Tag Archives: IT

The Shop Floor Culture Wars and Paperless Manufacturing

Conflict and mis-communication between IT and Operations may be hurting your company more than you think.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software
How smoothly does your shop floor operate? Illustration by www.colourbox.com

How smoothly does your shop floor operate? Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

We work with manufacturing companies around the world. We’re a software company so we have developers, software engineers and IT experts on staff. We also love manufacturing – the hum of machines on the shop floor and the smooth efficiency of processes and schedules.  These (seemingly) dichotomous interests give us a unique perspective on the manufacturing industry… we know the software and technology and love the science and culture of manufacturing, which may be why we are so dismayed at the silent Culture War we see being waged at many companies.

IT versus Operations… we’ve come to expect the unspoken conflict between these departments every time we work with a new company. In one organization, we were shocked to learn many in IT had never visited a shop floor or even knew what, exactly, the company made. In another company the Director of Operations told us he wasn’t sure what the IT department had to do other than fix computers. The organizational separation between IT and Operations causes serious harm to a business, limits the organizations ability to collaborate or communicate, and stifles creativity and efficiency. Vital information gets buried inside the organizational silos built between the departments.   These cultural differences within an organization lead to non-productive work and wasted resources.

The problem (I hope) isn’t open conflict or true warfare, but that decisions are made by both groups independently. Often, a company will assign responsibility to one group or another, and rather than working collaboratively one department will vigorously defend their power. Collaboration is seen as a loss of power.

From our perspective, there is absolutely no reason for this separation – no benefit. And yet, because implementing paperless manufacturing is as much a cultural project as a technical one, these silos that fuel the organizational culture wars are magnified during the implementation. Consider this:

  • How much is shop floor dysfunction costing you? Illustration by www.colourbox.com

    How much is shop floor dysfunction costing you? Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

    Implementing a software solution like paperless manufacturing or an MES without feedback and consultation with operations can lead to a system that causes more problems than it is worth, and ends up being unused. Operations is process-based, and any tool must be integrated with the processes as much as the business infrastructure.

  • Without IT expertise, the software system may never be fully integrated into other systems, and may not ever have the support necessary to optimize production. Trying to cram more software tools onto servers haphazardly is a task doomed to failure.
  • Miscommunication and misinformation during the selection and implementation can lead to gaps in coverage or service, leading to frustration and operational inefficiencies, and a solution that never delivers the full ROI.

When positioning yourself for success in a system implementation, the core problem is simple – both operations and IT play a critical role in a software system implementation for manufacturing, and any time you have these two organizations operating at cross-purposes, the project has little chance of success.

Solving Shop Floor Dysfunction

Any solution to this problem starts with bridging the gap between IT and Operations, and eliminating or minimizing the barriers and silos that develop between departments. There are several simple steps that can be taken by organizations plagued by internal culture wars:

  • Foster a culture that looks to the future.
Improving shop floor efficiency is easier than you might think. Image by www.colourbox.com

Improving shop floor efficiency is easier than you might think. Image by http://www.colourbox.com

Silos develop when employees cling to the, “way things have always been done.” Internal departments look inward when they want to protect their way of doing things, which eliminates the opportunity for improvement and promotes organizational silos. Elect representatives from both IT and Operations to develop and manage process improvement programs, helping employees to embrace a culture of change. Focus on innovation and improvement, rather than maintaining the status quo.

  • Help IT understand operations.

While it may not seem like a productive use of employee time, you can gain a lot by helping your IT department learn about production. Get them on the shop floor, and let them see how manufacturing struggles without digital tools. Give them an understanding of the shop floor processes and how operations works, and they will be in a better position to support production initiatives.

  • Get IT involved in the project early.

If Operations sees IT as only, “the people who work on the computer,” then you aren’t adequately engaging one of your best internal resources. Don’t wait to get IT involved in a project till you need them, get them involved early and let them help build the requirements. Their involvement will help ensure you have a system optimized for your production environment.

  • Share ownership of the system.

Many companies feel the project is over once the system is installed, but today, in a world where change is the only constant in manufacturing, maintaining the viability of the system is a critical competitive advantage. This can best be done, without putting an undue burden on either department, by electing a “system-leader” from both Operations and IT. Operations can focus on the functionality of the system, while IT can focus on other aspects of the software.

Shop Floor Efficiency the Easy Way

Illustration by www.colourbox.com

Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

This may seem like an overly simple solution to a complex problem, but many employees and organizations fail to see the “big picture” connection between IT and Operations. Operations drive profit and generate money, while IT gives Operations the tools and support they need to succeed. There really is no difference – both work to serve the customer and the business.

Without collaboration and communication between IT and Operations during the selection and implementation of a new manufacturing software system, companies are often left with a software system that never meets expectations or operates efficiently. Requirements may be met, but the overall benefit to the organization is lacking. Opportunity is lost.

Want to know more, or see how CIMx can help you bridge the gap between IT and Operations? Give us a call or let us know how we can help.

The Secret to a Successful Manufacturing Strategy

Manufacturing is changing, as disruptive technology force companies to adapt.  Learn how to manage disruption and build a successful business strategy with a few simple tips.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

I was re-reading Garntner Predicts 2014 and found a quote that really brought focus to troubling trends I’d seen in manufacturing recently:

“With digital business, IT leaders must come to terms with what digital really means in the context of their work. It is bigger in scope than the typical company definition of IT, because it includes technology outside a company’s control: smart mobile devices (in the hands of customers, citizens and employees), social media, technology embedded in products (such as cars), the integration of IT and operational technologies (such as telecom networks, factory networks and energy grids), and the Internet of Things (physical objects becoming electronically tractable).”

Note: Bold is my addition.

Information Technology versus Operational Technology

Integrating Information Technology (IT) with Operations and Operational Technology (OT) is a critical task for any company.  It’s also a task that many companies are failing.

Too often, IT and Operations act independently.  Decisions are made and strategies developed in a vacuum, and then companies struggle to make it work.  Recently, I’ve seen companies seek solutions to operational problems, such as new regulations, quality escapes, cost overruns, or inefficient work flow.  With current technology and software tools, these problems are easy to solve.  This is the foundation of the digital business.  But, without an integrated IT and Operations, the solution many companies select isn’t optimized and will never deliver the capability or functionality the business needs.  They end up trading one set of problems for another.

The Solution

Consider this:

  • Are you ready for the age   of digital business?  Illustration by www.colourbox.com

    Are you ready for the age of digital business? Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

    Operations needs the digital tools provided by IT. With the advent of digital business, paper-based, inefficient manufacturing methods no longer support modern production.  With the right digital tools and IT support, operations will be positioned for success in the future.

  • IT relies on manufacturing. Manufacturing is the revenue generator for a business.  The more manufacturing, the more profit for the company and the more successful everyone is.  In addition, IT must support the digital tools used by Operations.  IT finds success by supporting Operations with tools that won’t place an undue burden on IT resources.

IT and Operations rely on each other.  They share similar goals.  But, too often, they have an adversarial relationship that does no one any good.  Moving forward, Operations and IT must work more closely together.  The digital business of the future demands integration.

No longer can IT sit in their office and focus solely on the computer infrastructure.  They need to understand how manufacturing works so they can provide a solid digital foundation and manufacturing tools.

Operations can’t focus solely on the shop floor, manufacturing in a vacuum.  Operations needs to understand how important the IT infrastructure is to their success, and see it as a critical foundation to production.

Digital business is a disruptive influence that requires all of us to adjust our thinking and the way we operate, but it also offers tools that can catapult a company to success.  Sure, integrating IT and Operations may seem counter-intuitive.  Operations can no longer just demand a solution or answer from IT, and IT can’t demand Operations blindly use their solution.  Collaboration is required.  It may be difficult, even scary, but there is tremendous opportunity there for the businesses that embrace the digital business and begin to see their business not as a collection of entities operating independently, but a cohesive whole operating toward a shared goal.

Moving Forward

The question is, how do you integrate IT and Operations?  One part of the answer is cultural.  We need to eliminate the information and operational silos holding us back.  Teams that bring the expertise of both Operations and IT need to be built, with a focus on developing solutions that work across the business.

Consider how productive your business would be with IT and Operations working collaboratively.  Image by www.colourbox.com

Consider how productive your business would be with IT and Operations working collaboratively. Image by http://www.colourbox.com

Technology solutions must recognize the disruptive property of new technology, and meet the needs of the business, not just individual departments.   Systems designed 15 years ago (even ones cleverly packaged with a new name or in a new module) aren’t going to work under the new paradigm.  The digital business needs Web 2.0 solutions that adapt to the changing needs of the shop floor and IT.  They need to be configurable, to support current work flow, shop floor processes, and work instructions.  Advanced data collection and business analytics are part of the solution, but not the sole focus.  You need solutions equally integrated.

It’s a global change in how we look at shop floor systems, but, in the end, this is the only way to support a modern manufacturing business.  The advent of digital business is disrupting past methodology processes, requiring new methods.  At CIMx Software, we understand that, and we’ve developed solutions that bridge the gap between IT and Operations – delivering advanced software and technology to manufacturing in a way that not only gives the shop floor the tools they need, but offers IT simple installation and minimal support with a lower cost.  The software solutions we offer have been developed not only with the shop floor in mind, but IT as well.

Want to learn more, or see how you can become a digital business?  Give us a call or leave a message.  We’re happy to answer questions or take a look at your shop floor or IT needs, and suggest a solution for you.

How to Get the Paperless Manufacturing System You Want

There are numerous options for companies researching MES and paperless manufacturing, we take a close look and evaluate two of those options.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications at CIMx Software

Ensure your paperless manufacturing solution solves problems, and doesn't create them. Photo by www.colourbox.com

Ensure your paperless manufacturing solution solves problems, and doesn’t create them. Photo by http://www.colourbox.com

It is much more difficult to build a car than buy one.  So, even though I’m annoyed by side view mirror controls that dig into my wrist, and I bang my head when I put my daughter in the car seat, I won’t re-engineer the work involved in current car designs to build my own (even though a robot vacuum to clean up after the kids is simply brilliant).

Build versus buy is not only a question in cars, but also MES and paperless manufacturing.  As businesses research the benefits to production, quality, and data collection found in paperless manufacturing, each must decide whether to build their own system, or buy from a vendor.  There are advantages and disadvantages to each option.  For this blog, we’ll look at points to consider as you make your own evaluation.

Design

The ability to design a paperless manufacturing system and control the final product is often the primary reason a company will build rather than buy.  Every manufacturer is different, with different processes and unique needs.  Incorporating internal processes and needs at the beginning of development helps ensure a better product.

Ensure your paperless manufacturing project isn't one best left to the experts. Photo by www.colourbox.com

Ensure your paperless manufacturing project isn’t one best left to the experts. Photo by http://www.colourbox.com

To successfully build your own system, you must understand those processes and needs before you begin.  Determining the system requirements can take 2 months or more, and requires significant input from the manufacturing team (pulling them from the shop floor), and management.  You should also assume some slippage in the project timeline.  No matter how much planning is done, you can’t plan for everything once the code begins flowing.

Any items not included from the initial system requirements will exponentially increase the cost in time and resources for the project.  You also need to consider that every requirement you identify for the system will add to the cost.  If you have the stomach for the time and money it will take to complete the system, you’ll have the system you want.

Making changes to a system you bought can also be costly.  A risk companies run into is creating a “custom” system that will be more difficult to support.  When purchasing, make sure to do your research and ask for demos using your current work instructions to see how the installed system will work on your shop floor.

Implementation

Implementation involves taking the initial design and writing code for it, then installing it on the shop floor.

A system built internally begins with the 2+ months to determine the system requirements before programming and development begins.  In addition to programmers, the project requires an expert in User Interface to eliminate unnecessary complexity, and a Data Base Administrator (DBA).  Specifications will also affect the final cost of the system.  Consider the database and platform, and plan for a product that will work not only now, but in the future for your business.

There are ways to lower cost, such as removing functionality, minimizing testing, or utilizing internal resources, but there are costs associated with these measures, and could affect the long term viability of the system.  Evaluate the return and cost for each decision before making choices you may regret.

System integration is another point to consider.  Manufacturers and businesses use a number of different software systems and databases.  Ensuring those systems work together smoothly is often overlooked in planning. 

How much risk and cost can your business manage for a paperless manufacturing .

How much risk and cost can your business manage for a paperless manufacturing .

Purchased systems offer a much lower cost for implementation.  Today, there are paperless manufacturing systems that can be installed and integrated in less than two weeks with no disruption of shop floor processes.  However, you will not have the design control you have in a built system.

Configuring, adapting, and integrating the system can take longer.  Also, beware of systems that require that your shop floor processes adapt to the software, which can significantly increase implementation.  Look for MES or paperless manufacturing systems which can reuse your existing work instructions and processes to reduce implementation time and training.

Reliability

A paperless manufacturing system is only useful if it is up, running, and secure.  The long-term reliability and maintainability of the system must be considered in planning.

Every system requires maintenance and upkeep, especially in an industry such as manufacturing where changes in technology and processes are common.

Evaluate the ROI of a home built MES, then work with a software provider to go over the ROI for their system. Photo by www.colourbox.com

Evaluate the ROI of a home built MES, then work with a software provider to go over the ROI for their system. Photo by http://www.colourbox.com

With a system built internally, evaluate how much time and resources you will assign to the maintenance.  Will you have access to the team that originally built the software?  They are best positioned to maintain the system.  How will you handle bugs?  How much time in testing, both integration and regression testing, will you accept to repair bugs and flaws in the system.  If you see maintainability as a low priority, are you and your team willing to accept temporary patches, flaws, and workarounds in addition to a slow slide toward software obsolescence?  Is there a plan to upgrade the system? Considering these issues early in the planning process will help eliminate future surprises, and determine the lifetime cost of the system.  

The truth is, many businesses significantly underestimate the resources necessary to successfully maintain a system.  Most times they won’t intentionally underestimate to work required for maintenance, but once they better understand the requirements, they’ll be forced to make sacrifices and the solution will no longer be optimized.

Almost all home built software become “legacy” once the project is complete.  If the team that built the system isn’t on staff, the product cannot be tested and is therefore legacy software.  Future modifications will be exponentially more expensive.

Reliability and support for a purchased system will depend on the vendor supplying the software.  Many vendors offer an inexpensive system initially, and then charge higher fees for service and maintenance.  For example, a consultant will often install a base system very quickly, and then require further services to ensure the system works as promised. 

Look at the product support before making a purchase.  A system with a large support staff will expect customers to help pay for the staff through service charges.  Are there fees for upgrades or patches?  How is the product maintained? 

Many software systems require a license fee, which often includes product support.  Most purchased systems have been installed and used countless times, which can be seen as continual product testing, ensuring a more reliable and error free platform.  The total cost of the software and maintainability is shared by all the customers. 

Reliability in the system helps build the ROI, so take time to make an informed decision.

______________________

As you evaluate paperless manufacturing options, keep in mind a company specializing in manufacturing software systems rely on years of expertise in both manufacturing and software development. They will be marketing the product for years, and will continue maintenance and testing, to ensure the system works.

Choices and options.

Take a close look at the resource requirements necessary for maintainability. Photo from http://www.colourbox.com.

But, building a system internally allows a level of customization and control a purchased system can’t match.  Your evaluation comes down to a simple question – is the benefit of increased customization and control (or other motives driving you toward the solution) worth the increased cost in time, resources, and risk?  Look at not just the initial product, but the long-term investment.  Have a plan in place for continuing to maintain the system and ensuring the design of the system isn’t trapped in an information silo.

There is also risk and cost in purchasing a system.  Some vendors sell systems that aren’t well maintained or supported, or have hidden costs.  paperless manufacturing in the Cloud has associated risks.  You may not have all the functionality you wanted with the system, since it wasn’t designed internally, but you benefit from lower cost and lower risk for your shop floor.

There are advantages and disadvantages to building and purchasing an MES or paperless manufacturing system, and each company must evaluate the options with internal criteria before making a decision.  When building a system, you can get what you want if you are willing to spend the money and resources necessary, and you can mitigate the risk of potential failure.  You also need to be aware that a paperless manufacturing system is not a “one and done” project. It requires ongoing maintenance to continue to meet the needs of your business.

Success requires willingness to pay, a stomach for risk, and a devotion to maintainability. Which is why my brilliant robot vacuum is still a dream, and there are still crumbs in the backseat of my car.

5 Hazards of Paperless Manufacturing in the Cloud

The cloud is changing the way software and IT service is delivered, but is it ready for the shop floor? 

I have a friend who is the epitome of “early adopter.”  His home is filled with the coolest gadgets, including a robot vacuum cleaner and a 3D TV, purchased before the first review even hit the market.  However, his back bedroom hides evidence of the dangers of early adopting.  There’s a HD DVD sitting on one shelf.  A dusty Palm Pilot hides in a drawer on top of a Blackberry Playbook.  Sometimes the “coolest” gadgets hide fatal flaws, or just don’t work as promised.

Unfortunately, manufacturers don’t have the luxury of fatal flaws, and can’t hide mistakes in a back room.  No matter how tempting the latest innovation might be, it’s important to honestly assess the business impact before implementing, especially on the shop floor.

Accessing the cloud brings information to the people when and where they need it, but will it benefit manufacturing?

Will the cloud benefit your shop floor? Photo by http://www.colourbox.com

Cloud computing, computing services hosted over the Internet, offers a number of advantages.  For example, the service is often fully managed by the provider, eliminating many upkeep costs.  Users pay for only the services they use.  Updates and maintenance are handled remotely.  The service can be quickly scaled when need arises.  Changes and updates are made globally, not individually, ensuring speedy implementation.  But, there are hazards hiding in the promise of cloud computing.

Data Loss

A recent survey by Symantec found that 43% of the respondents using Cloud services admitted to data loss.  Some data loss could be attributed to user error, including misplaced or misfiled information.  For a shop floor, secure information and data management is necessary, especially in heavily regulated industries facing potential audits.  Effective paperless manufacturing relies on secure data management.

Data Security

Because so many users are accessing the cloud, a number that significantly increases with public cloud services, data security is a challenge.  More users increase the risk. Unauthorized users can (accidentally or otherwise) access data they shouldn’t.  Adding a cloud-based ERP system to shop floor systems magnifies the risk, because you have even more users potentially accessing the manufacturing system.  Potentially, secure data could be inadvertently moved to a less secure area of the cloud. The truth is, with any new technology it takes time to develop standards, and the operational standards for cloud computing are still a work in progress.

Is your shop floor ready for the cloud? Photo by www.colourbox.com.

Is your shop floor ready for the cloud? Photo by http://www.colourbox.com.

Trust

With cloud services, you are entrusting data to another company, opening yourself to risk.  Theft from your service provider is one potential risk.  Inadvertent mistakes by employees of the service provider, such as unsecured apps on a work device connected to your data, is another potential risk.  Consider the “neighborhood,” or server, where your data is stored.  In a recent example, an FBI raid on a server used by cybercriminals led to several businesses losing data.  They unknowingly shared a server with criminals, and during the investigation their data was lost.  Finally, there is the question of who, ultimately, owns the data – you or the company providing the server the data is stored on?  Assumptions over ownership and responsibility may not be clear at first, and can lead to significant problems in the future.

Service Failure

Growing cloud use leads to another problem – failure of service availability.  Recently, Gartner predicted that as more businesses move to the cloud, there will be an increased risk of “cascade” service failures.  Businesses are connected on shared servers, and problems can quickly spread, leading to widespread service outages that would have been contained if computer services were localized.  As more and more companies rely heavily on the cloud, this risk will grow, and since significant downtime is not an option for most shop floors, failure of service is a risk to operations you can’t control.

Mobile Manufacturing

A recent report from the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) cited a survey of more than 200 enterprise executives concerned with mobile device security and data in the cloud.  More and more industries are using mobile devices in business, including manufacturing.  Mobile manufacturing holds tremendous advantages for the shop floor.  But, as businesses adopt cloud services; unsecured mobile devices create unintentional “back doors” into secure data.  Potentially, any mobile device could access your cloud, including devices you can’t control.

Before implementing any change on your shop floor, assess the benefits and potentials dangers of the change. Photo by www.colourbox.com.

Before implementing any change on your shop floor, assess the benefits and potential dangers. Photo by http://www.colourbox.com.

Cloud computing hold tremendous promise for the future, and will continue to grow as businesses adopt the new technology.  It is a powerful tool.  Data protection and recovery is a strength of cloud computing, significantly decreasing the cost and time for disaster recovery, especially in automating backup and speeding up the restoration process.  Almost all data in the cloud is encrypted, which will significantly improve security.  There are cost savings in the cloud, and the ability to scale resources to meet current needs can significantly improve a businesses ability to overcome challenges

But there are currently hazards to moving your shop floor data management to the cloud.  Service providers and enterprise IT resources have not been able to provide the appropriate level of security, both in the cloud and among users.  The cloud is an emerging technology, still struggling with growing pains, which may impact the ability of a provider to deliver the level of service, speed and accuracy necessary to provide paperless manufacturing for the modern, dynamic and constantly changing shop floor.

But, cloud computing isn’t going the way of the HD DVD, and no one is predicting it will gather dust on a shelf any time soon.  As service providers find better solutions and tools for enterprise cloud services, it will become a viable option for the shop floor.

Have you ever considered preparing for the cloud with an internal cloud-based system to manage production data?  A web-based paperless manufacturing solution hosted on an internal server is a cloud-based process control solution that, when there is an appropriate level of security and reliability, can be uploaded and served on the cloud.  This is a step toward the future without experiencing any of the current risks in cloud computing.

What experience have you had with moving your MES, paperless manufacturing or ERP services to the cloud?  Are there benefits to adopting a “cloud” strategy for your shop floor we haven’t covered here?  Speed and the ability to quickly make global changes to a system is a significant benefit we haven’t touched on.  Are there challenges or hazards we missed?  Let us know what your experience has been with the cloud.

How Much ROI Is Slipping Through Your Fingers?

By Kristin McLane, President of CIMx Software

CIMx Software’s President talks about the easy-to-fix mistakes many companies make as they consider shop floor improvements.

The lyrics of a recent chart-topping song compare life to an hourglass, glued to a table.  It’s true we have only so much time, one measure of sand and no more.

Delaying a decision or waiting on an improvement project may cost you more than you think.

Delaying a decision or waiting on an improvement project may cost you more than you think. Photo: www.colourbox.com.

Whether you are talking life’s biggest problems or the implementation of shop-floor improvements, you never know how much time you have until the next crisis event.  On the shop floor, it might be an audit or a customer return.  Perhaps you’re building scrap because engineering made a change that’s not reflected in the current travelers.  Crises are going to happen, and there is only so much time to correct them before you lose profit, customers, and ROI.

Think of the sand trickling through the hourglass as currency.  Money’s wasted on errors and delays as you struggle to decide what to do, or wait to do anything at all.

Most of the companies I talk to worry about running out of time before they make a decision, get funding and implement.  It’s a legitimate concern with real consequences.  Internal politics and fear delay projects and decisions.  Companies exhaust the cost and production savings before they’ve kicked the project off.  The sand doesn’t stop.

The key to successfully navigating the hourglass is recognizing the potential danger and preparing for it.  Ask vendors how they keep a project on schedule.  What techniques do they have to give projects momentum?  At CIMx, we have measures, from our sales process through implementation, and long-term support and upgrade, to ensure we’re good stewards of your time.  We have resources in house to help build a persuasive business case and ROI, and have designed our software to be implemented in less than 30 days.  Demand a realistic schedule of your vendor, and never leave a project open-ended.

Look at the structure of your company, and identify potential roadblocks early.  If a team is reluctant to take on a manufacturing software solution, get them involved early so they don’t delay the project later.  If funding will be a problem, find an advocate who can lobby for funding and deliver a PO when the time is right.

If you can’t get a larger hourglass, focus on spending less sand.

The Upper Hand: Combining Mobility and Flexibility

The Upper HandMany shop floor employees and supervisors are responsible for a broad work area. That means they need access to specifications and drawings at various sites around the plant, they need to move around with the work instructions and they need to be able to enter data wherever they happen to be. Any lost time can delay production and have a direct impact on a company’s bottom line. A survey conducted by Motorola concluded that “manufacturers with mobile applications saved a daily average of 42 minutes per employee.” The study also found that “7 in 10 IT decision-makers in the manufacturing industry were looking to leverage mobile and wireless solutions to streamline operations.”

Although a tablet on the shop floor has much of the same functionality as a wired PC, there are a few distinct advantages.  First and foremost, it’s mobile. Employees and supervisors can view work instructions, collect data, and manage non-conformances, missing parts or incomplete information anywhere on the shop floor instantly. This eliminates non-value add walk-around time and possible delays in production. Second, the ease-of-use barrier is dramatically reduced. Touch screens make the software much more intuitive and approachable. Shop floor personnel can browse detailed multi-media work instructions and enter data with a finger touch rather than going to a keyboard.  Third, tablets reduce costs. Tablets require less hardware and infrastructure enhancements than traditional laptops or wired PCs, adding value to your bottom line. The future of paperless manufacturing might just be in the palm of your hand.

What is your company doing to gain the upper hand?

Paperless Manufacturing: An IT Friendly Application

IT FriendlyOne of the most challenging divisions in a manufacturing company today is IT.  IT personnel face a daunting task: how to keep up with rapidly changing software technology for the shop floor..  Technology that will solve company problems today becomes obsolete tomorrow.  IT must not only consider the customization, adaptability and sustainability of the software, but must be aware of operation’s need to improve quality and efficiency and corporate’s goal to improve the bottom line.

The IT Deal Breaker  

Customization. Challenges arise for IT when an MES system requires customization to meet shop floor requirements.  This puts a burden on IT to either write and test custom code or bring back the vendor each time a modification is needed.  Application upgrades and enhancements become complicated and time-consuming tasks. This method quickly becomes complex and costly.

What Does An IT Friendly System Look Like?

  • It is simple to install, use, change, enhance and upgrade
  • It enables IT enhancements and additions without changing the application code
  • It has an easy installation feature for all future upgrades and fixes; no rework required
  • It has a simple and adaptable way to integrate systems and data

A paperless manufacturing solution is IT friendly. It removes the challenges and complexity of a customized system and creates a value-adding benefit for the IT organization. They can be responsive and cost effective with minimal resources.

What is the biggest challenge facing your IT department?