Create Item-Specific Resource Permissions for Batch Production
The manufacturing resources that are allowed to produce individual products is strictly controlled in LittleBigERP™. The Manufacturing Permissions screen (Figure 1), launched from the Edit pull-down menu in Electronic Making Instructions screen, is used to configure production options.
Upon successful configuration of the manufacturing permissions for a product, the business can be assured that the proper resources will be utilized for production. This is especially important in organizations with a broad portfolio of products and a large selection of potential manufacturing resources. If products are not appropriately matched with the characteristics of the manufacturing vessels, serious consequences could ensue.
The Manufacturing Permissions screenshot below supports the subseqent field-level descriptions of the configuration.
Figure 1. Manufacturing permissions screen
Resource Group - Not to be confused with an individual vessel, the Resource Group refers to a ‘collection’ of equipment that can be used to produce a product. A resource group might contain only one equipment reference (i.e., one vessel) but the vessel still requires a master file configuration. The resource group Id is often configured to reflect the Id of the primary blending vessel that serves to contain the final batched product.
Batch Units - The batch units field holds the unit-of-measure that will be used to represent the minimum and maximum quantities of product than can be blended using the specified resource group. This value will default and there is generally no reason for changing its value unless tolerances are to be entered in alternate units.
Calculating Minimum and Maximum Quantities - The Min/Max quantities fields represent the ‘real’ weight limitations of the resource group specified in producing the target product. The values are generated using the volume constraints specified in the resource group master file and the weight per volume indicated in the master formula. The calculated values ARE NOT dynamic as the volume constraints for the resource group are not expected to change. Therefore, any changes in resource group capacity will require a recalculation of the minimum and maximum weights.
One reason the Min/Max weights are not ‘hard coded’ to the volume constraints is to allow process engineers to actively target ‘real’ limitations by equipment and product. The values that default upon selection of the ‘Calculate’ button can be changed as desired. If for some reason, the resource group capacity changes, the Min/Max quantities must be reassessed for each EMI affected.
The Mix/Max quantities are used to effectively filter the manufacturing resources available when a user is generating a batch sheet. Upon specifying the product and quantity desired, the scheduler is presented with a filtered list of resources capable of producing the batch. If no resources are presented, it could be that the batch falls outside of the available capacity of all production resources.
Freeboard - Freeboard represents a desired amount of space between the top of the blending vessel and the final volume of the product being produced. This aspect of production may be important if the product foams or is otherwise subject to overflow during the blending process. The value entered is expressed as a percentage and represents the amount of effective volume by which the capacity of the resource group will be reduced. This factor is included in the resource group filter employed when a user is generating a production batch sheet.
Optimal Batches - Process Engineers may target specific batch sizes that represent optimal production quantities for the business. This may result from an ‘economies-of-scale strategy’ where the business chooses to run a target batch size that ‘fits’ some profitability model. Or, the batch size could be driven by a specific raw material in the blend. For instance, if one of the raw materials must be consumed in whole packaging units, the optimal batch sizes might be developed around these incremental weights.
The optimal batch sizes are expressed in the units indicated in the ‘Batch Units’ field and should fall within the calculated Min/Max quantities. Values are keyed directly into the drop-down entry field and added via the ‘+’ button next to the control. Conversely, selected values are removed from the list by selecting the ‘-‘ key.
When a user enters the ‘Config Batch’ tab to create a batch, the batch size entry field will indicate a yellow background when there are optimal batch sizes configured.
Force Optimal - Even though optimal batch sizes might be specified, it is not always necessary that they be selected. The ‘force optimal’ flag determines whether or not the user must select one of the optimal batch sizes configured. If the flag is set to ‘N’ the sizes will only be ‘recommended’ and the batch size field will be indicated with a yellow background. The user may then select any of the configured sizes from the drop-down list available. If the ‘force optimal’ flag is set to ‘Y’ then the user must select one of the configured sizes and will not be able to proceed until having done so.
Comments - Comments entered in the manufacturing permissions screen have special significance. During the selection of the resource group at batch creation, comments entered here will appear as additional information for the user. Any special instructions associated with this resource group, or possibly premix requirements, can be specified here.
Phase Assignments - Phase assignment is the mechanism that LittleBigERP™ uses to link the ‘phase-based’ formula with the generic manufacturing instructions. Once the resource group has been identified, the next step is to indicate which ‘member’ of the resource group is responsible for preparation steps in the general batch instructions.
Upon creation of a new permission record, the user must select the ‘(Re)load Current Assignments’ button. This will retrieve the ‘members’ of the resource group and the applicable ‘phases’ of the target formula. All the user needs to do at this point is assign the correct phase to the member vessel via the drop-down options in the ‘Phase State’ column of the grid. When the flashing label indicates ‘Reconciled’, the user may select the ‘Update’ button to save this part of the configuration.
A target formula may have more phases than members indicated in the resource group selected. If this is the case, the remaining phases will have their resource assignments manually selected at the time of batch creation.
Copy To - For ‘single phase’ formulas, the ‘Copy To’ grid will present available resource groups with which permissions may be created en-mass. These resource groups may not be selected until the first valid permission for the EMI is created. The optimal batch sizes and additional configuration information is used to populate the ‘Copy To’ records. Again, this option is only available for resource groups that have one member.
The ‘Copy To’ grid holds configurable characteristic information in the columns after the ‘Description’ column. These characteristics are applied at the resource group level and can be anything that the business deems important in selecting manufacturing resources for the products it makes. LittleBigERP™ ships with ‘Tank Composition’, ‘Mixing Method’, ‘Temperature Controls’, and ‘Ventilation’ characteristics preconfigured. These may be eliminated or augmented as desired. The following options are preconfigured for each characteristic.
|Mixing||TRB = Turbine, EDR = Eductor, PRP = Propeller, DSP = Disperser, SWP = Sweep, and GTE = Gate|
|Comp||SS = Stainless Steel and PE = Polyethylene|
|Temp||XX = No heating or cooling, HC = Heating and cooling, HX = Heating and no cooling, and XC = Cooling with no heating|
|Vent||X = No exhaust and EX = Has exhaust|
Enabled - The fully completed permission record must be enabled before it is visible as an option during the creation of batch instructions.