Order Downloading Options in Eclipse Classic

One of the key features that helps manufacturers prevent mistakes is the ability to download production orders directly to the machine controls. This eliminates the possibility that the operator might mis-enter data and reduces the machine downtime that can also result.

The Eclipse production management system, in conjunction with the XL200 machine controller, provides a number of different ways to download order data. These different methods have been developed in response to customer requests. Not all manufacturers operate the same way. Some have several days to plan production while others must respond to customer demands in a matter of hours. In some cases, the machine operators are determining the production schedule and in others there is a dedicated production scheduler. Eclipse has solutions to handle each of these environments.

Push Features

The following methods are initiated from the Eclipse system:

  • Manual – The scheduler selects an order or group of orders and hits the “Send” button. The order(s) are immediately sent to the machine.
  • Auto-download on receipt – In cases where order data is being downloaded from an ERP or other production system, it is possible to have the order be immediately sent to the specified machine as soon as Eclipse receives the order.
  • Date and time – Orders can be scheduled to download to the machine at a specified date and time.

Pull Features

The following methods are initiated from the machine:

  • Order number request – The machine operator can request that a specific order be downloaded. If the material and profile codes are not also specified, then everything for the order (that is allowed to run on the machine) will be immediately downloaded. In some cases, this feature is used by manufacturers that are still on a paper-based system. The operator gets a stack of order sheets and must type the order number to request the cut-list. Other customers use this feature as part of a just-in-time flow. For example, a producer of industrial air conditioning units has a roll forming machine that makes frame parts. When a cart containing side panels reaches the machine (from other manufacturing processes), the operator scans a bar- code on the cart and the production order for frames for that particular (and typically custom) air conditioner is downloaded and run. These parts are added to the cart which then goes on to final assembly.
  • Kit request – Kits are reusable orders. If the operator requests a kit number, Eclipse will create a temporary order (a copy of the kit) and immediately download it. One customer is using this feature to manufacture floors for grain bins. The floors are round, so the floor pieces are produced in increasing lengths up to the center of the floor then decreasing to the other side of the floor. They have defined a kit for each grain bin diameter. The operator simply requests the kit name for the needed floor size.
  • Part request – The operator can request a specific part number from the controller. When Eclipse sees this request, it creates a temporary order and item for the specified part number. This order is immediately downloaded. The initial quantity for the item is one, but this can be changed at the controller. This feature is often used in cases where the operator needs to remake a part with a customer punch pattern that was damaged. If the part is being used to make up for scrap, the bundle number should be set to the appropriate scrap code (Eclipse will then treat this part as scrap and the coil and scrap accounting will be properly updated).
  • Manual next in sequence request – For this feature, the sequence of orders run at the machine is set from the office by the production scheduler or MRP. The machine operator simply requests the next order in the production schedule in Eclipse.
  • Automatic next in sequence request – This also works from the sequence of orders as set in Eclipse, but the controller makes the requests automatically as needed. Whenever the remaining orders at the XL200 controller drop below a specified threshold (in feet/meters), the controller automatically requests the next order. Multiple orders may be sent if needed to get back over the threshold. The threshold is set by the XL200 parameter, “653: Auto-Request Order Footage”.

The last method is probably the most useful when scheduling is done from the office. The operator does not need to worry about requesting orders and only needs to see the next few orders that will be run in the schedule (enough to plan for coil or tooling changes). The production scheduler has total flexibility and can rearrange the production schedule easily and often.

Eclipse and the XL200s also support a relatively new feature that gives the operator a powerful tool to request orders. The Query List feature gives you the ability to define custom order requests. Here are a few examples of these requests: Orders by truck schedule, by customer, by promised date, orders for the current machine configuration, etc. The query lists are all customer-defined and can be multiple levels deep. Because of the power and flexibility offered by this feature, we will have a full article explaining how it works in a subsequent newsletter issue.

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