Paperless pilot

BM Aluminium launched its LogiKal InfoServer software module at the FIT Show, promising aluminium fabricators a straightforward route to a paperless factory with integrated fabrication production control.

Now, it has completed a pilot installation of InfoServer at Newbury Commercial Glazing in Warwick to demonstrate just how much value the new software can offer.

InfoServer allows users to send work orders generated within LogiKal direct to touch screen terminals on the factory floor, eliminating the need to print out and pass around paperwork. The operator at each terminal scans a barcode on the frame or profile and InfoServer ensures that the relevant information is exported instantly from LogiKal and fed direct to that location.  

A fabrication supervisor controls the priority of work orders displayed to the operators at each terminal and, because the terminals communicate with one another and effectively track the progress of a product around the factory, operators don’t need to move away from their locations to ask for or check instructions.

Newbury Commercial Glazing already has an advanced version of LogiKal in operation but is always looking for new ways to improve efficiency. When it was introduced to InfoServer, the company could see the potential not just to eliminate paperwork in the factory, but also to track operator productivity and schedule work more effectively.

InfoServer gives users complete visibility of what is happening on the fabrication floor, so that they can see the status of every job and identify any issues or problems. This means it is easier for supervisors to reschedule the work flow as required to take account of how quickly a job is progressing and to provide customers with real time updates on the status of their orders.

It also allows users to track operator productivity because InfoServer records the time taken at every stage of the process. Once this data is fed back into LogiKal, it is easy to calculate the accurate labour costings essential for preparing accurate and competitive quotes.

The installation was largely built by BM Aluminium at its Tewkesbury HQ and transferred direct onto Newbury’s server, meaning there was minimum disruption for Newbury with actual installation time taking less than two days.

Newbury invested in 10 touchscreen PCs and 10 wireless scanners in their factory in order to implement InfoServer, all running from the company’s existing Wifi network. In the production office, there are several new large screen TVs operating as Wallboard Information Screens and a mini PC so that everything in the production tracking software is visible at a glance.

By using Newbury as a pilot installation, BM Aluminium was able to assess the level of training required. What became clear is that the transition from paper to screen-based instructions is actually very simple because so much of the information on the screens is identical to what the operators are used to seeing in paper form from LogiKal. BM Aluminium’s team was on hand to run test jobs through from start to finish and provided two separate days of training spaced a week apart so that any questions which arose from actually using the software could easily be resolved.

Rod Newbury, managing director of Newbury Commercial Glazing, is very impressed with InfoServer so far. He said: “We’re already seeing less operator time away from workstations because problems are being automatically reported to the supervisor. We’re also now able to track and analyse where time is being lost and why, and of course we’re saving a huge amount on paper and printer ink.”