Tag Archives: data driven manufacturing

The Key to Success with Data-Driven Manufacturing

Data-driven manufacturing – using facts and data rather than conjecture and guesswork to manage manufacturing processes – should be the goal of any forward-thinking manufacturer. Many companies struggle to realize the benefits of data-driven initiatives, even as the decline in cost of technology, software and hardware make it available to companies of any size or industry.

The problem isn’t the technology – it’s how it is being implemented.

The Human Element in Manufacturing Technology

A recent article in the Harvard Business Review identified four challenges facing companies implementing data-driven manufacturing. Moving from a Time-Triggered to an Event-Triggered Control System, a Unified Data Model and the other items discussed in the article are critical in finally realizing the full benefit of data driven manufacturing.

But what the article, and much of the industry, hasn’t addressed is the human element in data-driven manufacturing.

Humans play a critical role in managing production and workflow. While some processes can be completely automated with machines and sensors working together in a closed-loop control system, focusing on technology alone will leave holes in your processes. The operators must have easy and unimpeded access to relevant information during production.

Manufacturing software, specifically an MES (Manufacturing Execution System) designed with Smart Manufacturing tools, is the only solution that adequately meets this requirement.

Accelerating Production with MES

The key to true data-driven manufacturing is the MES.  By focusing only on technology of manufacturing and not addressing the end users, companies will struggle to maximize the benefit of the data they are collecting.

For example, automating machines to signal required maintenance and then automatically adjusting routing while the maintenance work is done is a perfect example of data driven manufacturing in action. Production doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and changes will have an impact on processes across the company. At this point, the MES should inform the operators of the updated routing. The dashboard used by Sales should also reflect the change, so the customer can be informed of the impact on the order.

The MES connects operators and machinery by communicating relevant data to the people best positioned to act on it. Without that communication, you’re left with disconnected and inefficient processes.

Looking Beyond Data-Driven Manufacturing

Companies are now collecting relevant production data, but without getting it to the right person at the right time, the data loses relevancy. An MES controls the manufacturing processes by managing information. In true data-driven manufacturing, the MES or manufacturing software system incorporates the human element and connects users to the critical data.

Without an MES, your data-driven manufacturing systems are still leaving potential production and profit on the table.

Want to know more, or see how true data-driven manufacturing works with a Smart MES? Contact CIMx today for a free shop floor analysis.

Defining the ERP and MES Connection

When problems crop up in production, savvy manufacturers immediately search for a solution.

Many turn to manufacturing software like Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) or begin looking to their existing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system for the functionality they are missing. Confusion creeps in at this point. As software providers expand their offering through development and acquisition, the lines blur between MES and ERP.

Removing the confusion and clearly defining the roles of the MES and ERP will eliminate this problem and help as companies plan for the future of their business.

The Role of the MES and ERP

Just as no accountant should ever use an MES to balance the books or run financials, no ERP will ever offer the functionality necessary for complex manufacturing. It can’t be done.

The MES delivers the workflow-based functionality required for discrete manufacturing. With a system based around the production value chain, it manages work and operations, and links data in a production cycle. Mistakes and quality escapes are flagged, allowing rework paths to be implemented. You can send a bill through an MES, but it’s not the optimal solution to billing.

The front office requires transaction-based functionality for financials, customer management and human resources. Data is input and tagged, creating data links, but at that point the process stops. There’s no workflow control because it’s not necessary. You could track a change order in a transaction system, but inefficiencies will cause the shop floor to struggle.

Some companies market their products as a “Manufacturing ERP.” They offer minimal manufacturing functionality tacked onto their core ERP product, often as a pricey module. It looks great in demos and claims to support some production processes, but a transaction system will never deliver the workflow control and visibility discrete manufacturers need. The inefficiencies result in “workarounds” your operators develop to overcome features that don’t work.

Fitting your Software Systems Together

Many companies initially turn to their ERP for manufacturing solutions, mistakenly believing a single software solution will lower costs and IT requirements. It doesn’t. A supplier selling an MES and ERP solution has either put a shiny “MES” veneer on top of basic ERP functionality or purchased an existing MES and completed an integration that you can’t control and they won’t be updating. You end up with an expensive solution with built-in inefficiencies, expensive upgrades, and gaps in manufacturing functionality.

The ERP and MES are separate, standalone systems that work best together when the user (your company) designs the integration points. This way, your front office has a software solution designed and built for their needs. Similarly, the shop floor and production team have the specialized functionality, visibility and control to keep up with the pace and complexity of manufacturing.

Since you aren’t buying expensive modules or customized functionality to awkwardly extend a software solution, you lower the overall cost. You have a clear upgrade path for both the MES and the ERP, and never struggle with an outdated solution.

Your company works from an integrated, cohesive production and business database. The reports use accurate data, sourced from the systems best positioned to collect and intelligently link information to increase production and efficiency while cutting costs.

Getting Started with Data-Driven Manufacturing

Once you’ve decided to eliminate inefficiency and embrace data-driven, smart manufacturing with a system like Quantum, the next question is where to begin.

Many mistakenly believe a software infrastructure project must start with the ERP, but the truth is it often makes more sense to implement an MES first.

Companies report a much quicker ROI for manufacturing software. The right manufacturing system will cost significantly less than an ERP, can be installed quickly and will pay immediate dividends through cost savings, and lower scrap and waste. The MES will reduce the scope and cost of the ERP by clearly defining the requirements of the enterprise system. With the MES in place, you won’t be pressured to purchase additional modules or software.

With manufacturing software you shield production from the disruption that often accompanies an ERP installation or upgrade. You can safely update other software when you are ready, with the comfort that your production data and shop floor are secure.

Want to know more, or see what benefits you will discover with manufacturing software? Contact CIMx for a free shop floor analysis with one of our Application Engineers. As always, the report is yours even if you decide Quantum isn’t the system for you.

Reasons to be Thankful for a Smart MES

Ever consider why you should be thankful for a modern, smart manufacturing system?

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

In the USA, we’re preparing for the holiday season, and pondering the multitude of reasons we should be thankful.

This got me thinking about Smart MES. Recently, we looked at Smart MES, and discussed data-driven manufacturing. In doing so, we studied the benefits of both. While capabilities and benefits of software are important, neither highlights the true value of the system.

So, in honor of the season of thankfulness, we take a closer look one very important reason why you’ll be thankful you invested in new Smart MES and digital manufacturing.

Integrated Operations with the Smart Factory

A major goal of the Smart factory and digital shop floor is eliminating the silos of information that develop in a manufacturing company (or any organization). Consider this – engineering designs a product, but operations may build from entirely different plans (if they don’t ignore the instructions and just build from memory and experience). It’s a familiar problem for many companies. How can you optimize production if you can’t even get employees working from the same page?

Efficient Manufacturing

Are you creating more work and inefficiency by not embracing Smart Manufacturing? Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

All this data is being produced, but not connected. There are opportunities for errors, and no comprehensive method of managing data.

The Smart factory and data-driven manufacturing puts data to use, driving efficiency and improving results. By giving the organization a single resource for managing production information, you eliminate silos. You automate many of the tasks associated with creating, storing and reporting information. A necessary component of this goal is integrating your data and people so everyone works from a single source of (correct) information, and has access to data when and where they need it.

An integrated team, streamlined to operate efficiently, is a key benefit of Smart Manufacturing. According to the Manufacturing Innovation Blog produced by NISTMEP (National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership), Dan Green, Director of Joint Advanced Manufacturing Region (JAMR) within the Navy, identified Smart Manufacturing as, “… the convergence of operating technologies (OT) and Information Technologies (IT) working together in a real time integrated fashion.”

Currently, many companies report a disconnect between IT and operations. Rather than collaborating, organizations within a company will defend their priorities. Without cohesion, any proposed solutions to operational inefficiencies will favor one segment of the company over another, delivering a less than optimal result.

The Smart Factory changes this dynamic. Most companies who have embraced Smart Manufacturing report decreased stress and workload for both IT and Operations. For operations, a solid digital foundation for manufacturing eliminates many of the inefficiencies (including paper-based ones) that hinder production, and directly address the source of problems and errors in manufacturing, reducing scrap and improving production. For IT, with Smart Manufacturing it is easier to write reports and data mine the raw data accessible in a single location to produce critical production analytics. With the system automating many time-consuming tasks, IT can focus on higher priority items.

By integrating data and eliminating silos, you can bridge the gap between IT and Operations, helping everyone in the organization work as a cohesive team. The result is more focus and effort toward goals that deliver real benefit.

This, if you open your mind, is really what Thanksgiving is all about – a cohesive team delivering tremendous results in a time of need.

Enjoy the holiday! Want to learn more, or see how a Smart MES or MOM system can make your company work more efficiently, then contact CIMx today for a free shop floor analysis.

Improve Production with Smart Data Using the Quantum Archive

Don’t waste your manufacturing records. By converting them to Smart Data, you can improve communication and access to information, and enable data-driven manufacturing.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

How are you managing your manufacturing records? Illustration by www.colourbox.com

How are you managing your manufacturing records? Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

Many manufacturers are facing an imminent (and potentially dangerous) records problem – a “data-geddon” you might call it. They have years (even decades) of manufacturing data and records sitting in outdated systems, or on servers or databases slowly falling apart or becoming completely unusable.

They keep these decrepit servers on life support through IT wizardry because they NEED the data for some reason, even though they can’t really use it. The data is in an ancient flat file or some other arcane format that hasn’t been used since the Apple Newton was released.  The data exists, but it doesn’t do much more than that, which is too bad because most manufacturers would argue data is one of their most valuable resources.  All that money companies pour into maintaining outdated systems and patchwork servers is lost, gone into the IT either just to maintain the inadequate status quo.

In the past, manufacturers didn’t have an easy solution for outdated software systems or records. They could attempt to move the data, but if the information is contained in a system that wasn’t compatible with the new server, the data could be lost or compromised. They could attempt migrating the data to a new software system, but this was expensive and could add additional complexity to an already difficult, and expensive, implementation project.

Quantum Archive, part of our Quantum Core manufacturing solution, is an alternative to these solutions. Using the Quantum platform, companies can easily and safely move their data off an old system or paper records to a new, more reliable and useful technology compatible with modern systems. Data migration and manipulation services are tailored to preserving and securing the data, eliminating excessive and unnecessary costs while providing manufacturers a secure pathway forward, meeting several critical needs:

  1. Move historical data from an obsolete, expensive system to a modern platform at lower cost, providing continual access and use of the data;
  2. Transition from old flat file technology to modern object-based technology ready for analysis and reporting;
  3. Avoid additional expense when upgrading a system by migrating the data not critical to the implementation to the archive, offering easy access when and if you need it;
  4. Easier access to the data, ready to be utilized in current workflows and processes;
  5. And combine data from several older systems into a new, linked database.
Convert your data to smart data to enable data-driven manufacturing. Illustration by www.colourbox.com

Convert your data to smart data to enable data-driven manufacturing. Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

When complete, the data is secure, and the Archive can be upgraded at any time in the future to either the Quantum Core or Enterprise system, or to another software solution.

The goal of the Quantum Archive is simple – stop throwing money and effort away on an outdated information solution, and take a first step toward data-driven manufacturing. Companies using the Quantum Archive report immediate benefits. They see improved access to their data, complete order records, improved analysis and better communication within the organization. The annual savings of these initial benefits can easily exceed more than 10x the license cost for the archive.

Want to learn more, or see how quickly you can get rid of dusty old software and move to a modern system? Then contact CIMx today for a free consultation. We’re happy to help.

How Data-Driven Manufacturing Will Impact Your Shop Floor

More and more manufacturers are benefitting from paperless manufacturing and systems such as MES – proof of the power in data-driven manufacturing.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications from CIMx Software

How will data-driven manufacturing benefit you? Image by www.colourbox.com

How will data-driven manufacturing benefit you? Image by http://www.colourbox.com

Change is coming to manufacturing.

Spend enough time reading material out there, listening to analysts or keynote speakers, or just studying the manufacturing market and you can see the signs of change.

As we begin grappling with change, we try to give it a name. Some are calling it “Industry 4.0.” They see the Smart Factory in our future, built on the Internet of Things with cyber-physical tools in every nook and cranny… and on and on… It’s no wonder so many are willing to wait for the industry frenzy to calm down before deciding on what to do next.

Even though we are careful to not get into the politics of trend naming, we see the changes coming to our industry as data-driven manufacturing, a term many others are also out there using.  It’s more than putting sensors on machines or collecting mounds of data for pretty dashboards, and automating everything possible. Data-driven manufacturing means collecting critical data in real-time, then utilizing the data to increase production and work better, faster and with fewer errors. Think of it as a Smart MES.

Consider this – using an out-of-the-box solution, one that is readily available today, you can:

  • Measure and observe a trend before it becomes a problem. With data-driven manufacturing, you can see weaknesses and potential problems in the workflow, and quickly implement a solution through the system.
  • Assess shop floor labor time against the estimated time to complete work, to create more accurate estimates and pricing.
  • Identify non-conformances and quality issues quickly using automated tolerances. Quality Control can respond and solve problems from their desk.
  • Implement process improvement plans through procedural enforcement, utilizing real-time shop floor data to increase and maximize efficiency.
  • Automatically create a complete production record, using object-driven data that can be used in reporting and data analysis.
Data-driven manufacturing is here, and you can make it work for you. Illustration by www.colourbox.com

Data-driven manufacturing is here, and you can make it work for you. Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

All of these benefits are available, in addition to the other functionality found in MES and paperless manufacturing systems. These benefits hint at the competitive advantages of a continually monitored, data-driven shop floor using a Smart MES over manufacturing operations struggling with paper-driven manufacturing. As more companies embrace digital manufacturing, companies still using paper are at a significant disadvantage.

Manufacturers need to stop seeing problems on the shop floor as simply headaches that need to be managed, and start seeing them as opportunities. A digital paperless manufacturing system such as MES or MOM is critical (and increasingly affordable and easy-to-implement) solution to shop floor problems and issues, and often represents the single biggest opportunity for operations improvement. Want to learn more, or see how paperless manufacturing can help you? Then contact CIMx today for more information.