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How to Gain Greater Control of Your Shop Floor with VKS 6.6

By: Ben Baldwin

May 10, 2023

How to Gain Greater Control of Your Shop Floor with VKS 6.6

At VKS, we are continuously pushing the manufacturing envelope with the most advanced methods and tools the industry has to offer. Sometimes, this requires going under the hood and adding new features that function behind the scenes to make the manufacturing process smarter.

From sharing knowledge with your teams to communicating with tools, systems, and machines, our goal is to expand the capabilities of your workforce and optimize the capacity of your operations.

With this goal in mind, we’d like to highlight the new capabilities of VKS 6.6 with three key enhancements.

Let’s go over the key advancements within VKS 6.6 along with real-life examples of how each new enhancement provides you with greater operational flexibility and control.

Update 1: Enable VKS to Autonomously Close Completed Work Orders

As we’re a big proponent of the connected factory, our digital work instruction software has the ability to connect and communicate with various systems and tools on your shop floor. And we are constantly advancing the capabilities of that connection, enabling you to have greater control and flexibility when using your chosen work instruction platform.

For our first new enhancement of VKS, we’ve enabled VKS to automatically close work orders based on the information transmitted from an MES, ERP, or other enterprise software.

But how does it work?

Building a product generally consists of a few operations or processes. One product may go through several operations before the product is fully finished. When using VKS, each operation has a corresponding guidebook that workers follow.

For example

  • Operation 100: Welding
  • Operation 200: Assembly
  • Operation 300: Packaging

Currently, in VKS, users can identify Operation 300: Packaging guidebook as the last operation. VKS then subsequently completes the work order when the specified quantities are completed.

The new automated action enables work orders to be closed quickly and efficiently based on the information VKS receives from your enterprise software via the API. The work order autoclose action will occur regardless of whether the author identified the guidebook as the last operation.

This enhancement enables you to track and control your work orders more efficiently while simplifying the authoring process, and re-enforcing the proper source information hierarchy with the ERP.

Simply create the work order in your ERP software and send the information to VKS. Then once the operator finishes the last operation, our work instructions software will automatically close/complete the work order because there are no other specified operations left to complete.

pro tip

Pro Tip: Did you know you can also now manually close or complete work orders within VKS? Simply go to the work order management page, select the work order, and update the status.

Use Case: Work Order Autoclose

Let’s imagine you manufacture cast iron cooking pans. While all of your pans are made from high-quality iron, there is some differentiation between your products.

The HomeCooks series pan features a rough exterior that is common among most cast iron pans. However, the ProCooks series pan undergoes an extra process of polishing, making the interior of the pan smoother, easier to clean, and more non-stick.

Since these two pans are only separated by an extra polishing process, the work order for the HomeCooks pans will finish with Operation 200: Deburring while the pro series will finish with Operation 300: Polishing.

list of operations

In this case, there is a process that is the last operation for one work order and only the second to last for the other work order, meaning that Operation 200 cannot be identified in VKS as the last operation in all cases.

But with VKS 6.6 Work Order Autoclose, VKS will now complete the work order at the right time for all product lines using the API connection with your enterprise software.

Update 2: Control Product Quantities When Communicating with an ERP

Our second update of 6.6, Order Quantity Lock, gives you the ability to select whether supervisors and/or managers can change the work order quantity after the planned work order has been started. This new enhancement enables manufacturers to be flexible to real-world changes while also maintaining tight control over how work orders are accomplished on their shop floor.

While flexibility and control may seem incongruous, we’ve found a way to give you and your teams the best of both worlds when dealing with product quantities.

In most cases, you want work order quantities to be followed very closely. If a customer orders 100 units of a specific product, you’ll want to manufacture the correct amount for the customer.

In this case, manufacturers will lock the order quantity from being changed by operators or other personnel. Once the work order is received by the API or a barcode has been scanned into VKS, the order quality cannot be changed.

However, manufacturing productions need to be flexible to real-world changes and opportunities. With the ability of Order Quantity Lock, administrators can decide to give specific people the ability to change the order quantity when they need to, enabling the plans within VKS to dynamically adjust to the specific needs of your facility

Use Case: Order Quantity Lock

Imagine you are cutting and bending sheet metal for 48 industrial shelves. For this project, you have 10 sheets of raw material and every sheet is enough to make 5 shelves.

Your supervisor does the math and realizes that there is enough metal to make 2 extra units of bent sheet metal for the shelves.

Now, the supervisor can choose between 1 of 2 actions.

  • Option 1: Cut and bend the 48 sheets of metal and scrap the extra material.
  • Option 2: Utilize the raw materials fully and create 2 extra shelves as a backup.

In this case, the best course of action is highly dependent on the needs of your business, manufacturing environment, and customer.

But what’s important is that this new feature in VKS 6.6 provides the manufacturer and their team with the flexibility to change order quantities when needed and control how and when changes can be made.

Update 3: Open DataConnect with the VKS Rule Engine

Our third major update in VKS 6.6 advances how systems, machines, and people communicate using 2 pre-existing VKS features.

  1. DataConnect, which enables your work instructions to directly communicate with databases and physical machines.
  2. Rule Engine, which enables you to set up an internal logic within VKS to automate decision-making based on pre-existing rules and conditions.

Each of these powerful features in VKS enables you to automate how decisions are made and how data is sent and received within any process and procedure.

While these two features are powerful on their own, what if we combined their capabilities? What if your rules could trigger DataConnect to interact with other systems and machines?

You would have an incredible automation tool that allows advanced systematic actions to be completed with very little human interaction.

Guidebook authors can now add a rule within a local smart form that will trigger DataConnect to request information or prompt a machine to perform a specific action.

dataconnect and rule engine

When authors add a DataConnect request within a guidebook, they can now choose the option Only upon rule execution under Display Frequency. Then, guidebook authors only need to create the smart form rule and add the DataConnect request.

Let’s review a few examples and use cases where this new update is most valuable.

DataConnect/Rule Engine Use Cases

Use Case 1: Label Printing and Andon

Imagine you are building IoT boxes that monitor the flow of liquid through mechanical pumps. If an IoT box is not up to code, the operator needs to complete an NCR (Non-Conformance Report) smart form to track the non-conformance. On top of that, the operator needs to print a label identifying the reason for the non-conformance so that the specific part can be reviewed.

With the combination of the Rule Engine and DataConnect, this multi-step process is transformed into one fluid movement for the operator. The NCR form is completed, VKS communicates with the label printer, and a label is immediately printed with the correct information.

What the Worker Sees

The operator identifies a non-conformance and an appropriate label is automatically printed.

What Happens Behind the Scenes

Once the operator completes the NCR form, the pre-programmed rule engine triggers DataConnect to send the appropriate information to the label printer and the label is automatically printed with the corresponding information.

Adding to this use case, the rule engine can also be used to automatically activate an Andon light. Once a form with a programmed rule is completed, DataConnect can automatically turn on an Andon light, alerting other team members that there is a problem or an opportunity for improvement.

Read More: Did you know that KONE leverages VKS to activate and direct Andon measures on their shop floor? Operators can select their Andon form within any guidebook and the right people are notified immediately.

Use Case 2: Chemical Analysis & Verification

The rule engine and DataConnect can also work together to validate the information with external databases and physical systems/tools.

For this scenario, imagine you are a chemical manufacturer and one of your base materials needs to have a PH within the range of 8.2 and 8.9. Before beginning any process involving that base material, operators must measure the liquid’s PH levels.

Thankfully, their digital work instructions walk them through the measurement process and they enter the information when finished. If the PH levels are satisfactory, the user can proceed to the next step.

But what if the PH is outside of tolerance?

A specific action will need to be taken to bring the PH back to optimal levels. But these actions are exceedingly complex for those who haven’t studied chemistry. Workers will need detailed instructions with exact chemical amounts to add.

In this case, VKS will communicate with a data table and an external database to ascertain what action needs to be taken. VKS then displays what the operator needs to do to bring the PH back to the optimal range.

DC & Rule engine results

The combination of the Rule Engine and DataConnect provides manufacturers with the ability to expand the capabilities of every worker within a dynamic and easy-to-use process.

Your Goals Are Our Goals

Our utmost goal is to provide manufacturers with the tools they need to succeed. That’s why we are constantly advancing the capabilities of the software to meet your expanding needs and to exceed what was once thought impossible.

VKS 6.6 is another advancement that enables manufacturers to enact greater levels of control and intelligence within their operations without sacrificing flexibility and agility.

successful manufacturing

Want to learn more about work instruction software? Book a demo today with one of our industry experts.