbach, vice president, ARC Advisory Group. "With the technologies available today, there is really no excuse not to be able to pinpoint exactly where each piece is, no matter how large or small, and no matter where it lies."

WIP Manager tracks production and service processes through work orders, which are created in the enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, and an operational route through the shop floor, which is imported from the customer's manufacturing execution system (MES). Once the work order is created and the required materials are available, using WIP Manager, work center operators can begin the operations listed on the work order to build or repair the specified parts.

Manufacturers can use WIP Manager to track part production or repair using data from work orders. They can also view analytics charts such as average queue, which shows how many parts are queued at each work center. Scorecard charts show the view of a line of balance, where the user can select a part and display how work orders containing the part are balanced for In-Progress, Hold, and Rework for each operation. All of this information and more is available at the operator or supervisor’s fingertips on computers and mobile devices.