Mobile Applications in Data Acquisition for Production Planning and Control: Analysis, Implementation, and Evaluation

Mobile Applications in Data Acquisition for Production Planning and Control: Analysis, Implementation, and Evaluation

Ana Moura, Daniela Ferreira Tomás, Leonor Teixeira
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/IJWP.2018070101
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The evolution of technologies, coupled with the constant and fast growth of mobile communication network structures, has promoted the development of technological solutions in different business sectors, particularly in manufacturing companies. To help the companies to become and/or remain more competitive, management and production planning requires progressively more prompt and effective decisions, in order to increase the productivity and reduce production costs. This article presents a mobile application, developed for an Android platform that was implemented and tested in a Portuguese company. This application allows the recording and storage of data, with the main objective of supporting the production planning and control. In addition to the development, implementation and testing of the application, a study of the usability impact of the application in the company was also performed. This was done not only by covering the production process optimization, but also as the feasibility of its use by human resources.
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1. Introduction

In most of the companies, a sustainable manufacturing is achieved through an efficient production planning and control (PPC), which is only possible with a reasonable set of data based on products and especially on the production (Reuter et al., 2017). This data originates from different sources, but a significant part of the one required for PPC functions comes from the tasks that occur on the shop floor.

In order to automate and streamline the data collection process to meet the needs of the PPC, several companies are looking for solutions from Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) (Nyhuis and Wiendahl, 2009; Trentesaux, Borangiu, and Thomas, 2016; Xu and Chen, 2016). However, most of the technological solutions on the market, while responding to most PPC requirements, fail to obtain data on the daily tasks on the shop floor. In the manufacturing context, the tasks are strongly connected with the shop floor, thus a high traceability of production processes at the task level is of high importance to enable efficient PPC processes (Reuter et al., 2017). Task data, such as task time, task stop causes, and so on, are essential for workstation balancing, which in turn has an impact on the PPC.

It should be noted that some of these ICTs already available on the market that acquire data from the shop floor, are based on barcode systems and radio-frequency identification (RFID) (Jones and Chung 2011; Reuter et al., 2017). Nevertheless, there is data that is difficult to obtain with these technological solutions, as it is dependent on day-to-day tasks.

On the other hand, the increasing developments in the area of mobile network communication infrastructures (Freire and Painho 2014; Homann et al. 2014; Homann, Wittges, and Krcmar 2013), combined with the advances of new ICT, have enabled companies to have access to process automation tools and information flows from day-to-day activities, based on mobile applications solutions. In the manufacturing sector, although this type of applications is a recurring solution for stock control and inventory management, it is being used to acquire data from the daily activities that occur on the shop floor more frequently. This alleviates the need to install data terminals which are normally inflexible as they require the users to move to the physical points where they are located.

The present paper emerges from this context, and proposes a technological solution that allows the registration of data generated on the shop floor by collaborators that work there, using mobile applications, to contribute towards information quality improvement in PPC. This work presents a mobile application developed for a specific Portuguese company. The application was specifically developed regarding its manufacturing process and surroundings in order to acquire the required data in several different points of the production system. Although it is a dedicated application, it could be replicated to similar scenarios in similar production systems, where the objective is the real time data acquisition for production control. As far as we know, there is no published literature related to this type of mobile applications, where the main purpose is to support the immediate registry of data, resulting from the daily activities that occur on the shop floor, in order to collect the appropriate data for balancing and sequencing the assembly lines and be able to control and plan the daily production.

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