A lot has changed in the Tube Fittings Manufacturing Division of Parker Hannifin, one of more than 100 divisions in seven groups worldwide of this $13 billion Fortune 500 leading manufacturer of motion and control technologies and systems. One thing that hasn’t changed at Parker, as the company is commonly known, is its legacy mainframe-based computer systems.
“The pace of change in our manufacturing processes is moving at a much faster rate than ever before,” said Adam Burleson, Division IT Manager for Parker’s Tube Fittings Division. “At one time, most of our business was driven by OEMs and we had maybe two or three large jobs a day. Today, we are serving more and more direct customers, taking on an average of 200 to 300 smaller jobs on any given day.”
Legacy mainframe systems drive the backend of Parker’s business and as Burleson said, “They are the same limited, paper-driven systems they have always been.” A Manufacturing Execution System (MES) drives the front-end, tracking orders through production to completion. But the change in the business paradigm from serving mostly OEMs to direct customers has led to changes in the way the division needs to gather, analyze and disseminate information.
“We needed clearer interfaces and better information,” Burleson said. “In other words, we needed to get decision-making data quickly to those who need it whether they are on the floor, in the back office or out in the field.”
Just over a year ago, the division upgraded its MES from Microsoft Access to a new system built with ASP.NET MVC with a SQL backend. While that upgrade represented a significant improvement, missing were user-friendly dashboards to collect and analyze data.
“We developed data abstracts and determined we needed to build five dashboards,” Burleson said. Those included a manufacturing dashboard to collect shop floor data; production control to schedule jobs and measure capacity; engineering to track prints and drawings; quality control to track scrap; and operator tracking to monitor production and scrap rates.
In his search for a .NET development tool, Burleson reached out to colleagues in other Parker divisions and came across Telerik® DevCraft™ by Progress.
“I found a group within the company that had a good experience with DevCraft,” he said. “I thoroughly scoured the web site and documentation and quickly determined it was the ideal fit for our needs.”
With internal development teams facing extraordinary backlogs, Burleson chose to outsource development of the dashboards. He looked no further than Progress Services. “I quoted the project to our in-house corporate teams and Progress,” Burleson said. “Progress came back with a very competitive quote with a fair number of hours and they could begin immediately.”
The development process was fast. “We developed the abstracts, then sent the databases to Progress,” he explained. “We had weekly calls, great communications and received the source code about a month later and we’ve been running with it ever since.”
Less than a year ago, data was captured manually and rolled up to Excel spreadsheets.
“We were always in a reactive role,” Burleson said. “We had to wait until the next day for data, preventing us from proactively driving improvement. The Progress dashboards have created a waterfall affect enabling us to make real-time adjustments to drive productivity improvements.”
Those improvements speak for themselves. The time for supervisors to gather shop floor data has decreased by 20 minutes per shift at two facilities, totaling a time savings of two hours daily. In addition, although not directly attributed to the dashboards, the ability of supervisors to review important data such as pieces produced and pieces per hour, literally in real-time, has led to dramatic productivity improvements, nearly doubling in some cases.
“The robust features of Kendo UI like chart controls make the information incredibly simple to digest and act upon.” Burleson said. “Today, supervisors, as a matter of course, monitor production as the day progresses, making real-time adjustments as needed, clearly resulting in productivity improvements.”
With Version two of the dashboards recently released with even further enhanced UI, Burleson is looking to add mobility. “Mobile is our next step,” he said. “Kendo UI makes mobile easy and having these dashboards on mobile devices will make our supervisors even more agile when it comes to taking action on the fly.”
Given the success of the dashboards, Burleson is now working with human resources to explore building a company-wide app to track skills training, a task now completed manually.“The combination of Progress technology and the responsiveness of Progress Services present us many opportunities to implement business processes to react quickly to changing complex markets and accelerate employee performance with data to make the right decisions at the right time to drive process improvements,” Burleson concluded.