Achieving two-way integration between Eminox’s IFS solution and their new shop floor laser cutting machines.
To support their continued growth and increase manufacturing capacity, Eminox had invested in replacement machine automation on their shop-floor by introducing two of the most advanced TRUMPF laser cuttingmachines. The machines would cut the various parts required to build exhaust after-treatment systems components out of sheet metal. One machine was a newflatbed laser to cut flat-sheet materials while the other was a tube laser, whichwould manage tube processing and 3D tube construction. Both machines would run TruTops control software which can manage everything from part design and data import to nesting. TruTops would analyse the parts that you want to nest,and, by using computer algorithms, would fit as many cutting patterns inside
the available space as possible. The end result is less waste material, minimised production time, avoidance of human errors, and reduced overall costs.
The TRUMPF machines (with their built-in TruTops software) had to be integratedwith IFS to facilitate two-way communication. TruTops had to be staged with shop order data from IFS, namely what quantity of parts is required to be cut, and by when. In turn, IFS needed to know about the bill of materials for the different component parts to be manufactured. It was also vital that messages could go between the two software solutions so that when the required cutting was done, IFS could update the orders and stock detail.
“Cooper Software were the obvious choice for the project. We have a long-term relationship with them and were aware of their TRAX solution and what it could potentially help us achieve in terms of software integration. Cooper Software are very competent at a technical level, they understood what I was trying to achieve from a solution perspective.” Alex Mills, IS Manager, Eminox
The challenge was how to make this communication happen. Previously, Eminox had developed their own in-housemanagement software solution which was used alongside IFS with their other cutting machinery. This solution had evolved and developed over 20 years and required a great deal of in-house resource and maintenance. It also didn’t give Eminox the high degree of visibility in to their manufacturing process that they required.
The main benefit of the new TRUMPF machines with the TruTops software was that messaging was built in – it could read and output data files, Eminox just needed a solution that would effectively act as the middle man, taking the data from IFS, translating the files in to meaningful data which could then be acted upon by TruTops.
To facilitate the integration, Cooper Software firstly proposed the use of IFS Connect, an integration broker, which would create and process the required data files to/from core IFS. In addition, Cooper Software’s own TRAX solution would be utilised to facilitate data file transfer between IFS and TruTops. TRAX has been developed specifically
for IFS to achieve full integration with other solutions, via native connectivity and APIs. TRAX automates external messages or requests both to, and from, IFS in many different formats from XML, fixed length or delimited files.
By utilising IFS Connect and TRAX, the two-way communication between IFS and TruTops would be achieved seamlessly and securely. TRAX would collate the information from IFS regarding what orders were planned at theappropriate time according to the shop-floor schedule. TruTops would then report back to IFS as the cutting wasundertaken and then, fully complete. TRAX would then relay messages to allow for stock to be up dated within IFS,both in terms of stock numbers and component parts and also provide insight into the efficiency of the machine.
Commenting on the solution, Alex noted, “By utilising TRAX, the in-house management system we previously relied on has now disappeared. This system used to sit in the middle and was largely a manual process. TRAX has the logic that allows us to own and manage everything in IFS and then directly transfer this in to TruTops to action. We have taken out the middle man if you like and overall it is a much more streamlined process.”
Benefits of the Solution
Replaced an in-house solution that required on-going support and development.
Gives Eminox a robust piece of software that is fully supported and extensible for future requirements.
Real-time updates in IFS, enhanced visibility.
Although developed for Eminox and the manufacture of exhaust after-treatment systems, the solution can be applied to any manufacturing process using automated machinery.
Reflecting on the benefits TRAX has brought to Eminox, Alex commented, “TRAX has replaced our in-house solution to the same level and more. What we have now in TRAX and TruTops is two high-end pieces of software, but at arms length, which has removed the pressure on us to continually maintain and develop the solution ourselves.”
About the Customer
Founded in 1978 in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, and part of the privately owned Hexadex Group, Eminox specialises in designing and manufacturing exhaust after-treatment systems to reduce emissions for heavy-duty vehicles and equipment and improve global air quality.
As keen problem solvers, the company work with original equipment manufacturers across the world and has developed systems to meet Euro VI and Stage V standards. The products Eminox manufacture are designed for bus, truck, rail, marine and non-road mobile machines around the world.
Eminox is also a leading supplier of emissions control systems, delivering retrofit solutions to ensure compliance to the latest emissions legislation by upgrading older vehicles with the Continuously Regenerating Trap (CRT®) or SCRT® systems. The latest generation of SCRT® enables older vehicles to meet Euro VI emissions standards and has been proven in real-world, urban operation to reduce PM by up to 95% and NOx by up to 99%.