Category Archives: Manufacturing Execution Systems

Defining the ERP and MES Connection

When problems crop up in production, savvy manufacturers immediately search for a solution.

Many turn to manufacturing software like Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) or begin looking to their existing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system for the functionality they are missing. Confusion creeps in at this point. As software providers expand their offering through development and acquisition, the lines blur between MES and ERP.

Removing the confusion and clearly defining the roles of the MES and ERP will eliminate this problem and help as companies plan for the future of their business.

The Role of the MES and ERP

Just as no accountant should ever use an MES to balance the books or run financials, no ERP will ever offer the functionality necessary for complex manufacturing. It can’t be done.

The MES delivers the workflow-based functionality required for discrete manufacturing. With a system based around the production value chain, it manages work and operations, and links data in a production cycle. Mistakes and quality escapes are flagged, allowing rework paths to be implemented. You can send a bill through an MES, but it’s not the optimal solution to billing.

The front office requires transaction-based functionality for financials, customer management and human resources. Data is input and tagged, creating data links, but at that point the process stops. There’s no workflow control because it’s not necessary. You could track a change order in a transaction system, but inefficiencies will cause the shop floor to struggle.

Some companies market their products as a “Manufacturing ERP.” They offer minimal manufacturing functionality tacked onto their core ERP product, often as a pricey module. It looks great in demos and claims to support some production processes, but a transaction system will never deliver the workflow control and visibility discrete manufacturers need. The inefficiencies result in “workarounds” your operators develop to overcome features that don’t work.

Fitting your Software Systems Together

Many companies initially turn to their ERP for manufacturing solutions, mistakenly believing a single software solution will lower costs and IT requirements. It doesn’t. A supplier selling an MES and ERP solution has either put a shiny “MES” veneer on top of basic ERP functionality or purchased an existing MES and completed an integration that you can’t control and they won’t be updating. You end up with an expensive solution with built-in inefficiencies, expensive upgrades, and gaps in manufacturing functionality.

The ERP and MES are separate, standalone systems that work best together when the user (your company) designs the integration points. This way, your front office has a software solution designed and built for their needs. Similarly, the shop floor and production team have the specialized functionality, visibility and control to keep up with the pace and complexity of manufacturing.

Since you aren’t buying expensive modules or customized functionality to awkwardly extend a software solution, you lower the overall cost. You have a clear upgrade path for both the MES and the ERP, and never struggle with an outdated solution.

Your company works from an integrated, cohesive production and business database. The reports use accurate data, sourced from the systems best positioned to collect and intelligently link information to increase production and efficiency while cutting costs.

Getting Started with Data-Driven Manufacturing

Once you’ve decided to eliminate inefficiency and embrace data-driven, smart manufacturing with a system like Quantum, the next question is where to begin.

Many mistakenly believe a software infrastructure project must start with the ERP, but the truth is it often makes more sense to implement an MES first.

Companies report a much quicker ROI for manufacturing software. The right manufacturing system will cost significantly less than an ERP, can be installed quickly and will pay immediate dividends through cost savings, and lower scrap and waste. The MES will reduce the scope and cost of the ERP by clearly defining the requirements of the enterprise system. With the MES in place, you won’t be pressured to purchase additional modules or software.

With manufacturing software you shield production from the disruption that often accompanies an ERP installation or upgrade. You can safely update other software when you are ready, with the comfort that your production data and shop floor are secure.

Want to know more, or see what benefits you will discover with manufacturing software? Contact CIMx for a free shop floor analysis with one of our Application Engineers. As always, the report is yours even if you decide Quantum isn’t the system for you.

What Quantum MES Can Do for You

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications at CIMx Software

The internet can be a confusing place for anyone doing research – especially for manufacturers researching Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES).

Research leads to more questions than solid answers. Finding the truth among lofty, but hollow, claims from ERP vendors that don’t know production can be a challenge. To clear up confusion, we’ll explain exactly what Quantum can do for you and other discrete manufacturers that are struggling to manage and improve production. Companies need solutions, not questions, to meet the complex demands of modern manufacturing.

Connecting the Shop Floor to the Top Floor

Quantum MES provides a data-driven edge for manufacturers by intelligently linking the shop floor to the top floor.

In the past, companies would struggle to manage production processes. Errors would be found only after manufacturing was complete, requiring expensive and time-consuming rework. Rampant inefficiencies, mistakes and non-productive work were common. Getting the big picture on shop floor was difficult, if not impossible. Data and information on production was either lost, inaccurate, or kept in isolated databases.

Without timely and accurate production data or process control, the company struggled to solve these problems. With scheduling based on guesswork and not capacity analysis, change orders requiring a printer and a red sticker, and a shop floor grappling with inefficiency, measurable improvement is difficult.

Companies using Quantum efficiently manage production operations by ensuring critical data and information is accurate and available when and where it is needed. The software eliminates guesswork and confusion with a built-in communication system. All aspects of the production process are integrated as everyone on the team uses the same and most up to date information. Many processes are automated, eliminating the source of errors and ensuring operators focus on production.

Smart Tools for Manufacturing

Since the software maps to and mirrors existing production operations, manufacturers find it easy to begin using the tools in Quantum, immediately improving operations. There are no extra modules or additions in Quantum, so you’ll have:

  • Built-in Finite Scheduling delivering real-time WIP dashboards to eliminate production and shipping uncertainty;
  • A closed-loop Quality System to identify non-conformances as they happen and automate rework to ensure timely delivery;
  • Process Conformance supporting standardized processes to dramatically increase accuracy and reduce production time;
  • Document Control that eliminates paper by digitizing work processes to remove errors;
  • Asset Management to track business assets throughout the manufacturing value chain, providing complete traceability for the most demanding regulatory requirements.

These tools are part of the complete manufacturing solution in Quantum. Since the software simplifies and enables the capture of relevant data across the production cycle, integrated Data Analytics delivers insights in real time to support data-driven business decisions that accelerate the benefits of the software. Visualization and feedback loops provide a critical foundation for Smart Manufacturing. With Quantum, your business will synchronize and integrate business operations from the top floor to the shop floor.

With industry-focused configurations, enterprise and multi-site options, and turnkey implementation and training – Quantum delivers error-free manufacturing and enterprise wide visibility for companies of any size at a price you can afford. Contact CIMx today to see what Quantum can do for you.

Overcoming Failure: Simple Steps to Improve Manufacturing Software

By Kristin McLane, President of CIMx Software

Not long ago, I wrote about a concept known as “sunk cost.”  The Sunk Cost Fallacy is a cognitive bias that compels us to cling to an investment even after there is little to no chance of a beneficial return. We feel an unnecessary commitment to decisions of the past, even where we’ve lost our initial investment, and so we keep pouring more resources into it.  For example, continuing to invest in a failed business or clinging to a relationship even after its gone bad.

I’ve heard Annie Duke, a World champion poker player, discuss the Sunk Cost Fallacy, and I’m fascinated by her lessons on sunk cost, loss aversion and Decision Science. She recently wrote a blog about supermarket lines and sunk cost.  There are valuable lessons for manufacturers in her blog when you consider the amount of money you spend on infrastructure.

Sunk Costs on the Shop Floor

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Don’t let sunk costs sink your productivity and shop floor software? Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

As Annie Duke explains in the blog, “Our problem is that we don’t recognize that we have later chances to make a new and better decision… Instead, we either think we are done deciding and ignore new information, or think the new decision should give weight to irrelevant factors.”

Much the same could be said of manufacturing. You have to invest to stay in business. Sometimes that investment is in software. Many companies, if not most, are loathe to spend money on these systems as the software or the people who sell it don’t seem honest or can’t be bothered to understand your problems; they’ll sell you whatever they can whether it works or not.

(CIMx tries to eliminate these problems through our sales cycle, but that’s not the focus of today’s blog.)

Once you pay for software, it becomes a sunk cost. You can’t consider the initial investment in the next decision you make. So, what do you do when the software isn’t giving you the return you need? What do you do when the system isn’t working like it should, or the supplier tells you the project is running late and significantly over-budget?  At that point, you need to consider your Return on Failure.

Maximizing Your Return on Failure

We have a history of working with companies that need to improve manufacturing software.  Companies come to us almost monthly with failed software implementations; some of these companies need help, others need an all-out system rescue.  We’ve helped with a total system replacement, ensured the data they needed was in the system, or just consulted and supplied services and software to help the manufacturer get back on their feet.  You’d be amazed at how many software providers desert their customers before the system they installed was fully usable.

In an article from the Harvard Business Review, authors Julian Birkinshaw and Martine Haas describe the theory of Return on Failure and how the most successful companies in the world use failure to grow rapidly and sustainably.  Return on Failure is measured by the information you obtain through the failure (call this “lessons learned”) and the amount initially invested.  No matter the investment, if you can maximize the information learned, you come out ahead.

To apply this in manufacturing, once you’ve selected and started to implement a system, all is not lost if you find it does not meet your needs.  Learn where the holes are.  Create a list of what’s still needed.  Rapidly identify what’s broken.  Then, and most importantly, apply the concept of sunk cost.

man under money on white background. Isolated 3D image

How much is inefficient software costing you? Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

The amount you’ve already invested in a system is irrelevant to the problem you’re trying to solve – a software system that’s currently not doing what you need it to do.  Unless the provider of the failed system can bail you out for the best price with the best result, why should you continue investing in failure?  The money you’ve spent shouldn’t factor into your next decision.  Are you worried about introducing another vendor and creating a bigger failure?  If you do nothing, then you’re accepting a shop floor digital infrastructure that will always be less than optimal. You’re basically crippling the profit driver of your company.

I would suggest it is MOST dangerous to continue investing with a supplier who has failed.  I’d also suggest a consultant can help identify the problems, but they can’t sustainably deliver an ROI for the future.  That’s not the strength of a consultant. You need a solution to the problem.

Increasing your Return on Failure involves learning from failure and creating a strategy for improving results in the future, and that’s where CIMx can help.

We’ve done it before.  Numerous times.  Our procedures are built to rapidly identify the gaps in your processes and determine the optimal strategy and solution.  With a full staff of engineers, shop floor analysis tools and products that can rapidly and robustly help you move data, we work with you to determine and implement a solution to get you up and running as quickly as possible.

Customers come to us not only with software implementations that failed, but also aging systems that are now failing or crippled by obsolete infrastructures.  We’ve even worked with customers (multiple ones if you can believe it) buying parts for aging servers off e-Bay.  Continuing to invest in systems like these represent sunk cost bias.  Continuing to pour money and resources into a failing system is not only foolish, but it’s holding your business back from optimizing production and profit.

Lessons Learned from Failure.

Each time we work with a manufacturer confronted with a failed (or failing) software system, we do our own lessons learned.  Here are a few areas that we can help, addressing each area Birkinshaw and Haas refer to:

Costly customers cost you dearly

If you are losing money regularly, you may not know your production costs.  Add manufacturing variability to that (customers changing one or more parameters on standard product), and the production estimate guessing game gets ever more dire.  With a solid system in place you can confidently estimate your production costs, and then run comparisons to determine the actual costs.  Track it daily, weekly, monthly or yearly.  You’re in control of the data.

Lack of market knowledge steals profitability

Do you know what’s really going on in your industry?  Plug competitive data into your analytics engine and see how your operation stacks up.  What if you were able to save 5% on the time it takes to complete a single shop floor operation?  Would that be the difference between a productive, profitable project and one that costs you and your customer time, money and aggravation?  The benefits you accumulate with a successful software system can be the difference between success and failure.

Alignment with the corporate strategy increases customer success

If your company were to make a broad change in how they manufacture for customers, could you identify how it would affect your ability to deliver for independent accounts?  Manufacturing software can provide a view, part by part, of how change impacts you and your customers.  If you were able to implement that change without increasing costs across your customer base, wouldn’t that increase your ability to compete?

Supporting a strong culture keeps you fully staffed

Failing systems have a negative impact on your team as well.  In a world where it is increasingly difficult to acquire and keep great employees, you need to do everything possible to help your shop floor staff to do their work.  Make their job easier by getting them the information they need.  Give them a system that empowers employees, providing access and feedback to both engineering and sales, increasing collaboration across the company.  We can provide you tools to do this.

Looking to the future provides continued improvement

Once you’ve got the right system in place, don’t stop there.  You need to continue to improve to remain competitive.  Business and manufacturing analytics provides a view into future trends.  We use trailing twelve charts to help us see forward trends.  Use this information to overcome production issues and make better decisions.

Next Steps to Increase Your Return

We’re proud of our expertise in overcoming failure for manufacturers, and want to continue helping companies in need of a technical lifeline, which is why we’re introducing a new program – the software trade-in.  We can’t take your current software licenses (and quite frankly, we don’t want them) but we’ll empower you to exchange them, license for license, with a CIMx Software system that will work for you.  We’re experts at rapid installation with a focus on strong investment returns, and our expertise will ensure you quickly replace failing systems with software that empowers production and manufacturing.

If you don’t want a heavy sales pitch, contact me directly to hear more about this, or talk to any member of my team.  We’ve made a business out of helping manufacturers improve production, and we’re ready to share our expertise.

Talk to you soon.

How to Increase Efficiency with New Employees Using MES

An MES or Paperless Manufacturing system offers the most effective resource in onboarding new manufacturing production employees.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

We recently spoke to a manufacturer about implementing an MES. Business was booming, new orders were coming in and a system would solve many of their problems. They needed to increase production, decrease scrap, and track orders with better scheduling and production records.

Even so, they were reluctant to implement the software because they weren’t sure how to train their employees, new and old, on the system. “It’s going to be complex,” they told us. “I don’t know if we can manage everything.”

MES and Complexity

I won’t lie… some MES are complex.

There are systems with multiple pull down menus, floating windows, disconnected data, and a bazillion fields to fill out for the simplest function in the system.

But, if you have a modern system focused on supporting productivity and offering automated functions, you have an MES that reduces complexity in the manufacturing process.  In fact, with some systems (like Quantum) users can be trained in an afternoon.

There is no better way to onboard new employees than with an MES, especially one designed to minimize complexity like Quantum.  Consider this:

  • Improved planning.

With a strong MES, planning can be improved with additional, contextualized information such as visual work instructions, safety instructions, and best practices. You can ensure workers are using only the most relevant information. Rather than teaching new employees how to navigate paper packets that may (or may not) have all the information they need, they automatically receive the information they need, when they need it.

  • Procedural Enforcement.

With procedural enforcement, you can be sure the shop floor is doing the correct work at each step in the process.  Procedural enforcement creates a behavioral system that makes best practices second nature.  The system walks new workers through process steps accurately and correctly.

  • Automated tolerance checks.

Automated tolerance checks identify quality escapes immediately, mitigating quality problems with new employees and offering on-the-job quality training. New employees learn immediately what causes a quality problem and can adjust the behavior before it becomes a habit. Real-time analytics build collaboration and process improvement for new employees.

  • Contextualized data collection

Data collection is a critical step in production visibility and quality standards, but it’s often an afterthought. Notes are scribbled on the traveler after the work is done, and is more guesswork than precision. An MES makes it easy for employees to easily collect critical data at the precise moment in the production process, often automating data collection.  This eliminates the guesswork and lets new employees focus on their work.

  • System familiarity.

Today, many young people, the largest source of new employees, grew up using software systems like Quantum and MES.  They are comfortable accessing information in the software, completing work in conjunction with the system. The training with an MES, a modern MES, will be significantly less than trying to teach paper-based manufacturing that is more tribal knowledge than process.

Increasing Productivity with Paperless Manufacturing

Rather than fighting against technology, it’s time to embrace the advantages offered by manufacturing software and a modern, user-friendly MES.

You shouldn’t see new employees as a reason to avoid change, but a time to implement, especially as the younger generations have become more and more comfortable with using software and technology in their work. Not only is paper less efficient, but training is guesswork with no standard or platform to provide a foundation for production.

Want to learn more, or see how easily you can implement a paperless manufacturing system? Contact CIMx today for a personalized shop floor analysis. We’re always happy to help.

Are There “Gentlemen’s Rules” in MES Sales?

Many software suppliers are more focused on the sale than the solution when working with customers.

By Kristin McLane, President of CIMx Software

Twenty-something years ago, software demos gave potential customers a good idea of the system they were buying.

Today, as software functionality continues to expand and teams of consultants scramble for profit (read our blog on Tesla for more on that), it’s difficult for manufacturers to know what they are purchasing.  The skill in selling software has grown faster than the market’s ability to discern fact and fiction.  The rules in the software market have gotten skewed, and without rules, how do we play (or purchase a system)?

Gentlemen’s Rules in Cycling

I was an avid cyclist.  After competing for 18 years on the cycling circuit in the US, I’m content now to watch the Tour de France in a comfortable armchair.

MES and the Human Element

Does your implementation team really know the software and your processes? Illustration from http://www.colourbox.com

The Grand Tour is an amazing spectacle.  If you live in France, the month of July is dedicated to the sporting event.  It is called one of the most grueling sporting events in the world.  For 21 days straight, almost 200 cyclists (usually 22 teams of 9 riders) compete in road stages that make Death Valley seem leisurely.

In cycling, there’s always been an unwritten gentlemen’s code of conduct. If you are a rider, a competitive one, you know it.  And you live by it…

Cycling is, at its heart, a team sport.  Inevitably, the entire group (the peloton) doesn’t ride together – the group will split as the race speeds up or the hills get steep.  In these situations, the gentlemen’s code ensures:

  • you never attack the leader if he or she is down;
  • you work together and everyone takes a turn, and;
  • if you’re not able to work with the group, you may sit on the back (where there’s less wind and it takes less effort) but you won’t participate in the sprint or receive points on the day.

The code subtly manages the race.  You don’t win if you can’t do the work.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like the software industry has a similar rule…

As a customer, you want to get the best product for your business.  The purpose of the demo(s), the Request for Proposals (RFPs), and the other stages of the software purchase process is to determine how well the system will serve your manufacturing needs.  The process should let you “try out the team,” who will be providing your new system, ensuring only a company that can do the work will earn the job.

But, that’s not how it works today.  Many suppliers use resellers so they never work with an end user. Other suppliers are so big, there are layers and layers of bureaucracy between you and the people who really know the software.  Most customers only meet the sales team, and are introduced to a few people on the installation project leads – a team focused on sales and collecting commission or service charges, and not meeting the goals of the implementation.

How are those implementations working out?  How many companies suffered with a poor software installation when the salesperson (who was well-liked liked) made promises the solution couldn’t keep?

Implementing a Code of Conduct for Software Sales

Confidence Button Shows Assurance Belief And Boldness

Are you confident your team is focused on shop floor improvement? Illustration by www,colourbox.com

Let’s go back to my gentlemen’s code theory.  If the sales team tells is focused on closing the sale, are they really worried about what your needs will be in the future?  When you have an issue, are they there to help you, or are they counting on your service charges each time a problem comes up?  Are the sales or implementation team best positioned to answer your questions?  You never even meet the real software experts (if there are some).  In fact, it’s not in the interest of some companies to review every option or potential problem before an implementation, because their sales model is based on the additional service charges they’ll be getting from you.

I’m not suggesting you find a better salesperson.  It certainly helps the process, but I think you need to look deeper.  With the increase in consultants, and the constant attrition in the marketplace as smaller companies are eaten by the monolithic software enterprises, the “team” concept in software sales has disappeared.  As software companies absorb functionality from other systems, finding someone, anyone, who understands the software enough to provide adequate, or useful, support, is almost impossible. This leads to higher cost, additional complexity, and a software product that never works the way it was sold.

A gentlemen’s code of conduct would help eliminate many of these problems.  Consider this:

  • The software supplier should walk a customer through the entire implementation process (eliminating those “surprise” service charges that creep into many projects).
  • No system should be installed without an upgrade path. Systems shouldn’t fade into obsolescence.  (Read more about it here.  It’s critical.)
  • The software supplier should offer a guarantee and benchmarks for the system and implementation. They should take some risk in the project, and not expect the customer to carry the burden.
  • No product should require a manufacturer to completely change their processes and work instructions. Too often the shop floor ends up serving the software, rather than the software supporting production.

I’m sure every person who has ever worked with a software supplier could add to this list, but it’s a start, and we need to start somewhere.

Will Your Supplier Go the Distance?

We should all work for our customers like members of a cycling team.

This year’s Tour has been one for the books.  Last week’s stage to Mont Ventoux reminded me of a software installation gone awry.  With winds topping 60 to 100 kms/hr, race officials cancelled the last 6 kilometers of the race.  None of the teams complained, even though the decision hindered the advantage of the top climbers.  Unfortunately, many people had camped on the side of the road for those final 6 kilometers, and as word spread, those people waiting at the top started to make their way down the mountain.  The crowded roads caused the leader to crash badly.

If something like this happened during an MES implementation, many suppliers would sigh and extend the schedule, halt production on the shop floor while they fixed the problem, or call procurement with more service charges.  Installation is a tricky process and things go wrong.  Is your software vendor willing to change the requirements or project plan when problems happen?  How painful will the service charges be?  How will they work with you?

If you have a problem, will your team (if you even have one) do what the leader did on Mont Ventoux?  With a wrecked bike and watching other groups pass him as he waited for a team car, he began to run.  Running in the Tour de France?  In 25 years, I’d never seen it.  He did what it took to keep the winning jersey with Team Sky.  And he delivered.

That’s the difference between working with a team focused on your goals and with people who really care about your success and the product they offer, and working with just another software reseller.

What Tesla Teaches You about MES

The software sales process has never been customer-centric, but that may be changing.

By Kristin McLane, President of CIMx Software

Researching and buying software is a horrible job.

When you buy a commodity, many rely on the “seeing-is-believing” methodology.  Until you can hold a product in your hand, feel and use it, see it in action, the buyer will be reluctant to let go of their money.

Have you ever tried to hold software in your hand? Can you imagine “trying-out” an MES without training or an implementation?  Software is already one of the most challenging things to sell, and MES even more challenging.

You can demonstrate software, but rarely will an MES do exactly what the customer wants or needs.  Remember our last blog on manufacturers crafting requirement lists with 250 items or more?  No product will exactly match all 250 the way a customer wants (unless they pay for high-priced customization and additional complexity.)

We recognize an MES is not easy to buy, but there are actions suppliers can take to benefit the customer.

A Lesson from Tesla

Not all commodities rely on “seeing-is-believing.”  Tesla has turned the car industry on its head by not following conventional wisdom.

There’s a Tesla dealer near my house where I can look at a single turquoise blue S model sitting in a showroom.  I can sit in the car.  I can see it and touch it, but I can’t turn it on.  I imagine the road underneath my feet as the ever-so-smooth sales guy talks me through its performance, offering an impression, but still not the experience itself…

Despite Tesla’s reluctance to just give the customer what they think they want – the showroom’s always full.  People are buying these cars without driving them, paying $30, $40, even $70,000 dollars without demanding the “just-because-I’m-here,” discount.

Tesla broke the mold.  Where other electric car makers went after the young, hip, eco-conscious millennials and cost-conscious seniors, Musk went directly for the luxury car market.  He identified a better way of selling his product.

The Flaw in the MES Sales Process

So what’s that have to do with MES and software sales?

man under money on white background. Isolated 3D image

IS the software sales process for MES working for you? Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

It’s simple.  People expect software to be incredibly complex.  Companies think they’ll have to change their processes and labor through a long “learning” period.  They expect the project to be a major investment in time, money, resources and effort.

Software suppliers are counting on this. They offer products with significant “service” charges attached to them, and a whole team (you are paying for) to help you through the process so they can capitalize the expectations.

The software sales guy is not helping, either.  They only make a commission when you buy it.  There’s incentive for him or her to tell you what you want to hear.  The supplier eagerly agrees to every one of the requirements, seeing the project and price grow like a hungry, bloated monster.

Going back to the “seeing-is-believing” conundrum in software sales, you need to trust the sales person to answer every question and help you navigate the purchase process.  The sales person is only making money if you spend it, so they keep telling you what you want to hear.

Sound miserable?  It is.

A Better Way to Sell Paperless Manufacturing

Most companies are happy to sell manufacturing software this way, but there are better options.

For example, our business model is focused on software products, and not software services. Our goal is to make money when you use our product, and not when you ask us to fix the product because it’s not working the way you want it to.

We take a consultative approach to sales. We make sure there is a technical resource or application engineer to answer questions honestly, and not just a sales rep. We know our solution may not be right for everyone, and we’ll tell a prospect to look elsewhere if we can’t adequately help them.

We also offer a guarantee.  We’ve talked about our guarantees before, but I’m not just selling us here.  I’m selling anyone in this industry that’s willing to provide you a written guarantee as part of the project – they will meet your written requirements for the amount of money in the proposal.  If they’re able to do that, I’d trust them.

Finally, with CIMx you have personalized demos. Our goal is to show (as close as possible) what the experience will be like on the shop floor. We put your material into the system and mirror your shop floor processes, offering you as close to a “see” as possible.

It’s a different way of selling software, it doesn’t follow conventional wisdom and it doesn’t appeal to everyone, but if you’d like to learn more then contact us today.

As for that Tesla, I haven’t gotten to the point where I’m willing to buy one yet, but I still admire the approach Tesla is taking to re-invent the car-buying process, even if I can’t feel the hum of the engine and purr of the road beneath my wheels.

6 Tips for Forecasting an ROI for MES

Assessing the potential ROI for an MES is difficult, but you can improve results by recognizing risk factors that will negatively impact the overall return.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

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Identify ROI risk to more accurately your return for an MES. Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

Forecasting the ROI for an MES is a critical step for any company investigating manufacturing software. While identifying a nice, round number that will make the accountants feel good is the ultimate goal, its exceedingly difficult before the MES has been implemented. An MES potentially impacts all areas of the manufacturing value chain, and with so many factors any estimate becomes more conjecture than science.

A much easier, and many times more fruitful, exercise is to identify potential ROI detractors of an MES. Once you identify potential detractors (if there are any) you can better see how difficult it will be to reach your ROI goals. A project with many detractors will take much longer to reach an ROI than one without detractors.

MES Risk Factors

Here are 6 common risk factors we see in an MES project:

  1. Cost. The cost of the system is the biggest risk factor. How much are you going to pay? Consider more than the license fees – look at the service charges, the cost of integrations, consulting fees, hardware costs, and more. Many times, these added costs are significantly more than the initial fees.
  2. Customization. When it comes to any software system, the more changes or custom code you place on top of the initial software, the more expensive and risky the installation will be – decreasing the eventual return.
  3. Schedule. Once you decide to purchase a software system, the longer it takes to set-up, install, and start using the MES, the more difficult it is to achieve an ROI. Every week you wait is costing money.
  4. Flexibility. Software shouldn’t reflect the manufacturing needs at a single moment in time, because those needs will change. How quickly and easily will the system adapt? Do you need to go back to the supplier for each change, or can your team make the changes?
  5. Upgrades. New technology and market changes are impacting manufacturing at an increasing rate. Is there an upgrade path and plan? What is the cost for an upgrade? Software without a clear, and efficient, upgrade path will become inefficient as it ages.

Anyone that promises you an inclusive and comprehensive ROI for an MES is either lying or delusional. The cost of misunderstandings between the supplier and customer leads to upscoping and slipped schedules, increasing implementation service fees and frustration – ROI project-killers.  Estimates, forecasts and guarantees should be the goal before an implementation, which is why risk factors such as these are so important. Each risk factor will significantly increase the time necessary to reach an ROI. Eliminating risk factors without loss of functionality will ensure a rapid ROI on the system.

Want to learn more, or receive a free shop floor analysis to see how an MES can benefit your company? Then contact CIMx today to learn more about paperless manufacturing. We’re always happy to help.