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Automated Material Buffer System

Leveraging technology used in the largest of warehouses, the ASRS buffer system from Midwest Engineered Systems Inc. (MWES) is designed to provide similar efficiencies for the demands of a production environment.

"With its automated material storage and retrieval processes, the MWES ASRS buffer system can give a facility back valuable manufacturing time and reduce production errors," said a company spokesperson. "The MWES ASRS system can store materials in an efficient manner, and also allows for production environments to quickly manage materials as needed." The system does this by cataloging materials and their locations by how they integrate into the production process. These material storage and monitoring capabilities offer a number of advantages.

With both the tooling and materials in the same location and an overarching management system to run it, the system can become a central hub for the factory. Receiving can earmark materials upon arrival for certain jobs and send it to be immediately added to the ASRS system. The MWES system can manage its location and retrieve it at the touch of a button. The ASRS system can be the go-to point to verify whether these materials are in-house and ready for production.

The MWES buffer system allows for the collation and management of asynchronous production processes. Inventory rooms can produce product specific kitting on a schedule that is more conducive to their efficiency and load them into the ASRS system when done. These kits can be retrieved with the rest of the components needed for a specific production run. Allowing the ASRS system to manage these kits' locations and when they are called can reduce routing confusion on the floor when building products that have high part commonalities.

The ASRS system can be set up for operating on multiple in-and-out materials, not just consumable items. This makes it useful for storing fixtures and tooling for jobs in the same place as the materials and work in progress (WIP) needed to complete the production process. WIP can be re-admitted to the system and re-combined with different tooling and fixtures necessary for the next step in the production process. The combined group would then be ready for the next process. Having virtually every aspect necessary to complete a job in the same location and easily retrievable allows greater efficiencies beyond saving floor space or time hunting across the facility for each of these items.

Adding remote signaling capabilities, manufacturing stages can not only alert the system when a process is nearing completion, they can also request the materials for the next job-all without leaving the cell. The ASRS system can retrieve materials and tools as the completed work is returning to storage and return to stock the recently arrived finished parts without needing human help. This ability helps keep production efficiency high by streamlining logistics and reducing potential downtime waiting for parts.

The benefits of the MWES ASRS buffer system does not stop with what happens on the production floor. Material arrival and removal data can be harvested for production performance analysis. It allows a production manager the ability to see beyond individual machine performance and understand the logistics that feed into a machine or process' performance. This accountability can be monitored to determine production efficiencies and identify bottlenecks hidden between processes.

"Taking advantage of all these aspects makes the MWES ASRS buffer system much more of a trusted workflow manager that has the potential to better see the entire manufacturing process as a singular system, not just a collection of unconnected machines and resources. The system's benefits provide the opportunity for a forward thinking production facility to move to the next level of efficiency and productivity," said the spokesperson.

For more information contact:

Midwest Engineered Systems Inc.

W238N1800 Rockwood Dr.

Waukesha, WI 53188


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