Use this handy tool to evaluate new shop floor technology to reduce risk and ensure an ROI. Image by www.colourbox.com

How to Successfully Replace Manufacturing Software

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

There are manufacturers out there struggling with outdated and inefficient legacy software systems supporting production.

Shop floor managers call us for help with these outdated systems – an Access database created long ago by a retired employee, or a piece of manufacturing software so old, it’s impossible to update and sits on a dilapidated server held together by rubber bands and prayers.

A Source of Manufacturing Inefficiency

3d small people - angry

How much money is wasted due to inefficient software? Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

Manufacturing is the foundation of the company and the engine that fuels profit, and if the company doesn’t support production with the right tools, they are holding the business back. No amount of Kanban sessions or process improvements can make up for a digital tool trying to do something it was never designed for, or should have been shelved and retired years ago.

These older systems not only impact production and create inefficiency; they are a source of errors and hide a potential production disaster if the systems ever fail.

These shop floor managers know something has to be done, but struggle to get a clear answer from the IT department or a potential solution provider. Everyone promises their solution is the one they need, often completely ignoring current production processes in their excitement to implement their solution.

Identifying and Mitigating Software Risks

The shop floor can manage the problem and solution process by identifying risks early to determine the viability of a potential solution. Here are a few items to consider as you review next steps for your shop floor.

  • Data Migration.

If you have critical production data stored on a failing, outdated system, you need to consider how to move the data to the new system. Consider not only copying the data over, but using an Extract, Transform and Load (ETL) tool. Some ETL will safely transform data to a modern format so it can be used in the new software and better support production.  Without utilizing an ETL tool, you may be stuck with unusable data in your new software.

  • Process Changes.

While you hope the new software tool improves processes, there are times the system will hinder, rather than help, production. Consider change orders and redline edits. If the new system offers a wealth of functionality that adds complexity to change orders, you may trap the shop floor with an unmanageable process.  Look at purchasing a workflow-based, rather than a forms-based, system when replacing outdated software. An initial pilot would also determine how the system will be used.

  • Increased Cost of Ownership.

It is worthwhile estimating not only the initial cost, but overall cost of ownership of manufacturing software. Often, the cost of software isn’t reflective of the benefit. The most expensive system may not offer the best solution.  Break down the cost of a potential solution, look at how it will be used, and estimate the potential ROI before making a purchase.

  • Gaps in Coverage.

Often, a software solution, especially cloud-based apps targeting manufacturing, will focus on a single challenge, rather than addressing the underlying problems facing production.  For example, purchasing a simple email app to manage production planning may seem like a quick fix to outdated software, but the gaps in coverage left by the solution expose you to other risks that may impact production.

Some manufacturers mistakenly value complexity over benefit in software. You don’t need all the complexity and functionality offered by many solution providers. Get input from the users and estimate how often and extensive their interaction will be with the software. If users spend more time serving the software than engaged in production, you don’t have an optimal solution.

Getting Started with Paperless Manufacturing

One way to overcome hesitation with a new software system is to look at change as an opportunity to eliminate the problems and frustrations the production team faces using outdated software. When we work with shop floor managers struggling with inefficient software, we start by looking at their current workflow.  The team often uncovers other process impediments that can be easily solved.

With an eye on the potential risks we’ve outlined above and the right solution provider, the new system can have a positive impact across the organization and unlock production potential you may not have known you had.  Want to know more, or talk to an application engineer about your outdated software systems? Contact CIMx today for a free shop floor analysis. We’re always happy to help.

How a Workflow System Helps Manufacturers Improve Production

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

I’m beginning to understand why so many manufacturing companies are frustrated when they work with software suppliers, and how we can make the process easier.

3d man in trouble

A digital solution to shop floor challenges is easier to find than you might thinnk. Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

I spoke to a shop floor manager, let’s call him Joe, struggling with several production databases kept in an old version of Microsoft Access.  Joe was worried the databases would fail. Rightfully so. The servers were old, and it was impractical to move the data to a new server. There was little benefit to upgrading to a new version of Microsoft Office. There were few on Joe’s team who even knew how to properly access the data.

Joe and his IT team researched other possible solutions with little success.  Some suppliers offered an expensive custom solution to match current processes, others required the current processes adapt to match the proposed solution.

Neither option was appealing, and Joe was close to giving up when he spoke with CIMx.

Paperless Manufacturing for the Modern Shop Floor

Given enough time, money and resources, developers can twist and cajole any manufacturing functionality you want out of software code.  Many software companies call this functionality a “module.”  The module is based on a perceived manufacturing need, and the features are focused on solving that need. Manufacturing is not a series of needs, but a workflow. A workflow is a series of linked and sequential events that leads to a state of completion.  The module product approach may work for a single “event,” but leaves serious gaps in the workflow a company will struggle to fill.

This is why the other solution providers required a change in processes (to make connecting those tools easier) or more expensive service charges (so they could fill the gaps).

Quantum is based on manufacturing workflow rather than modules.  The software quickly maps to shop floor processes, supporting existing workflow and providing a quick and less complex solution to manufacturing challenges.

In the case of Joe, the shop floor manager struggling with dated Microsoft Access databases, CIMx was able to provide a new data warehouse for the old files. By mapping Quantum to their current processes, users could easily access the data they needed throughout the workflow. The only real change was the use of Quantum, rather than print outs from Access.

At CIMx, we love connecting manufacturers with technology.  Seeing the software roll out at Joe’s facility, and teaching users how Quantum can make their job easier, was exciting.  It’s why we love our job.  Granted, there were a few reluctant to give up their paper work instructions.  The first time they accessed their planning with the push of a button, rather than a lengthy search across a crowded work station before thumbing through a paper traveler, many asked the CIMx team what else Quantum could do.

We call Quantum a Paperless Manufacturing system because it empowers users to eliminate paper and improve their existing processes, rather than eliminate and replace processes with new tools that may be more complex and less efficient.

If you have inefficiencies or challenges on your shop floor, including old systems or databases, and want to see how a modern software system based on workflow, rather than modules, can help you, then give us a call or contact us today.

Keep an eye on our blog, because over the next few weeks we’ll be making a major announcement, further helping manufacturers like Joe struggling with inefficiencies. We’re excited, and can’t wait to share more!

Looking for money concept. Isolated on white background.3d rendered.

Simple versus Simplicity: The MES App Conundrum

Some manufacturers latch onto solutions that never really address the core problems facing production.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

A few weeks ago I sat through a demo of a new shop floor manufacturing app.

The marketing pitch seemed promising. Rather than charging for hardware and functionality you don’t really need, the app offered access to a cloud manufacturing solution built for production. For a single low cost, you could, “harness the power of the cloud.”

You paid a few dollars, gave them a credit card, and the app was downloaded on a phone or tablet.  From the app, you could load up work instructions and additional documentation, fill in order and operation information, and create a routing.  From the shop floor, you access the instructions, click a button to leave a note or collect data, and press “NEXT” to close one operation and open another.

There was a dashboard with icons and additional information. A planning screen let me click and drag work around, and for a few dollars more I could get reports.

The smooth-voiced “hostess” of the demo promised the app, “…had all the functionality you need, without gimmicks.” The questions and comments after the demo were so full of praise for the “simple” power of the app, you’d have thought it revolutionized computer technology rather than put a shiny veneer on a document viewer.

The pitch was clear. According to the demo, software companies swore you needed a big manufacturing solution, when all you really needed was an app.

The Difference between Simplicity and Simple

man under money on white background. Isolated 3D image

If you aren’t solving a problem or improving production, any money spent on a “simple” solution is wasted. Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

I know software, manufacturing software specifically, and I know apps and computer technology. The solution I saw at the demo could be built and finished relatively quickly – perhaps 6 to 10 months with good developers and a clear plan.

The solution was also simple – get your planning to the shop floor with minimal routing. Get rid of paper and paper build books and access everything you need from your phone.  You can eliminate the need for expensive implementation teams and a bunch of annoying service charges. Forget requirement lists, integrations and implementations; you can now buy a manufacturing solution in an afternoon browsing the iPhone App store. It was simple.

But it never really addressed the core needs we see from the manufacturers we work with. Companies today need to improve production and work smarter. They need to do more with less, improve margins and cut costs. They need better control and visibility of the manufacturing value chain. Emailing work instructions to the shop floor won’t do that.

In my mind, this app was like a piece of tape stuck to a dam. Sure the app (or tape) did its job, but it never addressed the overall problem. It sold “simple” to an audience that really needed a solution.

I’m not arguing for complexity. A Paperless Manufacturing solution that adds real value doesn’t need to be complex or mind-bogglingly expensive.

There is a difference between simple and simplicity.  A solution needs to directly address the core needs of manufacturers to improve production outcomes, improve profit and deliver real value to the business.  It needs to be an integrated solution, because value isn’t made at just one point in the production cycle. An app on your phone may be simple, but it’s not a manufacturing solution.  It’s an app on your phone.

What the app was missing was a cohesive digital link between production activities – the value of a true Paperless Manufacturing solution. It felt like the app developer never really asked a manufacturer what they needed or did. They took a guess that manufacturing needed simple and the cloud and ignored everything else. The company wrote an app, and then kept telling everyone it was “simple.”

Simplicity helps manage complexity, rather than ignoring it. Simplicity contextualizes information so you can focus on what’s important. Everything else involved in production is still there and still being managed, but it’s been prioritized.

This is the difference between simple and simplicity. Simple is what you get when you want to throw an app on the web to make a quick profit. Simplicity is built into a tool to help you work better, faster and with fewer errors – letting you focus on work, rather than the tool.

It’s a subtle, but critical, difference I believe the app developers never really understood.

jobs for people, in order to better jobs, Because you are different and people want to work with us

Solutions to Manufacturing Skilled Labor Shortage

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

Modern manufacturing requires skilled workers – a fact many companies aren’t prepared to address.

CIMx recently attended a manufacturing trade show and had the opportunity to speak with manufacturers about their industry concerns.

One topic kept coming up again and again – the workforce. Manufacturers are worried they won’t have enough skilled workers to meet production demand.

Manufacturing companies are receiving new orders and business is growing, but many question whether the current workforce can manage demand. If they can’t, and they need to hire more, can they find a hire with the right skill set? Will the right employee be willing to work in manufacturing? If they do take the job, how quickly can new workers be trained? If an employee leaves, is there someone available to take their place?  What critical skills will be lost when someone retires?

New orders and a growing business is a good sign for manufacturing in America, but only if companies can keep up with demand.

Understanding the Problem

Quality.

There are steps manufacturers can take to solve the skilled labor gap. Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

The skilled labor problem shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who observes the industry. We’ve spoken about it before, and the industry warns the problem will continue to grow as older employees retire and manufacturing processes continue to evolve.

Recently, the need for skilled labor, especially with technology and software skills, has accelerated as companies increasingly turn to smart manufacturing, automation, and data-driven production to increase throughput and profit. The industry isn’t attracting workers with the right skills to manage and optimize modern manufacturing.

There isn’t a single core reason for this problem, but a combination of factors. Consider this:

  • Manufacturing has changed, but a college graduate is more likely to imagine a factory worker with a wrench than a tablet. Manufacturing has done little to change this dated perception, but some companies, such as GE, are taking positive steps to recognize the problem.
  • Our industry has been shortsighted in addressing the technology gap on the shop floor. Recently, the Wall Street Journal published an article on the struggle of manufacturing to attract software developers. A critical reason is the perceived lack of support technology workers see in the industry. Companies still rely on paper on the shop floor, ensuring graduates turn to tech firms, rather than manufacturers, for employment.
  • Manufacturers don’t offer the training programs skilled tech workers need. Without training, workers can’t keep up with the pace of change in technology, leading to job stress and lower productivity. Only recently have companies begun designing vocational programs for skilled labor.

Solving the Skilled Labor Gap

There is no magic solution to the skilled labor shortage in manufacturing, but there are steps companies can take to mitigate the problems.

  • Eliminate information silos. Consider the critical skills and best practices in your manufacturing workflow as an asset and protect them. Too often, companies take for granted work will “just get done” without considering the process. Manufacturers need to capture critical processes, helping to create internal training programs for new employees.
  • Increase employee productivity. Dated and error-prone paper-based processes hinder production. Employees spend more time managing paper and looking for information than actually building products. Modern tech workers, the ones manufacturing needs to attract, will find work in industries with more job satisfaction when faced with paper build books.
  • Empower current workers. The solution may not be a new hire, but empowering existing employees. Utilizing a software system such as an MES or Paperless Manufacturing will provide an HMI current workers can use. It won’t give you a programmer on the shop floor, but it will allow you to better manage people, processes and machines during production.
  • Manage the workflow. Errors often occur when workers don’t read or even consult the work instructions. Paperless Manufacturing uses process enforcement ensure the shop floor follows steps precisely. In this way, the system becomes a digital instructor; ensuring knowledge and experience aren’t lost when someone retires and the manufacturing engineers instructions are followed precisely.
  • Fill in the technology gaps. Study your processes and identify where there are gaps. Develop a strategy to fill those gaps. Focusing effort and resources on one aspect of the manufacturing value chain will offer minimal benefit if other areas are hindering overall efficiency.
  • Change the culture. As evidenced by the difficulty in attracting skilled labor, manufacturing has an image problem. Slick commercials and an investment in technology will help, but without confronting head-on the culture that created the image, problems will persist. Many manufacturers are reluctant to embrace change, adopting a strategy of waiting when faced with challenges. Tech workers know this, and it drives many to seek employment elsewhere.

Where will Manufacturing Go from Here?

Manufacturing is changing. Whether you call it Industry 4.0, Smart Manufacturing, or another term, manufacturers need new skills and new workers to capitalize on the opportunity.  Waiting another year or doing nothing is not a sustainable solution as skilled workers continue to seek employment in industries where they are appreciated and supported.

The first step to solving the skilled labor gap is to admit there is a problem, and then developing a strategy to overcome it.

Want to learn more, or see how Paperless Manufacturing can be the foundation for improved manufacturing and shop floor modernization? Then contact CIMx today for more information. We’re happy to help.

Does your implementation team really know the software and your processes? Illustration from www.colourbox.com

Good Samaritans, Guarantees and Paperless Manufacturing

By Kristin McLane, President of CIMx Software

The core of customer service in manufacturing software is ensuring the system works as promised. By focusing on the sale, many companies lose sight of customer service.

We never really think about customer service unless there’s a problem. It’s too bad, because manufacturing software suppliers are missing out on an opportunity…

I realized this when I lost my FitBit. I was on a bike trail near my house when my FitBit fell out of my pocket.  This was no fault of the device – I put it in my pocket to count steps as I rode, and ended up losing it on the side of the trail.

There wasn’t much I could do but mourn my lost fitness partner. It motivated me to get up from my desk and take extra steps.

Amazingly, a few days later FitBit let me know a Good Samaritan found my lost device and mailed it back to the company, asking if they could locate the owner – me.  And they did!

But the remarkable story doesn’t end there.  Fitbit began testing the watch before they sent it back and discovered it wasn’t working.  It seems humidity or weather caused a problem, so FitBit provided a newly-refurbished model to me at absolutely no cost… not a single dollar!

That level of customer service caught my eye.  How could CIMx make customer service a focus?

Focusing on the Customer Experience

For CIMx, Customer Service starts with the sales process.  Our goal is to solve problems, and not just sell software.

Computer devices around 3d small person.

Fake product demonstrations create confusion for many manufacturers. Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

Many manufacturers are confused by industry-speak and fake product demonstrations offered by other suppliers.  To demonstrate functionality, some suppliers show a video or use software more like a video game than a manufacturing system.  They have to, because they’ll need months of service work and “configuration” to get their product to match your specifications and expectations.

Consider it the shiny video gloss on an ugly system.  There is a core software product there, but it’s not ready for public consumption until they sell you configuration services.  This leads to confusion when the product delivered is nothing like the system at the demonstration.

The savvy prospect knows this.  We often hear we are the only vendor to show a live product demonstration – planned paths and paths driven by real-time questions.  We recently spent 5 hours going through product questions on a live system.  The prospect told us they had never seen a live manufacturing system until that day.  How many times have you seen a multi-hour software presentation built around live Q&A without a single product failure?  We are proud of what our software can do.

We know manufacturing, software, MES and Paperless Manufacturing. When you work with us, you aren’t talking to just another salesperson, but an expert in the field.  We spend time answering questions and educating prospects because we know how frustrating it can be working with a company so focused on the sale they only tell you what you want to hear.

To be honest, there were times in the past where we focused so much on educating we lost a sale.  These days, we’re still known for our consultative approach.  No, we are not consultants, but we play the role because we know manufacturing and technology so well, in addition to offering an amazing software system.  Consultants are paid for their time.

We help manufacturers navigate the confusing (and potentially frustrating) process.  We help them understand what they really need, and how to avoid pitfalls that could destroy any potential ROI or benefit of a system.

A Guarantee for Paperless Manufacturing

We also guarantee both our products AND our services.  Let me say that again.  We provide insurance for you that what you buy is what you get.  We were the first and still the only company I know in our industry that even comes close to this offer.  When we put a proposal together, we stand behind it.  We will deliver on-time 100% of the time.  We will deliver 100% of what we promise.

To me, that’s the core of exceptional customer service. When you purchase a product, you are investing resources and taking on risk the product may fail, or not meet your needs. Without offering a guarantee like that, the supplier is putting all the risk on you. They are being a salesperson and not a partner.

In my mind, FitBit embodies this concept of customer service.  They promised to be my partner in physical fitness.  And in helping me even when I failed (and lost my Fitbit), they went above and beyond in that promise.  They helped me even when I couldn’t help myself.

I’ll be a FitBit customer for life.

Being a partner in manufacturing and technology is our goal with every customer and prospect interaction, helping create CIMx customers for life.

Want to learn more, or talk to an expert about your manufacturing needs?  Contact CIMx today for a free shop floor analysis and see what paperless manufacturing can do for you.

When partnerships, and software systems work in sync, everyone benefits. Illustration by www.colourbox.com

Unravelling the Truth of Manufacturing Software Implementations

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

Software companies are quick to make claims about their implementation process, but the answers often lead to more confusion than actionable information.

What’s a reasonable schedule for an MES or Paperless Manufacturing system implementation?

When I started in this business (years ago), two years was average. Anyone who claimed to implement a full system, configured for the customer, in less than a year was either fudging the truth or delusional.

I remember reading a press release from a company that claimed they installed a system in 8 months, but, reading between the lines, you could tell there were problems. For one thing, they called it an “installation.” Anyone could throw a program on a server and claim the system was installed. For another, and most telling, there were no quotes from the customer.  So either they forgot to tell the customer they were done, or there was a very unhappy shop floor.

Times and technology have changed, and so have our expectations, so what is a reasonable schedule? Where is the golden balance between speed, functionality and user compatibility?

We turn to children’s tales for help in our answer….

Goldilocks and Three Software Implementations

  • My Software Implementation was too short!

I will admit – there is something appealing about cloud implementations. There are companies now offering apps that let you use a credit card. Within an hour you could have an MES!!

… well, not really. There are MANY problems with this “quick-fix” software solution. For one thing, they use smoke and mirrors to mask the real backbone of their solution – email. For another, you are locking yourself out of key features. For example, revision control eliminates many shop floor errors and problems, but the email planning system doesn’t have the tight revision control modern production needs.  Customizable data collection and reporting are benefits you won’t find in an “app.”

There’s also the question of configuration. Every shop floor has different processes, so how will canned functionality in a cloud app work on your shop floor?  The app is going to dictate how you work.  Will it make your processes, stronger? Probably not…

Finally, have you considered who will own your data? All that planning in the cloud is no longer under your control.  If the cloud server goes down or is confiscated as evidence, where is you data? Back-ups are nice, but actually controlling your data is better.

A quick fix solution is just that, a quick fix to what may be a deep seated problem with your manufacturing value chain.  There’s promise in the cloud, but it’s technology that’s still developing.

  • My software implementation is TOOOO LONG!

Many software companies link apps together and market themselves as a “master” solution to all your manufacturing needs. There are reasons why these systems take so long (often years) to implement.

3d small people - angry

How long can your shop floor wait for a solution to be implemented? Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

In theory, this sounds like an amazing idea – a single solution linking the entire manufacturing process from end-to-end.  If it worked, you could easily manage the entire production enterprise.  You’d work with a single vendor and a single software system.

We are still years, perhaps decades, from a comprehensive enterprise solution that actually works. Some systems will be strong in one area, such as the PLM, and weaker in others, such as the MES. Enterprise software products are very different, so it’s natural for the overall system to favor one area over others.

Other times the “single” solution is really a series of individual apps the company purchased and stitched together like some software Frankenstein. Purchasing software is a quick way to acquire functionality, but ingesting that functionality into a suite will take years, and may never work. Buying a company isn’t necessarily going to make the overall product better.

On top of that, many of these “master” systems are complex and difficult because they are based on old technology. Rather than upgrading the software, and disturbing all the interconnections between individual apps, the company keeps adding new features and fixing problems with code that is never going to get better or become easier to use. Instead, the supplier just charges more and more money to work with the increasingly and maddeningly complex code, burying the creaky and problematic ancient system under shiny new features and tacked-on apps.

In the end, this is why it takes so long to implement these systems. Depending on the needs of the customer, the systems being integrated together, and the needs of the individual sites, a comprehensive solution is a massive and risky undertaking with suspect value. Problems will occur and the customer is left with “gaps” in their comprehensive solution.

  • My Software Implementation was Just Right!

Today, most suppliers offer Commercial Off-the-Shelf (COTS) systems for implementation. With a COTS product, there is a core system that is configured, ensuring the software can be modified and installed much quicker, and for a lower cost, than a custom solution. There isn’t a perfect schedule for an implementation, but there are signs the savvy consumer can use to cut through the marketing miasma and learn whether it is really a modern COTS product.

Confidence Button Shows Assurance Belief And Boldness

How can you balance speed and functionality in a shop floor implementation? Illustration by www,colourbox.com

Ask the supplier how long each of the custom requests will take before the implementation. If the development time seems extremely long, then the system they are offering may be older or more complex, which can increase the schedule and make the system difficult to maintain.

Depending on the complexity of the requests, most configurations should take no more than a month or two.

Another factor that can significantly increase the schedule of an implementation is preparing the planning. Some manufacturing software uses a form- or template-based system, which can severely limit flexibility. If the supplier has to create new forms, or demands you adapt planning for the software, it is likely they use templates. The software works, but it will increase your reliance on the supplier (for changes) and the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).

Finally, does the supplier have a software upgrade plan? Are the upgrades free, or is there a cost?  If there is a significant cost for an upgrade, or the company doesn’t offer an upgrade plan, then you may be dealing with a customized software system. Changing or upgrading the software in the future will be very expensive, leading manufacturers to just wait and continue struggling with an obsolete solution.

Benchmarking Manufacturing Software Implementations

With modern software built on an adaptable platform, implementations should not be a complex process. The software should be able to utilize your existing planning (our system does), and it shouldn’t be difficult to train users.

In fact, you would be surprised how quickly a system can be installed and in use on your shop floor without relying on a torturous cloud-based solution.

We recently completed a software configuration and remotely installed a Paperless Manufacturing system for a new customer in less than a month. Training took place over two days with an application specialist working with users on the shop floor.

The customer is currently in the process of updating their planning to utilize new functionality, but once that’s complete they’ll be rolling out the software to all the users. It’s been an easy process, the customer explained.

Years ago, system implementation was a scary, expensive process that caused many manufacturers to wait on purchasing software. Today, implementation shouldn’t be a factor in deciding whether to implement or not.

If it is, then give us a call or contact us today. We’re happy to discuss solutions and see if there is anything we can do to help.

Are you procrastinating away profit and productivity as you wait for a new software system? Illustration by www.colourbox.com

Managing the Speed of Change in Manufacturing

Manufacturers are continually looking for ways to improve, but are reluctant to actually embrace change, leading many businesses to become stuck in a vicious planning cycle.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

Not long ago, I spoke to a Quality Manager at a job shop about paperless manufacturing. He loved our software, and recognized it could solve his problems and improve production, but he wasn’t sure if they would implement. “We know we have to do something,” he said. “But, I don’t know if we’re ready to change.”

It’s a line I’ve heard too many time.

Breaking the Planning Cycle in Manufacturing

Manufacturers are quick to recognize the need for change and process improvement, but they see change as risk – more risk than managing their current errors and problems. It leads manufacturers to an endless cycle of planning and discussion, throwing resources at what they could do creates a comforting illusion of action. Rather than solving problems, they cling to waiting a little longer.

Now, as manufacturing teeters on the brink of another industrial revolution, with low-cost and low-risk manufacturing software systems such as MES and paperless manufacturing readily available, there is no reason not to embrace change and process improvement. Here are five easy steps to consider as you plan for change:

  • Set a timeline for a solution. Once you identify an issue that must be solved, set a timeline for getting the solution in place. Take action and improve, rather than waiting. Eventually, inaction will result in a critical production problem – one you may not recover from.
  • Involve the appropriate stakeholders. If you are implementing a shop floor system, you need input from the users. Trying to cram a little more functionality from an ERP because it’s the solution the decision-makers know is not really a solution.
  • Consider the future. Technology, production processes, and customers are always changing.  Implementing a solution that can’t adapt as your shop floor adapts is setting yourself up for future problems.
  • Run a test case. Select a single area on the shop floor to run a pilot program. Reduce risk for this initial phase, and after the program, you should have a good idea of the scope of the change, and the benefits.
  • Evaluate and plan the next steps. Improvement doesn’t stop with a single project. Embrace continuous improvement and evaluation. If you are always looking ahead to the next step, you create a culture of continual improvement.

Analyze Your Shop Floor Needs

Many companies have a dated vision of how manufacturing software works. They believe any solution will result in massive costs and risk. That may have been true 10 years ago, but today modern manufacturing software has eliminated many of the risks that drive up costs and production problems. We are in the digital age, and users are ready for a digital manufacturing solution.

Want to learn more, or see how paperless manufacturing can help you? Contact CIMx today for a free shop floor analysis – a critical first step toward embracing change on your shop floor.