Category Archives: manufacturing technology

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 5 Reasons Why Everyone Hates Manufacturing Software

The 5 Reasons Why Everyone Hates Manufacturing Software

No one enjoys researching shop floor systems. You have plenty of other responsibilities on your plate and frankly, you didn’t get into manufacturing to browse software recommendation websites.

We’ve compiled the 5 most common reasons people hate researching manufacturing software, the red flags to avoid and recommendations for success.

Continue reading

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.

What it Takes to Succeed with Machine Maintenance

Manufacturers invest millions in machines and equipment. These high dollar assets provide the foundation of successful and efficient manufacturing, and yet many companies rely on a spreadsheet, a plastic binder hanging from a hook, and the memory and experience of employees to maintain that critical investment.

If a machine goes down, production stops. Work has to be re-routed, putting ship dates and orders at risk. If work has to be done by a partner company, production costs will skyrocket. Scrap, higher production costs and late shipments are common consequences of machine problems.

Modern shop floors can’t rely on spreadsheets, plastic sleeves, and memory for machine maintenance. Machine upkeep is a critical production process requiring a production control system like Quantum. Successful upkeep and maintenance incorporates process control and conformance, just like every shop floor operation, and should be linked to operations and scheduling to eliminate downtime and increase production velocity.

Control and Conformance for Machine Maintenance

When evaluating your current processes, consider the following critical elements of a successful machine maintenance program managed by a production control system:

  • Schedules and Alerts for Required Maintenance

Machine maintenance is a critical production activity. If you aren’t following maintenance protocol, you risk machine downtime, failed audits, and unsafe work conditions. A scheduled maintenance program eliminates these risks. Support the shop floor with alerts and a system that removes the risk of using a machine due for maintenance – a common occurrence when the shop floor is under pressure to move product and meet deadlines when maintenance is scheduled.

  • Revision-controlled Maintenance Instructions and Records

Machine failure is a risk when you rely on paper-based records or worse, memory, for maintenance instructions. Over time, maintenance requirements can change and employees retire or leave. You need accessible, revision-controlled maintenance and repair instructions that can be accessed when needed. Records, beyond initials on a spreadsheet, should be kept on maintenance activities. A robust maintenance program will protect your investment and significantly reduce machine downtime and production costs.

  • Integrated Maintenance and Production Schedules

When you are investing millions in production machines, maintenance must be a priority. It should be done regularly to optimize machine output and eliminate unscheduled downtime. A successful maintenance schedule that won’t negatively impact production must be integrated with the production schedule. The production supervisor should know when there is work scheduled on a machine to route orders accurately, and ensure shipping and production deadlines are met. With a digital schedule and a production control system, maintenance can be scheduled ahead of time and work optimized to maintain production velocity.

A Program for Optimizing Machine-use

Even though industrial machinery is a critical component of manufacturing, especially make-to-order manufacturing, many companies consider machine maintenance an afterthought until a machine goes down or the shop floor fails an audit. Spreadsheets and plastic sleeves on the machine aren’t an adequate maintenance program, especially when the shop floor comes under pressure to increase output.

Quantum production control system provides seamless support for your machine maintenance program as part of your standard production process, eliminating unscheduled machine downtime, the risk of failed audits, and the stress of upkeep while optimizing scheduling for machines and production. All the benefits are part of the standard product.

Contact CIMx to learn more about Quantum’s integrated machine maintenance in a production control system, and discover how you can optimize machine use while increasing production velocity.