Category Archives: Lean Manufacturing

CIMx Software celebrates 22 years of US manufacturing software innovation!

After two decades of advanced planning and production control, CIMx announces Quantum 6.0 release for spring of 2018

They say you can learn a lot about a company by understanding where they got their start.

CIMx began its journey in 1996 by developing Process Planning and Engineering systems for Fortune 500 US manufacturers. That foundation in advanced planning, highly regulated compliance reporting and agile engineering change management has fueled more than 20 years of manufacturing software innovation.

“From day one, the goal was to develop our systems in a way that even the shops just starting out could have access to the same tools leveraged by our Fortune 500 customers…” said veteran of the manufacturing tech industry and CEO, Anthony Cuilwik, PhD. “Our Quantum platform achieved that goal. It really is the next generation of manufacturing.”

From aerospace and government defense contractors to medical device, carbon composites and beyond, CIMx has delivered the same care for detail and process demanded by their customers for more than 20 years.

“US manufacturing is going through a renaissance. Shops are growing and their old manual processes just can’t keep up with customer demand.” explained Director of Messaging, Ed Deaton, “Quantum delivers the tools both engineers and operators need to drive velocity, eliminate scrap and ship ahead of schedule, all from one sustainable platform.”

CIMx’s mission of delivering production control to manufacturers of all sizes, regardless of revenue stream, is alive in Quantum. The latest system release is scheduled to deploy spring 2018 as a free upgrade to all licensed users.

If you’re interested in shop floor control, ahead-of-schedule production and complete order visibility, connect with CIMx Application Expert Liz Hamedi at 513-248-7700 x416, or email the CIMx team directly at info@CIMx.com.

 

 

 

5 More Easy Shop Floor Quality Improvements

Production Control Systems and Quality Improvement

We are all in the quality business. Wasted time, scrapped materials and customer turnbacks reduce margins and damage our reputations. It’s only by putting the proper systems in place that our shops can achieve maximum efficiency and profitability.

With your existing production control system (PCS) and these five easy steps, your business can eliminate scrap and accelerate production in a matter of weeks.

  1. Review Non-Conformance Issues Daily
    Evaluate your previous day’s non-conformances in your morning production meeting. One competitive advantage your PCS provides is access to real-time production data. Don’t let your team revert back to weekly updates. Keep your processes as agile as your operators. You have all the data you need at your fingertips; use it.
  2. Monitor Quality Throughout Live Production
    Leverage buy-offs and tolerance checks at critical points throughout production. Stop non-conformances in their tracks with your Production Control System’s quality gates. If a check fails or a measurement is marked out of tolerance, use your PCS’s real-time alerts to notify the right team member to resolve the issue and keep production running. If you expect to increase both production velocity and quality rates, it’s essential that you monitor quality throughout production, not just at the end of the line.
  3. Properly Schedule Machine Maintenance and Tool Calibration
    Update and expand your machine maintenance program with digital control. Schedule more frequent maintenance to limit disruption or implement your PCS’s asset management capacity to track usage rates. Why risk falling out of compliance on a run when you have all of the tools you need in one system? Guarantee your customers that every operator, asset and machine is certified for its role in production.
  4. Create Standard Workaround and Rework Paths
    Plan standard workaround and rework paths to maintain production velocity when problems occur. Your ERP is an essential tool for running your business, but your Production Control System shines when production doesn’t go as planned. Take advantage of your PCS’s ability to map proactive solutions to problems from the common to the critical and resolve production issues before they have the chance to disrupt ship dates.
  5. Review Reports and Trend Analysis to Identify and Resolve Errors
    This is why you invested in a Production Control System in the first place. Successful shops require the visibility to track and control production with the agility to handle even the most complex of processes. Use reports and trend analysis to identify the source of common errors, and then utilize process control to eliminate errors in the future. Take control of your shop, eliminate scrap and deliver your customers the highest quality product available.

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Efficient Manufacturing

How one midwest manufacturer increased production by 35% while reducing scrap by 80%

Case Study: Scrap Down. Production Up.

A midwest make-to-order manufacturer was experiencing both escalating levels of scrap and a consistently under-performing shop. After experimenting with a series of homegrown solutions, a production supervisor connected with CIMx to deliver a comprehensive, sustainable solution.

“Now we can zero-in on problems very easily… as long as I’ve been in my position, I’ve never been able to dig into my business like this. It’s been great!”
– Assistant Production Supervisor

The previous processes had utilized a homegrown Access database to track parts, tools and materials and paper sign-offs to document quality. When the team member responsible for managing the database retired, a more sustainable, efficient and reliable approach was required that would both accurately track the manufacturing data on every order and control the production process from engineering through delivery.

The Power of Production Control

CIMx Software’s Quantum production control system was selected to both migrate data out of the legacy systems and the provide shop floor visibility and quality control for every order. CIMx worked closely with the production team to understand their production processes and map out the solution that met their needs. Once configured, the Quantum solution was not only familiar to the operators but offered extensive hard and soft cost savings for the company.

35% Increase in Production. 80% Reduction in Scrap.
– Data from 2018 CIMx System Engagement Review –

In the first 6 months, this shop has already reported dramatic savings and increased revenue generation from the implementation of Quantum. By enforcing quality checks, utilizing digital planning and delivering interactive work instructions to their operators, production has increased by an average of more than 35% per day. As production rates increase, there has been a simultaneous 80% reduction in scrap!

See what Quantum can do for your shop!
Explore the Power of the Quantum Production Control System!

Imagine reporting these numbers to your CEO. What could you do with all that additional revenue returned to your budget: upgrade facilities, hire more operators, increase outreach? Whether your shop has outgrown past production processes or your facility is being pushed to deliver more with less, Quantum is your solution.

Learn more about the timeline and impact of introducing a production control system to your shop by connecting with a CIMx process expert today!

Ready to track, control and increase production velocity?
Connect with an Application Specialist today!

Accelerate and Achieve your Production Goals with Analytics

Companies often set aggressive business goals at the beginning of each year, only to find those targets unachievable or untraceable by Q4. The initial excitement slowly fades as the day-to-day business needs take priority. This is especially true for manufacturers.

With Q2 only a few days away, are you on track to meet your 2018 goals?Manufacturers need a way to make goals achievable and sustainable. That’s what a Production Control System (PCS) provides. Real-time production data, analytics, tracking systems and process control all work to make the goal not only possible, but easily achievable.

  • Production Visibility:

The key to setting realistic goals is understanding your production capacity, velocity and bottlenecks. ERP data points alone can only imply slowdowns on your shop and it may take weeks for them to come to light. Production control systems however deliver the operator monitoring and WIP dashboards to pinpoint obstacles and opportunities. Having confidence in your data is the best way to begin and the only way to achieve KPIs.

  • Select KPIs to track and measure progress:

Now that you have numbers you can trust you need to introduce a bit of creativity. Projecting opportunities and then strategizing an optimal path to success is all about your metrics. Establish a baseline by reviewing existing trends and immediately put in place the means for tracking success. Failure to do so leads to moving targets and a lack of urgency for meeting deadlines.

  • Make the goal visible to the company:

Visualizing and tracking progress builds collaboration and a sense of accomplishment for your business. Presenting the challenge to your team lets them know your company is forward thinking and trusts in their abilities to succeed. Set and celebrate milestones along the way and take pride in your team’s accomplishments.

  • Sustainability:

Don’t let success or failure be the end of the journey. Carry forward the momentum into the next project, quarter, year, etc. Now that you have set a culture of excellence in your organization it’s up to you to define how far you can go. Sustainable production control systems stay on your shop for years assuring your data collection is consistent and accurate. Granular insight into production lets you see what works and what doesn’t. Turn success into a standard, repeatable process.

 

Next Steps

There’s still time to get the right systems in place to achieve your 2018 goals. April is the final month of the CIMx Software 18 Free in 2018 promotion so now is your last chance to connect with the CIMx team about free installation. Contact CIMx to let a specialist review your needs and see how a Production Control System can make those goals achievable.

How to Turn Production Data into Actionable Manufacturing Intelligence

There’s a critical difference between raw data and actionable manufacturing intelligence. Data is just information. Actionable manufacturing intelligence adds value. When provided to the right person at the right time, action can be taken and value added – that could mean higher throughput, lower costs, and more productivity.

Companies utilizing actionable intelligence find success in the marketplace. They have the flexibility and production agility modern manufacturers need.

The Morning Reports Sinkhole in your Production Cycle

For companies relying on spreadsheets, paper travelers and their ERP for production data, information is compiled at the end of the day and then shared in a morning report. A morning report is data, and not actionable intelligence.

The data in the morning report is often flawed, if not completely fictional. The ERP was never designed to collect production data, so patchwork and dubious methods are used to gather information. Employees pencil whip information on a traveler before clocking out for the day, or fudge numbers when memory fails. A coffee spill on a spreadsheet can ruin the data and leave you scrambling to decipher a smudge.

Manufacturers using data like this to track and control production are hurting themselves. Decisions are made on speculation using the best data available (data that was never very good in the first place). This leads to a lack of discipline and control in production. Waste and scrap increases, and problems stymie production velocity with no clear solution as management isn’t sure what happening on the shop floor.

Manufacturers need actionable manufacturing intelligence, and actionable manufacturing intelligence requires real-time production data.

The Key to Manufacturing Intelligence

The Quantum Production Control System (PCS) is designed to provide accurate and actionable real-time information on production.

Using Quantum and your current build books and work instructions, you can begin collecting real-time production data from your current processes and standard use of the system. Accurate updates and Work In Progress (WIP) reports are just a mouse click away. Capturing data is done automatically throughout production.

Take Action on Improved Production

Real-time data is actionable, while a morning report is nothing more than a review – a window into the past. With the PCS in place, real-time production data is fed to the right people at the right time to make a positive impact on production. Supervisors can see a problem occur, such as a machine going down or a late material shipment, and then take action to mitigate and solve the problem. Feedback loops at the work station provide rapid resolution to problems, keeping production on schedule.

Contact CIMx Software today and connect with our team to see how quickly Quantum can empower your production team with actionable manufacturing intelligence to accelerate productivity and eliminate waste for you. Ditch the spreadsheet and embrace efficiency in your processes with Quantum.

Making Sense of MES: Template-based and Behavior-based Systems

For manufacturers engaged in process-improvement projects, the difference between success and failure is having the right shop floor software system.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

Humans love to categorize.  It helps us make sense of things.  We bring order out of chaos by putting things in their place, grouping the countless multitude into finite categories.

The problem is, sometimes we can be fooled into bad decisions by simplistic or faulty categorizations.  For example, take a look at shop floor solutions.  Software systems that monitor and support manufacturing operations, including paperless manufacturing, MES and MOM systems, can be grouped into two categories: template-based and behavior-based.  One category offers a clear advantage to shop floor process improvement.

Template-based Systems

A template-based solution requires people to conform their work to screens of information and specific sequences of data input.  Users work from the forms and

Process Improvement graph.

Sustainable and continuous process improvement requires the right tools and support system. Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

templates that guide the work on the shop floor.  Think about the ERP screens that are highly formatted data collection vehicles which digest transaction information.  They can be easy-to-use, with a structured format that drives consistency, but the system struggles to adapt to changing processes or user needs.

There are many template-based systems on the market, and people routinely input data into them and digest output information with little regard for whether it improves efficiency or profitability.  These do the job, but there is little opportunity for improvement.  People just feed the information into the prepared slots, and gather instructions from other slots… which feels very Orwellian, but I digress.

Behavior-based Systems

A behavior-based system adapts to shop floor processes and behavior, including manufacturing work flow.  The architecture is structured around screens or windows users edit and reconfigure as needed.  Key data can be collected at any point in the process.  Users configure the screens, and attach or open the information they need.  The entire system can be quickly adjusted.  This way, the system adapts to support behaviors that produce an efficient and productive shop floor.  The system becomes a foundation and tool for process improvement because of the adaptability.

In a behavior-based system, one production line or area might require text-based work instructions and multiple measurements.  Another area in the same plant might use assembly work instructions with images or videos, and require only a few key quality data collections.  Behavior-based systems are flexible, designed to optimize work flow process through tools that promote and support behavior under control of local management.  A flexible behavior-based system can use existing work instructions enhanced by software tools with minimal set-up and preparation.

Supporting Shop Floor Process Improvement

Process improvement programs, such as Lean manufacturing or Six Sigma, optimally support a behavior-based shop floor solution.  The only way to optimize work flow is to configure the support system to best match the value-added activities at each point in the process.  Forms and fixed templates dictate a structure that limits adaptation.  In a template-based system, the shop floor processes will struggle to adjustments to improve the processes, adding a significant amount of non-value-added work.

Process Improvement strategies such as Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma deliver measurable shop floor benefits.  Illustration by www.colourbox.com

Process Improvement strategies such as Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma deliver measurable shop floor benefits. Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

Process improvement requires behavior-adjustment, which template-based systems don’t promote.  For example, the Six Sigma process requires analysis of the work flow.  When a source of quality escapes is identified, processes will be changed to reduce variation.  A behavior-based system can be configured to the new process, and ensure the shop floor incorporates the new process into the work flow.

In this example, as a company improves steps in the work flow to reduce variation, data collection will change.  Using the same templates and forms after adjustments have been made will do nothing to promote a change in behavior.  Additionally, in a template-based system, moving material over to new templates will often require significant work, in addition to potentially expensive service charges for adjustments to the system itself.

The Secret to Successful Process Improvement

Success with Six Sigma, Lean Manufacturing and process improvement requires adaptation and adjustments to shop floor behavior.  You will need to change the flow of information, adjust data collection and record keeping in the support systems.  This can be done in phases across manufacturing operations.  This process isn’t how a template-based system is designed.  A behavior-based shop floor system is adjustable, supports process improvement, and offers a foundation for promoting behavior adjustment.

Look closely at the characteristics of the software system you evaluate.  Can you use your current work instructions with the system?  How much control do you have over the system?  Does it work with your process, or will you have to adjust your process?  The difference between a template-based system and a behavior-based system is the difference between successful continuous improvement and watching error-prone processes and inefficient behavior slowly take root again on your shop floor after a process improvement campaign.

Manufacturing Innovation Waits For No One

Additive Manufacturing, Paperless Manufacturing, Cloud Computing, Mobile Manufacturing… the future of manufacturing is here, but many of us are letting it pass us by.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

How will manufacturing innovation help your business?

How will manufacturing innovation help your business? Photo by http://www.colourbox.com

A few days ago, I came across an article on Yahoo News – 3D-Printed Rocket Engine Part Passes Key NASA Test.  I was eating a sandwich and waiting for a phone call, so I didn’t read it.  I planned to look it up later.  I thought if it was REALLY important, it would be on the news or the magic social media fairies would flood my Facebook page with the hundreds of ways I should feel about it.

In retrospect, that’s not the way the world or innovation works.  Here was innovation… a swift kick from the future of manufacturing!  And I decided to eat a sandwich… It wasn’t even a good sandwich.

We are all searching for innovation, and we all know that success in manufacturing is dependent on smart decisions, empowered employees, and delivering higher quality for lower cost.  We know success is dependent on working smarter, faster, and more cheaply.  Innovation is the key!

But how many of us are actually taking the steps to innovate?

How many of us are so focused on the next crisis, we don’t innovate?  No one has time to innovate, we are too busy working reactively to put out emergencies to think proactively.  Someone else will do it, or tell us to do it.  Until “innovation” becomes a critical emergency (such as a process no longer works, or a customer demands it, or something is broken and needs fixing), innovation isn’t a priority.

Take control of your business, and don't fall victim to the crisis of the moment. Photo by www.colourbox.com

Take control of your business, and don’t fall victim to the crisis of the moment. Photo by http://www.colourbox.com

But the future isn’t waiting.  Its passing us by, and even Yahoo News can see it.  Innovation works.  Innovation created our industry… just ask Henry Ford and his assembly line.  So I decided to do something about it.  When a friend mentioned the, “Printed rocket thing that NASA did,” I realized I didn’t have anything intelligent to add.  I wasn’t innovating, only spinning my wheels making excuses.

Now, I get my coffee in the morning and take a look at industry news.  I think about how I work and where I spend too much time because the current tools aren’t working, and look for a solution.  I come up with plans and make innovation a priority.  I make sure I’m spending at least 10 minutes on innovation each day.  I even set a clock

After two weeks, I’m already seeing results… I’d like to congratulate Aerospace Rocketdyne on a successful test, and told my friend about it.  I’m going paperless and using the OneNote Web App to take notes and keep my calendar.  Integrating OneNote with the voice record on my smart phone was genius.  I also set up a filing system for my computer desktop, and can find a file in less than a minute.

Maybe I’m an idealist, but the results speak for themselves.  Innovation should never be the child of an emergency.  Once you make the promise to yourself to be proactive in your innovation, even if it’s 10 minutes every morning, you’ll find fewer emergencies that require your undivided attention.  Solve problems before they become an emergency.

Manufacturing thrives with innovation, a fact I believe many of us have forgotten.  So what steps have you taken to innovate?  How do you plan for the future in your business?  Let us know, we’d love to hear from you.