Category Archives: small manufacturer

Increase Production Velocity and Profit in 2018

To kick off the New Year, we launched an exclusive 18-in-18 promotion. CIMx will completely cover the install cost for the first 18 companies to purchase our Quantum production control system in 2018.

If you’ve ever considered upgrading your shop floor with a production control system, now is the time to act.

Quantum delivers a problem-free implementation without the excuses and expense you find with other systems. Get your team up and running with a software system that quickly delivers an ROI without the hassles that bog down other projects.

Project Results Based on Manufacturing Expertise

This is an offer no other company can make. Here’s why we’re so confident in our ability to deliver for you:

  • Experience. Having worked with make-to-order manufacturers for more than 20 years, we know how technology can increase production and profit while eliminating problems and inefficiencies. We provide not only exceptional software solutions for manufacturers, but also hands-on expertise based on shop floor experience. We’ve worked with companies like yours, and know how to quickly get the results you are looking for.
  • Product. Many software systems on the market are outdated, difficult and expensive to use. The supplier passes these costs on to you during their time-consuming implementation. Quantum was designed to work with your existing material and processes, providing true off-the-shelf functionality with rapid installation and lower costs.
  • System Requirements. Quantum’s web-based solution reduces technology requirements. Use your existing IT infrastructure and access the system from almost any device. Eliminate the expensive security and uptime problems found in cloud-based solutions. Quantum’s technology requirements accelerate implementation, rather than holding you back.
  • Ease-of-use. With a solution based on your existing production plans and processes, operators can begin working in Quantum with minimal training. User roles and permissions customize information and access for each user to optimize productivity. System Administration provides configuration options so companies quickly make the solution their own. Begin using Quantum the day it’s installed, providing the fastest path to higher productivity.

An Easier Software Implementation

Quantum is not an ERP. It won’t take years to configure and install like other systems on the market. An ERP can’t adequately manage the shop floor, and trying to get a transaction-based ERP to work for production processes is a losing and expensive proposition. With the low-cost and rapid installation options in Quantum, you can quickly address the manufacturing inefficiencies in your ERP with a production control system developed specifically for discrete manufacturers. Give your shop floor the tools they need to succeed with Quantum.

Quantum configures to your requirements in less than a month. The system installs and users are trained in less than a day. Soon after purchasing the system, you are controlling and tracking manufacturing while increasing production velocity, providing a rapid and sustainable ROI.

We’re so confident in our system that 18 lucky manufacturers will receive a production control solution with free installation in 2018. Contact CIMx today to learn more about our 18-in-18 promotion. Seize the opportunity to eliminate production problems and increase business profit in 2018.

Manufacturing Trends to Watch For in 2018

As 2017 winds to a close it’s time to start setting goals and preparing for success in the New Year.

Each year, we forecast market threats and opportunities for our manufacturing customers. What will your customers and competitors talk about in the New Year? What pressures and technologies will influence manufacturers in 2018? What can you do to protect yourself and position your business for success as the market changes? The insight can be the strategic edge you need all year long.

Look Ahead to Manufacturing in 2018

As industry experts, here’s what we see influencing manufacturers in 2018:

  • Increased Customer Demands.

More than just larger orders, manufacturing customers are looking for more value from suppliers – value they are receiving in other industries. There’s customer pressure on manufacturers to improve, adapt, and deliver greater value and additional services. If they can’t, the customer will find a supplier that can. This is pushing manufacturers to embrace technology solutions, find additional ways to cut costs, and reduce the lead time on shipments even more than they have in the past to stay a step ahead of customer and consumer demands.

  • Alternatives to the Skilled Labor Shortage.

According to a recent article in Forbes magazine, a shortage of skilled labor could potentially limit business growth for manufacturers even as demand increases. Experts predict there will be a shortage of more than 2 million manufacturing workers in the coming years. In 2018, companies must find ways to overcome this problem, through training programs, technology solutions, or partnerships, to fuel future growth. The companies that implement programs now to overcome the skilled labor shortage will be positioned for success in the future.

  • First Steps toward Digital Transformation.

Many in the media have discussed the imminent “digital transformation” they see sweeping across manufacturing and modern business. As technology is applied to business and production processes, innovation and creativity will accelerate success and “transform” the business. While the media continues speculating and some supplier offer expensive products to “push” the transformation, many manufacturers are taking common-sense first steps toward the digital enterprise by replacing error-prone and dated manual processes with digital solutions that deliver production efficiencies and a rapid ROI. It may not be a “transformation,” but it is changing the manufacturing landscape.

  • Solution Divergence.

Some technology providers predict a single technology solution is on the horizon, and are happy to offer their version of this solution – expensive and overly complex enterprise software that makes no one happy. Despite predictions, many manufacturers are looking at best-in-class solutions to lower costs and improve efficiency rather than piling functionality on the ERP. In the past, adding modules to an ERP has exacerbated the situation rather than solving problems. Manufacturing solutions can’t be found in a system that doesn’t support production workflow or processes. More companies will embrace production control software connected to the ERP, rather than force more functionality out of their existing system.

 Accelerating Success in the New Year

There is no magic formula for finding success in a New Year, but there are proven strategies for capitalizing on opportunity and minimizing risk.

Set achievable strategic goals and take steps to ensure you can meet those goals. Make sure you have the right people, processes, systems and support in place. Continue to track progress against the goals, and when progress is lacking adjust the strategy as needed. Identify problems and inefficiencies in the business, and implement solutions that offer a positive ROI.

While every year brings new, and unexpected, challenges, it also brings opportunities. We look forward to working with manufacturers in 2018 to turn inefficiency and problems into problems and success. If you’d like to learn more about CIMx Software and how we work with manufacturers to eliminate problems and increase production profits, then contact us today and discover what Quantum can do for you.

6 Tips for Shop Floor Training That Works

For many, shop floor training means production downtime with no benefit, but it shouldn’t.  We offer a few simple tips to create a training program that delivers results.

 By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

Make your shop floor training work for you and your team.  Image by www.colourbox.com

Make your shop floor training work for you and your team. Image by http://www.colourbox.com

I went to a training session not long ago for a new computer program.  It was held in the library of the local school.  I sat beside a poster of a cat falling off a tree with the words, “Hang in there!” written on the bottom.  I used a keyboard chained to the computer, and my knees bumped into dried gum under the desk.

“Now, I know you all are wondering if this training will work,” the moderator asked.

Damn right, I thought to myself.  First off, I don’t work anywhere near a poster of a cat, and I don’t use a keyboard I can’t move.  Next, the files I use are never just sitting on the desk top waiting for me to work on them.  Plus, if I’m already wondering if the training will work, then you haven’t done a good job of preparing the training!

Truth is, all too often training is thrown together at the last minute and no one is excited to be there.  It’s doomed to fail from the beginning.  With a little thought and planning you can deliver training that delivers measurable benefits to the shop floor, here’s six tips to get you started:

Shop Floor Manufacturing Training Tips That Work

  1. Give your shop floor access to training materials:

Context is important.  I’ll admit, sitting beside 4 copies of Charlotte’s Web and that kitten poster did not help me focus on ingesting digital files into an ERP.  In the same way, if you conduct training in a classroom or even as a webinar, are you giving the shop floor the right context for the training?  Training on the shop floor will always deliver a bigger benefit than training in other places.  Give them access to a library of training materials they can use when they need it most, not when it’s convenient to shove everyone in a classroom.

  1. Attach training to your work instructions:
Process Improvement graph.

Improve production results with visual work instruction and anchored instruction. Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

Even better, you can offer training through your MES or paperless manufacturing system.  Attach training materials directly to the work instructions.  When the need for training comes up, users can go through the training as they work.  This is known as “Anchored Instruction,” or placing instruction in a meaningful, problem solving context.  Studies have shown knowledge and skills taught using Anchored Instruction are used quickly and more appropriately, with users developing expertise faster.

  1. Develop an accessible library of best practices:

The truth is, no book or instructor can deliver the real-world best practices of actual users, and all too often this knowledge is lost, becoming tribal knowledge totally dependent on the employee, not the organization.  A library of best practices will help capture this knowledge, ensure the information is not lost, and will become the basis of training that delivers real shop floor benefit.

  1. Utilize existing shop floor practices in the training:

Many times, it’s not the shop floor developing the training.  The instructor will develop “sample cases” to be used in the training, not actual work processes.  Even worse, the system users are being trained on doesn’t or can’t incorporate existing work processes.  This is especially true for template-based MES systems.

As much as possible, use existing work plans or operations for the training.  This will add context to the training and lend immediacy.  If you can’t use existing work operations or plans, then you may not have the right system installed.

  1. Ensure you have revision controlled work plans before conducting training:

Not long ago, I came across a shop floor using 4 different versions of a single work operation.  The operation was in 4 different plans, used by two different divisions, but it did the EXACT same work.  This became apparent during training, and led to a wasted day when work stopped and the confusion was sorted out.

This happens more than you might think.  Make sure your training is relevant by ensuring everyone is working from the same plans.  If you want to drive consistency and best practices on the shop floor, you need consistency in your work plans.

  1. Capitalize on visual work instructions:

At my training, I was given “supplementary materials” that would “enhance my work training.”  The supplementary material was simply a stapled packet of 8 pages going over the lessons.  There were no screenshots or pictures, just endless text.  A single screenshot showing me where the digital file went once ingested would have eliminated frustration and confusion.  Visual work instruction is an easy-to implement, but invaluable, tool for your shop floor.  For example, you can be sure you’re using the right part with a simple picture attached to the work instruction.

 

Drive consistency and increase production with shop floor training that works!  Illustration by www.colourbox.com

Drive consistency and increase production with shop floor training that works! Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

I’ll be honest, my training that day was 8 hours.  I went back to the office and spent 5 hours trying to figure out how to ingest a digital photo.  It was 13+ hours of training for a 5 – 10 minute operation.  Since then, I haven’t used any of that training.  There was no context.  The world of the school library seemed distant from my work environment.

Training is necessary for any organization.  You need to onboard new employees, you need to build and develop critical skills and incorporate changes to processes and SOP (Standard Operating Procedures).  Rather than accept training as a necessary (and likely useless) task, turn it into an advantage for your shop floor.

How do you handle shop floor training?  What procedures have you implemented, and how are they working?  What could you do to quickly improve the results from your training procedures?  Let us know – we’d love to hear from you.

Fix Your Shop Floor Processes Now

Don’t fall into the “If it ain’t broke…” trap.  Sometimes your biggest mistake is in not doing anything.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

I don’t know where I first heard the phrase, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?” but it’s become the rallying cry of procrastinators everywhere.  Unfortunately, it’s a rallying cry that ends up a funeral dirge or death knell…

Case in point… my neighbor had a rattle in the car engine.  It sounded like an engine wheeze – metal on metal.  “No big deal,” my neighbor said. “It’s just something loose and the car’s working fine.  I’ll get to it before vacation.”

Does your shop floor run like a well-oiled machine, or a wheezing engine?  Photo by www.colourbox.com

Does your shop floor run like a well-oiled machine, or a wheezing engine? Photo by http://www.colourbox.com

Vacation passed and the rattle continued.  Other priorities and expenses came up, so why bother with a rattle that wasn’t hurting anything?  That is, until he destroyed the engine on his way to a business meeting.   The car overheated, the head gasket blew and it completely ruined the engine.  My neighbor missed his meeting, spent more than $4,000 fixing his car, enjoyed a night on the side of the highway waiting for a tow truck, and was forced to coordinate rides to work and trips to the grocery store while the car was fixed.

Lesson of the story… a simple belt replacement ended up costing him thousands in repairs, plus lost time, missed meetings, and endless aggravation.

Choices and options.

How will you handle broken and inefficient processes on your shop floor? Photo from http://www.colourbox.com.

It’s a lesson not all manufacturers understand.  Software Advice recently released a survey (found here) detailing manufacturing software buyer trends. The report, by Software Advice’s analyst Derek Singleton, identifies paper and spreadsheets as the primary method of tracking manufacturing processes for many of the manufacturers taking the survey.  Research by Oracle has shown paper-driven processes increase costs, introduce errors, add complexity and create compliance issues.  In fact, 75.9% of companies reported significant business risks due to inefficient document-driven processes, including paper-based processes.  So why do so many companies continue to use paper-driven processes to control the shop floor (the heart of manufacturing)?

Because if it ain’t broke, why fix it?  If all your shop floor knows is inefficiency and is comfortable with it, then why change?

More than increasing risk, paper-driven processes significantly increase costs for businesses.  As reported by Oracle, a study by the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) found businesses, “spend $20 in labor to file a document, $120 in labor to find a misfiled document, and $220 in labor to reproduce a lost document,” (www.aiim.org).  The money has to come from somewhere, so these costs are either eaten by the manufacturer or passed along to the customers.  So why are companies throwing away money on paper?

I go back to my neighbor and the months he spent with a rattle in his engine.  He knew he should do something, but other priorities came up and the engine never seemed that bad.  “It’s more work to fix than deal with it”, he told me once.

What steps can you take to increase shop floor efficiency?  What steps are your competition taking?  Photo by www.colourbox.com

What steps can you take to increase shop floor efficiency? What steps are your competition taking? Photo by http://www.colourbox.com

For manufacturers operating in a paper-driven environment, going paperless would mean buying and installing a new system (which takes valuable IT resources), integrating a new process, and training the shop floor.  It feels like a lot of work for some nebulous, paperless return.  If the decision-maker isn’t a shop floor employee, it is even more difficult to justify the cost since you don’t feel the paper-based shop floor pain on a daily basis… and so, life under, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?” goes on.

But there is a danger to the, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?” mentality, and the grinding noise in my neighbor’s engine perfectly illustrates it…  We recently worked with a manufacturer that repeatedly failed audits due to paper-based record-keeping.  In less than a month, we were able to install a system on the shop floor and begin collecting audit-worthy as-built records.  Another manufacturer lost a major client because they couldn’t guarantee timely change orders – a simple function in paperless manufacturing and MES.  Waiting to fix shop floor challenges isn’t a solution, it means disaster hasn’t struck yet.  Worse yet is failing to recognize there is a problem and it needs fixing.

So what does this mean for you and your shop floor?

Another section of the Software Advice study identifies improving or automating processes as the top reason manufacturers purchase new manufacturing software.  Other reasons include updating or modernizing their software, additional features and functionality, and company growth.  Another part of the study identified improving efficiency as the primary reason companies seek to replace existing manufacturing software.  We are seeing a consistent drive to improve the shop floor, and the beginning of a movement away from the “If it ain’t broke…” mentality because people are starting to realize “It is broke”.

Companies are beginning to take control of their own destiny and take action proactively, rather than reactively.  The manufacturing marketplace is tightening, and proactive process and efficiency improvements are a competitive advantage for many companies.   More and more companies are turning every day to paperless manufacturing and manufacturing software for an advantage.

“If it ain’t broke…” isn’t a recipe for success in modern manufacturing.  Take a lesson from my neighbor – if you hear a grinding engine wheeze in your shop floor, get it fixed or you might be stuck waiting while your competition moves ahead.  Are there problems you are waiting to solve on your shop floor?  Are there problems you don’t even recognize on your shop floor?  Are your work processes a victim of the, “it ain’t broke…” mentality?  If so, let us know.  The solution may be much closer, easier to solve, and less expensive, than you might think.

Is Paperless Manufacturing Right for You?

No matter your company size or industry, paperless manufacturing delivers shop floor benefits (if you have the right system).

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications at CIMx Software

A while back, I had a leak in my basement- water from the shower came pouring out of the ceiling in a torrent, splashing across boxes of Christmas decorations.  I called a plumber, who gave me an estimate that included major construction, a replacement pipe, and a team of plumbers.  The estimate made me dizzy, but what could I do- shower in the basement below the leak?

Choices and options.

You have a shop floor challenge and you’re not sure what to do. Have you considered all the solutions available? Photo from http://www.colourbox.com.

I called another plumber who offered to take a look.  He studied the waterfall, and then cut a small hole in the closet outside the bathroom.  With a little wire and a wrench, he fixed the leak in 10 minutes.  “No worries,” he said. “The pipes are fine, but the fitting came loose.  I changed the seal, so it shouldn’t happen again.”  Total cost of the repair was less than $100.

The moral of the story… sometimes a solution is much easier, much cheaper and much closer than you might think.

It’s a scenario I’ve seen played out time and again in manufacturing.  A business will struggle with out of control shop floor processes, inefficient operations, significant loss from scrap and rework, or even failed audits because they believe a solution like paperless manufacturing or an MES is out of reach, too costly, and too complex.  They know the solution exists, but they think it won’t work for them.

Some try to build a software solution in-house, thinking this will get them a “personalized” solution under their control for less money, not realizing how much time and cost is involved in writing computer code from scratch.  An effective in-house solution can take YEARS of effort, with no guarantee of success.

Have you considered paperless manufacturing for your company?

Have you considered paperless manufacturing for your company?

Other companies limp along with patchwork solutions, legacy systems, or increasingly larger stacks of spreadsheets and documents traveling the highways and byways of their shop floor.  These companies believe software solutions are designed for multi-national companies with sales in the billions and the resources to pay for a team of programmers.  This belief leads many smaller companies to continue to use paper build books and excel spreadsheets.

You’ll be happy to know, the solution IS much closer than you imagine.  CIMx offers paperless manufacturing solutions for any size company, large or small, in any industry.  It is the right system for many manufacturers.  Here’s why:

  • CIMx offers scalable solutions.  CIMx designed a paperless manufacturing solution that scales to your operations.  You never have to take on more complexity or functionality than you want or need.  If all you need is improved quality, or as-built records, or a real-time view of production for improved customer service, paperless manufacturing offers a solution.  With CIMx, you can focus on the solution you need, then integrate additional capabilities when you are ready.  The solution scales to your needs, your operation doesn’t struggle to scale to the solution.
  • Phased implementation gives you control of the process.  The entire system can be completely installed in weeks.  At that point, you select the features and functions you want, turning them on in phases and using them when you are ready.  You and your team never take on more cost, risk, or change than you are prepared to manage.
  • Use your current processes and work instructions. With CIMx, there is no need to change your work instructions or adapt your current processes.  The system doesn’t require you to squish or adapt your current processes or instructions into new forms or tables.  The CIMx solution works as a tool for you.  This minimizes change and shop floor disruption, and ensures an even quicker ROI.
Paperless manufacturing is now a scalable solution, offering benefits to manufacturers in all industries and of all sizes. Photo by www.colourbox.com.

Paperless manufacturing is now a scalable solution, offering benefits to manufacturers in all industries and of all sizes. Photo by http://www.colourbox.com.

On top of that, CIMx offers one of the most effective support systems in the industry.  Rather than an impersonal help desk or support line, you have an applications engineer assigned to your account who is available for training, questions, and product support.  They know you, your business and your system.   They offer solutions instead of questions, and ensure the software is really benefitting your shop floor.  You never have to worry that once the system is installed, you are left on your own.

Ever since the waterfall in my basement, I’ve quit assuming the easiest, most practical solution isn’t for me.  I won’t take a reactive approach to problem solving, instead I try to use the BEST solution with the RIGHT answer (yeah, I’m looking at you broken air conditioner).  This approach has saved me money, minimized frustration and made me happier.

So what challenges does your shop floor face?  Have you thought about what paperless manufacturing can do for you?  Contact CIMx Software today to learn how we can help you overcome shop floor challenges with solutions that include workflow control, shop floor and production visibility, mobile manufacturing, and visual multi-media work instructions.  We have a number of solutions ready to tackle your biggest problems.