Original Date: 10/20/1997
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Information : Integrated Management, Planning, and Control for Assembly System
To handle the enormous quantity of paperwork involved with the management, planning, and control of aircraft manufacturing, Northrop Grumman developed and implemented a computer-based system. This system enables managers, engineers, technicians, and operators to access an abundance of drawings; work instructions; engineering and quality assurance data; visual aids; schedules; and knowledge at their Workstations.
The heart of the system is the Integrated Management, Planning, and Control for Assembly (IMPCA) system. The computer-based IMPCA system provides on-line, assembly planning data to the factory host and throughout the shop floor; critical-path job assignments to assembly mechanics; quality assurance acceptance and defect reporting to operators; defect routing through the disposition process, the Material Review Board, and the engineering liaison; and total visibility to management on an individual product status and cost basis.
Northrop Grumman developed the IMPCA concept as a result of an Air Force Integrated Computer Aided Manufacturing initiative in 1981. The initiative called for a system design that could provide a paperless factory environment for assembly processes. The Naval Air Systems Command later awarded Northrop Grumman an Industrial Modernization Incentives Program (IMIP) project to further refine and demonstrate the system. When the IMIP phased out at the completion of the project in 1985, Northrop Grumman elected to continue the project on an interim basis in 1986. As a result, the company now has a fully implemented, all-up production system which functions throughout the factory floor. The IMPCA system was designed to serve as a total final assembly, factory floor control system which provides on-line, 100% up-time service. The system’s hardware consists of Tandem NONSTOP II and TXP processors programmed in COBOL, which operate with relational-type databases. The user’s system is menu/message-driven and employs an option method for changing screens.
Today, the IMPCA system is ported to a client/server environment which uses Hewlett Packard servers and Xterms as well as PCs, allowing single terminal access to all systems and data needed for final assembly processes. The system is programmed in C language with Oracle RDBMS serving as the database management system. The IMPCA system provides total integration of data between all user groups. The five main users of the system are Manufacturing Engineering, Industrial Engineering, Manufacturing, Quality Assurance, and Engineering Liaison. There are 120 screens available to the user through the following subsystems of the IMPCA C/D and IMPCA E/F systems:
General provides the user with capabilities of maintaining employee identifications and security assignments; employee electronic stamp data; and certification and qualification information. Each employee who uses IMPCA is assigned to a department type and specific access levels within each subsystem which controls the user’s rights to perform transactions on each screen. Other screens include updating electronic stamp passwords, assigning user access to screens, help screens, display audit trail data, organizational structures, and issue announcements.
Manufacturing Engineering provides the user with an on-line, real-time Tandem assembly planning system with interfaces to the IBM host by automatically uploading planned assembly line, Bill of Material requirements to the Material Requirements Planning (MRP) system on the host. Other screens include status of assembly line operation orders; automatic generation of orders per shop operating schedules within the IMPCA system; electronic work instructions; electronic accessory serial number record requirements; change alerts; process plans; correspondences; procedures; and capabilities to modify and track operation orders.
Industrial Engineering provides the user with an on-line, precedence planning capability that allows critical and alternate paths of manufacturing to be identified to the system, and identifies the order in which the jobs are to be performed. The system also provides cost and schedule status; time standards; and status on major assembly tooling.
Manufacturing provides the user with the automatic assigning of mechanics and their work assignments; assigns work to individuals based on skill levels; captures actual hours expended performing individual tasks; and provides electronic buy-off capabilities. Quality Assurance provides the user the ability to buy off various types of electronic documents; tracks nonconformance reporting and corrective action routings; provides graphics capabilities, automatic notification and electronic call boards; and maintains history of record capture and storage.
Expansion of the IMPCA system’s capability includes Workstation access to:
IBM Mainframe provides access to the MRP system (C/PIOS); inventory maintenance and display; requirements and replenishment; and engineering change order status.
Netscape Intranet provides access to automated documents and manuals; IMPCA report viewing; Assembly Process Work Instructions; program data and information; master schedules and calendars; Materials and Processes specification lists; and visual aids.
Labor/Attendance Network System provides access to attendance inputs, labor inputs, and manager/employee approvals.
Tool Management System provides access to tool inventories; tracking and location; issue and receipt; and surplus.
Plot Access Request Capability provides access to documents associated with engineering drawings, engineering orders, product release documents, and tool engineering inputs.
Unigraphics provides access to the main drafting system for major assemblies; drawing maintenance and viewing; installation simulations; and 3-D solid models.
Control and Release System provides access to drawings from engineering vaults; executes Unigraphics for drawing maintenance and viewing; and releases drawings from in-work to vaults.
Statistical Process Control provides access to process statistics information; views histograms, control, probability charts, and data for various time periods; and provides and customizes process performance reports.
Northrop Grumman’s IMPCA system is one of the most complete systems available. The B-2, F/A-18, and Boeing 747 fuselage assemblies have all been produced by using the IMPCA system to monitor and document assembly progress. Nearly 500 F/A-18 C/D fuselage assemblies and ten F/A-18 E/F fuselage assemblies have been produced using the IMPCA system. In January 1997, Northrop Grumman completed the expansion of its system’s capabilities to include Workstation access to the IBM Mainframe; Netscape Intranet; Labor/Attendance Network System; Tool Management System; Plot Access Request Capability; Unigraphics; Control and Release System; and Statistical Process Control.
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