Category Archives: Manufacturing

Increase Production Velocity and Profit in 2018

To kick off the New Year, we launched an exclusive 18-in-18 promotion. CIMx will completely cover the install cost for the first 18 companies to purchase our Quantum production control system in 2018.

If you’ve ever considered upgrading your shop floor with a production control system, now is the time to act.

Quantum delivers a problem-free implementation without the excuses and expense you find with other systems. Get your team up and running with a software system that quickly delivers an ROI without the hassles that bog down other projects.

Project Results Based on Manufacturing Expertise

This is an offer no other company can make. Here’s why we’re so confident in our ability to deliver for you:

  • Experience. Having worked with make-to-order manufacturers for more than 20 years, we know how technology can increase production and profit while eliminating problems and inefficiencies. We provide not only exceptional software solutions for manufacturers, but also hands-on expertise based on shop floor experience. We’ve worked with companies like yours, and know how to quickly get the results you are looking for.
  • Product. Many software systems on the market are outdated, difficult and expensive to use. The supplier passes these costs on to you during their time-consuming implementation. Quantum was designed to work with your existing material and processes, providing true off-the-shelf functionality with rapid installation and lower costs.
  • System Requirements. Quantum’s web-based solution reduces technology requirements. Use your existing IT infrastructure and access the system from almost any device. Eliminate the expensive security and uptime problems found in cloud-based solutions. Quantum’s technology requirements accelerate implementation, rather than holding you back.
  • Ease-of-use. With a solution based on your existing production plans and processes, operators can begin working in Quantum with minimal training. User roles and permissions customize information and access for each user to optimize productivity. System Administration provides configuration options so companies quickly make the solution their own. Begin using Quantum the day it’s installed, providing the fastest path to higher productivity.

An Easier Software Implementation

Quantum is not an ERP. It won’t take years to configure and install like other systems on the market. An ERP can’t adequately manage the shop floor, and trying to get a transaction-based ERP to work for production processes is a losing and expensive proposition. With the low-cost and rapid installation options in Quantum, you can quickly address the manufacturing inefficiencies in your ERP with a production control system developed specifically for discrete manufacturers. Give your shop floor the tools they need to succeed with Quantum.

Quantum configures to your requirements in less than a month. The system installs and users are trained in less than a day. Soon after purchasing the system, you are controlling and tracking manufacturing while increasing production velocity, providing a rapid and sustainable ROI.

We’re so confident in our system that 18 lucky manufacturers will receive a production control solution with free installation in 2018. Contact CIMx today to learn more about our 18-in-18 promotion. Seize the opportunity to eliminate production problems and increase business profit in 2018.

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Manufacturing Trends to Watch For in 2018

As 2017 winds to a close it’s time to start setting goals and preparing for success in the New Year.

Each year, we forecast market threats and opportunities for our manufacturing customers. What will your customers and competitors talk about in the New Year? What pressures and technologies will influence manufacturers in 2018? What can you do to protect yourself and position your business for success as the market changes? The insight can be the strategic edge you need all year long.

Look Ahead to Manufacturing in 2018

As industry experts, here’s what we see influencing manufacturers in 2018:

  • Increased Customer Demands.

More than just larger orders, manufacturing customers are looking for more value from suppliers – value they are receiving in other industries. There’s customer pressure on manufacturers to improve, adapt, and deliver greater value and additional services. If they can’t, the customer will find a supplier that can. This is pushing manufacturers to embrace technology solutions, find additional ways to cut costs, and reduce the lead time on shipments even more than they have in the past to stay a step ahead of customer and consumer demands.

  • Alternatives to the Skilled Labor Shortage.

According to a recent article in Forbes magazine, a shortage of skilled labor could potentially limit business growth for manufacturers even as demand increases. Experts predict there will be a shortage of more than 2 million manufacturing workers in the coming years. In 2018, companies must find ways to overcome this problem, through training programs, technology solutions, or partnerships, to fuel future growth. The companies that implement programs now to overcome the skilled labor shortage will be positioned for success in the future.

  • First Steps toward Digital Transformation.

Many in the media have discussed the imminent “digital transformation” they see sweeping across manufacturing and modern business. As technology is applied to business and production processes, innovation and creativity will accelerate success and “transform” the business. While the media continues speculating and some supplier offer expensive products to “push” the transformation, many manufacturers are taking common-sense first steps toward the digital enterprise by replacing error-prone and dated manual processes with digital solutions that deliver production efficiencies and a rapid ROI. It may not be a “transformation,” but it is changing the manufacturing landscape.

  • Solution Divergence.

Some technology providers predict a single technology solution is on the horizon, and are happy to offer their version of this solution – expensive and overly complex enterprise software that makes no one happy. Despite predictions, many manufacturers are looking at best-in-class solutions to lower costs and improve efficiency rather than piling functionality on the ERP. In the past, adding modules to an ERP has exacerbated the situation rather than solving problems. Manufacturing solutions can’t be found in a system that doesn’t support production workflow or processes. More companies will embrace production control software connected to the ERP, rather than force more functionality out of their existing system.

 Accelerating Success in the New Year

There is no magic formula for finding success in a New Year, but there are proven strategies for capitalizing on opportunity and minimizing risk.

Set achievable strategic goals and take steps to ensure you can meet those goals. Make sure you have the right people, processes, systems and support in place. Continue to track progress against the goals, and when progress is lacking adjust the strategy as needed. Identify problems and inefficiencies in the business, and implement solutions that offer a positive ROI.

While every year brings new, and unexpected, challenges, it also brings opportunities. We look forward to working with manufacturers in 2018 to turn inefficiency and problems into problems and success. If you’d like to learn more about CIMx Software and how we work with manufacturers to eliminate problems and increase production profits, then contact us today and discover what Quantum can do for you.

Does Your ERP Speak MFG?

Manufacturers come to CIMx Software with critical manufacturing issues and need solutions to the problems holding back their business. After digging into their issues we often discover a common cause…

Their ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) doesn’t speak MFG (Manufacturing).

Problems Hiding in Your Production Lifecycle

Most discrete manufacturing problems derive from the blind spot in the company’s ERP to manufacturing. An ERP has limited control over the core of their business – production. Unable to identify the root cause of problems, or know how much money is lost with every transaction, quality, velocity and revenue decline. Work is done and production continues, but the management team is constantly fixing problems as they happen. The ERP working alone limits growth and negatively impacts profit.

The ERP, while it manages financials and may store work instructions, fails to provide the control make-to-order production requires. Without rigorous control to eliminate variability, the shop floor is victim to inconsistency. Quality decreases, mistakes are made and money lost. With the shop floor relying solely on an ERP, managing complex production requirements becomes a daily struggle.

Here are 3 ways a process control system can help your ERP:

  • Bringing Workflow Control to the ERP

An ERP is a transaction-based system; dividing work into individual, self-contained transactions. However, discrete manufacturing processes are workflow-based, not transactional. Discrete manufacturing workflow is a series of interconnected if/then steps, not self-contained transactions. An ERP will struggle to support change and process control on the shop floor because both are characteristics of workflow systems. The ERP architecture isn’t designed for workflow, and can’t provide the control make-to-order manufacturers require.

  • Connecting the Shop Floor and Front-office

Regardless of what some software suppliers’ claim, an ERP is focused on the front office and not the shop floor. An ERP uses the tables and forms that make running a business easy. You shouldn’t have engineers, quality control and the shop floor navigating screens and drop down menus designed for order processing and accountants. Many systems do offer a friendlier “shop floor” screen for production, but underneath the new screen is a system designed around tables and forms that limit the flexibility and control make-to-order manufacturer’s need when a customer calls with a change order.

  • Deliver Company-wide Production Visibility

Many ERPs provide storage for form-based planning. The system attaches planning to an order and sequences it before sending it to the shop floor. After that point, an ERP offers no visibility into the production process. The system waits for the order to complete so it can bill the customer. The ERP is not a production control system. Make-to-order manufacturers need control and visibility to identify problems before they happen and ensure error-free manufacturing to the highest quality.

Bringing Production to Your ERP

Companies, especially make-to-order manufacturers, need to address the problems caused by the ERP on the shop floor, especially as they plan growth. A homegrown spreadsheet isn’t a solution and doesn’t help the ERP speak MFG. Using a spreadsheet is putting a band-aid on your production problems. With a production control system like Quantum, you link production directly to your ERP. Your software works seamlessly across the company.

Let the ERP focus on the front office. Give the production team a production control system. Optimize every phase of your business, and don’t force your production supervisor to work with a financial system.

Want to learn more, or see how software that speaks MFG can benefit you? Contact CIMx today to discuss your production needs. Set up a pilot program to test a production control system that eliminates the problems holding back your business today!

Four Tips for Delivering Manufacturing Success in 2018

As 2017 draws to a close, businesses are planning for success in 2018. For make-to-order manufacturers, this means setting realistic sales and production goals. Success may require new products lines, attacking a new market vertical, or delivering new services to an existing customer base.

Setting goals is easy – successfully delivering on those goals can be difficult.

New product lines require agility, workflow flexibility and production control. Execution quality is critical, or you run the risk of losing customers before you ever really had them. Best practices for new workflows require process enforcement. Quick and accurate responses to variability are absolutely essential. Efficiency is the difference between success and failure.

Evaluate Your Current Processes

Meeting goals requires preparation. The planning you do now will result in 2018 success. Here are four questions you should ask as you prepare for the New Year:

  • Do you have a reliable source of production data?

The key to overcoming process variability is data. The granular process data that currently eludes manufacturers using dated, paper-based processes is critical to diagnosing problems during production and implementing rapid solutions. With real-time accurate data, companies can implement feedback loops, shortening the response to variability, adjusting processes with speed and accuracy so the business can roll out new products faster.

  • Do you have a firm grasp of profitable and non-profitable work?

Simply selling a new product or serving a new market isn’t a guarantee of success. True success is measured by the bottom line. Accurately calculating profit requires a precise view of production costs. You need to not only know your spend, but also costs and savings in the manufacturing lifecycle. The data and events surrounding expenditures will unlock potential additional savings that ensure profitable work and more accurate estimates.

  • How much control do you have over production?

When implementing a new process or rolling out a new product, best practices are critical. Any deficiency in workflow or processes will result in recurring costs, late shipments and quality escapes. Procedural enforcement, production visibility, real-time operator buy-offs and automated tolerance checks deliver shop floor control. Revision-controlled engineering documentation and digital work instructions eliminate errors on the front-end, providing the complete manufacturing lifecycle control manufacturers need.

  • How quickly can you adjust to changing production conditions?

Business moves fast. Increasing production yield or attacking a new vertical will only increase the pace of change. If you can’t manage change, and still rely on a red pen for every Engineering Change Order (ECO), you are increasing risk at an unsustainable rate. Experience has shown a single change can have an explosive effect on the manufacturing lifecycle, exponentially increasing the time and cost of production across the shop floor.

Prepare Now for Manufacturing in 2018

Answering these questions will identify the gaps in your current processes. These gaps are magnified as production is pushed to increase output and meet the requirements of a new market.

Address these gaps before you invest time and effort in a new product line or pursue a new market. Digital manufacturing software will transition your company from outdated methods to true production control that aligns current capability with aggressive business goals.

Contact CIMx software today to speak with an experienced Application Engineer about low-cost technology tools available now that can deliver shop floor and production control for the competitive edge your company needs in 2018.

Solving Problems and Improving Production with Behavior Science

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

While many make-to-order manufacturers are highly successful at guiding the economic side of their businesses, most have yet to discover the secret to managing production. Errors, inefficiency, and waste still plague the shop floor. Orders ship late, scrap and waste drain profit, and non-productive time is a constant drag on output. These fundamental flaws and missed opportunities hold back the business.

While known problems in production hold the business back, many companies remain reluctant to face their obstacles head on. However, studies have found that there may be a very human reason for this reluctance according to economic theory and decision science.

Prospect Theory and Manufacturing

In 1992, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky wrote a paper on the science of decision making called, “Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk.” In it, they describe the method people use to choose between alternatives that involve risk – a process called prospect theory.

According to prospect theory, people organize the potential outcomes of a decision. Each outcome will be sorted as a gain (positive outcome) or a loss (negative outcome). A value, determined by the favorability and likelihood of the result, is placed on the prospective outcomes. The outcome with the highest value, according to this mental algorithm, is selected.

In studying and evaluating prospect theory, Kahneman and Tversky noted humans don’t always act rationally during decision-making. Fallacies and irrationality, especially when determining the value of outcomes, have a profound effect on the decision. For example, we weigh the avoidance of negative outcomes over the acquisition of positive outcomes. Even when there is a significant benefit to a selecting a gain, we still choose to avoid loss rather than pursue gain.

Some companies see any cost factor or potential process change as a potential risk (or loss). For these companies, the option to avoid loss by doing nothing is inherently more appealing than actually solving the problem and improving the business. This is why many businesses wait until the last possible moment to embrace a manufacturing solution to a critical issue – when the cost of scrap is too high to ignore or a failed audit is about to shutter operations – despite growing need and an ROI.

For many manufacturers, scrap, late shipments, inefficiency, and waste are the cost of doing business. They accept problems rather than embracing change to increase profit and success. Even though these problems have the business in a stranglehold, and affordable software solutions with a low-risk and high ROI are readily available, some companies still prefer to wait. It may not be logical, but as Kahneman and Tversky explain, we don’t always let logic guide our decision-making processes.

Embracing a Shop Floor Solution

According to prospect theory, this is simply human nature. We fear loss more than we crave the benefit from a solution.

The problem is amplified for manufacturers because the decision maker is rarely directly impacted by the problems the solution will address. As the decision maker groups the possible outcomes, they are obscured from the complete picture. They may see the scrap on an expense report, or initiate customer contact to explain a late shipment, but they don’t feel the struggle against inefficiency. They aren’t the one wandering the shop floor looking for a critical specification that’s missing or waiting in line at a machine because of a scheduling bottleneck.

This results in the company focusing on other initiatives, which puts production on hold. Continuing to wait puts the entire business at risk. Waiting to address these critical problems leaves money and profit on the table, and hurts the long-term health of the company.

Fortunately, once a problem is identified, there are simple, manageable steps that can be taken to overcome human nature, reduce risk and embrace a shop floor solution:

  • Build a Team: Look at involving both the front office and production in the decision-making. There needs to be open, honest communication early in the process so the impact of production problems can be properly understood.
  • Identify Core Requirements: Project scope can quickly balloon and become unmanageable as input is collected for the project. Costs can escalate and the project collapse without a list of core requirements providing the project basis and ROI focus.
  • Utilize a Pilot Program: Build excitement for the project and test the deployment using a low-cost pilot program. Many companies see so much benefit and savings from the pilot; they will rapidly roll out a full deployment.
  • Partner with a Provider: Find a manufacturing software company you can trust, and partner with them on the project. See if they can offer timeline and cost guarantees, and learn how they work with your team to deliver the project.

Taking Production and Business to the Next Level

There is a high price for manufacturers who ignore shop floor problems. Companies that wait, doing nothing as scrap, inefficiency and waste negatively impact their business, put success at risk, especially as competitors continue to improve and modernize. Ignoring problems and hoping a solution magically appears is a decision based on a logical fallacy, and no company should let a fallacy guide their business. Learn from prospect theory.

Recognize the problem and take strategic actions toward a solution. Build a team, set goals and find a software partner you can work with to implement a strong solution.

If you’d like to know more, or see a demo of what modern manufacturing software can do for you, contact CIMx Software today and see how you can eliminate scrap while accelerating production.

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.

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.