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The Case for the Integrated Shop Floor, With Microsoft Dynamics AX in Control

by Dann Anthony Maurno
Assistant Editor, MSDW

Shop floor machine operation 

There's value in machines delivering data to ERP. A machine can in effect tell you "I made 1000 parts today!" or "Something's wrong, my defects are up to 10 and my average is 1," or "I'm running hot. Grease me."

The value rises with the ability to talk to the machine, telling it and its operator which job is top priority, about bill of materials (BOM) substitutions, and if preventive maintenance is due.

AXUG recently hosted a webinar for its premium members, presented by Ellipse Solutions, to build the business case for bisynchronous (two-way) integrations between Dynamics AX and the shop floor.

The presenter emphasized that a bisynchronous integration requires three layers being 1) shop floor machinery, 2) a Manufacturing Execution System (MES), and 3) ERP, like Microsoft Dynamics AX. The ERP acts as the control center.

Behind much of the value is that single interface, and the much-sought "single version of the truth"; the Dynamics AX Master Data Tables is the sole source and repository of information. Also, that information flows both ways and in real time - such that an operator does not begin one job only to find that that job was not the priority, or finds out too late about a substitution in the BOM, and so forth.

ROI, grand scale and incremental

As the presenter described, ROI begins with the production and operational improvements you'd expect. Citing figures from a Memex Automation (an MES provider) customer survey, bisynchronous integration yields production improvements between 10 and 50% range; 10% ...

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About Dann Anthony Maurno

Dann Anthony Maurno is a seasoned business journalist who began his career as International Marketing Manager with Lilly Software, then moved on as a freelancer to write for such prestigious clients as CFO Magazine; Compliance Week;Manufacturing Business Technology; Decision Resources, Inc.; The Economist Intelligence Unit; and corporate clients such as Iron Mountain, Microsoft and SAP. He is the co-author of Thin Air: How Wireless Technology Supports Lean Initiatives(CRC/Productivity Press, 2010).