Tag Archives: manufacturing software solutions

How to Find an MES Solution You Can Trust

Don’t be “wowed” by software solutions that aren’t addressing the challenges facing your shop floor. Learn how you can find the solution that’s right for you.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

Don't be fooled by manufacturing software with fancy packaging. Look for a product that addresses your core requirements to build an ROI.

Don’t be fooled by manufacturing software with fancy packaging. Look for a product that addresses your core requirements to build an ROI.

Ever watch late night TV or infomercials for the latest inventions offered to the unsuspecting public?

Consider the Flowbee hair cutter system. For just $79.99 (or $114.90 with the Super Mini Vac), you can have a razor attached to a vacuum cleaner that will safely cut your hair to any length between ½” to 6”. For that low-low price, you’ll never have to go to a barber or hair stylist!  Is it worth it? Apparently, many think so…

How about cola-flavored wine? Ever heard of pet-dating services?  Infomercials are full of products offering questionable value.

I’m not arguing there isn’t a market for the Flowbee.  As funny as it may seem, many (especially parents) love their Flowbee. Unfortunately, I believe these products are sold more for the “wow” factor than actual functionality, leading to a sharp pang of buyer’s remorse once the product arrives.

The WOW Factor in MES purchases

The wow factor is alive and well in the software industry. Some MES customers feel the same buyer’s remorse once their system is installed. Our industry is filled with products sold for the “wow” factor, not actual manufacturing solutions.

This is why many demos feature a “similar” product without actually showing your work instructions. Vendors sell functionality that isn’t even in the product yet. Many MES vendors make promises their software developers aren’t ready to fulfill. Once it comes time to implement, new code has to be written. A simple project explodes with service costs and an expanding implementation schedule. As the vendor struggles to fulfill contractual obligations and promises, your shop floor suffers.

Companies quickly discover the buyer’s remorse, similar to the oenophile (wine connoisseur) who discovers coca cola and wine don’t mix.

Seeing Past the WOW Factor

When selecting an MES or paperless manufacturing solution, start with a focused project requirement list.  If your list is pages and pages long, you’re setting your project up for failure.  Focus on those requirements and your shop floor challenges, not the wow factors vendors offer to finalize a sale.  Consider this:

  • Modules do not make a better software product, and more modules do not make an even better solution. In fact, each one of those modules will require an integration and some customization, which can quickly add up to a more complex, and expensive, system.
  • Offering a bazillion versions of the same product doesn’t mean the one you finally select is any better than other solutions, or other versions of that software. The core software isn’t likely to change, no matter how many different names you slap on it.
  • Counting the number of KPI reports on your super-cool dashboard should not be a core criteria for your software selection. Reports are easy to design and write. A scalable, functional solution designed to improve production is more important.
  • An ERP is different from a PLM, which is different from an MES. Each serves a unique function in the production process, and anyone selling you an “integrated” solution has either bundled three different software products together so they look the same, or is offering you a less-than optimal solution for each.

Building Trust in your Vendor

The success of any MES project is determined by how well the software solves production challenges.  Illustration by www.colourbox.com

The success of any MES project is determined by how well the software solves production challenges. Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

Your requirement list may change as you begin selecting and down-selecting vendors, but the core challenges facing production won’t change. Features and function that don’t address those core challenges should not be a key factor in your selection.

Look for a vendor you can trust. As counter-intuitive as it may sound, you need a vendor willing to tell you both the good and the bad.  Any vendor who isn’t willing to say “no” when it’s necessary doesn’t see your business as a long-term partner, just another commission.

Don’t be dazzled by the Flowbee of software solutions. Make sure you have a solution and vendor you can trust. Want to know more, or see how paperless manufacturing might benefit your shop floor? Give us a call and let us see what we can do for you.

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What to Do When Fear is Holding Your Shop Floor Hostage?

This time of year, when ghost and ghouls are top of mind, it’s a good time to look at the fears that hold so many manufacturers back from taking the next step to improve their operations with paperless manufacturing.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

Don't let fear hold your shop floor back.  Photo by www.colourbox.com

Don’t let fear hold your shop floor back. Photo by http://www.colourbox.com

We all have fears.  Mine is mice and rats.  I saw a mouse once run across my kitchen floor once and almost run into my foot.  After that, I refused to go back in the kitchen for a week or more.  It sounds silly, I know.  But fear makes us do crazy things and ends up holding us back.  It’s like this weight we can’t drop, even when we know it is completely unreasonable.

Many times, fear holds a shop floor back from embracing a solution they know will fix the problems facing them.   Businesses sacrifice success because they embrace fear.  Maximizing production, improving operations, innovation, increased quality, reduced scrap, and schedule reliability all sound good, but there are times it’s simply not enough to overcome fear.

We’re going to help you conquer those paperless manufacturing fears with 5 simple, common-sense ideas that will help you embrace innovation (safely) and (reliably) improve your shop floor operations.  Let’s start with….

1)      Trust

Many times we end up not trusting our instincts and second-guessing ourselves when it comes to selecting a software provider.  We’ve seen this many times when companies decide to build a solution themselves (almost never a good idea) or select the largest company with the biggest name instead of picking the best solution.  Don’t let fear keep you from selecting the best solution.

2)      Pilot Program

Are you really scared the program won’t work for you?  Why not test it through a smaller pilot program?  Select a single line to install the program and judge the results.  You’ll get the assurance you need and the data to support a decision before rolling the solution out to your whole operation.  Not only that, if the vendor balks at letting you install a pilot program, you can be sure there is a higher-level of customization to the solution, or a hefty amount of service charges waiting for you on the final bill.

3)      Upgrade costs

I hate to tell you, but there is NO final shop floor control solution.  Ten years ago, the Cloud, 3D printing, and mobile manufacturing sounded more like science fiction than modern manufacturing.  Imagine what manufacturing will be like ten years from now.  Take a look at the costs to upgrade your potential system.  Having a clear plan to upgrade the system will take the fear of obsolescence out of the equation.

Overcome fear and find solutions for your shop floor.  Photo by www.colourbox.com

Overcome fear and find solutions for your shop floor. Photo by http://www.colourbox.com

4)      Guaranteed price

Did your vendor offer you a guaranteed, not-to-exceed price for the project?  Do you know what service costs you will incur?  Many software vendors offer a lower initial cost, and then end up charging significantly higher service fees for basic features or necessary functions.  Others require “upcharges” for basic installation services.  Knowing the price before the project starts will eliminate these fears.

5)      Who is in control?

Ask yourself, who is controlling the project?  Is the installation plan focused on your priorities, or do you see a lot of work being done with fees and charges growing with little focus on your priorities?  The primary goal of any manufacturing solution is to deliver results for your shop floor and eliminate the challenges holding you back.  If you feel like the project has grown out of your control, you’re probably right.  Make sure you are in charge of the project.

There are risks in manufacturing and manufacturing software solutions, but there are ways to mitigate risk and ensure the system is truly focused on meeting your business needs.  Years ago, CIMx recognized a number of “industry standards” we felt weren’t customer-focused.  Many companies were justifying their practices as the cost of doing business.

We’ve worked hard to eliminate the risks that cause fear and make sure the project is focused on you.  That’s why we offer a guaranteed maximum price.  We use a Phased Implementation to give you control of the project and eliminate unnecessary cost and risk.  We offer free upgrades with our licensing agreement, and assign an Application Engineer as a partner to you, instead of a help desk.

Want to learn more?  Give us a call, we’re happy to talk.