5 Easy Tips for Building Support for Paperless Manufacturing

Many manufacturing companies are resistant to change. Build consensus and excitement for an MES or paperless manufacturing project following these easy-to-use tips.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

Don't ignore the cultural requirements when selecting a manufacturing software solution.  Image by www.colourbox.com

Don’t ignore the cultural requirements when selecting a manufacturing software solution. Image by http://www.colourbox.com

Implementing a shop floor or manufacturing system such as paperless manufacturing or MES is as much a cultural project as a technology upgrade. The problem is, many companies focus solely on the technology. They spend time and energy looking at software platforms and functionality, build a list of requirements and develop a software solution, only to see the project fail from internal resistance, a cultural disconnect or miscommunication.

Never fear – the solution to the cultural challenge is easier than you might think. Having worked with many manufacturers transitioning from paper to an electronic system, we’ve see how these 5 tips can turn the most reluctant co-worker into a paperless manufacturing supporter:

  1. Build an inclusive project team. You need to include on the project team a representative from all areas of the business affected by the new software system. This might mean someone from quality, the shop floor, engineering, IT, and the front office. Even as you are selecting a new system, you should build internal support and project champions.
  2. Develop an action plan early. Many times, people are reluctant to embrace change because they aren’t sure what it will mean. They might believe the new system will eliminate jobs or ruin what they love about their work. Get ahead of the rumors with your action plan. Give people an idea of the project schedule and how it will affect them (for the better).
  3. Never isolate the Doubters. For every project, there will be those people who “just don’t see how it will work.” It would be easy to charge ahead and ignore them, but this would be missing an opportunity. Invite them into the process. Include them in a pilot program, and get their feedback. Let them be invested in the project, and they will be your strongest supporters.
  4. Set benchmarks for the project. To build support for the project, you need to measure success. Without identifiable benchmarks, it will be difficult to track success or failure, or control the internal narrative of the project. Open and honest benchmarks are vitally important for the audience tracking the project especially the person proving the funding.
  5. Determine the ROI. Nothing defines the success (or failure) of a project like the ROI. Let people know how much money the project will save with fewer quality escapes, improved productivity, non-conformance management, or shop floor data collection and business intelligence.

The benefits of a shop floor system are obvious. Simply removing error-prone and inefficient paper from the shop floor with digital work instructions can save more than $100,000 per year in paper handling and printing costs alone! Yet, many are still reluctant to embrace change. Following these simple tips will address the cultural concerns of the project early and efficiently to ensure project success.

Want to learn more, or discuss how a paperless manufacturing project will benefit you and your company? Give us a call.

5 Keys to Effective Shop Floor Data Collection

Want to Increase quality, improve production and increase profitability? An effective shop floor data collection will do all this and more, and is much easier to implement than you think.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

How effective is your shop floor data collection? Illustration by www.colourbox.com

How effective is your shop floor data collection? Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

How important is quality to manufacturing? According to a recent study, it may be the most critical factor in manufacturing profitability. A 1% to 2% increase in productivity may represent more product, but a 1% to 2% increase in quality represents less waste, less scrap, more product, more productivity, more efficiency, and happier customers.

Data collection provides the foundation for quality improvement in manufacturing, and every manufacturer has a quality team or processes in place, yet many companies never realize the full benefit of quality improvement due to ineffective data collection. They struggle to turn the data they collect into real benefit or measurable improvement. In fact, many times inefficient data collection will lead to errors, additional scrap and waste, as well as lost production.

Take a moment to evaluate your current plan for data collection using the follow criteria to identify areas for potential improvement:

  • How “smart” is your data collection?

A smart data collection program is proactive. By catching and eliminating errors early, you can minimize waste and save money and production. A “dumb” data collection delays review of the data, or may not have a plan in place to take corrective action. Looking at a report of mistakes a month after they happened highlights a month of lost opportunity for improvement, and leaves the cause of errors in place.

  • Does your data collection include automatic tolerance checks?

Automating as much of the data collection and check-off process as possible removes potential sources of errors and keeps shop floor employees and the quality team focused on critical tasks. For example, automating tolerance checks will identify quality escapes the minute data is collected. Comparing collected data against the engineering specs is best left to the software system.

  • Does your system eliminate potential input errors?

The truth is, your data is only as good as the system used to collect it. How many times do you input the data? Any more than once is a sign of wasted effort and increased errors. How long do you wait to input the data? What is your source for the data? If you wait till the end of a shop floor shift, when data is collected from handwritten notes on the traveler, then you have a problem. The data you are using is unreliable, out-of-date, and is costing you money. Look for ways to streamline and improve the reliability of your data collection and input.

  • Do you have access to real-time reports?

With modern manufacturing tools and advances in software and technology, there is no reason why the shop floor shouldn’t have access to real-time reports. Today, you can implement a low-cost and low-risk paperless manufacturing system in less than a month, and have a dashboard with real-time shop floor visibility and quality control soon after. With an automated system, you can also move the people who once assembled reports onto more important tasks.

  • How are you using the data that’s collected?

Consider when you are collecting data. Many times a company will collect data once all the work is done. Unfortunately, this data is collected too late to take corrective action. It’s true, this data can be used in an audit or to eliminate a defective product, but both the work and materials are wasted, and planning and shop floor scheduling is unreliable as product is pulled after production. Consider when you can best utilize the data, and when it should be taken. Look at the reasons why you aren’t getting the data you need when you need it. Taking a few moments to collect shop floor data during production is time well spent.

The goal for all manufacturers should be continuous improvement toward optimal production given the machines, equipment and processes being used.  The single most important requirement to achieve that goal is continuous monitoring of shop floor results.  Collection of result data that is automatically verified against specifications and available to decision makers who are tracking progress of all work orders across the shop floor is the best way to continually monitor production and achieve continuous improvement. Give CIMx a call today or leave us a message and ask for a free review of your shop floor processes and a plan to optimize production flow.

The Curious Connection between Waffle House and your MES Vendor

Waffle House has turned its commitment to customers into an enduring brand. What commitment has your MES supplier made to you?

By Kristin McLane, President of CIMx Software

Have you heard of the Waffle House Index? It’s a metric used by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) to track the severity of a storm… and a metric that can give you key insight into the level of service your MES supplier provides.

Waffle_clip_art_hightWaffle House offers quality American breakfast food all day long, every day, and the company prides itself on serving customers no matter the weather. This has become a hallmark of the Waffle House brand – the website even promises “Each restaurant is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and quality is constant location to location.”

On May 22, 2011, a tornado struck Joplin, Missouri. The storm was rated an EF5, with 158 deaths and more than 1,000 injured. EF, which stands for Enhanced Fujita, rates the estimated wind speed and storm damage, and an EF5 represents the worst storm damage possible. With winds estimated at more than 200 miles per hour (320 kilometers per hour), buildings can be decimated in seconds. In Joplin, the 2 Waffle Houses stayed open during the storm, and continued serving food – tasty waffles and delicious southern cooking – throughout the storm and recovery. As FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate explained to the Wall Street Journal, “If you get there (to a disaster area) and the Waffle House is closed? That’s really bad. That’s where you go to work.”

Following the Joplin storm, FEMA added the Waffle House index to its disaster dashboard. With the index, FEMA tracks Waffle Houses open in the area of storm damage. Where a Waffle House is closed, FEMA prioritizes the area for disaster recovery service.

Waffles and your MES

Will your MES Vendor make a commitment to you? How quickly can you reach someone to answer a critical question? Illustration by www.colourbox.com

Will your MES Vendor make a commitment to you? How quickly can you reach someone to answer a critical question? Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

Can you imagine the branding power available to a business so reliable emergency authorities use it to track disaster response? The Waffle House commitment to the customer can be summed up simply – “The Lights Are Always on at Waffle House.” While it may be a fantastic boon to marketing, it also represents a business with tight business processes and an effective planning model. Storms aren’t predictable. They build quickly and strike even faster. When considering effective disaster recovery, you need to be prepared for everything and anything, and have a plan in place to respond to a situation accurately and efficiently, to ensure reliable service in the most difficult situations.

Which led me to the thought – how will a software supplier index you when it comes time for a service call? Where do you rate on their list of priorities? Do they have a “customer” index, or even a plan for serving their customers in a disaster like Waffle House does? Most manufacturing software suppliers offer a yearly “service plan” to customers, but what does this mean? Are those suppliers making a commitment to you and your business?

You see, at CIMx, our goal with our service plan is to deliver effective solutions and service to our customers as quickly as possible, with minimal (or even no) service disruption and no unnecessary service costs. Get effective software expertise when and where it needs to be. This starts with our Application Engineers. Every one of our customers has an engineer dedicated to their account. The engineer is the project leader for the software implementation, and conducts all training and service for the customer. Supporting the Application Engineer, we have plans in place designed to deliver scalable support when and where our customers need it.

With the Application Engineer, we’ve eliminated the “middle man” – those horrible call centers and help desks that normally handle customer calls – to ensure our customers speak directly to the person best positioned to answer customer questions and lead the response. For the Application Engineer, the customer is the highest priority. It’s a standard level of service for CIMx, and it’s become our “the light’s always on” commitment to our customers. For our customers, the Application Engineer is a trusted partner ready at a moment’s notice to work with them to get their production up and running as quickly as possible, no matter what the problem is (because it is a point of pride here at CIMx that our software is, first and foremost, stable and adaptable, and NEVER prone to failure).

A Commitment to Customer-Centric Paperless Manufacturing

How will your shop floor benefit from customer-centric customer service through an Application Engineer assigned to your account? Illustration by www.colourbox.com

How will your shop floor benefit from customer-centric customer service through an Application Engineer assigned to your account? Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

Most importantly, we’ve seen first-hand the positive impact our customer support plans have. I recently had a conversation with a customer upgrading our software at multiple sites. Most customers can do this on their own, but when the customer upgrades through several versions or has multiple platforms to support, as this customer was potentially doing at the sites, they often ask for advisory help (which brings up the point – does your MES supplier allow you to upgrade without a service contract or the vendor’s help?) We were writing a contract for the engineering services and had applied the standard response time to the proposal, when the customer told me our response time was “faster than I need on this project.” I was floored. We respond more quickly than he needed?

For me, this was verification our processes and planning were paying off. We provided a level of service that was more than was necessary, which I should think is rare among manufacturing software suppliers. So, I’m curious, what level of service do you receive from your vendors? What is their commitment to you once you’ve purchased the software? Is it enough? Do you have a plan in place for when the unexpected happens? What are your support dollars doing for you?

Where does your software supplier fit in the Waffle House index?

The Shop Floor Culture Wars and Paperless Manufacturing

Conflict and mis-communication between IT and Operations may be hurting your company more than you think.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software
How smoothly does your shop floor operate? Illustration by www.colourbox.com

How smoothly does your shop floor operate? Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

We work with manufacturing companies around the world. We’re a software company so we have developers, software engineers and IT experts on staff. We also love manufacturing – the hum of machines on the shop floor and the smooth efficiency of processes and schedules.  These (seemingly) dichotomous interests give us a unique perspective on the manufacturing industry… we know the software and technology and love the science and culture of manufacturing, which may be why we are so dismayed at the silent Culture War we see being waged at many companies.

IT versus Operations… we’ve come to expect the unspoken conflict between these departments every time we work with a new company. In one organization, we were shocked to learn many in IT had never visited a shop floor or even knew what, exactly, the company made. In another company the Director of Operations told us he wasn’t sure what the IT department had to do other than fix computers. The organizational separation between IT and Operations causes serious harm to a business, limits the organizations ability to collaborate or communicate, and stifles creativity and efficiency. Vital information gets buried inside the organizational silos built between the departments.   These cultural differences within an organization lead to non-productive work and wasted resources.

The problem (I hope) isn’t open conflict or true warfare, but that decisions are made by both groups independently. Often, a company will assign responsibility to one group or another, and rather than working collaboratively one department will vigorously defend their power. Collaboration is seen as a loss of power.

From our perspective, there is absolutely no reason for this separation – no benefit. And yet, because implementing paperless manufacturing is as much a cultural project as a technical one, these silos that fuel the organizational culture wars are magnified during the implementation. Consider this:

  • How much is shop floor dysfunction costing you? Illustration by www.colourbox.com

    How much is shop floor dysfunction costing you? Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

    Implementing a software solution like paperless manufacturing or an MES without feedback and consultation with operations can lead to a system that causes more problems than it is worth, and ends up being unused. Operations is process-based, and any tool must be integrated with the processes as much as the business infrastructure.

  • Without IT expertise, the software system may never be fully integrated into other systems, and may not ever have the support necessary to optimize production. Trying to cram more software tools onto servers haphazardly is a task doomed to failure.
  • Miscommunication and misinformation during the selection and implementation can lead to gaps in coverage or service, leading to frustration and operational inefficiencies, and a solution that never delivers the full ROI.

When positioning yourself for success in a system implementation, the core problem is simple – both operations and IT play a critical role in a software system implementation for manufacturing, and any time you have these two organizations operating at cross-purposes, the project has little chance of success.

Solving Shop Floor Dysfunction

Any solution to this problem starts with bridging the gap between IT and Operations, and eliminating or minimizing the barriers and silos that develop between departments. There are several simple steps that can be taken by organizations plagued by internal culture wars:

  • Foster a culture that looks to the future.
Improving shop floor efficiency is easier than you might think. Image by www.colourbox.com

Improving shop floor efficiency is easier than you might think. Image by http://www.colourbox.com

Silos develop when employees cling to the, “way things have always been done.” Internal departments look inward when they want to protect their way of doing things, which eliminates the opportunity for improvement and promotes organizational silos. Elect representatives from both IT and Operations to develop and manage process improvement programs, helping employees to embrace a culture of change. Focus on innovation and improvement, rather than maintaining the status quo.

  • Help IT understand operations.

While it may not seem like a productive use of employee time, you can gain a lot by helping your IT department learn about production. Get them on the shop floor, and let them see how manufacturing struggles without digital tools. Give them an understanding of the shop floor processes and how operations works, and they will be in a better position to support production initiatives.

  • Get IT involved in the project early.

If Operations sees IT as only, “the people who work on the computer,” then you aren’t adequately engaging one of your best internal resources. Don’t wait to get IT involved in a project till you need them, get them involved early and let them help build the requirements. Their involvement will help ensure you have a system optimized for your production environment.

  • Share ownership of the system.

Many companies feel the project is over once the system is installed, but today, in a world where change is the only constant in manufacturing, maintaining the viability of the system is a critical competitive advantage. This can best be done, without putting an undue burden on either department, by electing a “system-leader” from both Operations and IT. Operations can focus on the functionality of the system, while IT can focus on other aspects of the software.

Shop Floor Efficiency the Easy Way

Illustration by www.colourbox.com

Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

This may seem like an overly simple solution to a complex problem, but many employees and organizations fail to see the “big picture” connection between IT and Operations. Operations drive profit and generate money, while IT gives Operations the tools and support they need to succeed. There really is no difference – both work to serve the customer and the business.

Without collaboration and communication between IT and Operations during the selection and implementation of a new manufacturing software system, companies are often left with a software system that never meets expectations or operates efficiently. Requirements may be met, but the overall benefit to the organization is lacking. Opportunity is lost.

Want to know more, or see how CIMx can help you bridge the gap between IT and Operations? Give us a call or let us know how we can help.

3 Keys to Effective Software Customer Service

Don’t be fooled by marketing smoke and mirrors, effective customer service can be defined by a few key elements.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

Are you getting the support you need from your manufacturing software provider, or are you getting the run around? Image by www.colourbox.com

Are you getting the support you need from your manufacturing software provider, or are you getting the run around? Image by http://www.colourbox.com

A few weeks ago, I took my car to a dealership for some work. “Don’t worry,” the service rep said as he took my keys. “I’m going to have my team get right to work.”

I should have run away the minute he said, “team.”

It took the team more than 3 days to get the work done – work that another mechanic said should take a few hours. I called to ask for an update every day, and every day the front desk transferred me to the Service Rep.  The Rep sent my call to the Lead Mechanic, who consulted with and transferred me to my Project Lead. The Project Lead then spoke with my Mechanic Coordinator who finally told me the work was almost done. Not to worry, he explained, they offer rental cars. The Coordinator sent me back to the front desk, who transferred me to the rental department where I gave them my order before they sent me to the rental garage so I could give them the same order again.

I ended up paying an extra $80 for a rental because my “project team” couldn’t finish the job. There were at least 5 people of various specialties working on my car, and the only benefit to the massive team is no one person ever accepted blame for delays or mistakes.

Manufacturing Product Support You Can Trust

Let’s be honest, you don’t NEED a team to manage your project.  You want ONE person you can count on to ensure all your project goals are met efficiently and cost effectively. You want that person to answer your questions, act as your advocate, respond to your needs and be responsible for solutions when something unexpected happens.

While sitting in the lobby of the car dealership while my “project team” came up with excuses, I came up with 3 keys to effective customer service for manufacturing software:

  • Accountability and Honesty.

You want someone who is going to be accountable not only for project success, but for the problems as well. Accountability means doing what it takes to meet the project goals, and having information necessary to give an honest answer. Don’t give me a repeat of the sales pitch – give me an honest assessment I can use. Project and budget overruns are not acceptable. Give me solutions, not change orders.

  • Management and Prioritization.

Many times, a “team” throws resources at a problem. Fancy titles don’t deliver solutions (I’m looking at you, Architecture Developer/ GUI Designer/ Team Lead/ Project Manager/ Programmer/ Engineer/ etc.) only higher service charges. Management means getting the appropriate resources engaged with the project at the right time, focusing on the highest priority items.

  • Partnership

Finally, we all want someone working on a project we can trust. We want to know we aren’t being cheated, our time isn’t being wasted, and we are getting the best service possible. Partners take a proactive role in achieving superior results – offering suggestions and taking initiative.

Shop Floor Software That Works As Promised

As an industry, manufacturing software suppliers often struggle with customer service. We offer highly technical software that companies need and rely on, which is good. Even so, some companies design the system to require expensive service charges just to keep it running (which is why these companies promise “implementation service teams” to their customers). Other companies hide behind service desks and help lines, knowing their systems are so complex and confusing they will be inundated with calls and questions. That service desk in a foreign country is a good investment!

Yeah, we know all the tricks used in this industry – which is why we do things a little differently at CIMx.

We offer all our customers a dedicated Application Engineer to handle their account. Customers with a problem or question can call on the Application Engineer, who manages all aspects of their account. They install and implement the system, train users, install updates, manage special projects, and answer user questions. If any project needs additional support, the Application Engineer will lead the Development team working on the project.

It works out very well for our customers. They have a single point of contact for everything they need. The Application Engineer becomes an expert in the implementation for their customers, and is best positioned to answer questions and solve problems. In every case, the Application Engineer becomes a partner with their customers, helping to optimize the system while working with users because they understand not just the software, but the shop floor processes.

Of course, it helps to offer software built on a solid, well-tested foundation. When the software works as promised, the Application Engineer can focus on improvements, not just problems.

Make sense? Let us know if you have questions or want to learn more about how an Application Engineer from CIMx Software can help you.

What Is the Foundation of Your Paperless Manufacturing Solution?

Position your shop floor for success by identifying and focusing on the key priorities in a potential manufacturing software solution.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

Select the right MES for you and your shop floor by following a few simple tips. Image by www.colourbox.com

Select the right MES for you and your shop floor by following a few simple tips. Image by http://www.colourbox.com

Last week, we wrote a blog about the Myths and Legends of MES and Paperless Manufacturing, and afterward, we learned one surprising fact – people love their requirement lists. Many argued the requirement list has to be the primary tool in selecting a solution. I can understand that. For some, the requirement list is the first step in the project. You need to know the scope of the project before you start planning, and the requirement list is a good way to start. It’s also an excellent way to build a business case for the project and justify the expense (and, let’s be honest, a four item list is not nearly as convincing as a 200 item list).

Unfortunately, this leads to a bloated list of low priority items. With a massive requirement list, the key priorities, which should be the focus of your project, can be lost in a sea of lesser items. In addition, the true cost of the solution may never be known, because often those less important items can be much more expensive than the key priorities.

Focusing on the Foundation

The first step in identifying a manufacturing software solution should be determining those key priorities. They will become the foundation of your solution, and the other requirements will spin off them, which is the way it should be.

One way to look at it is to see your future manufacturing solution like a house. When designing or buying a house, you will have a list of priorities – a fireplace, or a big kitchen. Those items are nice, but your search starts by finding a house with a solid foundation – the right square footage and in a good neighborhood. The search has to start with those key priorities. Likewise, you don’t build a house all at once, you start with a foundation, then build a frame and add the details as you go along.  The provider implementing the out-of-the-box solution works the same way – using a plan to build the solution piece by piece. Start with the foundation, and build from there.

Most of the time, the greatest impact from a MES (Manufacturing Execution System) or paperless manufacturing project will come from a few key items. By few, we mean normally 10%, while the other 90% are nice to have items, or simply a wish list of toys for various departments.  This might be improved quality from world-class work instructions, digitizing records, or a comprehensive data collection system. Solving these issues will deliver an ROI and improve production. Integrating other functionality or solutions can be done once the key items are solved by the software.

This is the problem with focusing your search on a comprehensive requirement list. Sure, it can give you an idea of how much functionality comes out-of-the-box, and what may need to be added later, but of even more importance is how the tools in the software solve the biggest issues your shop floor faces. Once you have the outline of a solution in place, the other requirement (the 90%) can be easily integrated into the solution. Want to learn more, or see how the tools in a paperless manufacturing solution can be mapped to your shop floor? Then give CIMx a call, and let us see what we can do for you.

Myths and Legends of MES and Paperless Manufacturing

Many companies end up throwing away money and production by looking for the wrong software system. Save yourself time and frustration by following a few simple tips.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

Save time, money and headache by taking a few savvy steps when selecting a software solution for manufacturing. Image by www.colourbox.com

Save time, money and headache by taking a few savvy steps when selecting a software solution for manufacturing. Image by http://www.colourbox.com

First off, an out-of-the-box (OOTB) MES or paperless manufacturing system is NOT a magical rainbow unicorn. Unless you are willing to pay for a custom-built, one-of-a-kind system, no system will EXACTLY replicate the massive and painstakingly precise requirement list many companies feel must be the centerpiece of a software search. That precision is the primary (and only) benefit of custom systems. For that exactitude you better have the fortitude to handle the high-risk of project failure, the (inevitable and unending) additional costs, the massive support necessary over the life of the solution, the general headache you get from any piece of rainbow unicorn custom software slowly devolving into a legacy system.

If you start your search for the rainbow unicorn of OOTB software living in your dreams, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment and failure. But, even though rainbow unicorns are works of fantasy, that doesn’t mean an out-of-the-box can’t solve your most pressing shop floor problems, delivering tremendous production support and becoming an amazing tool for your shop floor. You just need to refocus your search by taking a few savvy steps.

Don’t be Fooled by Rainbow Unicorns

It’s easy to see where the myth of the magical rainbow unicorn comes from. Consider how some companies sell their software. They have a library of modules and options, like a manufacturing software candy store. They make tweaks to the same-old code they’ve been using for decades and repackage it as a new product made just for you, and then promise it’s an “advanced OOTB solution.”

Truth is, with enough time and money a company can turn any old code into your very own rainbow unicorn. That’s how software works. Problem is, rainbow unicorns are expensive, hard to upgrade, and costly to maintain.

A much better method for selecting manufacturing software is to focus on key priorities – those requirements that will make a major impact on production and deliver a rapid ROI. Then, look at the long term viability of the solution. Will it continue to deliver benefits when change happens?

Finding the Right Manufacturing Solution

Don't rely on a massive requirement or wish list when selecting a solution - focus on key priorities. Image by www.colourbox.com

Don’t rely on a massive requirement or wish list when selecting a solution – focus on key priorities. Image by http://www.colourbox.com

For most companies, there will be a few high-priority items or requirements that drive the expected ROI for the project. They are the REAL story of the project. By adding other items to the initial requirement list, you are drawing attention from the high-priority requirements with a “wish list” of items that are more likely to bloat the price rather than add value. The result – the company offering you the best, most cost-effective and efficient solution might not even be considered because, according to the requirements, Widget B is found in the wrong column of Screen X in the accounting dashboard….

Focus your search on the key priority items, and then expand to additional requirements once you have a solid solution in place. Many times, those additional requirements can be added through a simple configuration or by mapping the software to your processes. Just because the code wasn’t written for you doesn’t mean the software isn’t designed for your specific manufacturing processes. It can be, once the solution is mapped. Don’t let minor items derail your search.

Software Adaptability is the Key

Just because we’ve ruined the magical rainbow unicorn dreams of shop floors everywhere doesn’t mean the right software isn’t out there waiting for you! To ensure you have a long-term, viable solution, you need a solution that will adapt and grow as your shop floor needs change. In fact, it can be argued that an adaptable system is preferable to a highly configured and customized system perfectly designed for your current processes because change will happen.  The slightest change will either force the shop floor to adapt to the system (never a good idea) or require costly configuration or coding work.

With this in mind, avoid forms-based software systems. With a highly configured and customized system, it is easy to EXACTLY replicate your paper-based forms in the software. It looks nice and is easy to do when building a software system, and might be comfortable for users at first, but the minute you need to change a form or process (which will happen) then the hard-coded form in your system is suddenly holding production back.

The most effective software solution will be one that models your processes and production, rather than your forms or individual tasks inside the process. Can the system adjust when change happens? What about upgrades for the software? Is there an upgrade path, and what additional costs will there be for an upgrade?

Avoiding Monsters on the Shop Floor

Today, with modern software technology and advancements in information systems, there is no reason to use a monolithic behemoth of a custom software solution. You can enjoy the same benefits from an OOTB solution with a lower cost, viable and affordable upgrade path, and adaptability in an easy-to-use and –install system.

The system you select should grow with your business. If you have a company promising magical rainbow unicorns in their solution, while they send “implementation teams” to live at your facility, then you are probably looking at the wrong solution.

Want to experience a better way to select software, from strategizing about the solution, to mapping the software to your processes, to the final implementation and training? Want to learn how trust in your software supplier can benefit you and your shop floor? Contact CIMx today for a free evaluation and learn what paperless manufacturing can do for you.