Monthly Archives: September 2017

How much Does the Lack of Production Visibility Cost Manufacturers?

When mistakes occur on the shop floor – a part doesn’t meet specifications or a piece is out of tolerance – manufacturers pay in lost profit and slowed production. The longer it takes to identify the error and implement a solution, the more damage is done to your business by excessive waste and angry customers.

If you miss the problem and ship a faulty product, customers will find a different manufacturer. How many mistakes are going unnoticed on your shop floor right now? At what point in production does a non-compliance occur? Can you assure a customer it was the last time they’ll see this issue?

The underlying problem is a lack of production visibility – a problem for many manufacturers. This leads to a lack of conformance and control, and costs the business money. Efficient production operations require production visibility. When your ERP’s blind spot is the shop floor, companies throw away resources and effort every day and on every order.

Capturing Critical Production Data

The problem isn’t effort on the shop floor; it’s the tools being used to provide production visibility.

Paper is a black hole for visibility with data collected by paper almost unusable. The data provides a false sense of security – companies believe the data collection solves problems when in reality it is masking them. Even when the data finds its way to a report the data must be viewed with skepticism – data on paper is ripe for mistakes. The work and effort necessary to collect and collate paper-based data is wasted, especially when you consider the high potential for inaccuracy.

Many companies prioritize the collection of machine data. Machine data provides a limited view of production processes, often after mistakes and errors have been made. You need data on your labor force for the complete story on production.

Many companies mistakenly rely on their ERP for production reporting. ERP systems struggle to adequately track and manage work. As a transactional system, the ERP works upstream in the production value chain. It manages orders and financial transactions, but it can’t capture the nuance or cause-and-effect links required in a workflow. Companies relying on their ERP for production have a dangerously flawed view of production, resulting in squandered opportunities and wasted resources.

Manufacturing Software as a Window to the Shop Floor

For real-time production visibility, you need a workflow-based system that represents the interaction between the materials, people and processes that fuel production. These Smart Manufacturing systems predict when and what proactive effort will improve output and efficiency. Forward looking, rather than reactive, it gives manufacturers the power to deliver just-in-time response to issues. It’s more than a simple snapshot of production, but rather a comprehensive view of operations. Smart Manufacturing systems deliver less downtime and scrap, and higher output, efficiency and quality.

By linking your ERP to Smart software supporting and managing shop floor operations, the ERP has the real-time production data it needs to operate efficiently without clogging the smooth upstream operation of the business. The sales and customer-service team can consult scheduled ship dates from the MES data to accurately assess when an order will be completed. Production supervisors and the shop floor team utilize software designed to support their unique workflow needs without navigating the transactional processes required in an ERP.

Get back control of the shop floor and know, with certainty, when and where mistakes happen. Manage the shop floor through a workflow system, and not notes on a traveler or bits of data coaxed out of an ERP.

Learn more about the real-time production visibility and workflow-based software in Quantum by contact CIMx at www.cimx.com.

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The Broken Promises of Manufacturing Innovation

We received a lot of feedback, positive and negative, regarding our blog on market consolidation and manufacturing software.

It obviously struck a nerve, with strong feelings on both sides of the market consolidation and mergers issue.

The Truth about Market Consolidation

Market consolidation, with independent suppliers merging either through acquisition, partnerships or takeovers, is a business tool. Some mergers work – look at the success of the Disney and Pixar merger.

Others see a dark side to market consolidation, especially in the software and technology industry. Technology doesn’t blend easily – consider the failure of the AOL and Time Warner merger. Customer service, price point, and functionality are often sacrificed when two companies become one.

Manufacturing software mergers aren’t benefiting the industry. The results of these partnerships are often more toxic than “transformative.” Keep in mind the following as you consider a potential solution born out of a technology merger or partnership:

  • The high cost of an acquisition or merger. There is a cost to any merger – development costs for combining software systems, additional training and support expenses. Customers pay that cost with an increase in the product price or higher service charges. Suppliers spin the higher price as a “benefit” of access to additional functionality the customer didn’t want and will never use.
  • The death of innovation. Innovation fuels the manufacturing software and technology industry. Software suppliers should partner with customers to keep technology relevant. Companies that purchase new functionality, rather than innovating, put their customers at risk. Purchased capability will never be as successful or integrated as functionality built directly for the software. It’s a high-cost shortcut in product development.
  • The struggle for product support. The first victim in an acquisition or merger is product support. With the companies focused on integrating products and building a new revenue line, previous customers struggle to get the attention they need from the supplier. Even after the acquisition, there will be support questions as the new company determines how to support both older offerings and new products.

Fighting Back Against Market Consolidation

According to a recent article in the New York Times, those who bought into the promise of greater efficiency and customer benefit after business consolidation and mergers are now struggling with buyer’s remorse.

With consolidation, it is easier for companies to raise prices without risking the loss of customers and suppliers can collude on price without raising the ire of regulators. Entrepreneurs and start-up companies, the engine of innovation, find it increasingly difficult to enter a market dominated by a few businesses. When they do succeed in bringing a shot of innovation to a static product line, the company is gobbled up as an acquisition.

Business works best when there is competition. Companies should focus on developing their product to benefit customers rather than building out functionality through competitor acquisition.

If you want a manufacturing software solution fueled by innovation and internal development, rather than mergers and acquisition, look for an independent vendor with a product developed and supported in-house. They will work with you as a partner in ways larger corporations can’t. Massive software companies, stretched thin by an acquisition culture and focused on growing the revenue stream rather than a product, lack the dynamism and customer focus to work as a partner with manufacturers. They leave many of their customers burdened with high-costs, software complexity and innovation atrophy.

Want to know more, or see how a partnership culture in a manufacturing software supplier can solve problems and grow your business? Contact an Application Specialist at CIMx Software for more information.

How to Find the Best Partner for Manufacturing Software

Last week I read a press release announcing a merger between two manufacturing software companies. The goal of the new product – a combination of the offerings from both companies – was to deliver functionality neither company had previously been capable of offering.

Dangers of Software Mergers

Joint offerings like this rarely deliver the expected benefits. With no real focus on customer needs, these business mergers lead to expensive, inefficient and ineffective product offerings propped up by the promise of innovation.  Too often, the real goals are either opening another revenue stream or fixing existing flaws in each developer’s software. Purchasing a competitor’s technology and marketing it under a unified brand isn’t innovation. For companies looking at a patchwork software solution, here are a few thoughts to consider:

  • Lack of Product Support

Ask how support for the “collaborative product” will be managed. Who will be responsible for support? Many times, the merger will completely change the support dynamics leaving users in customer support limbo. There will be lengthy and frustrating growing pains as the merger develops. Over time, the companies move on to other initiatives, with customers left struggling with unsupported software.

  • Functionality and Complexity You Don’t Need

Software acquisitions add functionality without thought to workflow. Continually cramming functionality into a software product creates complexity and inefficiency. The shop floor will ignore these systems. Additionally, consider the cost increase as users pay for functionality they don’t need and won’t use.

  • Expensive and Flawed Product Integration

Many product collaborations result in a lowest-common denominator solution for users. Software products developed independently, with different architecture and design, can’t be easily combined. There will be significant costs passed on to the customers to tightly link and connect the products. Some features can’t be linked, resulting in product flaws your shop floor will have to overcome.

The Power of Partnerships

Manufacturing software is critical for modern manufacturing. For companies struggling to support production with paper-based word documents, spreadsheets or modules tacked onto their existing ERP, the answer is not in the latest software partnership.

You’re not going to find a long-term, sustainable manufacturing solution with the “flavor-of-the-month” products developed in these partnerships. Unnecessary complexity, higher costs, support issues and flawed design elements eliminate any user benefit from the partnership.

Look for a software supplier ready to partner with you and your production team for a solution, and willing to focus on your unique business needs. The focus of any partnership should be your production needs and the growth of your business; not just the business of the software partners. CIMx Software has never purchased another product to increase our functionality footprint. Quantum was developed completely in-house, with a focus on empowering manufacturers to eliminate problems and increase output. Companies using Quantum know the focus is their production needs and supporting their business goals.

In our next CIMx manufacturing blog, we’ll take a look at how market consolidation is hurting manufacturers, and what you can do to find the right manufacturing software partner for you. Let us know if you have any questions, or would like to learn more about what modern manufacturing software can do for you.