Category Archives: small manufacturing

The Margin Wars – How to Succeed in Global Manufacturing

Ed Deaton | CIMx Software

Let’s be frank, most of your customers can’t tell the difference between your plant and the next job shop on their vendor list.

You may have the best machinery, the most skilled operators and a spotless reputation, but all they really care about are the big three: quality, turnaround-time and price.

It’s frustrating, illogical and unfair; but it’s the world we sell in.

To stay competitive in manufacturing your shop needs to become the go-to supplier for every run. This means guaranteeing delivery dateseliminating turnbacks and producing the same work with fewer resources than your competitors.

 

Three Steps to Victory
Your secret weapon in the Margin Wars is simple. Enforce lean manufacturing tactics with a modern production control system.

How many bids have you lost in the last five years to undercutting competitors or overseas shops? It’s not enough to just be competitive with the plants in your area anymore; it’s your shop against the world.

Follow these 3 tips to connect, correct and control production with your existing Manufacturing Execution System (MES). Take control of your shop to gain control of your market.

Connect Your Resources
Lean manufacturing requires every resource on your shop floor to be as efficient as possible. This means optimized scheduling, complete asset control and total conformance on every build.

Manufacturers attempting to manage the complexities of their shop with spreadsheets and paper find themselves stuck in a damage control loop. Unreliable data, guesswork and unexpected changes lead to daily chaos, forcing your leadership team to spend more time putting out fires than growing your business.

Tip 1: Leverage your existing MES to tether every aspect of your workflow and guarantee your shop is running at maximum efficiency. Make sure your system allows priority-centric scheduling and real-time rerouting to avoid bottlenecks when the unexpected strikes.

 

Correct Errors in Real-Time
If you accept scrap and turnbacks as simply the cost of doing business then you’ve become your own worst enemy.

The biggest threat to the sustainability of your business is waste: wasted time, wasted materials and wasted opportunities. To maximize your margins it’s essential that you eliminate the waste that is eating away at your bottom line.

Tip 2: Your leadership team needs the ability to visually track every order throughout production in real-time to correct errors as they occur. Live Production Dashboards built into your MES allow your team to prevent workflow errors before they occur and react to issues instantly, eliminating defects and bottlenecks.

 

Control Every Stage of Production
In order to maintain quality while bidding competitively, your shop needs to plan each operation to perfection while capturing the necessary data every step of the way. Paper travelers, dry erase boards and pencil whipped data sheets are error prone, time consuming threats to production.

You need to ensure your customers that every tolerance has been checked and every specification met.

Tip 3: Digitizing your travelers, work instructions and data collection sheets ensure your Operators are following every step and completing every check necessary to remain compliant, all on one screen. Collect the data required for audits and build quality work faster with digital shop floor control.

 

Next Steps
The key to winning the Margin Wars is simple: make more with less. Take the steps required to gain market share by implementing an MES designed to control production from Engineering through Delivery. Give your team the tools they need to build it right™, ahead of schedule and under budget with Quantum.

Connect with a CIMx Application Expert to discuss your workflow and determine if the Quantum MES/MOM is the right solution for your shop. Request a quote or schedule your live demo today!


Manufacturing Software Experience | CIMx Software
For more than 20 years, CIMx has developed software solutions that connect, correct and control production for U.S. manufacturers of all sizes. Build it right with Quantum®.

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

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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.