Don’t get suckered in by MES and Paperless Manufacturing misconceptions, especially when reality can deliver so much shop floor benefit.
By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software
Perception versus reality…
CIMx has been serving manufacturers for more than 18 years, and we’ve seen, heard and learned a lot. Occasionally we come across industry perceptions that are totally, completely, and utterly detached from reality. It’s the perception versus reality conundrum… many cling to a false perception so much it becomes a reality. Problem is, their perception is hurting their business and costing them money.
Let’s take a look at our top perception issues in paperless manufacturing, and see what a little “reality” medicine can do for you…
- Perception: An MES has to be a massive, risky project that will take years to implement.
Reality: Nope. If you use a modern system built using the latest software tools, you can implement in less than two months. With a flexible system, you reuse your existing work instructions. Migrate the files into the system, map your current shop floor processes to the software, and with a few hours of training you can be using an MES.
There are monolithic software systems out there built on code written 15 to 20 years ago. They will require teams of developers working for years to get it to fit your processes. I’m sure it will have features piled on features… but, in the end, the reward is never worth the cost and risk. If someone tells you the project will take more than a year to implement, it’s time to look for another vendor.
- Perception: The Shop Floor will never accept an MES or a different way to do work.
Reality: This is just silly. One of the major benefits of an MES is improving production and driving shop floor consistency. If the system you install doesn’t improve production and make it easier for the shop floor to complete work, then you don’t have a good solution.
In our experience, if you install the software at a single station and let the shop floor see how much it makes their job easier, everyone will be excited to get their hands on the system.
- Perception: Using an MES means I can’t use my current processes, and they’re working just fine now.
Reality: First off, as long as you aren’t using an older, template-based system, you should be able to map your current processes to the new system. Next, every paperless manufacturing installation should be based on a clear ROI. If you find an ROI, then you’ve identified potential improvements.
And, let’s be honest, there are savings and benefit everywhere in an MES. How much will you save on paper and printing, or on non-productive time delivering plans to the work stations? How important would a real-time WIP dashboard be to you?
- Perception: I’ll get better customer support from a bigger company.
Reality: Okay, I’ve been seeing this one out there with all the “market consolidation” going on… but let’s be honest, in any other industry do you seek out a massive corporation because of their exceptional customer service? Big companies need to consider the ROI for service. All those employees need to be paid, so they will throw any resource at a project they can as long as you can pay.
Truth is, if your software solution needs all those resources, then there is something fundamentally wrong with it, or the company is intent on making money on service charges. Unless you are planning on an expensive, complicated and risky software installation, then look for dedicated support and a company you can trust.
- Perception: The only way I can get the MES I want is through customization.
Reality: In the past, manufacturing software tools were much more specialized – using templates and forms to recreate shop floor work instructions and travelers. The templates created “buckets” to store specific information, and utilized rigid processes to map the work flow on the shop floor. But, what worked for one company didn’t work for another, and any change required a fundamental change, or customization, of the software.
Today, there are systems that don’t use templates or forms. These systems offer tools that work with your work instructions, and support your optimal work flow. You don’t need to customize the software when the core functionality is adaptable and flexible enough to meet your needs. Any company “customizing” a solution is likely using core software written years ago, and the customization is more likely just to get it to work right than “optimize” it for you.
There you have it… a few of the market misconceptions that may be costing you money. Before you select a solution or make a decision about your manufacturing software, get the truth. Want to know more, or see how paperless manufacturing can help you? Contact us for a free evaluation of your shop floor processes.