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.

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