Category Archives: Visual Information

Are You Letting Your Most Valuable Manufacturing Resource Slip Away?

As one generation of employees retires, companies struggle to capture their knowledge and pass it on to the new generation.  We offer simple solutions to ensure a smooth transition and improve production.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

Need to train new employees and capture expertise of retiring ones?  Start with an MES.  Image by www.colourbox.com

Need to train new employees and capture expertise of retiring ones? Start with an MES. Image by http://www.colourbox.com

Here’s the situation: Manufacturers are losing valuable experience and essential best practices as a generation of shop floor employees retire.  Companies that seek to replace the retirees struggle with a lack of skilled labor in the job market.  New hires simply don’t have the same skills as the workers they are replacing.  Manufacturers struggle to overcome these challenges just as manufacturing market rebounds – orders are coming in, but companies don’t have the right experience or workers in place to meet the demand with the same quality.

Many companies are turning to MES and paperless manufacturing to solve the steady bleeding of experience and best practices, and it is working.

An effective solution to this problem must capture best practices and shop floor processes.  It must have process enforcement and revision controls to ensure new employees utilize best practices and don’t create inefficient habits.  The solution needs data collection, preferably real-time data collection, to measure success.  Paperless manufacturing does all this, and more.  Consider this:

  • Create a single source of manufacturing truth.

Many times a shop floor will struggle to determine manufacturing “truth.”  Best practices are kept in a book, but also in the expertise of a line manager.  The right way to set up a machine might be found in a manual, but also posted on the side of the machine.  Many times these truths compete, and new employees end up teaching themselves the “right” way to do things.  With an MES, you have a single source for manufacturing truth, and new employees more easily understand how work should be done.

 

  • Capture best practices and processes with a library of approved planning.

 

With paperless manufacturing and MES, you can build a library of approved work instructions using the expertise and experience of your veteran workers.  The system drives consistency because planners pull from this revision-controlled library of operations.  As you build the library, integrating this invaluable expertise, you know everyone using the plans will have access to the same standard trusted expertise, rather than starting from scratch each time a new order comes in.

 

  • Ensure best practices are followed with process enforcement.

 

Collecting best practices and capturing the expertise of veteran workers is a good first step toward a smooth transition between generations, but you need to ensure new employees follow these practices.  Process enforcement builds a behavioral system that makes best practice second nature, not a lesson to be memorized.  The system walks the new worker through the process steps accurately and completely.

 

  • Utilize visual work instructions.

 

Even with the best writers, written work instructions will never have the positive impact of a short video of an expert teaching an operation or setting up a machine.  Using a paperless manufacturing system and a cell phone, you can take a quick video of your veteran workers illustrating a best practice and attach it to a relevant operation.  Any future worker doing that operation will have one-click access to the expert lesson.

 

  • Measure results and adjust as necessary.

 

Many times, when a company doesn’t have a clear view of shop floor operations, problems can be hidden.  Over time, the problem becomes standard operating procedure.  Easy access to a complete as-built audit report, or real-time production data, gives a manufacturing company the ability to judge and adjust shop floor processes as needed.

 

 


As it is now, many manufacturers operate inefficiently, struggling to capture the expertise of workers before they retire, and wondering how they can replace them once they are gone.  Paperless manufacturing provides a solution in one easy step.  Retiring workers help build policies and procedures through revision controlled plans in the system.  New employees learn through the same system, benefitting from a single location for all approved planning and manufacturing truth.  In addition, companies using MES gain increased production and quality, and the other benefits found in the system.

 

Want to learn more, or see how your company can benefit from MES or paperless manufacturing?  Then contact CIMx today for a free shop floor evaluation.  Let us show you how we can help.

A New Vision of Mobile Manufacturing

Don’t be fooled, mobile manufacturing requires more than just an app.  It requires an integrated mobile solution delivering shop floor functionality on the go.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

I love music.  A few years ago I wanted a new stereo system.  I had a single requirement – I wanted to use my MP3 player with the sound system.  I wanted to throw parties, fill the house with music that fuels the fun.  Problem was – I didn’t do my research.  I bought a system with the words “MP3 Compatible” in big, bold letters on the box.

Unfortunately, “MP3 Compatible” meant a single USB port.  The stupid thing never worked, and was about as functional as fins on a kangaroo.  I couldn’t plug my player directly into the port.  Instead, I had to download my music onto an empty zip drive.  Then I had to plug the zip drive into the USB port.  After a few minutes, a song MIGHT start playing.  Maybe.  I couldn’t control the music, and between songs there was a LONG delay.  If I ever downloaded something other than music, an error would flash and the whole system shut down.

Honestly, the system and my music player were as compatible as fire and ice, and as functional as those fins.  I felt cheated, used and angry.  My excitement crumbled as the truth of my purchase became apparent.

What can mobile manufacturing do for you?

Using a tablet, smart phone, or other mobile device to access a true paperless manufacturing system will boost productivity, help eliminate errors, and increase work flow visibility.  Imagine giving your shop floor anytime and anywhere connection to production documents, including work orders, safety documents, training videos and more.  How much more productive will your team be if QA conducts real-time quality checks from anywhere?  How would shop management like anywhere access to real-time production data?

Can your manufacturing software support mobility on your shop floor? Image  by www.colourbox.com

Can your manufacturing software support mobility on your shop floor? Image by http://www.colourbox.com

Unfortunately, many MES or paperless manufacturing vendors make promises regarding “mobile manufacturing compatibility” that fool many companies into accepting awkward functionality and systems that never work as promised.  Compatibility between a shop floor system and mobile devices is neither important nor useful, compatibility between the application software and the work flow processes is how you achieve true mobility.  You need a scalable, adaptable solution that supports your work flow processes.

For some vendors, “mobile manufacturing” is a simple app that provides a view of some production data from a mobile device.  Turn on the app and you can see shop floor trends, and maybe identify potential shop floor problems, but that’s about it.   These apps might allow you to open a document from your web device, see the production schedule, and maybe move an item on the screen, but that’s the limit of their app-functionality.

Other vendors promise mobile manufacturing as an add-on project once the initial project is complete. They can do it, if you want, but it leads to additional service fees, project schedule bloat, and complicated and risky implementation.  Like me and my “MP3 Compatible” sound system, manufacturers buy a system, only to see the limits of “compatibility” once they have the system on the shop floor.

True Mobile Manufacturing

True mobile manufacturing offers an integrated mobile solution within the core system, not an app.  The power of the complete manufacturing system should be available from most mobile devices, and offer interactive functionality, not just read-only screenshots of data.  Mobile manufacturing should ensure quick and easy access to your MES or paperless manufacturing system from almost any device.

How much more could you do with an integrated mobile solution on the shop floor?

How much more could you do with an integrated mobile solution on the shop floor?

Don’t be fooled.  Look for browser-based systems (though, be careful you aren’t diving head first into the dangerous world of the Cloud).  Look for systems that are fully compatible with the web, and offer complete mobile functionality, not an app or two.

The future of modern manufacturing is embracing mobility.  Even if you aren’t ready to give your shop floor a tablet now, in a few years (or less) you may need shop floor software that offers mobile manufacturing.  Take the time, do your research and find a solution with integrated mobile manufacturing, not just an app or hastily slapped-on “mobile compatibility.”

… unless you want to watch your dreams of an efficient, mobile shop floor crumble like my dream of music-fueled parties…

Let us know if you want to learn more or see how integrated mobile manufacturing can transform and benefit your shop floor.

Are Your Paper-based Travelers Holding Back Your Shop Floor?

Inefficient, annoying, error-prone and wasteful, many times paper-based work travelers are the source of countless shop floor problems and might be holding production back.

 By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

Many times, discussions about paperless manufacturing and MES focus on hard data (35% increase in production and a 45% decrease in quality defects – hurray!), the ROI or the global enterprise (real-time shop floor visibility and control, and sustainable process improvement and enforcement – alright!).  We forget to notice the little improvements that have the greatest impact on the shop floor – the things that make everyone’s life easier.  They bring joy, increased job satisfaction and improve the shop floor quality-of-life.  It may not directly impact the ROI, but it sure makes everyone happy.

Exhibit A: The Paperless Shop Traveler
What steps can you take to improve performance (and happiness) on your shop floor?  Illustration by www.colourbox.com

What steps can you take to improve performance (and happiness) on your shop floor? Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

Face it, shop travelers that are a huge bundle of paper, checklists, drawings and data collections can be a major pain.  Those annoying bundles of work instructions and shop floor records that are painstakingly printed every morning, then laboriously assembled and bundled into plastic sleeves, bags, or bound together by pins, clips or whatever is on hand.  It makes its journey across the shop, carried by hand or thrown on a cart.  As changes happen, notes are added, papers removed and measurements made.  It’s dropped, spilled on, and crammed into corners.  Pieces are lost and critical information gets shuffled back and forth with everyone hoping nothing gets missed.  Let’s be honest, all that paper isn’t necessary!

When it’s all done, the records are stored away – those piles and piles (and piles) of records.  Maybe someone has to collect the data scrawled on the traveler, then (re)input the information.  Finally, it’s all shoved into a box and carted away to storage.  If you’re lucky, maybe you have a process that converts it to a pdf.  Maybe.

That’s what happens all too often.  Like I said… it’s annoying, inefficient and error prone.  The paper-based traveler is the source of headaches and frustration for many shop floors.

It doesn’t have to be that way.  An integral feature of paperless manufacturing is removing the unnecessary paper from the work traveler and leaving you with a format that makes sense for your shop process.

With Quantum or Interax and CIMx Software, each work order created is a separate file in the system.  Important details are part of the file, and easily accessible.  Work and set-up instructions, safety material, important training information and more are all attached to each work order, and can be accessed when and wherever necessary.  Most importantly, only the latest approved information can be accessed, and when needed change orders can be signaled through the system and made in just a few moments.  After all, there’s proof visual work instructions are far superior to paper-based ones.

From the shop floor, quality checks can be made and added directly to the work order, where it can be securely stored.  If there is a file or digital photo the shop floor wants to add to the file, it can be added with a press of a button.

From anywhere you have access to your network; you can track the progress of the paperless traveler with real-time information.  No more running to the shop floor asking questions, or flipping through pages to swap out flawed work instructions, or retroactive quality checks.  Sounds good, doesn’t it?

When the work order is complete, it is securely stored in a digital archive.  You can access the file at any time, and a complete as-built record is a single button press away.  Forget the stress of audits, everything that needs to be done is done automatically.  Want to run reports on the data to help optimize production?  No problem.

Eliminating unnecessary paper from your work travelers may not be your primary reason for implementing a paperless manufacturing system, but it may be what your shop floor is most thankful for when the project is complete.  Shop floors are quickly moving paperless, so now is the time to get a head start on the process and a leg up on the competition.

Simple Tips for Adding Shop Floor Visual Work Instruction

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

Many times, a solution is much closer than you might think.

Are you stuck wondering what next step to take in implementing visual work instructions? Illustration by www.colourbox.com

Are you stuck wondering what next step to take in implementing visual work instructions? Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

Face it, in an era when shop floors and manufacturers struggle to break information silos, ensure new employees are poised to find success and processes aren’t employee-dependent, and break down the information gap between engineering and operations – visual work instruction is an important piece of the solution.  For many, the thought of creating videos and pictures for the shop floor seems daunting.  I’ve listened to engineers complain about the cost of hiring a production company for machine set-up instructions.  They aren’t sure where to begin, so they don’t do anything.  They wait to implement the visual work instructions, and their shop floor problems grow.  But, the truth is, the solution is much closer than they think.  Here’s how:

Take a look at Paperless Manufacturing.  Did you know you can implement a simple, out-of-the-box paperless manufacturing solution for 1/10th of the cost of past manufacturing solutions?  License cost is often less than $1 a day per user.  With paperless manufacturing, you’ll be able to not only easily add visual work instructions, shop floor visibility and process control, but collect shop floor data and create as-built reports as well.

Use Readily Available Video Tools. Are you wondering how to make videos?  You don’t need a camera and Hollywood film crew, a smart phone is all you need.  Most phones can take videos with enough quality to teach a shop floor task.  A short 2 minute video in an easily shared format is all you need to accurately show someone how to do something they may not easily understand from word instructions.  Pull out your phone, take a video and attach it to the work instructions.

Recruit In-House Experts.  Many manufacturers struggle to pass along information and best practices from an older generation to new workers.  Why not recruit the older generation and in-house experts to star in the videos?  Have them work through an operation while someone films them.  10 minutes of filming is all you need to do to tear down an information silo and ensure best practices won’t be lost.  The small time away from the workbench will pay for itself many times over.

Position Visual Work Instruction as an Achievement.  You have options as you roll out visual work instructions.  Rather than simply filming and adding them to existing instructions, why not hold a contest with shop floor workers to select who films the work instruction.  The task becomes an achievement, and your team begins searching for new best practices.  Select top workers to direct and star in the video.  Give them recognition for their achievements and they’ll be more excited to help, and everyone will be more likely to use the videos (and learn from them).

Build a Library of Best Practices.  Don’t see the process of creating visual work instructions as a campaign, but a process.  Slowly build the library of best practices videos as the need and opportunity arises.  This will take the pressure off your team, and sooner than you realize, you’ll have a complete library of videos to choose from when you need it.  What’s it worth to have a visual library of best practices on-line and available to all your shop floor people whenever they need them?

Visual work instructions will improve shop floor productivity and benefit your entire team, not just the shop floor.  Manufacturing is the center of your business, and manufacturing depends on work instructions and processes that are easily lost in information silos.  Too often, those silos hinder productivity and drain creativity.  Take a simple step to ensure you have the best possible work instructions, and your shop floor best practices aren’t lost, by implementing with visual work instructions.

What Can Visual Information Do For Your Shop Floor?

The key to increasing productivity isn’t always a new machine or process, it can be as simple as an adjustment to your work instructions.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

There are shop floors still relying on paper build books and spreadsheets of work instructions to feed information to the shop floor.  The entire manufacturing operation relies on the smooth transmission of information from engineering, to the build book, to the worker who then acts on it.  Which leads to the question… is the information getting where it needs to be?  How much of the work instruction is the shop floor actually retaining?

Adding visual information to your work instructions can improve retention of information by as much as 83% more than text only work instructions. Image by www.colourbox.com

Adding visual information to your work instructions can improve retention of information by as much as 83% more than text only work instructions. Image by http://www.colourbox.com

Would you believe only about 20%?   According to psychologist Jerome Bruner of New York University, studies have shown people only remember or retain 20% of what they read.  That means, the shop floor is only working from every FIFTH word in that incredibly well-written and pointedly accurate operation.  Critical errors can happen in the missing words 1 -4.  Add in the speed of work and the confusion on the shop floor and that number goes down even further.

Written instruction in a build book is not an effective way to transmit information, leading to mistakes.  Quality is sacrificed, rework is increased, and you are left with a frustrated work force.  Productivity and efficiency goes down because you don’t have an effective way to communicate with your shop floor.

The solution is much easier than you might think.  According to a recent study by the US Department of Labor, 83% of all learning is done visually.  Another study by the Wharton School of Business compared visual and verbal presentations and found presentations with a visual element were 67% more persuasive than purely verbal ones.  According to Bruner, we retain 80% of information transmitted visually and verbally.

Visual information is the key to improving productivity and eliminating errors on the shop floor by engaging more of the brain, ensuring a higher percentage of retention, according to a study by UC Berkley.  Adding a few images and a short video to your instruction will significantly improve productivity over verbal or written communication.  The quicker your work force can pick up new information, and the more accurate the transmission of information, the more productive your shop floor will be.

Moving your work instructions from text or spreadsheet paper-based formats to a format that incorporates visual information is an easy process with an MES or paperless manufacturing system.  Simply adding photos of the steps toward the finished product to digital work instructions will significantly improve understanding and quality.  Use a smart phone to take a quick video of a machine set up with a little running dialogue, and you’ll benefit from less errors and quicker production.  Rather than simply list out the materials and tooling for a job, add a caption below a photo of each tool to ensure to improve production.

Even better, with a library of approved plans built within the MES, you can eliminate rework and focus on improvement with each operation.  Once you’ve created a visual work plan, you can reuse it again and again.

I hate to mention such an overused saying – a picture IS worth a thousand words, but it’s also worth improved quality and production on the shop floor when matched with a paperless manufacturing system.