Notixia v1.1 (Cadalyst Labs Review)23 Jan, 2008 By: IDSA ,Mike Hudspeth
Manufacturing process management software is useful for digital floor management and just about everything else but financing.
It's not often I find a program that looks like it might be as much fun as it is productive. How many of you grew up playing Starfleet battles? You had your starship, and you had to go to all these different places to face the Klingons or whoever. You had to manage your damage ("Damage control party to Deck Three!") and your power ("We dinnae hae the power, Caiptain!"). Did you use your life-support energy to augment your weapons or your shields? A lot of computer games -- SimCity, the entire Tycoon series, etc. -- run along the same lines, and they are very popular. So I suppose it was just a matter of time before someone figured out a way to apply that same kind of management style to real-world manufacturing. Enter Notixia v1.1.
Notixia was founded as a company in 2004 in Montreal, Canada, by a core of people experienced in many aspects of the manufacturing process. The company is all about technical data management. The product Notixia v1.1 is manufacturing process management (MPM). MPM is like product lifecycle management (PLM) for manufacturing. It's aimed at small- to medium-sized businesses as well as large companies, and it provides a link between product data management (PDM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems in manufacturing.
Customize to Fit Your Process
Notixia v1.1 includes a simple PDM, order management, and manufacturing execution system capability so it can handle any information type you need. It can even be the basis of an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) product if you need one. It operates as a client-server application, and it can run on any operating system because it is written in Java. When you use it, you open the product catalog first. Security can be added according to role-based user profiles. Notixia v1.1 can handle your entire product structure (see figure below).
Notixia v1.1 reads your entire product assembly and displays it in a 3D file that you can rotate in real time. Check out those hot wheels! Where can I buy one? (Click image for larger version)
You can rotate and measure your models in real time. You can even set different configurations or versions of your product that represent extensions of your product line (see figure below). As long as you have different parts with variations as simple as color, you can create new configurations.
Just as with popular 3D modelers, you can have multiple configurations of your designs -- in this case, an extended edition. (Click image for larger version)
Sometimes engineers design something to go together one way, but for manufacturing reasons it must actually assembled differently. Notixia v1.1 can create two bills of materials (BOMs) -- one from the PDM system (the engineer's original layout) and one for manufacturing. Notixia likes to call that a manufacturing BOM (MBOM). Within the MBOM, you can reorganize and regroup parts into assemblies and subassemblies that are more specific to manufacturing needs. Of course, you can synchronize the MBOM with the BOM as changes are made, which lets you avoid serial work that takes longer.
Let the Games Begin!
After you have the MBOM the way you want it, you get to play with figuring what it will actually take to do the work. Notixia v1.1 is a process planner's dream! It is like a CAD system for process definition. You can design a process model that references your actual engineering data. It fills in the gap between product design and production. You work with various charts to define what you need. On the Pert chart (see figure below) you have various symbols that represent your assembly elements. The blue squares are operations that need to be done. The green triangles are resources you have available to do it. The orange diamonds are your modeled parts.
You can assign parts and resources to assembly operations then create a station on your assembly line to perform them. Interestingly, with the 3D view, you can see that sometimes you can't build the assembly in the order specified (you don't want to see parts hanging in midair). You can create operation libraries for future use with similar products. You then link operations and parts and order them as necessary. You even can make different operations in different configurations. If you click on a part, it will be highlighted in the graphics window. You can create exploded views to show your assembly process. You can work with Gant charts to assign order and timing to your processes.
Notixia v1.1 lets you set up virtual manufacturing plants. You can model all your manufacturing plants and assign jobs based on capacities and capabilities and specify assembly stations assigning specific operations to them (see figure below).
You can assign operations to different assembly stations. Given a certain amount of time to complete each operation, you can easily determine whether a station can handle what it has been assigned. (Click image for larger version)
You can show a representation of the product at each station along the assembly line. You can flag cycle times, so you can know if a given station has time for its operations. You even can show all the steps at once (see figure below).
I love how you can see a representation of the tools and their operators. You can view the entire assembly line as it might be seen in a plant. (Click image for larger version)
By representing everything graphically, you get a better idea of what is actually happening and what problems you might need to address. You might see that you need more space between stations (see figure below).
In the future, Notixia v1.1 will enable you to create assembly-level features! When you have everything the way you want it, the product can generate reports or assembly floor sheets in several formats, including PDF.
Resourceful -- But Expensive
Notixia v1.1 is not cheap. The entry-level price of $4,995 gets you one Notixia v1.1 server license with five floating clients. After that, it's approximately $2,000-3,000 to add more clients. (I gotta wonder just what small businesses Notixia thinks have that kind of money.) Of course, the actual cost will depend on the options you require. I was fascinated by Notixia v1.1. I saw a lot of solid usefulness there. You can use it for digital floor management and just about everything else except financing. I like to think of Notixia v1.1 as Manufacturing Tycoon. For more information about Notixia v1.1, visit the company's Web site. Highly Recommended.
Editor's Note: As of May 1, 2008, Notixia reports that pricing for Notixia PLM 1.1 is $5,000 per client license for all base modules of the solution. The reviewed software configuration is available starting at $3,000 per client license. Notixia adds that all client licenses are floating (concurrent) licenses. License packages starting at $20,000 for five full licenses are also available. For further information, contact Steve Morissette, CTO, Notixia, at 514.396.3319 or firstname.lastname@example.org.