Menomonee Falls, WI. Glenroy, Inc. took a major leap forward in streamlining their manufacturing and distribution operations on September 10, 2001, when they went live with ATOMIC. The ATOMIC Planning and Execution Suite consists of six native AS/400 modules designed explicitly to extend the functionality of PRMS. Glenroy implemented ATOMIC’s Shop Floor, RF Inventory Control, Label Management and User-Defined Specification modules after spending six months installing, setting up and training users on the system. The implementation team consisted of various department heads from Glenroy and ATOMIC specialists from CNX Corporation, which designs and markets the software. Glenroy has considered the implementation of ATOMIC a success and is looking forward to using additional ATOMIC features as time goes on.
Prior to implementing ATOMIC, the planning and scheduling department at Glenroy communicated scheduling information to the shop floor using a spreadsheet. This inherently paper-laden process fostered a reluctance to make frequent or 11th-hour schedule changes on Glenroy presses, as the overhead associated with distributing a new spreadsheet to the shop floor, and the resulting increased chance for error due to “missing” someone, was difficult for planners to overcome. There was also a tremendous amount of auxiliary paperwork detailing work order instructions flowing between the customer service and planning and scheduling departments. This abundance of dated paperwork added to shop floor confusion when operators inadvertently set up their machines based on instructions that planning intended to supersede. Also prior to implementing ATOMIC, Glenroy had put together some static entry screens designed to act as front-ends to SF0320 so that production could be entered right at the shop floor. However, the screens were inflexible to changes in processes and required a significant amount of training and support.
The ATOMIC System
The ATOMIC system bolts into PRMS at strategic points to streamline the flow of work order scheduling and production data to and from the shop floor, as well as handling inventory transactions and internal documentation needs. The shop floor (SF) component of ATOMIC includes an on-line production schedule editor that allows schedulers to sequence work orders onto specific machines. The system uses run rate standards in the PRMS soft routers to predict the precise date and time each job on the schedule will finish, based on the order in which the work orders are sequenced.
ATOMIC assists with the sequencing of jobs by displaying relevant information about due dates, tools and raw material requirements in columnar format alongside each work order. Machine schedules are viewed, in turn, in a strictly on-line fashion at thin-client terminals throughout the facility by relevant machine and “prep station” areas. Work orders are automatically dropped off the schedules as they are completed, and changes to the schedule sequence initiated by scheduling (i.e., when necessitated by customer order changes) or, just as significantly, by production operators (i.e., due to a machine problem or other production issues) are automatically reflected in the on-line schedule the moment they occur.
In addition to viewing schedules, machine operators use ATOMIC to log their production, scrap and hours information against the scheduled orders. This data is automatically fed into PRMS by ATOMIC, providing real-time visibility to production levels when doing a work order inquiry. Beyond the shop floor, ATOMIC has an RF Inventory Control module that provides for real-time inventory transactions in the warehouse. The RF module also includes a sophisticated shipping area director that automates the picking of orders without paperwork. Once an order is completely picked, the RF module handles the generation of a bill of lading and packing list and performs the shipment confirmation function (OB0100) automatically without the need to enter additional shipping data.
Glenroy Chooses ATOMIC
Glenroy was not out actively looking for something to solve problems for the shop floor. But after ATOMIC came to the IT Director’s attention, it was quickly determined that it could be a big benefit. “When I first read the features of this thing, I thought it must be too good to be true,” said John Mawbey, Glenroy’s IT Director recalling a mailing from CNX regarding ATOMIC. “ATOMIC had so many things in it that had been on my and the user’s wish lists for years, I was skeptical but was inclined to look into it further. CNX came and did a demo and the rest is history.” According to Mawbey, some attractive aspects of ATOMIC are its tight integration with PRMS and ILE RPG code base. “Training the users on ATOMIC was very straight forward. We didn’t have to go at it from the perspective of teaching a whole new system. Because the look and feel of ATOMIC is essentially the same as PRMS, we came at it from the perspective of teaching the users new features, even though ATOMIC is a tightly-linked, separate application from PRMS. Also, I like that ATOMIC is 100% programmed in ILE and that it’s distributed with full source code. This way, we can make minor customizations, like we do with PRMS, and as my programmers work with ATOMIC code, they are starting to get better with ILE.”
To implement ATOMIC, Mawbey put together a team consisting of IT-savvy users from each department and used CNX to help set up the system and perform training. Over a six month period, the team looked at ATOMIC’s features, decided which ones to implement on day one and saved some others for implementation at a later time. For example, there is some documentation that flows through many departments at Glenroy when a new product is set up in PRMS. ATOMIC can automate this process with its User-Defined Specs module, which Glenroy has implemented. But the fact that so many users have been dependent on the paperwork for so long made this one a natural to put off for a later day. “Now that we are implemented on ATOMIC, we are looking at using UDS to streamline the process of new product setup,” said Mawbey. “Prior to going live with ATOMIC, many users had indicated they still needed the paperwork. But now that they are getting more used to ATOMIC, they’re warming up to the idea of using UDS for the process and going paperless.” Another important aspect of the implementation that the team had to tackle was setting up ATOMIC’s global control and machine master.
There were many decisions that had to be made as to how ATOMIC’s various modules would work for Glenroy. The team met regularly and went through many iterations of testing and tweaking ATOMIC’s settings in a test environment until the setup was perfected. Once the setup was agreed on by all, user training was conducted and a go-live plan was put together. In preparation for activating ATOMIC, Glenroy shut down early on Friday, September 7, 2001. At that time, all open work orders were closed, a physical inventory was taken, and then the remaining balances of the closed work orders were reentered as new. On Monday, September 10, 2001, users began using terminals on the shop floor to view schedule information and report production through ATOMIC. Likewise, the warehouse began using ATOMIC to issue raw material, receive production, do from-to entries and ship customer orders.
What Glenroy has to Say
“ATOMIC made our system hip and happening,” said Roy Jablonka, president of Glenroy, Inc. This echoes the sentiment felt by many in Glenroy’s IT department and the user community. “The addition of ATOMIC has made all of us feel much better about our long-term use of PRMS,” said Mawbey. “With the addition of ATOMIC’s many features to PRMS, we now have a completely modern system that is really cost effective.”