How implementing MFGx helped a world class Honda supplier improve throughput and earn recognition

by Christine Strachan

Case Study:How implementing MFGx helped a world class Honda supplier improve throughput and earn recognition

Kamco Industries, a wholly owned subsidiary of Kumi Kasei, is a full-service provider organization of product design and manufacturer of injection, sheet molded item plan and Formed Fiber Felt items. Established in 1987 in West Unity, Ohio, the organization brings expanded an incentive to its clients and partners through its business arranging, ISO 14000, and ISO 9001 projects. In the wake of venturing into Bradford, Ontario in 1997; Clanton, Alabama in 2000; and Guadalajara, Mexico in 2010. The Kumi North America group has accomplished continued growth with combined total annual sales of more than $140 million.

Kamco recently received their 10th consecutive American Honda Motor, Co. Supplier Award for On-Time Delivery for Service parts. 

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DigiManufacturing Technologies, LLC helped Kamco integrate MFGx and Ignition to their ERP provider, Plex Systems, for their own augmented reality goals that they are trying to implement on their floor. Those initiatives helped them to win two Manufacturing Leadership Council Awards. Chad Walls, Information Systems Manager, had the honor of attending the Leadership Summit where he accepted both awards on behalf of Kamco in the category of IIoT Leadership. One category win for the use in IIoT to automate shop floor and the Second award in the same category as the High Achiever Award recipient for their work with augmented reality and automated processes in the same category of IIoT Leadership.

In Kamco’s words:
What was it like before MFGx

Kamco’s operations include many modern advanced machines and processes to support the automotive industry. Staffed with inhouse IT and Automation resources, Kamco has been able to leverage existing technologies including their ERP system (PLEX) to achieve amazing results for their customers with regards to quality and on-time delivery.

The team at Kamco is well versed on modern technology including PLCs, camera inspection technologies, barcoding and machine integrations. They have had experience with many technologies and solutions, however, to date they had not taken the leap into digital transformation to get all their data into one spot. Metrics and KPIs were available, however, not always the most accurate or easy to compile for regular management meetings. Some of these factors led to the decision to pursue a solution outside of what they had seen so far in the marketplace.

There were several key factors that led the Kamco management team to focus on a digital transformation strategy for their business. Some of which were internally driven to improve efficiency, performance or throughput. Other key benefits they were after were driven down through their customer base to make significant improvements in the overall supply chain visibility.

Each production line was slow and cumbersome after each container was filled due to how Kamco was managing Honda’s MPR Compliance requirements within Plex with check sheets to meet these standards. Losing valuable time to verify part quality and verify no shipping issues as well for full count containers. Due to how slow the process was to get the label from Plex the Associates were forced to rush their processes to begin the next container.

In Kamco’s words:
The journey to identifying the best digital solution

Chad Walls, IT Director led the discovery to improve the floor process to save time and costs. Spent roughly a year looking and talking with my team as well as other vendors to find what we felt would be the best fit for Kamco and ultimately the Kumi North America Group.

Background and team experience:

Chad has over 12 years of Manufacturing Production and over 8 years’ experience in Network Administration and Network Project Management.

The Kamco IT group has a strong team built around ERP best practices and large-scale Network Infrastructure services that has over 20+ years’ experience in the manufacturing industry.

Researching partners:

Plex was the main avenue that was used to investigate various shop floor tools. They have partners that offer various options to help connect the shop floor at the time of our investigation. There were several vendors analyzed and they all had various capabilities and deficiencies. Ultimately Kamco needed a solution that was scalable and could handle more than just the basic IoT needs. The desire was to find a solution that could grow with the company, handle our IoT needs and also support the long-term desires to integrate with other software systems that are used.

The pros and cons about other solutions Kamco found on the market:

The Kors Engineering solution is straight out of the box but felt it didn’t grow enough with what Kamco’s final vision was for data management and visual tools.

Kepware, while a great tool, was much more than what we needed and even the minimum essentials were at a cost that was greater than desired.

Other OPC server software included many of the free ones on the market but while some were good at one thing for data analytics they lacked in other areas where others excelled. Rather than a patch work of servers trying to work together and communicate with each other we quickly ruled out those options.

When evaluating MFGx, we quickly realized that it was our long-term solution. The on-premise capabilities for pulling data using OPC was exactly what we needed. The SaaS model of the backend gave us the confidence that it was going to scale with our future IT plans. Upon further digging, we grew an understanding of where the platform was headed and the additional capabilities it would offer us in the future, including ability to solve some of our customer specific requirements such as the Honda container tracking and other business process specifics that we know will be coming in the future.

Why MFGx was the best solution:

“Ultimately, we choose, MFGx, due to the flexibility of the software. It allowed machine integration with our Cloud ERP provider, Plex Systems, to Automate print jobs and take data straight from the floor equipment and design or capture the data we want to develop our own reports. The great benefit is we have access to the MFGx platform, but we’re not tied to it. We’re free to use it’s already great tools or able to develop our own so it can grow as rapidly as we need it to for our own projects.” Chad Walls

Since the initial implementation of MFGx, we have expanded the use to our other facilities, with ease. We learn more and more about its capabilities each time we try to tackle another situation. As an IoT solution, its second to none, really what it does is give us a platform that we can build and adapt to our changing business climate as we need to without need to constantly ask the vendor to make changes to the application. The power of change is in our hands. Aside from this, the support that we get from the development team at MFGx is great, if we need help they’re always there to help us out, they truly understand manufacturing.

In Kamco’s words:
What is it like after MFGx

After making the decision to move forward with MFGx and getting management buy in, we realized that we had made the right decision. The implementation team provided to us via Cumulus Consulting to make this transition, helped us do so smoothly and efficiently. In addition to the software Kamco also decided to implement an appliance designed and built by DigiManufacturing to aid in the quick deployment to the plant floor.

Capturing data directly from the machines now happens in real time, leaving more time for our associates to focus on product quality and meeting or exceeding production targets; which had previously been an issue. We have realized a significant gain in efficiency just be eliminating some of the manual, human intervention that was required previously to update the ERP system when production had been completed.

Kamco was able to eliminate some manual processes on the floor, as well as some non-value-added inspections that were required by the customer in order to avoid possible mis-labeling or mis-packed product. Though, Kamco had good controls in place, being able to automate these processes really helped improve the company’s bottom line and production efficiency to help with improved schedule attainment.

As time goes on Kamco continues to find new ways to leverage the technology available via MFGx. This continual improvement process has allowed the organization to meet additional customer requirements such as serialized container tracking.

There are future plans for Kamco, MFGx and DigiManufacturing; to add additional production lines to the transformation. In addition, the company is planning to roll out new and improved OEE/PPLH and Preventive Maintenance improvements which will further improve the overall efficiency of the operations. Additional opportunities continue to become more and more evident as we learn more about the tool set that we have available now.

What we have learned so far about MFGx, is that it’s much more than just a machine integration platform. The built-in capabilities allow us to build and tailor parts of the system to meet additional needs, as these needs arise. We can now focus more on business process improvements and less on the standard break fix issues typically prone in Manufacturing environments.

“Utilizing the flexibility of MFGx and Ignition to design customized analytic data as well as help us integrate printing processes directly from Plex.”

“Working with a like-minded group driven to make their customers succeed through the use of new technologies.” – Chad Walls, Information Systems Manager

References: MFGx, DigiManufacturing, Plex Systems, Inductive Automation

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