5 Reasons to be Thankful for Paperless Manufacturing

Paperless Manufacturing and MES are some of the best investments manufacturers can make.  We take a look at a few of the reasons companies are thankful for their software system.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

Paperless manufacturing and MES is the best investment you can make for your shop floor.  Image by www.colourbox.com

Paperless manufacturing and MES is the best investment you can make for your shop floor. Image by http://www.colourbox.com

It’s the time of year where those of us in the United States begin considering everything we have to be thankful for. Turkey dinners, pumpkin pies, and the inevitable turkey leftovers are on tables everywhere.

The past year, we’ve worked with a number of manufacturers implementing paperless manufacturing and MES (Manufacturing Execution Systems) on their shop floor.  Most have already reached an ROI, so we asked a few what the top benefits were.  Below are the top 5 in no particular order. To be honest, every company found different benefits, but these are the ones we heard over and over. Here we go….

  • No More Paper!

Okay, we all know paper on the shop floor is error-prone and annoying.  You print up paper-based travelers and work instructions, then spend countless hours shuffling the paper around and around, back and forth, flipping pages, then rushing like crazy when change occurs your highly-complex and mission-critical production process.  Then we spend even more time storing and organizing the paper.

With paperless manufacturing and MES, the system handles all that – securely managing your data and making sure each person gets the correct information when and where you need it.

  • Real-time, honest shop floor visibility.

We all want to know what’s going on in production.  For many, the shop floor is this dark hole of machines, noise and confusion where orders go in and we pray a product comes out.

But, once you have a secure software system offering tools that manage production, real-time visibility isn’t just possible – it’s a natural by-product of your standard process.  Once you start using the dashboard, you’ll wonder how you ever operated without one.

  • Visual work instructions are easier to understand.

Want to increase production and eliminate scrap?  Why not give your engineers better planning tools.  Why not improve your work plans with video, visual work instructions, and information that is easy to reference and use.

Adding visual work instructions or a simple video (shot on a cell phone) will improve shop floor retention by as much as 80%, and reduce errors by as much as 70%.  That sounds good to me…

  • Changes are easier and faster.

Change management is more than just getting new instructions to the right person on the shop floor, but for some companies, change management is a jogger with a red pen.  Effective change management requires revision control, accurately tracking changes to the work instructions and ensuring the shop floor has the most recent and accurate version of the work instructions.

You shouldn’t need a planner with running shoes and a bigger pen.  Change management requires a structured process and the tools to accurately record and implement change.

  • Process steps are enforced, eliminating errors.

Many companies assemble Lean Teams and implement Six Sigma initiatives.  They come up with catchy names and meet over lunch to develop new processes.  These teams will get results, for awhile, but over time the improvements fade as everyone goes back to always doing what they have in the past.

Process enforcement isn’t a new punishment for workers that use the wrong process.  It’s giving your team the tools to do their work correctly, better, faster, and with fewer errors.  Process improvement happens when you have the tools for process enforcement in place.


 

This all sounds good, but I know many still aren’t convinced paperless manufacturing will work for them.  That may have been true a few years ago, but with new software it’s easy to install and train while re-using your existing work instructions to have the system up and running in less than 2 months.

Still nervous about taking the next step?  Contact us today and ask about a low-cost pilot to see how your production will benefit from going paperless.

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