Tag Archives: manufacturing software

What Quantum MES Can Do for You

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications at CIMx Software

The internet can be a confusing place for anyone doing research – especially for manufacturers researching Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES).

Research leads to more questions than solid answers. Finding the truth among lofty, but hollow, claims from ERP vendors that don’t know production can be a challenge. To clear up confusion, we’ll explain exactly what Quantum can do for you and other discrete manufacturers that are struggling to manage and improve production. Companies need solutions, not questions, to meet the complex demands of modern manufacturing.

Connecting the Shop Floor to the Top Floor

Quantum MES provides a data-driven edge for manufacturers by intelligently linking the shop floor to the top floor.

In the past, companies would struggle to manage production processes. Errors would be found only after manufacturing was complete, requiring expensive and time-consuming rework. Rampant inefficiencies, mistakes and non-productive work were common. Getting the big picture on shop floor was difficult, if not impossible. Data and information on production was either lost, inaccurate, or kept in isolated databases.

Without timely and accurate production data or process control, the company struggled to solve these problems. With scheduling based on guesswork and not capacity analysis, change orders requiring a printer and a red sticker, and a shop floor grappling with inefficiency, measurable improvement is difficult.

Companies using Quantum efficiently manage production operations by ensuring critical data and information is accurate and available when and where it is needed. The software eliminates guesswork and confusion with a built-in communication system. All aspects of the production process are integrated as everyone on the team uses the same and most up to date information. Many processes are automated, eliminating the source of errors and ensuring operators focus on production.

Smart Tools for Manufacturing

Since the software maps to and mirrors existing production operations, manufacturers find it easy to begin using the tools in Quantum, immediately improving operations. There are no extra modules or additions in Quantum, so you’ll have:

  • Built-in Finite Scheduling delivering real-time WIP dashboards to eliminate production and shipping uncertainty;
  • A closed-loop Quality System to identify non-conformances as they happen and automate rework to ensure timely delivery;
  • Process Conformance supporting standardized processes to dramatically increase accuracy and reduce production time;
  • Document Control that eliminates paper by digitizing work processes to remove errors;
  • Asset Management to track business assets throughout the manufacturing value chain, providing complete traceability for the most demanding regulatory requirements.

These tools are part of the complete manufacturing solution in Quantum. Since the software simplifies and enables the capture of relevant data across the production cycle, integrated Data Analytics delivers insights in real time to support data-driven business decisions that accelerate the benefits of the software. Visualization and feedback loops provide a critical foundation for Smart Manufacturing. With Quantum, your business will synchronize and integrate business operations from the top floor to the shop floor.

With industry-focused configurations, enterprise and multi-site options, and turnkey implementation and training – Quantum delivers error-free manufacturing and enterprise wide visibility for companies of any size at a price you can afford. Contact CIMx today to see what Quantum can do for you.

Overcoming Failure: Simple Steps to Improve Manufacturing Software

By Kristin McLane, President of CIMx Software

Not long ago, I wrote about a concept known as “sunk cost.”  The Sunk Cost Fallacy is a cognitive bias that compels us to cling to an investment even after there is little to no chance of a beneficial return. We feel an unnecessary commitment to decisions of the past, even where we’ve lost our initial investment, and so we keep pouring more resources into it.  For example, continuing to invest in a failed business or clinging to a relationship even after its gone bad.

I’ve heard Annie Duke, a World champion poker player, discuss the Sunk Cost Fallacy, and I’m fascinated by her lessons on sunk cost, loss aversion and Decision Science. She recently wrote a blog about supermarket lines and sunk cost.  There are valuable lessons for manufacturers in her blog when you consider the amount of money you spend on infrastructure.

Sunk Costs on the Shop Floor

3d small people - way choice

Don’t let sunk costs sink your productivity and shop floor software? Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

As Annie Duke explains in the blog, “Our problem is that we don’t recognize that we have later chances to make a new and better decision… Instead, we either think we are done deciding and ignore new information, or think the new decision should give weight to irrelevant factors.”

Much the same could be said of manufacturing. You have to invest to stay in business. Sometimes that investment is in software. Many companies, if not most, are loathe to spend money on these systems as the software or the people who sell it don’t seem honest or can’t be bothered to understand your problems; they’ll sell you whatever they can whether it works or not.

(CIMx tries to eliminate these problems through our sales cycle, but that’s not the focus of today’s blog.)

Once you pay for software, it becomes a sunk cost. You can’t consider the initial investment in the next decision you make. So, what do you do when the software isn’t giving you the return you need? What do you do when the system isn’t working like it should, or the supplier tells you the project is running late and significantly over-budget?  At that point, you need to consider your Return on Failure.

Maximizing Your Return on Failure

We have a history of working with companies that need to improve manufacturing software.  Companies come to us almost monthly with failed software implementations; some of these companies need help, others need an all-out system rescue.  We’ve helped with a total system replacement, ensured the data they needed was in the system, or just consulted and supplied services and software to help the manufacturer get back on their feet.  You’d be amazed at how many software providers desert their customers before the system they installed was fully usable.

In an article from the Harvard Business Review, authors Julian Birkinshaw and Martine Haas describe the theory of Return on Failure and how the most successful companies in the world use failure to grow rapidly and sustainably.  Return on Failure is measured by the information you obtain through the failure (call this “lessons learned”) and the amount initially invested.  No matter the investment, if you can maximize the information learned, you come out ahead.

To apply this in manufacturing, once you’ve selected and started to implement a system, all is not lost if you find it does not meet your needs.  Learn where the holes are.  Create a list of what’s still needed.  Rapidly identify what’s broken.  Then, and most importantly, apply the concept of sunk cost.

man under money on white background. Isolated 3D image

How much is inefficient software costing you? Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

The amount you’ve already invested in a system is irrelevant to the problem you’re trying to solve – a software system that’s currently not doing what you need it to do.  Unless the provider of the failed system can bail you out for the best price with the best result, why should you continue investing in failure?  The money you’ve spent shouldn’t factor into your next decision.  Are you worried about introducing another vendor and creating a bigger failure?  If you do nothing, then you’re accepting a shop floor digital infrastructure that will always be less than optimal. You’re basically crippling the profit driver of your company.

I would suggest it is MOST dangerous to continue investing with a supplier who has failed.  I’d also suggest a consultant can help identify the problems, but they can’t sustainably deliver an ROI for the future.  That’s not the strength of a consultant. You need a solution to the problem.

Increasing your Return on Failure involves learning from failure and creating a strategy for improving results in the future, and that’s where CIMx can help.

We’ve done it before.  Numerous times.  Our procedures are built to rapidly identify the gaps in your processes and determine the optimal strategy and solution.  With a full staff of engineers, shop floor analysis tools and products that can rapidly and robustly help you move data, we work with you to determine and implement a solution to get you up and running as quickly as possible.

Customers come to us not only with software implementations that failed, but also aging systems that are now failing or crippled by obsolete infrastructures.  We’ve even worked with customers (multiple ones if you can believe it) buying parts for aging servers off e-Bay.  Continuing to invest in systems like these represent sunk cost bias.  Continuing to pour money and resources into a failing system is not only foolish, but it’s holding your business back from optimizing production and profit.

Lessons Learned from Failure.

Each time we work with a manufacturer confronted with a failed (or failing) software system, we do our own lessons learned.  Here are a few areas that we can help, addressing each area Birkinshaw and Haas refer to:

Costly customers cost you dearly

If you are losing money regularly, you may not know your production costs.  Add manufacturing variability to that (customers changing one or more parameters on standard product), and the production estimate guessing game gets ever more dire.  With a solid system in place you can confidently estimate your production costs, and then run comparisons to determine the actual costs.  Track it daily, weekly, monthly or yearly.  You’re in control of the data.

Lack of market knowledge steals profitability

Do you know what’s really going on in your industry?  Plug competitive data into your analytics engine and see how your operation stacks up.  What if you were able to save 5% on the time it takes to complete a single shop floor operation?  Would that be the difference between a productive, profitable project and one that costs you and your customer time, money and aggravation?  The benefits you accumulate with a successful software system can be the difference between success and failure.

Alignment with the corporate strategy increases customer success

If your company were to make a broad change in how they manufacture for customers, could you identify how it would affect your ability to deliver for independent accounts?  Manufacturing software can provide a view, part by part, of how change impacts you and your customers.  If you were able to implement that change without increasing costs across your customer base, wouldn’t that increase your ability to compete?

Supporting a strong culture keeps you fully staffed

Failing systems have a negative impact on your team as well.  In a world where it is increasingly difficult to acquire and keep great employees, you need to do everything possible to help your shop floor staff to do their work.  Make their job easier by getting them the information they need.  Give them a system that empowers employees, providing access and feedback to both engineering and sales, increasing collaboration across the company.  We can provide you tools to do this.

Looking to the future provides continued improvement

Once you’ve got the right system in place, don’t stop there.  You need to continue to improve to remain competitive.  Business and manufacturing analytics provides a view into future trends.  We use trailing twelve charts to help us see forward trends.  Use this information to overcome production issues and make better decisions.

Next Steps to Increase Your Return

We’re proud of our expertise in overcoming failure for manufacturers, and want to continue helping companies in need of a technical lifeline, which is why we’re introducing a new program – the software trade-in.  We can’t take your current software licenses (and quite frankly, we don’t want them) but we’ll empower you to exchange them, license for license, with a CIMx Software system that will work for you.  We’re experts at rapid installation with a focus on strong investment returns, and our expertise will ensure you quickly replace failing systems with software that empowers production and manufacturing.

If you don’t want a heavy sales pitch, contact me directly to hear more about this, or talk to any member of my team.  We’ve made a business out of helping manufacturers improve production, and we’re ready to share our expertise.

Talk to you soon.

Good Samaritans, Guarantees and Paperless Manufacturing

By Kristin McLane, President of CIMx Software

The core of customer service in manufacturing software is ensuring the system works as promised. By focusing on the sale, many companies lose sight of customer service.

We never really think about customer service unless there’s a problem. It’s too bad, because manufacturing software suppliers are missing out on an opportunity…

I realized this when I lost my FitBit. I was on a bike trail near my house when my FitBit fell out of my pocket.  This was no fault of the device – I put it in my pocket to count steps as I rode, and ended up losing it on the side of the trail.

There wasn’t much I could do but mourn my lost fitness partner. It motivated me to get up from my desk and take extra steps.

Amazingly, a few days later FitBit let me know a Good Samaritan found my lost device and mailed it back to the company, asking if they could locate the owner – me.  And they did!

But the remarkable story doesn’t end there.  Fitbit began testing the watch before they sent it back and discovered it wasn’t working.  It seems humidity or weather caused a problem, so FitBit provided a newly-refurbished model to me at absolutely no cost… not a single dollar!

That level of customer service caught my eye.  How could CIMx make customer service a focus?

Focusing on the Customer Experience

For CIMx, Customer Service starts with the sales process.  Our goal is to solve problems, and not just sell software.

Computer devices around 3d small person.

Fake product demonstrations create confusion for many manufacturers. Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

Many manufacturers are confused by industry-speak and fake product demonstrations offered by other suppliers.  To demonstrate functionality, some suppliers show a video or use software more like a video game than a manufacturing system.  They have to, because they’ll need months of service work and “configuration” to get their product to match your specifications and expectations.

Consider it the shiny video gloss on an ugly system.  There is a core software product there, but it’s not ready for public consumption until they sell you configuration services.  This leads to confusion when the product delivered is nothing like the system at the demonstration.

The savvy prospect knows this.  We often hear we are the only vendor to show a live product demonstration – planned paths and paths driven by real-time questions.  We recently spent 5 hours going through product questions on a live system.  The prospect told us they had never seen a live manufacturing system until that day.  How many times have you seen a multi-hour software presentation built around live Q&A without a single product failure?  We are proud of what our software can do.

We know manufacturing, software, MES and Paperless Manufacturing. When you work with us, you aren’t talking to just another salesperson, but an expert in the field.  We spend time answering questions and educating prospects because we know how frustrating it can be working with a company so focused on the sale they only tell you what you want to hear.

To be honest, there were times in the past where we focused so much on educating we lost a sale.  These days, we’re still known for our consultative approach.  No, we are not consultants, but we play the role because we know manufacturing and technology so well, in addition to offering an amazing software system.  Consultants are paid for their time.

We help manufacturers navigate the confusing (and potentially frustrating) process.  We help them understand what they really need, and how to avoid pitfalls that could destroy any potential ROI or benefit of a system.

A Guarantee for Paperless Manufacturing

We also guarantee both our products AND our services.  Let me say that again.  We provide insurance for you that what you buy is what you get.  We were the first and still the only company I know in our industry that even comes close to this offer.  When we put a proposal together, we stand behind it.  We will deliver on-time 100% of the time.  We will deliver 100% of what we promise.

To me, that’s the core of exceptional customer service. When you purchase a product, you are investing resources and taking on risk the product may fail, or not meet your needs. Without offering a guarantee like that, the supplier is putting all the risk on you. They are being a salesperson and not a partner.

In my mind, FitBit embodies this concept of customer service.  They promised to be my partner in physical fitness.  And in helping me even when I failed (and lost my Fitbit), they went above and beyond in that promise.  They helped me even when I couldn’t help myself.

I’ll be a FitBit customer for life.

Being a partner in manufacturing and technology is our goal with every customer and prospect interaction, helping create CIMx customers for life.

Want to learn more, or talk to an expert about your manufacturing needs?  Contact CIMx today for a free shop floor analysis and see what paperless manufacturing can do for you.

Unravelling the Truth of Manufacturing Software Implementations

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

Software companies are quick to make claims about their implementation process, but the answers often lead to more confusion than actionable information.

What’s a reasonable schedule for an MES or Paperless Manufacturing system implementation?

When I started in this business (years ago), two years was average. Anyone who claimed to implement a full system, configured for the customer, in less than a year was either fudging the truth or delusional.

I remember reading a press release from a company that claimed they installed a system in 8 months, but, reading between the lines, you could tell there were problems. For one thing, they called it an “installation.” Anyone could throw a program on a server and claim the system was installed. For another, and most telling, there were no quotes from the customer.  So either they forgot to tell the customer they were done, or there was a very unhappy shop floor.

Times and technology have changed, and so have our expectations, so what is a reasonable schedule? Where is the golden balance between speed, functionality and user compatibility?

We turn to children’s tales for help in our answer….

Goldilocks and Three Software Implementations

  • My Software Implementation was too short!

I will admit – there is something appealing about cloud implementations. There are companies now offering apps that let you use a credit card. Within an hour you could have an MES!!

… well, not really. There are MANY problems with this “quick-fix” software solution. For one thing, they use smoke and mirrors to mask the real backbone of their solution – email. For another, you are locking yourself out of key features. For example, revision control eliminates many shop floor errors and problems, but the email planning system doesn’t have the tight revision control modern production needs.  Customizable data collection and reporting are benefits you won’t find in an “app.”

There’s also the question of configuration. Every shop floor has different processes, so how will canned functionality in a cloud app work on your shop floor?  The app is going to dictate how you work.  Will it make your processes, stronger? Probably not…

Finally, have you considered who will own your data? All that planning in the cloud is no longer under your control.  If the cloud server goes down or is confiscated as evidence, where is you data? Back-ups are nice, but actually controlling your data is better.

A quick fix solution is just that, a quick fix to what may be a deep seated problem with your manufacturing value chain.  There’s promise in the cloud, but it’s technology that’s still developing.

  • My software implementation is TOOOO LONG!

Many software companies link apps together and market themselves as a “master” solution to all your manufacturing needs. There are reasons why these systems take so long (often years) to implement.

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How long can your shop floor wait for a solution to be implemented? Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

In theory, this sounds like an amazing idea – a single solution linking the entire manufacturing process from end-to-end.  If it worked, you could easily manage the entire production enterprise.  You’d work with a single vendor and a single software system.

We are still years, perhaps decades, from a comprehensive enterprise solution that actually works. Some systems will be strong in one area, such as the PLM, and weaker in others, such as the MES. Enterprise software products are very different, so it’s natural for the overall system to favor one area over others.

Other times the “single” solution is really a series of individual apps the company purchased and stitched together like some software Frankenstein. Purchasing software is a quick way to acquire functionality, but ingesting that functionality into a suite will take years, and may never work. Buying a company isn’t necessarily going to make the overall product better.

On top of that, many of these “master” systems are complex and difficult because they are based on old technology. Rather than upgrading the software, and disturbing all the interconnections between individual apps, the company keeps adding new features and fixing problems with code that is never going to get better or become easier to use. Instead, the supplier just charges more and more money to work with the increasingly and maddeningly complex code, burying the creaky and problematic ancient system under shiny new features and tacked-on apps.

In the end, this is why it takes so long to implement these systems. Depending on the needs of the customer, the systems being integrated together, and the needs of the individual sites, a comprehensive solution is a massive and risky undertaking with suspect value. Problems will occur and the customer is left with “gaps” in their comprehensive solution.

  • My Software Implementation was Just Right!

Today, most suppliers offer Commercial Off-the-Shelf (COTS) systems for implementation. With a COTS product, there is a core system that is configured, ensuring the software can be modified and installed much quicker, and for a lower cost, than a custom solution. There isn’t a perfect schedule for an implementation, but there are signs the savvy consumer can use to cut through the marketing miasma and learn whether it is really a modern COTS product.

Confidence Button Shows Assurance Belief And Boldness

How can you balance speed and functionality in a shop floor implementation? Illustration by www,colourbox.com

Ask the supplier how long each of the custom requests will take before the implementation. If the development time seems extremely long, then the system they are offering may be older or more complex, which can increase the schedule and make the system difficult to maintain.

Depending on the complexity of the requests, most configurations should take no more than a month or two.

Another factor that can significantly increase the schedule of an implementation is preparing the planning. Some manufacturing software uses a form- or template-based system, which can severely limit flexibility. If the supplier has to create new forms, or demands you adapt planning for the software, it is likely they use templates. The software works, but it will increase your reliance on the supplier (for changes) and the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).

Finally, does the supplier have a software upgrade plan? Are the upgrades free, or is there a cost?  If there is a significant cost for an upgrade, or the company doesn’t offer an upgrade plan, then you may be dealing with a customized software system. Changing or upgrading the software in the future will be very expensive, leading manufacturers to just wait and continue struggling with an obsolete solution.

Benchmarking Manufacturing Software Implementations

With modern software built on an adaptable platform, implementations should not be a complex process. The software should be able to utilize your existing planning (our system does), and it shouldn’t be difficult to train users.

In fact, you would be surprised how quickly a system can be installed and in use on your shop floor without relying on a torturous cloud-based solution.

We recently completed a software configuration and remotely installed a Paperless Manufacturing system for a new customer in less than a month. Training took place over two days with an application specialist working with users on the shop floor.

The customer is currently in the process of updating their planning to utilize new functionality, but once that’s complete they’ll be rolling out the software to all the users. It’s been an easy process, the customer explained.

Years ago, system implementation was a scary, expensive process that caused many manufacturers to wait on purchasing software. Today, implementation shouldn’t be a factor in deciding whether to implement or not.

If it is, then give us a call or contact us today. We’re happy to discuss solutions and see if there is anything we can do to help.

Sustainable Products, Consultants and Paperless Manufacturing

By Kristin McLane, President of CIMx Software

Manufacturers have options when selecting a software solution, but often they lose sight of the most important requirement during the selection process.

On a recent flight, I sat next to a fuel transportation consultant with a background in software implementation.  As he talked about himself (incessantly), he explained he was a legend and master in his chosen industry. I instantly identified his sales pitch.

That’s really what it was – a sales pitch. Consultants are interesting that way.  The consulting industry – both corporate and independent – doesn’t make money unless you hire them. They don’t usually have a product to show or sell, only themselves, so they have this shiny, made-to-be-hired aura that promotes their skill and expertise.

Consultants need you to keep paying for their services; the end of one project may mean a lapse before another paying project comes.    Hiring them to install software, a job with a definitive end, seems counterproductive to their business model.  What is the impetus to complete a software installation in a timely manner?  Why should they make it sustainable or teach you how to adapt the software?

There may be very honest and skilled consultants out there, but the entire sales model seems designed to undercut the customer and minimize sustainability.

The Hard Facts of Building an MES

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Custom built software solutions will quickly bury manufacturers in unforeseen costs. Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

Many companies hire a consultant to select, modify or build a software system.  Short of trying to build a custom system internally, using a consultant is the most expensive option.  Here are some sobering data points to consider:

  • If you choose to build an MES, you’ll need at least 3 to 4 full-time staff and 18 months or more to get an initial beta offering launched. The cost, at minimum, will be $500,000 to $750,000.
  • The team will spend the first 6 months getting the requirements and design nailed down. It will be another 12 months of coding and development work.
  • The beta is not a full system. There will be missing features and no depth. Plus, the beta won’t fully support production. The next 2 to 3 years will be spent finishing work on the software.
  • This complete system will (hopefully) meet your specifications. But, if someone on the team leaves, the project will be delayed as a new employee gets up-to-speed or the rest of the team fills in and this may impact the software in the future.

Most companies that have built their own system eventually turn to a vendor offering in the future.  Custom software is too expensive, and isn’t adaptable. These systems simply aren’t sustainable.

Struggling Against Software Obsolescence

If you hire a consultant to build a manufacturing system or serve as an implementer (in that case, the consultant can double-dip on charges for selecting, reselling and installing the software), plan on roughly the same schedule as an internally-built custom system.  With a professionally outsourced consultant, the first beta offering may be far more robust than one built by an internal team, especially if they are modifying an existing system.  Unfortunately, to manage any modifications or changes to the system in the future you may need to keep the consultant on staff – resulting in extremely high overhead costs.

Here’s another inside fact – consultants do not like to work on each other’s code base.  Each has their own individual style.  Whether their code is the majority of the work or just a connector, making any change, even minor ones, is difficult.  In our experience, the number-one reason a company will replace a software system is obsolescence – that system installed by a consultant can’t be updated.

Sustainable Paperless Manufacturing Solutions

This is why CIMx offers a thin services model.  We build our products sustainably – so system connections, modifications and configurations (both at the time of install and in the future) are manageable by us and your internal teams.  Once we complete an installation, customers are free to make it their own (although many continue to ask us to do the work for them).  Knowing that we built it and can execute these changes quickly and effectively is comforting and cost-efficient.

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Increase the value of a solution by ensuring sustainability. Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

In the world of MES, CIMx is unique – we offer a product completely built in-house.  We don’t suffer from the web of integrated, separately-purchased toolsets of many competitors.  Software suppliers who purchase other businesses to acquire a new tool for their MES platform (we call it growth by acquisition) and then market it as a synthesized package, end up working like a consultant, struggling to keep the system up and running.  Back end programs don’t talk or work together, so the supplier struggles to maintain the system and the customer continues paying service charges for a product that shouldn’t have been sold as an integrated product in the first place.

I’m sure there are very good consultants out there willing to work with a client to deliver the best solution possible – one that is designed to be adaptable and sustainable.

But there are others like the gentleman I shared a three-hour flight with. After our quick conversation about himself, he proceeded to play Panda Pop for the next 2 ½ hours.  Perhaps someone with enough attention to using a cartoon panda to pop balloons can deliver a project with forethought and sustainability. Perhaps his ability to sermonize about his skills won’t preclude his ability to actually listen to his clients and thoughtfully deliver the solution they need.

He was focused and persistent.  Maybe he’ll have the same degree of focus when he’s building or implementing your system, but is it a risk you really want to take with your shop floor production?

Or you could minimize the risk and find a solution provider focused on sustainability – with an update plan for the software. Give us a call if you want to learn more, or discover how CIMx builds sustainability in our product. We’re happy to help.

Efficient Manufacturing

5 Benefits of Simplicity for Paperless Manufacturing

Technology doesn’t have to be complex, no matter what some manufacturing software suppliers tell you.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

There’s a conundrum in the perception of simplicity in manufacturing software.

Software that is too complex – the kind that requires 12 clicks to complete a simple function, and has a user interface that looks like a science fiction movie vomited on the screen, will not improve production. Most of us can agree on that. The complex system may offer some benefit, but system users spend more time serving the needs of the software than on production.

But many companies still cling to all that unnecessary, vomitus complexity.

Discrete manufacturing and manufacturing in general, is a complex process, and there is a nagging belief that complex manufacturing requires complex software. The belief compels companies to pay for complexity, thinking it is the only way software can support their processes.

Manufacturing Productivity Doesn’t Require Complexity

They feel safer with all those steps, and sub-menus, and screens within screens within system trees… it’s like a safety blanket – a big digital blanket of complexity… that is totally unnecessary, and likely hurting production profit and efficiency. Consider this:

  • Time spent working in a manufacturing software system is still non-value added time. Clicking buttons and navigating menus is not active production. If an engineer can complete a task in 3 minutes using one software system, and the same task takes 3 hours in another system, you need to carefully consider which system is truly enhancing productivity.
  • Automation requires precision to be successful. Automating tasks is great… when it works. If you automate a process that results in errors and problems, then the complex automation may be adding more problems than solutions.
  • Combining software systems isn’t necessary to improve productivity. Cramming your MES, ERP, PLM and more together isn’t going to make your life easier. The software tools an accountant needs are very different than the tools for a quality engineer. The goal isn’t a single log-in screen, but a single, shared source of data for the company – which can be done with savvy computer connections rather than unnatural interbreeding of functions.
  • The User Interface of the software is just as important as the technology backbone. Software systems built solely by developers may be a technological wonder, and still be almost unusable. Without input from users, a system could leave the shop floor struggling to integrate the needs of the software into their already complex manufacturing processes.
  • Complexity in software should happen behind the scenes, and not on the screen. The best software systems focus on usability, improving productivity not only with the software tools, but also the user interaction. This means the system eliminates unnecessary interaction, simply feeding data when and where the user needs it, and prompting the user for input only when necessary.

Better Results with Paperless Manufacturing

Before purchasing a system, make sure you get input from the users. Consider the tasks necessary to use the software. Is it asking more, or less, from your workers? How difficult will the training be? If it takes multiple training sessions just to add planning to the system, you may have software that will hurt, rather than help, your productivity.

Want to learn more, or get a demonstration of a CIMx Software solution to see how easy our system is to use, then contact us today. We’re always happy to help.

The Waiting Game, MES and Paperless Manufacturing

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

As manufacturers decide to wait to implement a modern manufacturing system, they fall further and further behind their competition.

Not long ago, we started working with a manufacturer still using paper to manage the shop floor.

They printed 80 pages of work instructions for every order. Some days they would have 30 or 40 orders on the shop floor at once – 2,400 to 3,200 pages a day they were managing. They collected data using paper. Afterward a clerk typed the data into a spreadsheet. They tracked orders using email, and as-built records were assembled by hand.

The manufacturer wanted to double their output and improve production records. We worked with them to map their processes to our software – Quantum. Using the system, they could automate production records and increase production. It was a shop floor solution that offered tangible, measurable improvements.

Unfortunately, the manufacturer decided to wait and continue to operate in an inefficient, out of control production process.

The Cost of Waiting

At first, waiting seems like a safe choice, but if your current system is not optimized it’s a decision that leads to increasing risk and cost. Consider this:

  • If a shop floor problem that would be solved by the software is costing your company $1,000/day, then you need to consider every day you wait is a $1000 loss you can never get back – with the cost quickly compounding over time.
  • The data you aren’t collecting, or collecting incorrectly, is data that’s gone forever and will never help improve manufacturing outcomes.
  • Sustainable process improvement requires the process enforcement and accurate analytics provided by manufacturing software. Attempting other methods leads to shop floor frustration.
  • Improved quality is one benefit of an MES. Current scrap reduction is part of the ROI of a system.
  • Manufacturing continues to adapt to and implement modern technology. MES provides the foundation of modern manufacturing, and waiting will only make the transition more difficult in the future.

Waiting is not a solution to production problems. Once a potential solution has been identified and you confirm the long-term viability of the solution, waiting on implementation will drastically increase the risk and cost of production, with the shop floor falling further and further behind.

If you want to learn how MES or paperless manufacturing can help, then contact CIMx today for a free shop floor analysis.  We work with you to quickly define the best solution for your shop floor challenges. The analysis is yours for no cost or obligation, and it provides an easy first step toward increased production. We’re happy to help.