Tag Archives: manufacturing software

A Rapid ROI for MES and Manufacturing Software

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications for CIMx Software

Today, with improvements in software technology and lower hardware costs, Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) and software platforms such as Quantum are viable solutions for manufacturers of any size and industry.

However, companies are still reluctant to embrace software mostly founded on a mistaken perception of the cost. Even as companies struggle with the critical problems, bleeding revenue and creating inefficiencies that hinder business growth, there’s reluctance to implement, or even investigate, software as a solution. They don’t see an easy ROI, or believe a different software solution will drown their processes in complexity, so they turn to their ERP for an expensive module or create a homegrown spreadsheet solution.

These temporary, flawed solutions add business costs without fixing anything. A spreadsheet or an add-on for your accounting software isn’t going to solve a critical production issue, eliminate scrap or stop production errors. Implementing a solution that doesn’t solve the problem adds cost with no return.

Solving Production Problems with Manufacturing Software

Solving manufacturing problems requires a solution focused on the specialized needs of modern production.

The foundation of modern production is workflow. The workflow-based solution found on Quantum solves problems and supports modern production. The software attacks the root cause of problems using the natural rhythm of manufacturing workflow, reducing complexity rather than adding it. With a manufacturing-focused workflow solution, companies using Quantum enjoy a rapid ROI that generates revenue for the business, adding profit rather than expense. Consider a few ways the solution fuels your rapid ROI:

  • Eliminate errors. Paper-based processes cause errors. The Quantum digital solution eliminates those errors. Every problem prevented during production, or rapid solution implemented, accelerates manufacturing output. Keep the shop floor focused on revenue-generating activity for a rapid ROI.
  • Production accuracy. Guesswork creates waste and increases cost. If your production team doesn’t have access to accurate (and timely) production data, they rely on guesswork for estimates, scheduling, and disposition plans. Production visibility in Quantum increases accuracy and output.
  • Embrace efficiency. Inefficiency is costly. Paper build books and travelers, manual production reports, and missing or faulty information are constant expenses. Anything that pulls a worker away from production has a negative impact on the bottom line. Companies need to see homegrown solutions and ERP add-ons for what they are – centers of workflow inefficiency.
  • Increase output. As Quantum eliminates problems, the business runs better. The company increases output without adding new workers or machines. Over time, as additional waste and unnecessary costs are identified and eliminated, output will further increase adding to the ROI of the solution.

Analyze Your Savings

To better grasp the expense of problems, you need to analyze both the current cost and the savings that accrue once the solution is in place.

For example, analyzing the true cost of quality blindness requires the manufacturer not only consider the cost of scrap and late shipments, but also the time and resources required to solve each quality escape. How long does it take the shop floor to report a problem?

For most manufacturers, problems result in a double-hit for the company – added costs and lost profits.

Once Quantum is in place, the company benefits not only from lower scrap and on-time shipments, but also increased output as the shop floor focuses on production rather than fixing problems. This accelerates the ROI, constantly generating revenue and adding to the bottom line.

Want to learn more, or see how quickly you can benefit from manufacturing software and Quantum in your business? Contact CIMx today about the Quantum manufacturing platform for manufacturers.

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Accelerate Production with Shop Floor Visibility and Quantum

As we’ve discussed in previous posts, manufacturers without shop floor visibility struggle to meet customer demands. It puts them at a disadvantage in a competitive marketplace. Without visibility, it’s impossible to see beyond the errors to eradicate the underlying problems. Put an end to late shipments, costly scrap and operator errors by integrating Smart Manufacturing process conformance and reporting.

Solving Shop Floor Problems with Quantum

A manufacturer should know what’s happening from one moment to the next on their shop floor.

Quantum Smart Manufacturing has made the answer simple. With a rapid installation, companies using Quantum open the window to the shop floor and start working faster and more efficiently with complete production visibility. Errors, problems, bottlenecks and quality escapes are quickly identified and solutions implemented all within the system. Unnecessary costs and expenses are eliminated, and revenue and output increase across the board.

Sound good? Let’s look at a few of the ways Quantum delivers production visibility and revolutionizes manufacturing:

  • Instant updates with Quantum’s real-time production dashboard

You’re tasked to check the status of an order – what is your current process? Do you consult a spreadsheet from a morning meeting or make a call to a supervisor? If so, you have a problem. Production moves too fast and resources are too valuable to waste for dated or faulty information. With Quantum, operators continually provide critical data as they use the software. That data fuels an accurate, real-time dashboard accessible from anywhere and at any time. Identify problems faster and take the pulse of production in real-time, eliminating the knowledge gap while your competitors still struggle with guesswork and blind spots on the shop floor.

  • Accurately plan and manage work with the Quantum Scheduler

Many ERP companies claim to offer a work scheduler, but in reality offer little more than a digital whiteboard sequencer. Quantum calculates and prioritizes work for you, incorporating shop floor capacity with a finite scheduler. You see in an instant expected ship dates once an order releases. Quickly identify problems like bottlenecks or gaps in the work cycle and make adjustments from the scheduler screen. Assess the impact of changes before releasing them to the shop floor. Rather than running your business on empty promises, Quantum gives the power to reliably manage work and make dependable commitments to customers.

  • Intelligently link your business with Quantum Communication

For production supervisors, responsibility for an order doesn’t end once it’s released to the shop floor, though it may feel that way as the Supervisor is often the last one to know when there’s a problem. With Quantum’s the built-in communication tool, the shop floor has instant access to solutions when they need it. Engineers, quality, and production supervisors are never too far away when a problem happens, and can rapidly implement a solution. With the digital tools and a system for managing and archiving communication, Quantum drastically reduces the time between when a problem occurs and resolution.

Process Improvement and Production Visibility

The goal of any process improvement project should be production visibility. Accurately identifying opportunities for improvement or assessing the results of the project without visibility is impossible. With Quantum, manufacturers identify and understand the root cause of problems. As a dedicated workflow-system, rather than an ERP-esque transaction-software, Quantum automatically provides shop floor visibility as users interact with the system.

Contact CIMx today to learn more about dedicated manufacturing software and how it instantly delivers the shop floor visibility your business needs to eliminate inefficiencies, errors, and unnecessary expenses to improve production and increase profit.

How to Find the Best Partner for Manufacturing Software

Last week I read a press release announcing a merger between two manufacturing software companies. The goal of the new product – a combination of the offerings from both companies – was to deliver functionality neither company had previously been capable of offering.

Dangers of Software Mergers

Joint offerings like this rarely deliver the expected benefits. With no real focus on customer needs, these business mergers lead to expensive, inefficient and ineffective product offerings propped up by the promise of innovation.  Too often, the real goals are either opening another revenue stream or fixing existing flaws in each developer’s software. Purchasing a competitor’s technology and marketing it under a unified brand isn’t innovation. For companies looking at a patchwork software solution, here are a few thoughts to consider:

  • Lack of Product Support

Ask how support for the “collaborative product” will be managed. Who will be responsible for support? Many times, the merger will completely change the support dynamics leaving users in customer support limbo. There will be lengthy and frustrating growing pains as the merger develops. Over time, the companies move on to other initiatives, with customers left struggling with unsupported software.

  • Functionality and Complexity You Don’t Need

Software acquisitions add functionality without thought to workflow. Continually cramming functionality into a software product creates complexity and inefficiency. The shop floor will ignore these systems. Additionally, consider the cost increase as users pay for functionality they don’t need and won’t use.

  • Expensive and Flawed Product Integration

Many product collaborations result in a lowest-common denominator solution for users. Software products developed independently, with different architecture and design, can’t be easily combined. There will be significant costs passed on to the customers to tightly link and connect the products. Some features can’t be linked, resulting in product flaws your shop floor will have to overcome.

The Power of Partnerships

Manufacturing software is critical for modern manufacturing. For companies struggling to support production with paper-based word documents, spreadsheets or modules tacked onto their existing ERP, the answer is not in the latest software partnership.

You’re not going to find a long-term, sustainable manufacturing solution with the “flavor-of-the-month” products developed in these partnerships. Unnecessary complexity, higher costs, support issues and flawed design elements eliminate any user benefit from the partnership.

Look for a software supplier ready to partner with you and your production team for a solution, and willing to focus on your unique business needs. The focus of any partnership should be your production needs and the growth of your business; not just the business of the software partners. CIMx Software has never purchased another product to increase our functionality footprint. Quantum was developed completely in-house, with a focus on empowering manufacturers to eliminate problems and increase output. Companies using Quantum know the focus is their production needs and supporting their business goals.

In our next CIMx manufacturing blog, we’ll take a look at how market consolidation is hurting manufacturers, and what you can do to find the right manufacturing software partner for you. Let us know if you have any questions, or would like to learn more about what modern manufacturing software can do for you.

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.