Note: Many of the questions below are from Unisoft clients and are at the later stage after implementing the CELLS WORKFLOW software onto their manufacturing floor.

DATA ENTRY/COLLECTION — 1.0 The CELLS WORKFLOW system supports data entry by people via barcode scanning or manual entry. We need the system to be able to exchange data with manufacturing equipment and test equipment. How is this interchange of data accomplished?

A. CELLS WORKFLOW uses a variety of methods to interface production equipment to CELLS WORKFLOW such as XML, Active-X, OLE Controls, Visual Basic scripts, etc.

Q. ROUTING/TRAVELER — 2.0 Can the Tracking function be interfaced to an automation process? The goal here is an end of the line automatic check sheet insuring the serialized device has successfully completed all required processes before being automatically forwarded to the ship station.

A. Yes, an automated check sheet is possible, the serial number is looked up in the database to see that all operations have been performed. Also a paper report for the unit can be created, attached are samples of reports generate from CELLS WORKFLOW.

Q. SPC/REPORTS — 3.0 For the report generation what type of query utilities are available? Is there a server thin client utility that can be used for data based queries?

A. Either you or Unisoft can generate any custom reports that you need. The database is ODBC compliant and report generation tools such as Crystal reports etc. can be used.

Q. SPC/REPORTS — I did not see any menu selections for showing/printing SPC charts. Will we need to create our own charts and reports for trend identification and analysis? What format are SPC reports in?

A. There are standard reports that CELLS WORKFLOW can generate ( see the View menu). For custom reports the initial design would be designed at your site through MS Access query by linking tables (I can call you and go over this). Any format and data combination can be created … Every manufacturer has a specific format so you are not locked in.

Q. SECURITY — Is the ability to modify information user and data area restricted?

A. Yes, there's a table that gives every user a password w/restricted access.

Q. DOCUMENTS — Can data be imported from other file types such as AutoCAD (dxf/dwg), SolidWorks, Pro-E, Visio, Excel, ASCII, PDF, JPG, GIF, etc.? We can receive information in a wide variety of formats.

A. Yes, many can be directly imported or a html link can be associated which launches the viewer software which enables you to view the data.

Q. DOCUMENTS — How are schematics and test procedures handled?

A. Most schematics I'm familiar with are pfd's and if your lucky searchable. You can archive the files through a html link or by importing the board file many of the troubleshooting features are gui based. Test procedures can be gated in a variety of ways to insure all boards have been tested.

Q. SETUP — What is the typical time to incorporate all the data needed and to create all the screens and reports for a new product of average complexity?

A. Depends on how you want to control the files and what depth in the data set your customer requires (complexity and number of annotated instructions). If it is a high mix low volume contract manufacturing environment I would just link all data sets through a HTML control page and import files as necessary. We'll discuss some approaches in the data sets to manage at our upcoming meeting.

Q. SPC/REPORTS — What if all that I wanted was to implement SPC (FPY)?

A. No problem … You don't need to import any files, just design the routing and data to collect. I'll discuss some possible configurations with you when you're available.

Q. BOM — Are the failure report unit data BOM based for the given unit or derived from a master listing [accumulated collection]?

A. You can bind it to a part from a BOM or enable the other id feature to allow free form or make a master list that grows as needed. There is a table to categorize the failure types.

Q. LABOR — What is the typical labor burden per unit that your system imposes? What is the typical time spent at each data entry/tracking point per location?

A. Point, click or scan, press enter unless you force certain data to be entered before the workorder can proceed.

Q. DATA ENTRY/COLLECTION — What means of data entry/tracking can be handled? Do I need to go in through a PC workstation at each location or could I directly enter data through a fixed barcode scanner or direct file reading or some combinations there of?

A. Yes, a combination can be performed including API calls or directly input the data into the database.

Q. RFID TAGS/BARCODES — We may be using RFID Tags in the future. We will start with tags on a single line and expanded out later. We're currently using barcodes and my question is, will the UniSoft CELLS WORKFLOW software support both barcodes and RFID Tags.

A. Yes. CELLS WORKFLOW can support both RFID Tags and barcodes. The way barcodes, RFID Tag and for that matter manual data entry looks to the CELLS WORKFLOW software is very similar. Basically when somebody manually type something, for instance a serial number, it comes in through the keyboard and a fixed character set this generated by the keyboard driver software on the PC and those characters are then captured by CELLS WORKFLOW. Similarly when a barcode is read by a barcode scanner device the scanner device converts the barcode into a standard character set which CELLS WORKFLOW then captures. When either active or passive RFID Tag is activated by a RFID Tag reader device that tag data is then converted to a standard character set that is then captured by CELLS WORKFLOW.

Q. NPI — Can CELLS WORKFLOW be our platform for NPI for (1) data entry and (2) document control?

A. CELLS WORKFLOW is an excellent platform for New Product Introduction (NPI):

  1. Data Entry — Through the task list (data items table) the revision and lab reworks (tracking fixes for design issue's) can be tracked. In addition, failures and historical issues can be archived for analysis later. Daily export of inventory through SQL query statements can easily be customized by the user to arrange and export data in a variety of formats (excel spreadsheets, charts, active server pages, etc.).
  2. Document Control — Through the documents table in the database, links can be established to control document delivery through the CELLS WORKFLOW front end. Use any HTML or PDF or other popular document formats directly. Also overlays and manufacturing instruction sheets can be generated in the Unisoft ProntoVIEW-MARKUP module.

Q. SUB-ASSEMBLIES — Can CELLS WORKFLOW manage our box built manufacturing requirements?

A. Typical Box Built Manufacturing Flow — CELLS WORKFLOW is structured to join subassemblies into a higher assembly with out limit. NOTE: For box build app's modules that are subassemblies must be completed (passed to the $Done area) before they can be allocated to a higher assembly. Assuming all subassemblies are being received as piece parts then a typical flow would be as follows: Incoming inspection (bom revision and any other reference data should be entered here per unit); a branch to either "return to vendor" or pass to "unit ready for subassembly"; and once all subassemblies have been received and entered into CELLS WORKFLOW, open the highest level assembly and choose install subassembly from the file menu and begin allocating each subassembly. Proceed to each subassembly if a lower layer needs to be associated.

Q. ERP EXCHANGE — Can CELLS WORKFLOW interface to Peoplesoft ERP?

A. Peoplesoft system and reporting system (i.e. SAS, Crystal, etc) typically have an ODBC driver that enables access and updates from open data sources and ODBC compliant applications. Unisoft CELLS WORKFLOW is an open data source, is ODBC compliant, and is a Microsoft Window® based application so that systems like Peoplesoft have easy access to all the data in our tables. We checked with Peoplesoft and found that PeopleSoft 7 (and later versions) have an open query API in the form of an ODBC driver which is registered to any Windows application that supports ODBC. If you need any additional details or want us to speak with your IT people we'll be happy to do that.

Q. INVENTORY — I am a distributor of many different plastic products that we receive directly from multiple manufactures. I need to know if CELLS WORKFLOW can help me manage my inventory? We receive product direct from the manufacturer on pallets and my problem is that we currently do a walk though paper inventory at the end of the day to find out how much product we have a stock and where our in-process orders stand. We need to know how much product is at receiving, how much is on our packing floor being prepared for shipping, what is in our shipping warehouse and what has actually been shipped. The additional problem is that the pallets contain varying amounts of units. Sometimes the full pallet is shipped, other times the pallet is broken down and single or multiple units are shipped to various clients. Also we need to track damaged goods at incoming and other problems and defects throughout our process. Additionally we need to track return materials from our clients and associate those materials with the original shipment.

At present we do not have PC's throughout the warehouse and plan to manually put entries into CELLS WORKFLOW off our paper tickets. Later we will implement barcode scanners at key stations.

A. Yes, we can certainly help you. Receiving would enter into CELLS WORKFLOW the pallet details (product, pallet quantity, manufacture, etc.) and CELLS WORKFLOW would then track all pallets through the process. Either the full pallet or portions of the pallet can move forward with complete tracking and sales orders assigned as required. Reports would be generated showing current inventory in all areas with details on product, pallets, units left on partial pallets, etc. Entries for damaged goods and defects would be logged at the appropriate steps via CELLS WORKFLOW data entry table and reports available as required. Return materials would be associated with the original order created in CELLS WORKFLOW and the return materials history would then be associated with the original shipment history.

Q. SERIAL NUMBERS — We are HEX serial number based. Can CELLS WORKFLOW track hex serial numbers?

A. I was successful at getting the CELLS WORKFLOW program to work easily with Hex type serial numbers. Just had to have a dummy work-order, a declared serial range, defined "Next Steps" for the assembly, and (of course) an update to the "WIP" table for each serial number. You can do it from the barcode labeling program, etc.

Q. SECURITY/COMPLIANCE — One question that arises from an FDA perspective is how does your system get around signatures? The FDA are very reluctant to have operator barcodes scanned in as proof of inspection, operation completed etc. Any views?

A. Compliance to CFR21 Part 11 is achieved through the use of operator specific Login ID's and Passwords. Allowing the operator Login ID to be bar-coded (i.e., on an ID badge) would be acceptable as long as only the operator (and administrator) has access to the individual password. CELLS WORKFLOW has additional compliance features include a preset timeout and selectable forced password entry for each "move" of the product being tracked. The only area of non-compliance is periodic password expiration, which can be managed manually or moved up to the Network or Server login level operated as a "Closed System".

Q. MACHINE INTERFACING — Can data for production equipment such as CNC, placement, AOI machines, functional test equipment data, etc be downloaded to the CELL system (GEM interface, …)?

A. In most instances this should not be a problem with CELLS WORKFLOW ODBC compliance, active X and OLE interfacing.

Q. CELLS WORKFLOW CONTROL TABLES — Can the user do the route configuration for error proofing (e.g., Units that go to rework are routed back through inspection)?

A. Yes, this is handled in the "Next Step" table in CELLS WORKFLOW

Q. LABELING — Can end product packing label be configured as per user requirements, output to printers, software (Codesoft, loftware, …) supported?

A. Yes, as long as the printer software is ODBC compliant. The data will be captured by CELLS WORKFLOW with a user generated query.

Q. SPC/REPORTS — Can SPC graphs, Pareto charts be plotted for any of the process step in a Manufacturing setup.

A. Yes, data is output to ACCESS or other report writing software (SPC, Crystal, SAS or other ODBC compliant software)

Q. ROUTING/TRAVELER — Machine part loading: the system needs to track what lot code of material goes into a specific assembly.

A. Yes, CELLS WORKFLOW tracks materials that go into assemblies. Components are tracked through the use of data entry variables. As an example reels of components loaded can be scanned and the data archived in in CELLS WORKFLOW.

Q. ERP EXCHANGE — Can CELLS WORKFLOW be customize to exchange information with an ERP? For example SAP ERP for traceability to component lot codes, etc.

A. Yes, CELLS WORKFLOW is open ended and through its ODBC compliance can export tables to ERP systems.

Q. SPC/REPORTS — I need to analyze and report on the data that CELLS WORKFLOW collects. How can I do this?

A. Once your work-in-progress, failure/quality or other data is in the CELLS WORKFLOW database, you can report against it with CELLS WORKFLOW or any report writer or analysis tool that supports ODBC (Crystal Reports, Access, SAS, Excel, etc.). You can even publish the reports to your CELLS WORKFLOW intranet, or provide dynamic report generation through CELLS WORKFLOW or any web browser.

Q. ROUTING/TRAVELER — Can CELLS WORKFLOW create a route/process plan for a product that consists of series of steps? Ideally, we will be able to name these steps the way we do today, with 4 char sector, 4 char oper, and 4 char process type.

A. Already structured in CELLS WORKFLOW

Q. ROUTING/TRAVELER — Can CELLS WORKFLOW identify "recipes" for each step? Create a 12 character lot i.d. that will follow a certain route/process plan?

A. Already structured in CELLS WORKFLOW.

Q. WORK ORDER/LOT — Can CELLS WORKFLOW assign 25 serialized units to the lot

A. Already structured in CELLS WORKFLOW

Q. WORK ORDER/LOT — How is this initial set up of lot and units automated?

A. The workorder administrator will create the lot (called assembly in CELLS WORKFLOW) and you specify a range of serial numbers associated with the lot.

Q. WORK ORDER/LOT — Will CELLS WORKFLOW be able to split lots? For example, take half the units in LOT01 and put them in child lot LOTC01? Be able to merge lots?

A. Renaming lots can be done by obsolescing the LOT01 parts (send to scrap) and creating another work order for LOTC01. Merging them back will require the same process.

Q. MACHINE INTERFACING — is there an API in CELLS WORKFLOW? We want a separate program of ours, the automation program at the manufacturing tool, to be able to talk to the MES and find out what step we're at, auto log lot in/out.

A. Access is open architecture so you can extract data by using SQL or some other means recognized through the ODBC driver. Access can auto export reports on a time basis also.

Q. ROUTING/TRAVELER — Can CELLS WORKFLOW mark units in a lot as scrapped out?

A. Already structured in CELLS WORKFLOW.

Q. ROUTING/TRAVELER — Can CELLS WORKFLOW mark units in a lot as "bought" by engineering for analysis?

A. Already structured in CELLS WORKFLOW — should be accomplished by entering a comment in defects screen or create an area called engineering to move the material into.

Q. WORK ORDER/LOT — Can CELLS WORKFLOW assign status to lot at any time: Active, Ready, Held?

A. Already structured in CELLS WORKFLOW — either create an area for active, ready, or held and move the material into the locations. Another way is to have a text variable pop up window that requires a status.

Q. DATA ENTRY/COLLECTION — Does CELLS WORKFLOW allow the operator to enter comments at each step - ability to customize that screen?

A. Already structured in CELLS WORKFLOW: comments can be added in the defects window which is set in the Access database.

Q. ROUTING/TRAVELER — Can CELLS WORKFLOW maintain traceability of what units were in a lot at each step, since this can change through the process?

A. Already structured in CELLS WORKFLOW: history is archived in CELLS WORKFLOW which can be selected through CELLS WORKFLOW — custom reports can be created and auto exported on a time basis.

Q. NETWORK — I need to run CELLS WORKFLOW in a network environment. How do you install clients? Do you just map drives and point to the access location? Give me detail.

A. If you are using MS ACCESS as the database then, yes, you can map drives and specify the drive path in the ODBC configuration. I believe you can also specify a UNC path (\\server\data\CELLS WORKFLOW.mdb) in the ODBC configuration. If you are using SQL Server or MSDE, then you configure your ODBC to connect to the server in a more direct client/server way.

Q. DOCUMENTS — 1. Simple one: I'd like a document to appear as the default screen when the operator opens a unit, but I must be missing something simple in the DOCUMENTS table. It seems to ignore my default setting and still shows the circuit boards. Ideally, I'd like text in the left frame and pictures on the right, in the form of HTML documents, depending on the OPERATION taking place. (Later on we'll look at capture of test data).

A. Can't do it. A simple answer, sorry it's not the one you wanted. The left and right frames will ALWAYS show one of the circuit board views. The HTML document view will ALWAYS be in a floating window. DOCUMENTS.YN_DEFAULT, when applied to "PCB", allows you to choose which of several .F2B files will be shown. The other F2B files, if any will appear in the view menu. The DEFAULT field will also allow you to specify one or more .F2P (overlay) files to apply to a specific .F2B file. Cool idea, though. Maybe in a future release.

Q. CELLS WORKFLOW CONTROL TABLES — 2. I understand most of the tables and their relationships, but I need a bit of coaching on configuring a system as we discussed: Top Level Assembly comprised of serialized circuit cards and unserialised parts. I have set up a DATA_ENTRY step at KITTING to record PCB Serial Numbers, but I'm unsure how to use $SERIALIZE Operation properly (putting it as a NEXT_STEP seems to have no effect). Also, please help with the removal/replacement of cards during the flow, and the use of $ANYTIME. Also, how do I use the SUB_ASSY table for generic subassemblies? It looks like these are used for specific items. I'm close, but going in circles.

A. $Serialize is internal and should not be specified in the next_step table. Rather, use YN_WORK_ORDER_ID and YN_SERIAL_NO in the OPERATIONS table. YN_WORK_ORDER_ID set to "Y" indicates that it is acceptable to come to the operation as workorder only (no serial num). YN_SERIAL_NO indicates whether it is acceptable to come to this operation with a serial number.

If you arrive at a YN_SERIAL_NO="Y" step, and specify a serial number for the first time, then the system automatically routes the item from the previous step, to $SERIALIZE, and then to the current step, effectively stating that the item got serialized as part of the transition.

$ANYTIME is used to indicate that, for example, a roving inspection can occur at anytime in the process. In the NEXT_STEP database, the OPERATION_ID can be set to "$ANYTIME" to indicate that the NEXT_OPERATION_ID can happen at any time during the process.

The SUB_ASSY table is maintained by the program. It is not a table that you need to set up. It is where we store information about which subassy's have been installed at which locations on other assemblies.

To specify that some sub assembly needs (or optionally needs) to be installed at a particular step, use a DATA_ITEM record to indicate a DATUM_TYPE of SUBASSY. DATUM_DESC is how you tell the tech what to attach, SUB_LOCATION tells them where, eg, "PCI SLOT 4". The system will collect a serial number, and it itself must be an assembly in the system with a serial number, and that serialized unit must be in the "$DONE" state before it can be installed. If you want to track the installation of sub assemblies which are not serialized items in the CELLS WORKFLOW system, just use plain data entry.

You can specify that only certain kinds of sub-assemblies can be installed by specifying the list of ASSY_ID's allowed in the DATUM_MIN field, separated by "" characters. If you leave DATUM_MIN blank, then no ASSY_ID checking is done. Sub assemblies can be removed and replaced just about any time by the FILE | ADD/REMOVE SUBASSEMBLY menu item.

Q. SUB-ASSEMBLIES — 2A. I'd like to route some of the pieces in the kit though a Test operation before they are kitted. Can CELLS WORKFLOW allow me to track subassemblies by themselves? I don't think I can have more than one $START to separate serialized Units's from machined parts (which need only be inspected). This makes my NEXT_STEP table confusing, because a Top Assembly doesn't exist as a serialized item until KITTING, when the pieces are placed in a bin and a top-level serial number is assigned arbitrarily. Note that incoming inspections are not at the "end item" level.

A. Yes, subassemblies are by (our) definition serialized and trackable assemblies in their own right. They are completely separate from the mother assembly until they are associated via the Add Subassembly (or Data Entry) dialog. From that point on, they are tracked together. The sub-assemblies can/should even have their own process flow, seperate from the main assembly. In fact, a sub-assembly MUST have progressed to "$DONE" before it is eligible to be added to another assembly, however if you add a sub-assembly that has not been run though a process in CELLS WORKFLOW then you can use a simple data entry to collect the sub-assembly serial number, etc.

Q. DATABASE — 3. The integration of CELLS WORKFLOW to Oracle may be tricky. It seems that Windows2000 has ODBC drivers for Oracle. Any thoughts? Have Win2000 and CELLS WORKFLOW been integrated before? Not sure if we were clear: Can we use SQL 7.0 or even Oracle as our CELLS WORKFLOW database, to avoid any ODBC difficulty in connecting to our main ERP system?

A. CELLS WORKFLOW does run just fine on Win2k. I have not personally tried the Oracle drivers that come with Win2k, but you can use any ODBC compliant data engine. SQL 6.5 and 7.0 are known to work, and SQL2000 should be just fine as well. You will have to convert/upsize the sample ACCESS database to your desired client/server engine using utilities supplied by that vendor, or else create the schema some other way.

Q. SUB-ASSEMBLIES — Would you provide some information on how to set up the sub-assembly tracking features?

A. In the data items table (this is a look up table for the data entry table) create a datum_id. The datum_id you create will be looked up in the data entry table. Next enter a datum_desc such as "Choose a subassy to installed in position 1". Next enter "SUBASSY" in the DATUM_TYPE which flags CELLS WORKFLOW that this is a subassy. The other variables in the datum min and datum max are to restrict the entry … leave them blank to accept any txt variable entered.

Next, go to the Data Entry table and enter the process which will use the subassy installation. Enter the Operation ID that you would like to load the subassy at … I would choose the $DONE area which is the final area once a board is complete. One note is that the lower level subassy must be completed (in the $Done area) before it can be allocated into the higher level assembly. Enter the datum ID that you created in the Data Items table. Choose a sub location such as Position 1 (could be numbers or a given name). Finally enter the YN required … this is a flag that prevents the board to go to another area unless a subassy has been installed.

Once you're done and have a board in the $done area choose another board and click on install subassembly and you should see the option of entering a serial number to install. Once done look at the history to see that it has been installed.

Q. SPC/REPORTS — Need to use third party for reports or does CELLS WORKFLOW already have it?

A. Already built in through SQL/Access query reporting "real time".

Q. SETUP — Can you estimate the implementation TimeLine (estimated there are six lines for box built — apps with 15 clients each)?

A. CELLS WORKFLOW must be loaded onto each terminal (5 minutes each terminal). Installation Strategy Note: Try to keep the CELLSDOC variable pointing to a subdirectory on the main network drive that all computer terminals can link to. If you point this to a local drive you'll need to update every computer vs. only one directory on the network. Also the main database needs to be customized to the customers process flow, estimate 1 to 2 hours per process.

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