Category Archives: manufacturing quality

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!

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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 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!

5 More Easy Shop Floor Quality Improvements

Production Control Systems and Quality Improvement

We are all in the quality business. Wasted time, scrapped materials and customer turnbacks reduce margins and damage our reputations. It’s only by putting the proper systems in place that our shops can achieve maximum efficiency and profitability.

With your existing production control system (PCS) and these five easy steps, your business can eliminate scrap and accelerate production in a matter of weeks.

  1. Review Non-Conformance Issues Daily
    Evaluate your previous day’s non-conformances in your morning production meeting. One competitive advantage your PCS provides is access to real-time production data. Don’t let your team revert back to weekly updates. Keep your processes as agile as your operators. You have all the data you need at your fingertips; use it.
  2. Monitor Quality Throughout Live Production
    Leverage buy-offs and tolerance checks at critical points throughout production. Stop non-conformances in their tracks with your Production Control System’s quality gates. If a check fails or a measurement is marked out of tolerance, use your PCS’s real-time alerts to notify the right team member to resolve the issue and keep production running. If you expect to increase both production velocity and quality rates, it’s essential that you monitor quality throughout production, not just at the end of the line.
  3. Properly Schedule Machine Maintenance and Tool Calibration
    Update and expand your machine maintenance program with digital control. Schedule more frequent maintenance to limit disruption or implement your PCS’s asset management capacity to track usage rates. Why risk falling out of compliance on a run when you have all of the tools you need in one system? Guarantee your customers that every operator, asset and machine is certified for its role in production.
  4. Create Standard Workaround and Rework Paths
    Plan standard workaround and rework paths to maintain production velocity when problems occur. Your ERP is an essential tool for running your business, but your Production Control System shines when production doesn’t go as planned. Take advantage of your PCS’s ability to map proactive solutions to problems from the common to the critical and resolve production issues before they have the chance to disrupt ship dates.
  5. Review Reports and Trend Analysis to Identify and Resolve Errors
    This is why you invested in a Production Control System in the first place. Successful shops require the visibility to track and control production with the agility to handle even the most complex of processes. Use reports and trend analysis to identify the source of common errors, and then utilize process control to eliminate errors in the future. Take control of your shop, eliminate scrap and deliver your customers the highest quality product available.

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Bridging the Gap between Your PLM and Manufacturing

Manufacturing and engineering are both symbiotic and disjointed. While manufacturing relies on engineering to do their work, engineers are not trained to provide manufacturing exactly what they need at the design phase; that’s further downstream.

These key differences require a bridge between the PLM tools in engineering and production operations on the shop floor.

It All Starts in Design

Engineers create a long list of documents during product design to ensure a product meets the customer’s needs and can be manufactured with the available materials, tools, machinery and people. Different products require different levels of complexity, including drawings, specifications, designs, materials, measurements and other detailed lists of requirements. A Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) system keeps all the information organized for the engineer.

This diversity, however, makes it more difficult for manufacturing, where work moves quickly and there’s not a lot of time to read. The PLM that was so useful during design cannot break down the work into operator-sized information packets for the shop floor.

Manufacturing Pushes the Pace

Manufacturing operates at a much faster pace than engineering. The shop floor doesn’t have time to digest complex information before beginning production. Even in the most labor-intensive, discrete production environments, operators work at the fastest possible pace.

Operators don’t have time to search for information on a drawing or spec sheet. If it’s not on the screen when operators need it, productivity and profitability fall drastically. Even a few minutes spent searching can make the difference between a profitable production run and a project overrun.

Manufacturers need to manage the production process with speed and precision; design engineers need details that inherently slow that production down.

Where is the Bridge?

The bridge lies between design and manufacturing. Design and manufacturing get the specific tools they need to do their jobs – tools that are significantly different.

  • PLM design is absolutely required in most modern, complex manufacturing settings. Complete control of engineering design increases competitiveness of the resulting product.
  • Engineering design for complex manufacturing can’t be done by the transactional ERP.
  • Current PLM product offerings meant to work in manufacturing require far too many interactions by the operators to be effective.
  • Companies need bi-directional data transfer between design and manufacturing. Production should provide valuable feedback to design.
  • Traditional MES systems (used on manufacturing shop floors) struggle to get information back to the PLM.

A Solution for Both Manufacturing and Design

Without the proper design, production can’t build correctly and without the detailed instructions, production can’t do its work. There is no sacrifice here that will work. As engineering information flows to the shop floor already, this part of the equation is complete. What’s missing is the critical link for manufacturing back to design and manufacturing engineering (there are holes in both areas traditionally).

What Can Help?

ERP systems can’t. These are transactional systems that will force the design and manufacturing engineers to separate every production step or list them as a single step without the associated, “nested” details that are so critical to the operators.

PLM systems can’t. We’ve already seen how these systems manage documents, but not the associated instructions. Operators can’t build from the documents, as they don’t have the time or experience, typically, to differentiate what specific work needs to be done at each step.

This leaves just the MES and even at that, most MES systems won’t touch the PLM without extensive programming and customization. Manufacturers also need process enforcement, work center or operator-based work instructions, quality control and access to all the PLM documentation that’s required to do the job.

Recently, we introduced a product platform that makes live communication between the PLM and the MES a reality, without the requirement for customization. While we understand many of the problems facing manufacturers, digging into this problem, we’ve found that we have only scratched the surface. Plenty of additional problems exist in connecting systems in the manufacturing environment. What other issues do you have? We’re interested to know.

Our goal is to break down the walls between engineering, design and the shop floor. That is where we see the real power of the Smart Factory or Manufacturing 2.0. Visit us online at www.CIMx.com and let us know what your biggest challenges are.

Getting to Zero in Manufacturing

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

For production, the goal shouldn’t be minimizing quality escapes, but eliminating them, and that requires the deep understanding of processes you only get with an MES.

A few months ago, I needed my furnace repaired. Winters in Ohio can be brutally cold, and we needed a solution fast. The repair company rushed the replacement part from a warehouse in Arizona (because the best place to keep furnace supplies is in the brutal heat of Arizona), only to have the part arrive broken.

I was furious (and still cold), the repair company apologetic, and the manufacturer defensive. After looking at potential solutions, we ended up going with another part supplier.  This single, broken furnace part led to a lost sale, a potentially lost customer (the repair company didn’t know if they could use the supplier again), additional charges, and a lot of aggravation – all because of a part that didn’t work.

As a manufacturer, how do you let a part out the door that doesn’t work? With so much potential risk, how do you not have processes in place for ensuring problems like this don’t happen?  The repair company tested the part the minute they received it, and quickly realized it wasn’t going to work. It wasn’t broken, there was a problem with the manufacturing – a problem quality control should have caught.

Identifying the Source of Quality Escapes

3d small people with a checklist

What can MES and Paperless Manufacturing do to improve quality? Image by http://www.colourbox.com

The problem in situations like this isn’t really the processes, but the lack of shop floor visibility. They don’t know what happens between the time an order comes in and the moment it ships, so unless EVERY single part is checked, there is going to be errors and problems that slip through.

For these manufacturers, quality control is reactive, rather than proactive. Broken parts are (hopefully) found and removed before they are shipped, preventing the immediate problems but ensuring you deal with the same issues again and again in the future.

The problem is not just broken products, but also parts or materials that don’t meet specs.  Rework will mitigate this loss, but finding it later after the complete production run adds to the cost of the rework.

The real cost of quality defects is much larger than many manufacturers realize. In the end, the cost of defects is significantly higher than the cost of a comprehensive solution to eliminate the defects.

A Comprehensive Solution for Improved Quality

To effectively address quality control, and stop shipping broken parts, you need a solution with the power to address the entire manufacturing value chain. Consider this –a Quality Management System will give you tools for disposition programs and for analyzing data, but it won’t offer the process enforcement and automated feedback loops necessary to eliminate the root cause of errors. Better production planning will help the shop floor to do their work better, and a simple data collection system will give you more data to analyze.  These systems are good at what they do, but none offer a complete solution capable of addressing the factors contributing to quality control problems.

Only an MES or paperless manufacturing system offers the complete manufacturing value chain visibility and control you need to truly address quality control.

With an MES, you have complete production visibility, with accurate and automated production records. With data collection, you can see in real time where the errors are occurring, and can design automated feedback loops to ensure problems are eliminated as they happen. You have control and visibility of the supply chain, ensuring parts and supplies meet exacting standards. By automating processes, monitoring production, and integrating best practices into production, you can begin to automate steps in a comprehensive quality control program that is a foundation of smart manufacturing.

This is what your customers have come to expect from a modern manufacturer, and there is no reason you can’t deliver what they expect.

Want to learn more, or see how you can start a modern quality control program, then contact CIMx for a personalized shop floor analysis with an application engineer – a simple first step to improving manufacturing quality.