Sometimes, the simplest questions can be the most difficult to answer.
By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software
Not long ago, a prospect asked what we do.
He was looking for a standard MES and paperless manufacturing system. He had been to the website, and read over the material posted there. As he explained, it seemed to be what he was looking for, but he wanted a simple list that spelled out what, exactly, the software was going to do for him.
There is No Easy Answer for MES or MOM Functionality
Answering that question isn’t as easy as you might think. We have customers all over the world, and our software is used by thousands (many thousands) of users each day, and each one needs the software to do something different.
Consider this – for a normal implementation of our software in a single factory, one person might use Quantum to pull up visual work instructions. The plant manager might use it to track production and identify potential bottlenecks. A sales rep uses it to answer questions for a customer and prepare orders. Quality is tracking non-conformances. Engineering is streamlining production on a new product line and working with the shop floor on engineering changes. In another office, an analyst is running reports on past production cycle working on ways to reduce costs and improve cycle time.
Our standard software, a Smart MES or MOM system, will do all that. It provides a digital foundation for manufacturing processes, which means for Medical device manufacturers it might manage labels, electronic validation and compliance with FDA 21 CFR Part 11, and automatically generate Batch Processing Records (BPR) – for a start. Carbon composite manufacturers need to control and synchronize specifications, recipes and process documentation. For an MRO it will coordinate all activities in the maintenance and repair process, while optimizing scheduling and improving communication and collaboration with the customer.
Every industry has slightly different needs, which is why we designed our software to configure so easily between industries. The open, flexible software design makes it easy for manufacturers to implement and use the features they need.
The shop floor technician knows it is where he gets his work instructions and tracks his work for the day. The crib manager uses it for asset management, and IT sees it as an app for operations. Each one answers the question of what the software does slightly different.
What is Paperless Manufacturing?
To be honest, no one is wrong. All see the system as a tool for them to do their job better, faster and with fewer errors. There is nothing wrong with that, but we still want to answer the question. We’re not hiding anything, so here is our answer to that (not so simple) question: Our software will:
- Author and manage process plans for product models and quantities to meet customer orders.
- Automatically, or manually through a production control person, attach correct product plans to orders. An ERP integration is used for automatic work flow.
- Distribute all order work to the correct work center with priority, estimated times, and all specific information such as specifications, measures, tooling, materials and special instructions.
- Review and manage shop floor order schedules and routings.
- Collect data on work processes (how the work was done and by whom).
- Collect data on labor (how long it took to do the work).
- Collect all quality data on the order (how accurate was the work done).
- Collect data on scrap and rework. (what problems occurred).
- Observe trending reports on selected data.
- Observe Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) on selected data.
- Track all orders on the shop floor on a dashboard showing progress to the minute.
- Create automatic reports of product events and order data.
- Create real time report of all quality issues (a real time dashboard).
- Create automatic report of the complete, accurate as-built record for all orders.
- Create report of all serialized parts for accurate traceability in the future.
- Manage and oversee shop floor machine maintenance schedules and processes.
- Manage inventory of tooling, materials and parts.
- Manage a secure data warehouse of all historical, orders, plans and data.
So, this is our answer, bereft of the marketing and sales copy.
You can go to MESA for their model of MES. In a few years, I’m sure the model will change yet again, and with good reason. Other software vendors can pick at this list and find holes they can fill with their own glorious functionality. We aren’t trying to challenge the industry with this list, just answer the question of what we do. The needs of manufacturing are constantly changing. New tools, technologies, and market demands are a disruptive influence on our industry, and we need to adjust with them or we fall behind.
In a few months we can go back to our list and see if it has changed, because we are a dynamic company. Our customers need and expect us to continue to innovate. That’s the value we bring to them.
Have a question, or want to see how we can benefit your operation, then contact us today. We’re always happy to help.