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Controlling information & material flow with Jobshop

Jobshop provides manufacturing flow control

Market Bosworth-based JJ Churchill is a family-owned precision engineering company that has experienced steady growth with its customers in aerospace, power generation and defence. Having around 5000 live part numbers the flow and control of both information and material within the company provided by Jobshop is vital to this ongoing success.

Most of JJ Churchill's machine tools have a DNC link and CNC programs are downloaded via Jobshop to the machines from the engineering department. However, operation packs which contain detailed information for the setter/operator such as the drawings, work instructions, tool sets, and a raft of information that has to be kept up-to-date, is drawn from various locations across the company's facility. Logistics manager, Mark Atkinson, explains that by using Jobshop: "We intend making this data electronic and expanding on the number of terminals to provide PDF documents that can be viewed on the shopfloor."

Currently seven terminals on the shopfloor are used to collect data with a swipe or bar code pen – including job start, job end, quantities of good and bad parts. This is uplinked to Jobshop by the production controller several times per day to keep the management team up-to-date. JJ Churchill is looking to upgrade to shopfloor-hardened touch screen PCs to capture 'work in progress' data using Jobshop's screen-based data capture (SBDC) functions. The screen-based system will also enable the use of drawing viewer software which helps to remove even more paperwork from the machine shop.

Although the company had 20 Jobshop floating licences business growth required more, so it has recently increased this to 40 to cover the existing need and also in preparation for the new shopfloor terminals. Mark Atkinson says: "Jobshop is scalable so you could use it at a company with half a dozen people and it would work fine. We have 150 people and it still works fine, and we could double production and Jobshop would handle it. The benefit is not having to employ more people to keep the level of control that we have come to expect as we have grown."

As logistics manager he looks after purchasing and production control, with just two production controllers and two buyers. "I can do this because Jobshop is doing the bulk of the data crunching," Mark Atkinson confirms.

Having used Jobshop for a number of years JJ Churchill has had a lot of bespoke modules written for the software. Many of these have now been included as standard in the latest release. "This is ideal for us and also highlights the fact that Planit is listening to what its customers want and providing it," says Mark Atkinson. "As Edgecam users – with five seats - we also appreciate that fact that the software packages are now part of the same group and we can see developments of both continuing along a path that suites our business needs."

For example, one of the company's key customers, Rolls-Royce, stipulates that if a component has not been supplied for 18 months or more it has to be re-evaluated. This is done by following the FAIR (First Article Inspection Report) process. "We currently have a module added to Jobshop that checks the lapsed time between parts that we supply and this flags up if it needs a FAIR," Mark Atkinson explains. "This package has now been added to Jobshop."

This is an important addition because the company downloads electronic order schedules from its customers via an online portal into Jobshop's Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) module. This generates a report that highlights discrepancies between the current component list and the previous one as well as showing which parts require a FAIR. The introduction of the FAIR system in conjunction with Jobshop's EDI module provides an increased level of integration between departments at JJ Churchill allowing additional quality planning time and removing the likelihood of human error in despatch.

The Jobshop EDI module provides a mechanism of efficiently importing sales order schedules, reducing a labour intensive manual data inputting session down to a procedure that takes just a few minutes. The Jobshop EDI system instantly refreshes the entire order book to create an audit report, comparing what was on order, what's on the new order, showing the difference and showing the parts requiring a FAIR. This rapid order book analysis allows visibility of upcoming schedule changes, which can then be flowed down to the shopfloor, quickly providing a clear picture of what has been delivered and what remains scheduled ahead. Mark Atkinson says: "This analysis process occurs every week and this allows close monitoring of the business performance – we call it smart working."

All of this information flows down through the MRP function so the company knows which works orders are required for the shopfloor, what raw material to purchase and in what batch size. This is important because specialist titanium forgings from nominated suppliers can be on extended lead times so this forward control is vital to delivery success.

Mark Atkinson says the heart of Jobshop is the part maintenance screen, "because if you haven't got a part you can't do anything". It provides the discipline to input parameters to start from and keeps a history related to the part. He says: "You can enter as much detail on the part as you like, size, weight, batch quantities and so on. Links can be made to internal and external people so contacts can be established. A price book function allows group price changes, so an increase can be applied by customer, by family of parts or indeed globally across the whole of the company's customer parts list."

Scheduling within Jobshop is used by the manufacturing manager and production controllers, it looks at the best way of making the part within the timeframe required to meet the lead time. It rapidly conducts a huge calculation which looks at the work centres for machine capacity and the labour hours available from each operative in their shift patterns, and also highlights any capacity shortages. "The one thing you can never get back is capacity," Mark Atkinson states.

Performance expectations are regularly measured to ensure the company's standard part costings are as accurate as possible. He says: "The standards have to be right as they affect how you quote for future work and at what rate you charge a machine or process out at. Jobshop is key to this with the finance department obviously keen to keep the figures correct. Jobshop has standard and current rates as the core of its data for costing. Once per year we update the standard rate as a firm base to work from, while current will show you what fluctuations have taken place – such as material prices, increased utility costs and any other overhead cost changes."

As well as flight and land-based jet engine parts (for Rolls-Royce), including legacy spares for old units, other key customers for JJ Churchill include Cummins Engines high horse power diesel parts for power generation units. Products for this customer include manifold assemblies and engine sumps up to 3m long. Fossil fuel fired power generation turbine blades are precision machined for Siemens, while defence work for BAE Systems involves highly complex precision components for land- and sea-based systems.

JJ Churchill currently invests around 10 per cent of its turnover in plant and equipment year-on-year, so the majority of the machine tools on the shopfloor are less than 3 years old. While multi-pallet machining centres improve efficiency a recently purchased StarragHeckert 5-axis machine is being used to produce turbine blades from solid. "Historically you would buy a precision forged blank which has been heat treated and chemically enhanced, and then machine it to very tight tolerances," Mark Atkinson says. "As we can't compete with mass production we want to help our customers find new products and this machine ideally matches the design and development phase of any new product or concept. As forge tooling is very expensive and can take a long time to develop, machining from solid provides a faster route to market."

The blade comes off the machine finished and although the machining cycle is relatively long you are getting a blade finished without any further investment because it is generated rather than formed.

Mark Atkinson concludes: "Jobshop is about flow and control of both information and material: it allows us to get the right part machined at the right time. Although some of them are slow movers we have around 5000 live parts numbers. The software works for us as we have a varied range of parts from a diverse customer base. If it's a schedule or a spot order we are confident that Jobshop can handle it."

Press release issued by Planit Software Ltd on April 7, 2009


 Contact details from our directory:
J.J. Churchill Ltd. Grinding, Tapping, Turning, Machining Services, Boring & Drilling Services, Inspection Service, Non-Destructive Testing, Welding, Quality Assurance/Control, Computer-aided Design, Additive Manufacturing
Planit Software Ltd CIM Software


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