Category Archives: Manufacturing Execution System

The 9 Most Common Manufacturing Symptoms, and How to Cure Them

The 9 Most Common Manufacturing Symptoms, and How to Cure Them
When looking for a solution to manufacturing problems, it’s important that you find the cure rather than just treating the symptoms.


Common Manufacturing Symptoms

Every manufacturer faces daily frustrations. Problems crop up that slow production, increase paperwork and waste resources. It isn’t until these issues start impacting the bottom line that solving the problem becomes a priority. Unfortunately, by that time, the damage has been done.

Think of your day-to-day production issues as symptoms and your manufacturing software as the doctor. You may schedule a check-up for a minor pain, but you expect your doctor to address the underlying issues. If your doctor only focuses on curing the symptoms, you’ll be back in their office with a similar problem the next week.

Manufacturers share a lot of their symptoms with our team when discussing potential production solutions. Here are some of the most common.

The Most Common Manufacturing Symptoms:

  • Decreases in Quality
  • Increases in customer turnbacks
  • Generating too much scrap
  • Missing ships dates
  • Increases in overtime
  • Frequently failing audits
  • Unreliable production records
  • Misplacing orders
  • Losing customers

You can put a band-aid on any of these problems by installing sidecar modular systems, but inevitably, that symptom will find a way to manifest in another area of your shop. Modular systems rely on this “finger in the dam” approach to keep you coming back for more. Your shop doesn’t need another short-term solution. It needs the cure.


The Cure is Production Control

In every manufacturing symptom listed above, the underlying issue connects back to a single problem: a lack of end-to-end production control.

The right MES enforces Quality and provides your supervisors real-time visibility on every order. Process control equates to less operator errors, which increases Quality and eliminates customer turnbacks.

Higher Quality eliminates scrap, cuts wasted resources, keeps production on schedule and brings your project in under budget. If you’re ahead of schedule you aren’t paying for overtime or rushed shipping costs. Your business is charging the same amount with less overhead while building trust with your customers.

In addition to end-to-end production control, a true MES collects data on every order in a permanent as-built record. This eliminates the tremendous amount of time and manual data entry errors that plague production. With production under control and your order data all automatically logged in a single, complete as-built record, audits are a breeze.


Next Steps

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. Cure your shop floor problems, with Quantum.

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

Production Control from Coast to Coast

Quantum connects and controls production for US manufacturers.

Contracting more orders than you have the resources to complete seems like a great problem to have to most manufacturers. However, it’s the consequences of success that have forced many unprepared manufacturers to close shop. Overtime hours chip away at profit margins, over-worked employees become more likely to commit errors and late delivery frustrates longtime customers.

The irony is that the same processes that elevate a company to success can ultimately become that company’s downfall. To succeed in manufacturing, your shop must automate data-capture, enforce build conformance and direct production with real-time WIP dashboards. Keep your delivery promises to every customer and continue your business on the path to success with a production control system designed for every stage of manufacturing.

One CIMx customer was growing at a rapid rate. Business had taken such a positive turn that the company needed to expand operations to the West Coast. To guarantee the level of Quality was consistent at their new facility the company selected Quantum to connect and control production from coast-to-coast.


Case Study: Production Control from Coast to Coast

The Problem
An East Coast electronics manufacturer was growing. Overtime hours skyrocketed and rushed shipping costs began impacting their already narrow margins. This increase in work was welcomed, but resources were thin. To accommodate the increased demand, a secondary shop was scheduled to open on the West coast.

“We were getting by,” explained one production supervisor, “but there were problems we didn’t have solutions for… no records and no good way to track work. We had people just standing around the shop because they were missing information or materials.”

The Solution
Quantum was implemented at both facilities to connect and control the entire enterprise under one sustainable platform. By utilizing Quantum’s advanced planning center and end-to-end production controls, the manufacturer was able to enforce best practices on every build, increase quality standards and track operator/order data from both locations.

In a matter of months, both shops were on schedule and operating at a level of quality and efficiency never before thought possible. By utilizing digital work packets, automatic tolerance checks and real-time WIP quality alerts, the manufacturer was able to prevent common operator errors, stay on schedule and enforce engineering changes from 3,000 miles away.

This customer has continued to grow and is once again expanding their facilities. Record, report and react to errors on your shop floor before they become bottlenecks. Support compliance certification and become the supplier your customers go to first when a job has to be completed on schedule. Build it right™, with Quantum.


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.

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.

 

 

 

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.

Process Improvement graph.

Use Your Data for Accurate Production Costs

For manufacturers, accurate estimates are critical to managing costs and margins. If estimates are based on guesswork: bids can be lost, delivery times missed or costs can spiral out of control. Too often, operators will pencil-whip work times on their way out the door rather than accurately tracking and recording their work. This skews the limited data available causing misinformed directives from the top.  When both the historical data and the analytics at the foundation of estimates are suspect, problems quietly grow costing the company money that has to be made up in additional production.

Turn Production Data into Profit

Accurate estimates require both clean historical data and production visibility, both of which are provided by the Quantum Production Control System (PCS). Let’s look at a few areas a PCS can enhance your estimates:

  • Accurate Labor and Production Data

Know who did what and for how long during production, and then turn that data into more precise estimates. The PCS automatically tracks labor and production through standard use of the system. This includes machine time and labor, so management can see how much time, effort, materials and parts are required to complete work. Over time, as accurate data is accumulated, the company can begin providing more accurate estimates and labor loading.

  • Identify and eliminate scrap

Scrap can turn profitable products into an expense for manufacturers, and yet many companies struggle to understand the cause. The production control system collects production data that reveals where and how scrap is generated. The PCS links the scrap to the work being done at the time it occurs. With this information, the manufacturer can either eliminate the root cause of scrap, or better estimate standard losses in production.

  • Focus on profitable work

Once you are tracking labor and production costs, leverage the data to identify and prioritize the most profitable work. Refine your gross manufacturing margin using production data to identify products and goods with a higher gross margin. With this information, you can make more profit on every sale and shipment. The company makes more and spends less.

Increasing Profit Velocity

Many companies look at a production control system to solve a specific problem such as a failed audit, late shipments, or poor visibility into Work in Progress (WIP). Even with the solution in place, the company finds more value in the critical data the system feeds to the sale and production cycle. With higher gross margins, accurate estimates, and control over scrap and production the company finds expenses go down and profits up.

If you’re ready to take control of production costs and enhance your profit on every product built, contact CIMx Software today to learn more about Quantum. Discover what a PCS can do for you.

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.

The Broken Promises of Manufacturing Innovation

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

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

The Truth about Market Consolidation

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

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

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

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

Fighting Back Against Market Consolidation

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

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

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

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

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