Category Archives: Manufacturing

A Rapid ROI for MES and Manufacturing Software

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications for CIMx Software

Today, with improvements in software technology and lower hardware costs, Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) and software platforms such as Quantum are viable solutions for manufacturers of any size and industry.

However, companies are still reluctant to embrace software mostly founded on a mistaken perception of the cost. Even as companies struggle with the critical problems, bleeding revenue and creating inefficiencies that hinder business growth, there’s reluctance to implement, or even investigate, software as a solution. They don’t see an easy ROI, or believe a different software solution will drown their processes in complexity, so they turn to their ERP for an expensive module or create a homegrown spreadsheet solution.

These temporary, flawed solutions add business costs without fixing anything. A spreadsheet or an add-on for your accounting software isn’t going to solve a critical production issue, eliminate scrap or stop production errors. Implementing a solution that doesn’t solve the problem adds cost with no return.

Solving Production Problems with Manufacturing Software

Solving manufacturing problems requires a solution focused on the specialized needs of modern production.

The foundation of modern production is workflow. The workflow-based solution found on Quantum solves problems and supports modern production. The software attacks the root cause of problems using the natural rhythm of manufacturing workflow, reducing complexity rather than adding it. With a manufacturing-focused workflow solution, companies using Quantum enjoy a rapid ROI that generates revenue for the business, adding profit rather than expense. Consider a few ways the solution fuels your rapid ROI:

  • Eliminate errors. Paper-based processes cause errors. The Quantum digital solution eliminates those errors. Every problem prevented during production, or rapid solution implemented, accelerates manufacturing output. Keep the shop floor focused on revenue-generating activity for a rapid ROI.
  • Production accuracy. Guesswork creates waste and increases cost. If your production team doesn’t have access to accurate (and timely) production data, they rely on guesswork for estimates, scheduling, and disposition plans. Production visibility in Quantum increases accuracy and output.
  • Embrace efficiency. Inefficiency is costly. Paper build books and travelers, manual production reports, and missing or faulty information are constant expenses. Anything that pulls a worker away from production has a negative impact on the bottom line. Companies need to see homegrown solutions and ERP add-ons for what they are – centers of workflow inefficiency.
  • Increase output. As Quantum eliminates problems, the business runs better. The company increases output without adding new workers or machines. Over time, as additional waste and unnecessary costs are identified and eliminated, output will further increase adding to the ROI of the solution.

Analyze Your Savings

To better grasp the expense of problems, you need to analyze both the current cost and the savings that accrue once the solution is in place.

For example, analyzing the true cost of quality blindness requires the manufacturer not only consider the cost of scrap and late shipments, but also the time and resources required to solve each quality escape. How long does it take the shop floor to report a problem?

For most manufacturers, problems result in a double-hit for the company – added costs and lost profits.

Once Quantum is in place, the company benefits not only from lower scrap and on-time shipments, but also increased output as the shop floor focuses on production rather than fixing problems. This accelerates the ROI, constantly generating revenue and adding to the bottom line.

Want to learn more, or see how quickly you can benefit from manufacturing software and Quantum in your business? Contact CIMx today about the Quantum manufacturing platform for manufacturers.

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How to Lower Costs and Eliminate the High-Price of Doing Nothing

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

Profitable revenue growth and increasing the bottom line is the goal of every business. Any company, especially a manufacturer, not focused on growth is dying (even if they don’t know it yet).

Many manufacturing companies ignore the problems and inefficiencies hindering revenue growth. By embracing a “wait-till-next-year” solution-strategy the company ends up doing nothing, losing money and sacrificing revenue.

Ignoring problems is not a business strategy.

Analyzing the Cost of Doing Nothing

Let’s take a look at the cost of “doing nothing” for manufacturers.

Many companies struggle to ship on-time. Problems with production control and management leave the business vulnerable to late shipments. Without shop floor visibility or accurate production data, shipping estimates are guesswork. Without production control, a single problem can leave the shop floor behind schedule.

The result is late shipments. Companies might rush ship the order or discount to “fix” the late shipment, but the real cost is much deeper and more painful.

For example, paying operator overtime can double labor costs. As the exhausted shop floor rushes to complete work, errors and scrap increases. Pushing machines increases repair and maintenance costs. Without production control, accommodating a rush shipment leaves a tight production schedule in tatters, further adding production costs.

If you can’t guarantee a ship date to a customer, then the customer will find a manufacturer who can, further eating away at the bottom line.

The cost of doing nothing, measured by the impact of late shipments and a lack of production management and control, is lost revenue, fading profitability and a tarnished reputation. Doing nothing isn’t a viable option.

The Benefit of a Solution

Eliminating late shipments through manufacturing software like Quantum will not only capture the lost revenue and increase profitability, but deliver additional benefits.

For example, providing accurate shipping estimates makes it easier to secure additional business. The shop floor can better handle this increased business by maximizing shop floor uptime and OEE with schedule accuracy. Accuracy leads to better bids and lower costs as you identify opportunities for sustainable process improvements. By maximizing your workforce and labor, the company can minimize the need for skilled labor, solving a problem many companies struggle with today.

The True ROI of a Manufacturing Solution

The ROI for Quantum is the elimination of obvious costs, like late shipments, and the hidden costs of problems and inefficiencies in production. With the solution in place, companies realize a rapid ROI for the production software solution.

Over time, benefits continue to increase; allowing the company to further invest in the business. The shop floor can better handle the change and increased output that comes with a growing business.

Companies need to stop seeing problems as a cost center, but a potential source of revenue. Solving problems will not only cut expenses but will add to the bottom line. Quit accepting errors, scrap and inefficiency as the cost of doing business.

Want to learn more, or see how manufacturing software can help your business, then contact CIMx Software today to talk to an Application Specialist about Quantum.

Accelerate Production with Shop Floor Visibility and Quantum

As we’ve discussed in previous posts, manufacturers without shop floor visibility struggle to meet customer demands. It puts them at a disadvantage in a competitive marketplace. Without visibility, it’s impossible to see beyond the errors to eradicate the underlying problems. Put an end to late shipments, costly scrap and operator errors by integrating Smart Manufacturing process conformance and reporting.

Solving Shop Floor Problems with Quantum

A manufacturer should know what’s happening from one moment to the next on their shop floor.

Quantum Smart Manufacturing has made the answer simple. With a rapid installation, companies using Quantum open the window to the shop floor and start working faster and more efficiently with complete production visibility. Errors, problems, bottlenecks and quality escapes are quickly identified and solutions implemented all within the system. Unnecessary costs and expenses are eliminated, and revenue and output increase across the board.

Sound good? Let’s look at a few of the ways Quantum delivers production visibility and revolutionizes manufacturing:

  • Instant updates with Quantum’s real-time production dashboard

You’re tasked to check the status of an order – what is your current process? Do you consult a spreadsheet from a morning meeting or make a call to a supervisor? If so, you have a problem. Production moves too fast and resources are too valuable to waste for dated or faulty information. With Quantum, operators continually provide critical data as they use the software. That data fuels an accurate, real-time dashboard accessible from anywhere and at any time. Identify problems faster and take the pulse of production in real-time, eliminating the knowledge gap while your competitors still struggle with guesswork and blind spots on the shop floor.

  • Accurately plan and manage work with the Quantum Scheduler

Many ERP companies claim to offer a work scheduler, but in reality offer little more than a digital whiteboard sequencer. Quantum calculates and prioritizes work for you, incorporating shop floor capacity with a finite scheduler. You see in an instant expected ship dates once an order releases. Quickly identify problems like bottlenecks or gaps in the work cycle and make adjustments from the scheduler screen. Assess the impact of changes before releasing them to the shop floor. Rather than running your business on empty promises, Quantum gives the power to reliably manage work and make dependable commitments to customers.

  • Intelligently link your business with Quantum Communication

For production supervisors, responsibility for an order doesn’t end once it’s released to the shop floor, though it may feel that way as the Supervisor is often the last one to know when there’s a problem. With Quantum’s the built-in communication tool, the shop floor has instant access to solutions when they need it. Engineers, quality, and production supervisors are never too far away when a problem happens, and can rapidly implement a solution. With the digital tools and a system for managing and archiving communication, Quantum drastically reduces the time between when a problem occurs and resolution.

Process Improvement and Production Visibility

The goal of any process improvement project should be production visibility. Accurately identifying opportunities for improvement or assessing the results of the project without visibility is impossible. With Quantum, manufacturers identify and understand the root cause of problems. As a dedicated workflow-system, rather than an ERP-esque transaction-software, Quantum automatically provides shop floor visibility as users interact with the system.

Contact CIMx today to learn more about dedicated manufacturing software and how it instantly delivers the shop floor visibility your business needs to eliminate inefficiencies, errors, and unnecessary expenses to improve production and increase profit.

Unlock Smart Manufacturing and Production Visibility with an MES

Once you cut through the hype-cycle surrounding Smart Manufacturing you will find that, if implemented properly, going Smart grants manufacturers the ability to identify the true sources of their woes at the click of a mouse.

What the hype misses, but more and more manufacturers are discovering, is the critical role MES (Manufacturing Execution Systems) platforms like Quantum play in solution-focused Smart Manufacturing. Collecting data isn’t enough. Solving problems and optimizing production requires the production control and visibility available only with dedicated manufacturing software.

Adding Production Value with an MES

With an MES supported by Smart production data, manufacturers will:

  • Make intelligent connections using critical production data

Many companies struggle to decide where to store and use the Smart Manufacturing data. While their ERP can generate reports, it’s too far upstream in the manufacturing workflow to add value to production. A production-focused MES provides the workflow connections necessary to capitalize on the data, quickly identifying problems and implementing solutions. For example, if a machine goes down an MES will jump into action, rerouting work to maintain the shipping schedule.

  • Turn raw data into profit

Data alone won’t accelerate production or increase profit. You need to connect the data to the production insight provided by an MES to make a rapid, positive impact on production. In the previous example, if the machine goes down your MES will allow you to see the operation and actions taken that resulted in the problem. Supervisors can adjust processes to eliminate the problem in the future. When a line goes down, you can see the impact on production and evaluate the cost and benefit of solution options. Raw data is just information. An MES turns data into profit.

  • Create feedback loops to increase production

The goal of Smart Manufacturing isn’t better reports. You need to increase production and efficiency, and eliminate errors and waste. Smart Manufacturing solutions rely on getting critical information to the people who need the data to positively impact production; this is the primary role of any MES. With an MES, you can create feedback loops in the production value chain to shorten the time between the identification of a problem and the resolution. When a problem happens, an alert in the software is immediately sent so action can be taken quickly. There’s no need to search for information or wait for answers.

Unlock Smart Manufacturing

The foundation of Smart Manufacturing is turning production visibility and manufacturing insight into increased profit and efficiency.

Simply collecting data and running reports isn’t enough. Smart manufacturers turn insight into action that solves problems, generates revenue, eliminates errors, and accelerates throughput. An MES and dedicated manufacturing software includes the tools manufacturers need to take action on Smart Manufacturing data.

If you would like to learn more, or see how your company can quickly implement manufacturing software and Smart Manufacturing for a rapid ROI, contact CIMx Software to speak with an Application Specialist. We’re always happy to help.

5 Critical Benefits of Shop Floor Visibility

Do these common complaints sound familiar?

“I’m accountable to our customers. I need to know when an order is going to ship.”

“If I need to know what’s happening on the shop floor, no one can give me a straight answer.”

“When a problem happens, I’m the last one to know.”

A lack of production visibility underlies each of these problems. The profit-driver and central focus of a manufacturing business is production, but few companies have any idea what’s happening on the shop floor from one moment to the next.

The Blind Spot in Manufacturing

As we discussed in our last blog, How Much Does the Lack of Production Visibility Cost Manufacturers? companies utilize flawed systems, like their ERP, or error-prone processes, like paper records, to track and monitor production. Critical data and warning signs slip through the cracks, and their business struggles to retroactively fix problems rather than proactively grow the business, even as money and efficiency drain away. Without a dedicated workflow system like Smart Manufacturing to monitor and manage production, these companies will never have real-time production visibility.

Managing and Monitoring Production

A solution based on Smart Manufacturing provides real-time visibility and delivers benefits beyond a dashboard or a morning report. Data collected becomes the foundation of proactive production management, providing a positive impact across the business. For example:

  • Identify and track ship dates with pinpoint precision.

Quit paying overtime or fees for late shipments, and know with a single glance when an order will ship. With real-time production data, manufacturers can release an order and know with confidence when work will be complete. Scheduling bottlenecks aren’t a surprise, and adjustments to the schedule or routing can be made to eliminate problems before they occur. Get an update with a click of a button and stay on top of production to ensure orders ship on-time, every time.

  • Lower production costs.

On any shop floor, hidden inefficiencies will drain profit from every order. With real-time visibility, you can identify inefficiencies – operations that generate additional scrap, wasteful processes or employees that may need additional training – and implement solutions. With accurate, real-time visibility you lower costs across the production lifecycle, drastically reducing expenses.

  • Speedy, error-free New Product Introduction (NPI).

When complications and errors occur during NPI, frustrations and costs mount. As the company attempts to solve problems they may not fully understand, profit and production is lost. When an NPI is successful and the shop floor delivers at a lower bid, without defects and ahead of schedule, the manufacturer becomes a hero. With production visibility, manufacturers quickly identify, in real-time, where and when a problem occurs. Alternate work paths can be implemented and the result seen immediately – efficient and seamless NPI.

  • Sustainable process improvement.

For many manufacturers, process improvement is a waste of time and resources. After the initiative, the shop floor quickly reverts back to the comforts of less-efficient but more familiar processes. Real-time visibility not only supports process improvement by providing critical data for measuring success, but also provides the feedback loops shop floor employees need to utilize the improvements. Companies with real-time production visibility see sustainable, improved results with almost every improvement initiative.

  • Increased quality and lower scrap and waste.

Quality escapes, scrap and waste put a manufacturer at risk. With real-time production visibility, the shop floor receives immediate feedback on quality, and products that don’t meet engineering specifications are quickly identified for rework. With immediate feedback, operators can see the processes that work and the processes that result in escapes. Manufacturers with real-time visibility quickly achieve higher output, increased quality and the elimination of scrap and waste.

Turning Visibility into Increased Margins and Output

If you’re ready to quit making mistakes and errors, and optimize your profit, production and efficiency, then contact CIMx Software to see how quickly a Smart Manufacturing system can give you real-time production visibility while eliminating errors and manufacturing problems.

For most manufacturers, it’s a few simple steps to move to a Smart Manufacturing system. Processes currently draining resources and effort can be automated while error-prone paper methods can be shifted to a digital system. Collect and organize the data in real-time, rather than after work is complete and start manufacturing smarter today.

Take the first step toward Smart Manufacturing by contacting CIMx today at www.cimx.com.

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.

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.