Category Archives: paperless manufacturing, data migration, MES support

The Margin Wars – How to Succeed in Global Manufacturing

Ed Deaton | CIMx Software

Let’s be frank, most of your customers can’t tell the difference between your plant and the next job shop on their vendor list.

You may have the best machinery, the most skilled operators and a spotless reputation, but all they really care about are the big three: quality, turnaround-time and price.

It’s frustrating, illogical and unfair; but it’s the world we sell in.

To stay competitive in manufacturing your shop needs to become the go-to supplier for every run. This means guaranteeing delivery dateseliminating turnbacks and producing the same work with fewer resources than your competitors.

 

Three Steps to Victory
Your secret weapon in the Margin Wars is simple. Enforce lean manufacturing tactics with a modern production control system.

How many bids have you lost in the last five years to undercutting competitors or overseas shops? It’s not enough to just be competitive with the plants in your area anymore; it’s your shop against the world.

Follow these 3 tips to connect, correct and control production with your existing Manufacturing Execution System (MES). Take control of your shop to gain control of your market.

Connect Your Resources
Lean manufacturing requires every resource on your shop floor to be as efficient as possible. This means optimized scheduling, complete asset control and total conformance on every build.

Manufacturers attempting to manage the complexities of their shop with spreadsheets and paper find themselves stuck in a damage control loop. Unreliable data, guesswork and unexpected changes lead to daily chaos, forcing your leadership team to spend more time putting out fires than growing your business.

Tip 1: Leverage your existing MES to tether every aspect of your workflow and guarantee your shop is running at maximum efficiency. Make sure your system allows priority-centric scheduling and real-time rerouting to avoid bottlenecks when the unexpected strikes.

 

Correct Errors in Real-Time
If you accept scrap and turnbacks as simply the cost of doing business then you’ve become your own worst enemy.

The biggest threat to the sustainability of your business is waste: wasted time, wasted materials and wasted opportunities. To maximize your margins it’s essential that you eliminate the waste that is eating away at your bottom line.

Tip 2: Your leadership team needs the ability to visually track every order throughout production in real-time to correct errors as they occur. Live Production Dashboards built into your MES allow your team to prevent workflow errors before they occur and react to issues instantly, eliminating defects and bottlenecks.

 

Control Every Stage of Production
In order to maintain quality while bidding competitively, your shop needs to plan each operation to perfection while capturing the necessary data every step of the way. Paper travelers, dry erase boards and pencil whipped data sheets are error prone, time consuming threats to production.

You need to ensure your customers that every tolerance has been checked and every specification met.

Tip 3: Digitizing your travelers, work instructions and data collection sheets ensure your Operators are following every step and completing every check necessary to remain compliant, all on one screen. Collect the data required for audits and build quality work faster with digital shop floor control.

 

Next Steps
The key to winning the Margin Wars is simple: make more with less. Take the steps required to gain market share by implementing an MES designed to control production from Engineering through Delivery. Give your team the tools they need to build it right™, ahead of schedule and under budget with Quantum.

Connect with a CIMx Application Expert to discuss your workflow and determine if the Quantum MES/MOM is the right solution for your shop. Request a quote or schedule your live demo today!


Manufacturing Software Experience | CIMx Software
For more than 20 years, CIMx has developed software solutions that connect, correct and control production for U.S. manufacturers of all sizes. Build it right with Quantum®.

Schedule your live Quantum demo with a CIMx Application Expert today!

Turning Manufacturing Audits into Profit

Ed Deaton | CIMx Software

Audits can either cost you money or make you money. The choice is yours.

In the manufacturing industry, audits are the key factor in determining a company’s continued growth or imminent decline. Audits quantify the success of your team’s efforts by ensuring your shop is up to snuff in every stage of production.

However, the stress and time invested into filing frequent audits can weigh on your team, slowing down production and negatively impacting your bottom line.

Save Resources and Increase Value

The simple solution is to implement a system that reduces auditing time while impressing potential customers into delivering more contracts. Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) are designed to optimize production while automatically collecting the essential data required to complete audits in a fraction of the time of manual audits.

But as you know, it’s not enough to just be compliant in a global market; you need to “wow” your way into new work and onto Preferred Supplier lists. Your shop needs to be the number your customers’ dial when a run absolutely must be completed on time. Audits are about one thing, mitigating risk. Show your prospective customers exactly why they should trust your shop by implementing an MES into your existing workflow.

Reduce your average audit time by 50% when you connect, correct and control every asset, operator and order in an MES designed specifically for your industry.

“We’ve already had eight separate audits in 2018 and every one has been completed in half the time. An audit that should take a full day only takes half a day in Quantum. From an ISO standpoint it’s been great. Every document we make becomes a permanent record and every revision is automatically stored in one system.”
– Ray Swanson, President of Tornik, LLC

MES systems like Quantum track and control production from Engineering through Delivery with Digital Planning, Real-Time Scheduling, Asset Management and Quality Control built into one complete platform. Give accurate timelines and enforce best practices on every job regardless of the unique specifications or complexity of an operation. Your Operators will complete their work faster with fewer non-conformances while automatically collecting the data required for future audits.

Give your best customers a tour of your shop floor to see your competitive advantage in action. The more Preferred Supplier lists you land your company on, the more readily your customers will bring you work and recommend your team to colleagues. It’s time you connected production with the complete MES designed for real world manufacturing, Quantum.

Next Steps
Connect with a CIMx Application Expert to discuss your workflow and determine if the Quantum MES/MOM is the right solution for your shop. Request a quote or schedule your live demo today!


Manufacturing Software Experience | CIMx Software
For more than 20 years, CIMx has developed software solutions that connect, correct and control production for U.S. manufacturers of all sizes. Build it right with Quantum®.

Schedule your live Quantum demo with a CIMx Application Expert today!

The Risk of Manufacturing Automation

Ed Deaton | CIMx Software

Standardized processes and machine automation are the driving forces behind modern manufacturing in the United States. These tools maintain order across the shop floor and keep work on schedule. This structure is essential to eliminating waste and generating profit, however, no process is without risk.

The threat from automation and well-structured processes arise when we become overly reliant on them. This reliance leads to blind spots and complacency across the company.


The Solution: Real-Time Production Control

Spot red flags in real-time with Production Dashboards designed to keep your orders on-schedule and under budget. Increase production with digital work packets and enforce Quality with automatic tolerance checks and sequential sign-offs.

Leverage a complete Manufacturing Execution System (MES) to empower your employees to increase both Quality and production rates. Your team is your most valuable asset and the right MES will give them the tools they need to succeed.

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Creating a Culture of Compliance

Ed Deaton | CIMx Software

Catch and resolve these common audit issues before the regulators do.

If you’re in the manufacturing industry you understand how essential auditing is to your company’s success. The amount of resources required to report multiple times a year may be frustrating, but their value cannot be overstated.

That said; you hate everything about them.

Here are three tips for getting ahead of your inspection and receiving the most value out of every audit.

 


1. Risk Avoidance

Audits are all about mitigating risk. Whether it’s risk to your employees, your customers or your bottom line; audits exist to keep your shop on schedule, compliant and safe. Inconsistencies in processes, Operator error and record keeping are among the most common issues reported during internal reviews.

To mitigate these risks you need to both control how work is executed and collect the right data as consistently as possible.

Leverage the digital work packets and data collections in your Manufacturing Execution System (MES) to guarantee every order is built to spec. By utilizing clear work instructions with automatic Quality checks your Operators will have everything they need at their fingertips.

Modern MES platforms also generate permanent as-built records (eDHR) to ensure you have a complete history of every material, tool and process used on an order. With the asset traceability and revision control tools (included in your MES) your data will be reliably stored for easy access when requested by auditors.

2. Know Your Weaknesses

This isn’t your first rodeo. Audit preparation 101 is addressing and reporting on the results of your previous review. You need to show that, not only have past issues been addressed, but that the processes set in place to prevent their reoccurrence have been enforced and well documented. Being docked for a new infraction is bad, but being docked for reoccurring infractions is much worse.

Remember, no two audits/auditors are the same. To assure yourself that processes are being followed, visit the areas most likely to commit an error. This could be anywhere from a highly complex workstation to an area with an above average number of new hires. Regardless, visit your areas where failure is at his highest probability and don’t leave until you’re confident in their success.

3. Stop Cutting Corners

The truth is most manufacturers will only do the bare minimum to pass their audits. Management has other priorities and often sees these check-ins as intrusive and unnecessary. This leads to a culture of sweeping the dirt under the rug twice a year without making any real changes to support the growth of the business.

However, this line of thinking is dangerously flawed. The reality is that there are few greater risks to a manufacturer’s success than losing their certifications. How many customers would your company lose if its ISO 9001, AS 9100 or FDA certifications were revoked?

Implement a long-term solution designed to grow with your business. Do your research and select a vendor with the experience and dedication you need to succeed. Enforce quality, control production and track every order from engineering through delivery with an MES designed for your industry. 


 

Next Steps

If your company needs a plan leading into your next audit, connect with a CIMx Application Expert today to learn more about complete MES functionality. Our experienced team understands your industry and can provide the insight you need to succeed. Learn more about what the right Manufacturing Execution System can do for your shop today!

The Quantum® MES/MOM delivers the order traceability, audit control and production efficiency your shop needs to compete in a global market. Complete orders ahead of schedule and under budget with the manufacturing system designed for your industry. Build it right with Quantum.


Manufacturing Software Experience | CIMx Software

For more than 20 years, CIMx has developed complete solutions for manufacturers. The experience and innovation behind CIMx systems have delivered decades of increased production and cost savings. Quantum® is designed to deliver the production control your team needs to build it right™, ahead of schedule and under budget.

Schedule your live Quantum demo with a CIMx Application Expert today!

3 Manufacturing Slow Downs That are Impacting Your Bottom Line

Ed Deaton | CIMx Software

3 Manufacturing Slow Downs that are Impacting Your Bottom Line

Production and profit had plateaued at a Midwest Composites manufacturer. Orders were consistent enough to turn a small profit, but margins were paper-thin and the workforce was aging out of their roles.

With an influx of inexperienced new hires joining the company, the Production Manager (PM) had the idea of using a stopwatch to measure employee efficiency in the hopes of finding areas of opportunity. What this PM quickly realized was that it wasn’t his team that needed redirection; it was his processes.

These are the 3 process changes that increased production and profitability across his shop:


1. The Chain of Approval

The first issue is well known to manufacturers of every industry: a simple supervisor sign off.

When a non-conformance required a Supervisor to sign off before the Operator could continue, the PM started his stopwatch. Sign offs are commonplace and, in most cases, a non-issue. However, in this instance, the only Supervisor with authority was on the opposite end of the shop floor.

After tracking the amount of time required to simply locate, wait and walk back to the work center with the Supervisor, a shocking realization came to the PM. In the time wasted locating approval, this Operator could have completed an addition 3 pieces of work. When taking a moment to consider how frequently these occurrences take place, the amount of waste impacting the bottom line quickly added up.

2. Change Management Control

The second major slow down occurred when an experienced operator caught an error in a plan’s work instructions. These instructions had been used by less experienced workers to complete dozens of parts over the past week.

Not only did work on that line need to be shut down until a fix could be planned and approved, but the parts that had already been completed were difficult to differentiate due to limited traceability.

This shift in the schedule caused bottlenecks at fixed-time ovens slowing down production even more. There was no quick fix and once again, the clock continued to tick cutting into profit and pushing delivery dates.

3. The Problem with Paper

Lastly, after seeing the negative impact of everyday processes on profitable time, the Production Manager returned to his desk. He pulled records of previous quarters in an effort to verify if what he had seen on the floor could be as common as he feared.

After spilling over binders of paper reports, searching through spreadsheets and digging through a homegrown Access database, the third problem became clear. Not only was the data in front of him unreliable, but the amount of time required to find the information he needed was as wasteful as wandering the shop floor for a sign off.



One Complete Solution

It was only after recognizing the root causes of waste that this manufacturer could explore potential solutions. After connecting with his manufacturing network and discussing potential solutions with multiple software vendors, he determined his shop needed a Manufacturing Execution System to get production under control.

Real-time production visibility, order traceability and complete process control were required to eliminate non-value-added time and increase production. The proper Supervisors could be alerted at the click of a button and management could update change orders across the entire shop in an instant eliminating walk-around time and increasing efficiency on every part.

The data collected from each build ensured Quality standards were met on every order and gave the management team the high level data they required to keep production on schedule.

The Quantum® MES/MOM delivers the order traceability, audit control and production efficiency your shop needs to compete in a global market. Complete orders ahead of schedule and under budget with the manufacturing system designed for your industry. Build it right with Quantum.


Manufacturing Software Experience | CIMx Software

For more than 20 years, CIMx has developed complete solutions for manufacturers. The experience and innovation behind CIMx systems have delivered decades of increased production and cost savings. Quantum® is designed to deliver the production control your team needs to build it right™, ahead of schedule and under budget.

Schedule your live Quantum demo with a CIMx Application Expert today!

What to Consider When Selecting a Manufacturing Software Vendor

Liz Hamedi | CIMx Software

In this day and age, customer service and reputable businesses are getting harder to find. There is more to the sustainability of a software system than just the promised functionality. In fact, a system is only as good as the support and the reputation of the company that maintains it. This means it is critical to find a vendor that proves they are trustworthy, knowledgeable and collaborative.

Avoid the Vendor that does it all.

If you’ve ever started down the software implementation path, you’ve likely been blindsided by costs that you hadn’t planned for.

Maybe you had to add a module or two to meet your core requirements. Maybe you needed to pay extra for support or additional training. Or maybe your vendor required you to purchase an additional service to upgrade or integrate?

Unfortunately, the list goes on and on. To combat this, look for a vendor that will not say “yes” to everything. A trustworthy vendor will ask the right questions to ensure you get what you need, without adding additional cost for little to no benefit towards solving your long term goal.

Find a Vendor that supports your buying process.

Your primary goal is to find a system that is reliable with minimum support needs. However, it is important to know that if something does go wrong, or if you have a question, you won’t need to waste time hunting down a response. Although you can never truly understand the future support structure until you become a customer, there are red flags throughout the sales process that you should look out for.

When you ask your sales rep a question or request a demonstration, how long does it take for them to respond back? If you find your buying process to be slowed or hindered because your vendor is unable to deliver, this will be a strong indication of their ongoing customer service.

Find a vendor that can see the big picture.

Most businesses have more than one system to support their production. For you, if all the different parts do not move in harmony, you will be left with more headache than efficiency. Find a vendor that is willing to partner with other software systems to ensure the end result is a positive one.

A good vendor will ask questions to understand the important systems you are currently using and how they impact production so that you have everything you need. It is important that they keep you focused on the primary goals and help you identify future opportunities for additional functionality or system integrations.

By focusing on a vendor that will care enough to ask questions about your most costly production issues and your long-term goals, you will be sure to succeed. You don’t need someone that will tell you they can do everything, because you don’t need everything. You need a vendor that has the expertise and the experience to guide you through a successful project, while also taking into account what is best for you and your shop, not just their bottom line.


Manufacturing Software Experience | CIMx Software

For more than 20 years, CIMx has developed complete solutions for manufacturers. The experience and innovation behind CIMx systems have delivered decades of increased production and cost savings. Quantum® is designed to deliver the production control your team needs to build it right™, ahead of schedule and under budget.

Schedule your live Quantum demo with a CIMx Application Expert today!

The Curious State of the MES Industry

Manufacturers shouldn’t expect MES projects to be late and over-budget, but many do. They should expect exceptional customer service and successful data migration, but that’s not what many suppliers offer.

By Kristin McLane, President of CIMx Software

Recently, I was in a Verizon store trying to transfer information from my old phone to a new device.  This is not rocket science.  We should know – our software has helped put the space shuttles, the Delta Rocket, commercial aircraft and satellites into the air.

This is a simple data transfer, moving my applications, names, numbers and other information from an old device to a newer, smoother, faster device.  After a few minutes in the store, I began to doubt Verizon could finish the job.  Could I still use the new phone without my data?  Of course – I could also start over and just copy what I needed, one application or contact at a time, but I didn’t want to.

Computer devices around 3d small person.

Working with an MES supplier shouldn’t be confusing or frustrating. Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

I know how easy the migration should be, because we’ve spent a lot of time, energy and brainpower working with data.  Last year, we introduced a new product offering that transfers data from any platform to any other platform.  We are using it to migrate, move and repair all kinds of data, including embedded data links and legacy databases that haven’t been updated for decades.

So why can’t Verizon move a few apps and files?  From what I can tell – they don’t want to.  They don’t feel it’s worth their time.  It’s an expensive use of their resources in an industry with consumers who have come to accept crappy customer service. For them, there is no value in offering the service.

And that’s when I started to think about the MES industry.

MES Suppliers versus Manufacturers

In 20 years in this business, I’ve never met a manufacturer that doesn’t have existing data they need to move to a new system.  Whether they have 20 years of data, or just 30 months, they need access in order to continue work. As a computer system ages, slowly drifting into obsolescence, access becomes difficult and the system starts holding back production.

Once they see the problem; most companies do nothing right away.  They take time (lots of it) to get everyone together to discuss what they need in their new system.  Prospects end up with requirements that read like a wish list for Santa.  Last year, we had a prospect tell us they had created a “very modest” list of requirements.  They wanted a quick ROI and were tightly controlling the project asks.  The sheet they sent had close to 250 line items (which make me wonder what the “not-modest” requirement list looked like).

Efficient Manufacturing

Are you letting MES expectations hold your project back? Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

This has become an industry standard because, much like the ill-fated and poorly equipped smart phone service providers, people have come to expect expensive, overly complex and mostly late projects from the software suppliers in our industry.  They believe an incredibly long and maddeningly-detailed requirement list is a necessity to play the game.  Suppliers are happy to play along, especially since most providers can’t deliver a project on-time or on-budget.

It’s true.  We constantly hear horror stories of projects gone wrong – delivered, but phenomenally over-budget, with functionality missing and a system that leaves the users disappointed.

When working with MES providers, companies create a huge list of asks to help protect themselves and their project.  If they’re going to jump in and spend the time and the money, they figure they need to get the bang for the buck.  Plus, if the project is going to under-deliver, the customer assumes it is better to fill up the requirements.

A Better Way to Manage MES Projects

Bigger projects don’t mean better results.  More service charges won’t deliver more effective software.  Adding another report or another piece of esoteric functionality isn’t going to protect you from failure (in fact, it will add to the complexity, which is never a good idea).  A brand-name (large provider) also does not guarantee success; the delivery may eventually come, but long after your needs have changed.

3d small people with a checklist

Work collaboratively with your MES supplier, and expect them to work collaboratively with you. Image by http://www.colourbox.com

Back to Verizon, who broadcast on commercials non-stop how they’re the largest this, the best that.  Offering the largest data network in the world doesn’t do anything if you force the customer to move information from one phone to another.  All that network power does me no good if I can’t access my contacts.  They are making their product less accessible.

Eventually, I did solve the problem on my own.  Shortly after leaving the store, thoroughly disgusted with the time wasted, the service (lacking) and the attitude (the 20-something Verizon rep cited her years in the industry as proof she could get the job done – before she totally failed at it), I was able to move my applications over.  Today, my phone and I are operating smoothly, despite any help from the supplier.

It’s true… the promise of a better network doesn’t mean better customer service. Similarly, the promise of a more expensive and complex MES does not mean a better system or improved production.

Take the time to work with the MES supplier to understand your needs and develop a project plan and requirement list. Together, you can design a project that benefits production, rather than setting everyone up for failure. Develop trust with the supplier and work collaboratively. Want to see what working collaboratively can do for you?  Ask for a shop floor analysis – it’s the first step toward seeing how an MES can benefit you.

Honestly, not every MES supplier can work like this. The focus on massive, overly complex projects using software developed decades ago is so embedded in our industry; some companies see project overruns and missed deadlines as the cost of doing business.  The supplier relies on those expectations and the customer cringes and comes to expect it… which is too bad, because it shouldn’t be that way.

So as not to leave you thoroughly discouraged, there are vendors who do what they say, and companies who believe the status quo isn’t good enough.  We offer written guarantees on price, project and timeline, and we don’t overpromise just to get a sale.  I don’t know another provider that’s out there that does what we do, but surely we can’t be the only one in the industry who provides projects on-time and on-budget?

In the meantime, I’m still looking for an honest telecommunications company who can manage a simple migration between phones.  Let me know if you find anyone.