White Paper

Web-Centric Supply Chain Manufacturing (Cont'd)

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Web-Centric Unit Level Data Management
Datasweep, Inc. has designed an architecture to meet these new manufacturing requirements. The architecture is embodied in Datasweep's Advantage, providing detailed visibility into manufacturing operations across the supply chain while supporting sophisticated analysis and reporting tools.

Datasweep's architecture was designed from the ground up by the Datasweep development team, who created the leading manufacturing execution systems on previous generations of software technology. Based on the company's extensive first-hand experience (more than 150 man-years) with plant automation systems and data warehousing, Datasweep Advantage represents the company's most current thinking about the problem of supply chain manufacturing.

Advantage is a packaged unit-level production tracking system that installs quickly and easily on PCs located at manufacturing, assembly and test sites throughout the manufacturing supply chain. It employs the latest Web technology, easy-to-use GUIs and form builders, extensible application structure, integration with other enterprise applications, and separate active and historical databases. Typically, implementation and ROI are achieved within just weeks or months.

Datasweep's Advantage enables manufacturers to rapidly implement an efficient, affordable unit-level tracking and data analysis solution for the full range of production environments from build-to-stock to build-to-order, from vertically integrated to completely outsourced. No other solution offers this level of accuracy, granularity, and efficiency for collecting, marshaling and using data from manufacturing operations.

The architecture is based on the following key features:
  • Web-centric design and browser-based interface
  • Speed of configuration and rollout
  • Unit-level product tracking
  • Efficient transaction throughput for factory floor data collection
  • Real-time production metrics
  • Data mart for complex analyses
  • Complete solution, with client software, server software, and integration modules
  • Integration with other enterprise applications
Web-Centric Design: Relying on Java applets and standard browsers, Datasweep's Advantage is completely Web-centric. The Web browser interface is geared to non-technical operators and does not require Java expertise. The product is full-featured, providing process design tools, view definitions, and reports through browsers. By harnessing Web browser technology, Datasweep solves the data distribution problem, providing easy access to information for users within the enterprise, customers, and extended supply chain partners.

Unit-Level Manufacturing Data Model: The heart of Datasweep Advantage is a data model designed for unit-level information management. The data model is founded on the unit, an individual product, and designed to manage data that reveals the unit's composition, status, and relationships to other elements of the manufacturing process. For instance, the data model accounts for information about the operations performed on a unit as it moves across the factory floor. By basing its data model on the unit, it facilitates tracking the status of units within an order and determining the impact of change orders on an in-process unit. In outsourced operations, the Datasweep data model allows partner companies to expose specific levels of detail to one another as they seek to optimize production.

Datasweep's unit-level manufacturing data model is unique. Manufacturing execution systems (MES) and ERP systems have data models that were designed for build-to-stock mass production. The data models track no information about specific items and their relationships to other elements of the manufacturing process. Manufacturers can implement unit-level data management on these products only by employing workarounds, such as making each item within an order a separate order in the system. However, in practice, these workarounds have proven to be complex, slow, and, ultimately, unacceptable for advanced manufacturing strategies.

Data Management Architecture: Datasweep Advantage relies on two separate, but linked, databases — the active database and the analysis database. (see Figure 4)

Figure 4

Datasweep Active Database: The Active Database, an OLTP database, is based on a normalized relational schema. It is implemented on leading relational database systems, including Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle 8. As a product moves through the production process, Datasweep Advantage collects relevant information — parts, operator, time of day, etc. — and enters this information into the production database. The database is designed to handle the high transaction throughput of manufacturing operations and to provide basic status reports.

The Active Database tracks data at the unit-level, whether or not the products are being transported through production individually or in a group, regardless of whether all of the products in the group or carrier belong to the same order. When an order is activated, the Datasweep system issues an identifier, typically a barcode number, for each unit. At each station on the factory floor, the identifier is recorded as the unit passes. Data can include component serial numbers, lots, quality tests, operator, machine, carrier, and many other factors, depending on the user's needs. Datasweep supports carrier tracking, allowing units to be checked into and out of carriers to speed production. If a customer wants to make a change to one item or to a whole order, the system indicates exactly where each unit is, streamlining the current reliance on manually locating the individual units.

Datasweep Analysis Database: The second database is a historical data mart based on a star schema, which is optimized for reporting and analysis of data extracted from the OLTP database. The moment a product is finished, the unit data about that product is eligible for movement from the production database to the historical database. Complex queries can be entered for in-depth analysis and problem resolution. By segmenting the two types of data management operations into separate databases, Datasweep is able to support in-depth analyses and reporting without slowing the production database. Datasweep Advantage also provides several standard reports. For example, Advantage provides a history of each unit and all parts consumed including serial number, route steps, etc. to create a device history record for field service and customer accountability. Reports can be made available across the company and beyond to customers and partners on a 24/7 basis over the Web.

Datasweep Client: The Datasweep Advantage client can employ either Java or HTML and various combinations of the two. Datasweep also plans to support other standards, such as XML. The client architecture includes a form builder and scripting language for the GUI. Wizards guide the user through a decision tree to speed completion of tasks. The Datasweep client architecture also incorporates support for barcode readers, commonly used for data entry on factory floors. The Datasweep Process Designer and Form Builder are the tools users employ to define applications and configure the system. Both tools use simple point-and-click operations. For process changes, Advantage allows the use of scripts that eliminate the need for Java programming expertise.

Datasweep Application Server: The Datasweep Application Server hosts and manages the application functionality in the system. It is based on Windows NT and Microsoft's COM+ architecture. Datasweep provides standard rules and objects representing production routes, operations at each manufacturing step, data descriptions, and work instructions in the form of a document, video clip, sound, drawing, photo or an executable file. Users can add their own rules, as well as extend the properties of objects in the system. Users can also define specific manufacturing processes and procedures by using simple graphical Wizards and graphical process flow diagrams.

Datasweep Integration Architecture: Datasweep designed an integration architecture to support rapid linkage with enterprise systems and applications, such as ERP packages and advanced planning systems. The architecture begins by narrowing the scope of the integration between Advantage and the third-party product to a minimal number of connection points. Datasweep has created interfaces for some of the leading enterprise applications and will continue to expand its breadth of support.

Web-centric supply chain manufacturing technology needed to support mass customization throughout the manufacturing supply chain is here. Driven by Internet commerce to fulfill the specific requirements of their customers, manufacturers now have an answer for the massive challenges personalization poses for factory-floor operations across the extended enterprise. As the manufacturing economy moves to value unique products and orders, unit-level data management becomes essential. So too, contract manufacturing drives the need to gather and share real-time, unit-level information on orders and products within orders.