Viking Air is an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) specializing in de Havilland aircraft products including manufacturing the Twin Otter.
When Viking launched their enterprise-wide continuous improvement Runway 2 Excellence (R2E) program several years ago, they knew that document management would play a big role in saving manufacturing costs and executing on processes more efficiently. Adept would be an important component of their Lean manufacturing initiatives.
The Problem: Protecting Rare Legacy Documents from Decay and Realizing Effective Version Control
Building and maintaining de Havilland aircraft requires thousands of parts, which require thousands of drawings, some over fifty years old.
As Shawn Maynard, Continuous Improvement Manager, for Viking puts it, “Scanned versions of the legacy drawings managed in Windows folders provides limited version control capability. You often end up using a spreadsheet or simple database to keep track of document updates and distribution. Any inefficiency in the process results in manual intervention which can cause delays in production.”
The Solution: A two prong approach to saving and maintaining legacy drawings
Viking’s two major initiatives to preserve their legacy drawings include placing them in an environmentally protected Vertical Lift Machine (VLM) and to automate the document versioning and control system.
“Our goal is to have an integrated control system for both the physical and electronic drawings that can be securely managed by the people doing the work in a self-service environment,” says Maynard.
“The Adept import features allowed us migrate legacy drawing information into Adept to create our new drawing control system. The import process allowed us to streamline our library structure, simplify our permissions management approach and greatly reduce the overall data repository size by eliminating redundant and duplicate information.” “Adept search and data├é┬ácard features make it easy to find and track the distribution of the scanned drawing for use in production and for updating and release processes.”
“In the new change process, the user can search for the drawing in Adept. The drawing data├é┬ácard contains VLM location information telling the user the location and status of the physical drawing in the VLM from any computer in the company avoiding the need to go to the VLM to see if the drawing is in the machine. The user can then retrieve the physical drawing from the VLM, make changes, re-scan it, and check the new scan into Adept. They then put the updated physical drawing back into the VLM. In the future, the VLM and Adept databases can talk directly to one another further streamlining the process.”
Problem: Managing the Many-Times-a Day Changes to Manufacturing Control Programs
The demand for parts flowing through the factor will change due to changes in customer demand. As such, it is imperative that Viking adjust the CNC (Computer Numeric Control) programs that tell their fabrication machines (e.g. routers) what to do on a continuous basis to keep material waste to a minimum.
“The demands of manufacturing on this level can require the programs to be updated often,” says Maynard. “There are thousands of parts on the airplane and many of those go through some back shop process (e.g., sheet metal forming or routing). The operations are performed on machines that must have the correct version of the CNC programs at all times.”
“It is not one of these things that you can keep track of in windows folders very easily,” remarks Maynard.
Seahorse ran a pilot test program of Adept prior to the live installation, feedback was immediate and positive.
“Before we had Adept we were losing one man hour, per person, per day in inefficiencies due to not having an enterprise PDM application,” said Beard. “Adept’s immediate impact had executive management taking notice. Chronic difficulties and delays were eliminated, projects were on schedule, and our design teams were now engaged in true design collaboration.
Can it Grow with Us?
CNC program configurations are now controlled in Adept. The operators sign the CNC documents out, make the changes, and sign them back into Adept. States Maynard, “It’s made a difference in productivity, and aligns with Viking’s R2E continuous improvement goals even more than we expected.”
Problem: A solution that would meet the challenges of moving from a Windows file/folder control culture to a database control system culture
Viking required that their document management system be easy-to-use to meet the needs of a manufacturing workforce. A workforce that is used to seeing Windows folders but in need of a system that controls information like a database.
“Operators are hired to manufacture parts and create assemblies from parts. They need to do that, while spending minimal time accessing or searching for information,” explains Maynard. “Ideally, the information is available, complete and accurate at the time they are doing the job.”
Adept allows Viking to make the workflow and the look and feel of the software as transparent and congruent to previous interface as possible in order to avoid errors, reduce information lookup time, and eliminate the need for in-depth training.
“With Adept, operators can use Adept links to commonly used documents, the FileGuide, or key word searches to find what they need” says Maynard. “The goal is that they should not have to spend excessive time navigating through the software interface and that the information looks familiar -only it’s more reliable.”
Advice for Manufacturers like You?
For Viking, the value of document management has been in achieving better engineering and manufacturing information processes with an easy-to-use product and the right business partner.
“What we are really looking for in document control is to make sure the right information is in the right hands at the right time at the right place,” says Maynard. “All of that is something we have to do to meet our business needs, including compliance to transport Canada’s requirements for document management. Important features of Adept that we also rely on is document auditing and traceability. These features allow us to support our configuration management and regulatory processes.
“We needed a program this is pretty much off-the-shelf that we could configure to our needs without a lot of custom programming,” says Maynard. “And we needed something that was easy to use and administer. Another important criterion was tech support. We knew we were not going to dedicate a department to this, so we needed excellent technical support as part of the document control solution. Adept’s tech support department is world class, there is no doubt. I have worked with a lot [of software companies] and they are by far the best. We’re lucky to have picked Synergis Software.”