Recently we had the opportunity to speak with Silvio Saouaf, product director for Camstar’s Enterprise Platform, about the advantages for operators of having all manufacturing data effectively consolidated in a single place. “For those working in the manufacturing sector, manufacturing is their way of life,” he says. “Any manufacturing execution system (MES) application is there to help them be more efficient and intuitive, improve the way they work, minimize errors, and ensure they execute against their predefined process and product definitions. So MES solutions should make the total manufacturing user experience something that truly eases their work lives.”
Saouaf says there are several ways to address this need, including:
- The way a user interacts with a system; for example, how many clicks or keystrokes are needed to do the work?
- The amount of information presented.
- Using more intelligent screens so that they “think” for the operator.
“After all, these systems should be tools, not an additional burden,” he says.
“Putting all the information they need in a single, accessible place is key to making MES a powerful tool.”
Saouaf notes that software applications have evolved from presenting data as textual information to offering it as visual, graphical information, an evolution he sees as functional and inevitable. “We have a new generation of users entering the manufacturing workforce who have been conditioned by web browsers and mobile devices,” he says. “For this group, the visual dominates the textual; they expect the information they need will be available on the screens they work with.”
Accordingly, modern systems make much more extensive use of visual cues (e.g., icons, colors) that make data faster and easier to process and use. “An operator’s responsibility is not to work with an MES system, but rather to build product on time and efficiently,” he says. “Inundating users with too much information can be counterproductive; having to filter out ‘noise’ slows and complicates the work. As such, the best systems separate primary and secondary information to help the user focus on the task at hand. This is true whether the user is management or an operator on the plant floor.”
As an example of the power of these tools, Saouaf cites advances made in assembly screens. When an operator is presented with requirements, he or she simply scans the material they want to issue, and the system determines which requirements it fulfills, as well as automatically recommending the quantity to be issued.
“This is a powerful tool,” he concludes. “All the requisite information is put at hand, easily understood, and acted upon, so the operator is more efficient, effective, and satisfied. Everyone involved understands the value being delivered, which goes far beyond the management of manufacturing processes.”
Hear Silvio Saouaf discuss Camstar’s 5.1 release in this video