Many manufacturing software companies claim they offer visibility and control, but gaps in their functionality can leave an unsuspecting customer scrambling to fill the holes.
By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software
MES vendors love to claim their software offers, “manufacturing visibility and control.” It sounds good, and it’s an easy claim to make because any manufacturing manager with a bullhorn could stand on a catwalk above the shop floor and have visibility and control. He can see people working, and if he blows that horn people will stop working. A catwalk and a bullhorn is not the visibility and control manufacturers need when purchasing an MES.
These empty promises have led to confusion, and even anger, among small and mid-sized companies moving to a digital manufacturing solution. Companies claim they offer visibility and control, then leave customers to struggle with an inadequate system.
Here’s what you should look for in software claiming to offer real-time visibility and control:
- Does it offer a single source of information on the production process? This is especially important for smaller shops. A single, small error or discrepancy between data sources can quickly escalate to a major disaster that leads to lost customers and production shut-downs.
- Will you have a real-time dashboard of WIP, with active data collection on the shop floor? Some systems offer a simple list of the work being done, but there is no way to track progress or obtain the granular data customers expect from their vendors.
- Can it automatically generate auditable production records? If your system is collecting production records, it should be able to generate a complete record of production, an important tool for meeting regulations and trending analysis.
- Will it eliminate errors from faulty information or multiple data inputs? Automated tolerance checking and system connectivity will improve production visibility. For example, tolerance checking allows quality control to see errors before they escalate, and connectivity automatically sends shop floor data to the ERP for use in sales and customer service.
- Does the system offer process enforcement? Process enforcement, supporting your shop floor team, can drastically improve efficiency. In addition, it is an important tool for process improvement, ensuring the gains made are maintained even after the program is over.
- How will the system handle redline edits and work order changes? Simply sending emails with PDF work instructions isn’t real shop floor control. The system must provide revision control and a process for managing change.
- Is there a messaging system or a way to send alerts? It may seem like a simple feature, but simply communicating in-system will increase collaboration and eliminate non-productive time it would take sending a message.
An integrated, robust MES should support your enterprise, dramatically improve production, and become the foundation of your manufacturing process. It can be more than a tool to “fix” a problem. A system claiming to offer manufacturing visibility and control should offer the robust functionality described, and lead to improvement, not just a repair.
If it doesn’t, then you might find yourself climbing a ladder above the shop floor with a bullhorn in your hand to get the functionality you need and your customers expect.
Contact CIMx today to learn what shop floor visibility and control and paperless manufacturing can do for your company.