Over the past several years, manufacturing systems have been moving to an unprecedented level of connectivity, intersystem integration, cooperation and collaboration. Production facilities can no longer afford to think and operate autonomously. Today, the organizational boundaries among sister plants, headquarters personnel, customers, suppliers and business partners are far less distinct.
However, traditional networked quality applications are not sufficient to support a globally focused enterprise. The wave of the future demands an entirely new architectural approach that spans both Windows® systems and Web services.
The globally focused enterprise has the flexibility to span Windows and Web platforms
A New Computing Model for SPC
Zontec is addressing this challenge with its fourth-generation SPC software, Synergy 3000™. Synergy 3000 represents a new computing model for quality assurance applications, and becomes the quality industry’s first SPC software system based entirely on Microsoft’s revolutionary .NET™ computing platform. .NET gives Zontec the latest and most effective tool for embedding the “business rules” for SPC into the software. .NET helps Zontec decide the best way to package and invoke the business rules within the system, and how easily they communicate with external systems. By choosing .NET for its development environment, Zontec ushers in a new era of faster, smaller and cleaner “managed code” software required for secure worldwide connectivity.
Synergy 3000 also takes a monumental leap forward by featuring a native SQL database design for Microsoft® SQL Server or Oracle®. The native database capability gives Synergy 3000 a much more highly evolved and efficient data-handling model than ODBC by eliminating unnecessary application layers that degrade performance.
A browser-based SPC system should offer global alarm monitoring, charting, reporting and analysis for real-time data.
The Team Approach to Quality
Because the Quality Team is comprised of members with functionally different roles and responsibilities, Synergy 3000 dedicates a “Level” of the program to various types of users. The four program levels work together seamlessly to make quality a totally collaborative effort. (See accompanying sidebar)
Well-designed SPC systems enable users to switch from function to function within one program window.
Like society in general, the manufacturing sector has become obsessed with the idea of gaining access to information and conducting business via a Web browser. Jumping on the technology bandwagon, many SPC software vendors have responded by hyping various flavors of “Web-enabled” or “browser-based” programs.
Spreadsheet view presents measurements and/or counts, ID tags, causes and corrective actions for traceability and metadata for each characteristic.
Zontec’s investigation into browser-based user interfaces revealed general dissatisfaction with the functionality, performance and security of Web-enabled SPC software. Zontec looked again to .NET for the foundation and rich toolset it needed to make Synergy 3000 a true interactive “Web application,” designed for the Web-not jury-rigged for it. More than just a display of static Web pages, the Synergy 3000 optional Web module enables users to securely monitor process status in real time, create SPC charts, make production decisions and generate reports using a standard Web browser. Now organizations can grant permission for mobile employees, their customers and suppliers to help themselves to quality information wherever there is an Internet connection. Synergy 3000 raises the bar on Web SPC in the greatest sense of the word.
To summarize: a quality management system that is architected for the global connectivity should be flexible enough to accommodate the information needs of users in real time regardless of location across both Windows networks and Web services. .NET is the fabric that software developers will use to ensure that their technology is future ready. Zontec provides that capability today.
Side Bar: The Globally Integrated SPC System
In the real world of production-based quality, the synergism of Zontec’s four-level system is practical and efficient:
OPERATORS: Data Collection & Corrective Action
Operators input data manually or in fully automated mode using electronic measurement devices. Synergy 3000 responds as data flows in by displaying color-coded status flags and/or interactive SPC charts. Instant feedback prompts the Operator when corrective action or process adjustments are warranted.
ENGINEERS: Process Definition & Analysis
All part and process files are created at the Engineer Level where these users document the sampling plan, calculate control limits and customize the way the program display looks to all users of the system. A powerful query tool is provided so that Engineers can perform more detailed data analyses or produce audit trails for contract compliance or ISO/TS conformance.
MANAGERS: Enterprise-wide Monitoring & Reporting
The Manager Level has often been called “command central” due its comprehensive monitoring capability. Remember the dynamic status flags for individual Operators? They’re also depicted for the entire enterprise on the Manager’s dashboard grid with point-and-click controls for drill-down access to any process spreadsheet (or SPC chart) anywhere in the world. Synergy 3000 provides a variety of special summary, reject and Cp/Cpk reports over and above the Operator and Engineer Levels, creating a valuable monitoring and troubleshooting tool no matter how far removed the Manager is from the actual process.
ADMINISTRATORS: Configuration, System Access & Security
Finally, the Administrator Level is the IT-driven component of Synergy 3000. Here, users configure the database, network and Web servers, establish user accounts, assign privileges, maintain passwords and monitor usage. Administrators also activate automatic alerts to e-mail clients, pagers and cell phones when process conditions violate control and specification limits.
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