Technology doesn’t have to be complex, no matter what some manufacturing software suppliers tell you.
By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software
There’s a conundrum in the perception of simplicity in manufacturing software.
Software that is too complex – the kind that requires 12 clicks to complete a simple function, and has a user interface that looks like a science fiction movie vomited on the screen, will not improve production. Most of us can agree on that. The complex system may offer some benefit, but system users spend more time serving the needs of the software than on production.
But many companies still cling to all that unnecessary, vomitus complexity.
Discrete manufacturing and manufacturing in general, is a complex process, and there is a nagging belief that complex manufacturing requires complex software. The belief compels companies to pay for complexity, thinking it is the only way software can support their processes.
Manufacturing Productivity Doesn’t Require Complexity
They feel safer with all those steps, and sub-menus, and screens within screens within system trees… it’s like a safety blanket – a big digital blanket of complexity… that is totally unnecessary, and likely hurting production profit and efficiency. Consider this:
- Time spent working in a manufacturing software system is still non-value added time. Clicking buttons and navigating menus is not active production. If an engineer can complete a task in 3 minutes using one software system, and the same task takes 3 hours in another system, you need to carefully consider which system is truly enhancing productivity.
- Automation requires precision to be successful. Automating tasks is great… when it works. If you automate a process that results in errors and problems, then the complex automation may be adding more problems than solutions.
- Combining software systems isn’t necessary to improve productivity. Cramming your MES, ERP, PLM and more together isn’t going to make your life easier. The software tools an accountant needs are very different than the tools for a quality engineer. The goal isn’t a single log-in screen, but a single, shared source of data for the company – which can be done with savvy computer connections rather than unnatural interbreeding of functions.
- The User Interface of the software is just as important as the technology backbone. Software systems built solely by developers may be a technological wonder, and still be almost unusable. Without input from users, a system could leave the shop floor struggling to integrate the needs of the software into their already complex manufacturing processes.
- Complexity in software should happen behind the scenes, and not on the screen. The best software systems focus on usability, improving productivity not only with the software tools, but also the user interaction. This means the system eliminates unnecessary interaction, simply feeding data when and where the user needs it, and prompting the user for input only when necessary.
Better Results with Paperless Manufacturing
Before purchasing a system, make sure you get input from the users. Consider the tasks necessary to use the software. Is it asking more, or less, from your workers? How difficult will the training be? If it takes multiple training sessions just to add planning to the system, you may have software that will hurt, rather than help, your productivity.
Want to learn more, or get a demonstration of a CIMx Software solution to see how easy our system is to use, then contact us today. We’re always happy to help.