Tag Archives: MES installation

Uncovering the Real Benefits of MES and Paperless Manufacturing

Curious to know the real benefits of MES, we asked a shop floor production team what the top benefits of the system were one month after their successful rollout.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

Curious to know what benefits you will discover with your MES?  We asked the shop floor what they thought one month after installation.

Curious to know what benefits you will discover with your MES? We asked the shop floor what they thought one month after installation. Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

Ever read a press release about an MES implementation project and marveled at the carefully worded quotes?  Full of buzzwords like, “synergistically,” or “significantly reduced (or increased)” and “comprehensively,” each press release reads like a carefully scripted marketing piece – only the names are changed.

Let’s be honest, you don’t read a press release for the truth.  The Vice President of What-everness quoted in the press release isn’t the one using the system, he’s following the script and looking at a report someone prepared for him.

Not long ago, we implemented a complete MES and Paperless Manufacturing system for a customer.  To help meet new FDA regulations, they needed the complete solution installed and implemented across their production lines in less than 4 months.  To uncover the “true” story regarding the benefits of MES and paperless manufacturing, we asked the shop floor production team what they thought about the software.  How is it making their life easier, their work better, and benefiting their operation?  Here are the “top” benefits they identified one month after the successful rollout:

Shop Floor Benefits of Paperless Manufacturing

  • Solving compliance and regulation challenges.  Meeting the changing FDA and customer regulations was a constant effort before the project, but the system has solved nearly all the challenges with minimal effort or extra work.  No other solution could provide so many answers in a single tool.
  • Real-time access to Quality Data.  Before implementing the solution, Quality Control (QC) was forced to wander the shop floor to collect data, or they would evaluate historical (and often outdated) data.  QC now has remote access to the real-time quality data of any order with the single press of a button.  According to the customer, Quality Control is now proactive, focusing effort on improvement.  Improving quality wasn’t a primary driver for the project, but the benefits from paperless manufacturing are exciting.
  • MES and Paperless Manufacturing will help you work better, faster and with fewer errors.  Illustration by www.colourbox.com

    MES and Paperless Manufacturing will help you work better, faster and with fewer errors. Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

    No more paper.  Simply removing paper from the shop floor was a huge improvement.  Before the system, massive build books and orders were assembled and used, leading to piles and piles (and more piles) of paper. Paper (moving paper, organizing paper, using paper, fixing mistakes from paper, and more) was one of the top frustrations for many shop floor employees.  Now, paper is only used when and where it makes sense.   Records, orders and work instructions are digital and much easier to use.

  • Visibility of the shop floor.  Before the system, planners had research the progress of each order before planning work for the next shift – a time-consuming and error-prone process.  Now, planners have instant access to a dashboard updated in real-time for the status of each order. Time isn’t wasted creating status reports just so they can tell what orders to prepare.  Future work can be accurately planned with minimal effort.
  • Easier data collection and quality control.  The shop floor once had to write data collections and quality checks on a spreadsheet attached to the work travelers.  So much data had to be collected, it, “… gave everyone carpal tunnel.”  Collecting data interrupted work and slowed production.  Now, data is easily and accurately collected as work is completed, and is automatically attached to the relevant order, saving time and eliminating a frustration.
  • Process control, accountability, and visibility.  Prior to the system, it was difficult to enforce policies or shop floor improvement projects, or even implement a system of process enforcement.  Now it is much easier to implement a system to enforce best practices and track employee work.  Workers must now open plans before work begins, so revisions can be accurately communicated to the shop floor.  Through the as-built report, all work is tracked.  Everyone is accountable for their work – success and failures.  When corrective action on an order is needed, it can be done quickly and appropriately.  Overall, quality and productivity have significantly increased.
  • Library of planning.  All plans are stored in a single database under revision control, ensuring only the latest approved plans are used.  Planning has confidence they are using the “right” plan.  There is no need to research whether revisions have been made or not before the plan is added to an order.  Planning is easier and more efficient, and many of the errors that occasionally creep into work orders are eliminated.

Many times with an MES or Paperless Manufacturing implementation (especially an off-the-shelf system), there will be unexpected benefits that add significantly to the ROI.  For example, this system was installed to support data collection on the shop floor and help facilitate meeting FDA regulations.  These goals were met, but the shop floor is also benefiting from increased accountability.  Quality Control benefits from access to real-time quality data, and planners now work from a library of revision-controlled planning.  Each of these points, while not a primary focus of the project or a requirement, figured prominently in our discussion of the benefits of the system and was praised by the shop floor team.

Overall, the project has been extremely successful, and the customer is already looking at other ways the software can benefit their business.  Want to know more, or see how a system can benefit your shop floor?  Give us a call or leave us a message.  We’re happy to help.

When Is the Right Time to Install Paperless Manufacturing?

Too often, the benefits and ROI of shop floor improvement projects are lost as projects are delayed or postponed.  Learn how to maximize your benefit and discover the best time to install your system.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

Don't wait to install.  Maximize the benefit from your shop floor system.   Photo by www.colourbox.com

Don’t wait to install. Maximize the benefit from your shop floor system. Photo by http://www.colourbox.com

Many manufacturers see the advantages of MES and paperless manufacturing, but struggle with the final decision to implement the system.  The process becomes a waiting game, where the implementation team knows something needs to be done, but they delay waiting for the “right” time or some confirmation or signal (a planetary or astrology alignment, perhaps?).  Sometimes it’s a budget or resource concern (when will IT have time to help, or when will Procurement be ready to release the purchase order), but other times, it’s indecision or doubt that the operation is really ready… or maybe it is some mysterious omen everyone is waiting for?

This sounds silly, but the truth is while you wait, shop floor problems continue.  Profit is lost, quality is sacrificed and production struggles during this period.

Overcoming Indecision

The truth is, there is no “right” time (other than now) to begin a paperless manufacturing or MES project, but there are a few simple questions that will help determine if your shop is ready:

  • How much are the challenges facing your shop floor costing you?

It’s important to determine your potential ROI before installing a shop floor solution.  This helps focus your system on your greatest challenges.  Once you have an ROI, it is a simple matter to see how much money a delay in the project is costing you.  Consider this, the solution may be an investment, but the delay is an expense with absolutely no return.

  • What benefit will your customers get from your shop floor solution?

Rolling out a new shop floor system, with features such as real-time WIP (Work In Progress) dashboard and ECO management is added value and benefit to your customers.  No other shop floor solution delivers as much benefit to production as MES or Paperless manufacturing.  Take the opportunity to reconnect with your customers and introduce them to the shop floor and production improvements you’ve made.  Often the additional benefit will be the “sign” you’re looking for to initiate the project.

  • Can you maximize your benefit by understanding your business cycle?

According to the concept of cyclical investment in a business from International Trend Research Group (ITR), the right time to invest is during the down cycle in your business in order to maximize your capacity as business picks up.   This may seem counter-intuitive, but investment during the down cycle ensures your shop floor is positioned to maximize production during a business boom.

  • Can you use a phased implementation during installation?

A phased implementation allows you to select the features and capabilities the project focuses on, minimizing shop floor disruption and maximizing the ROI.  If you have a system that allows a phased implementation, there is little reason (other than budgetary and IT support) to delay the project.  Determine where you can achieve the biggest benefit and dive in.  Roll out new features when you are ready.

The Next Step

In a perfect world, once a manufacturer has made the decision to upgrade their production to a Paperless manufacturing system, the hard work is finished and the implementation will be a breeze.  Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world, but you can maximize your shop floor benefit by taking control of the implementation and working strategically to ensure a smooth transition from a paper-based to a paperless operation.

Want to know more, or learn how paperless manufacturing can benefit your shop floor?  Leave us a message or give us a call, we’re happy to help.

Don’t Be Fooled by an MES Demo – Get the Truth Here!

Flashy demos have fooled many into hasty purchases that lead to buyer’s regret.  We’ll bust through the chicanery and peel back the curtain on MES and paperless manufacturing demos.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

Have you ever seen an incredible trailer for a new video game – full of flash and action and scintillating graphics, only to purchase the game and discover it to be a clunky and awkward, with tech-backward gameplay designed to annoy more than amaze?

Don't be fooled by a flashy demo.  Take control and make sure you know what your MES can do?  Image by www.colourbox.com

Don’t be fooled by a flashy demo. Take control and make sure you know what your MES can do? Image by http://www.colourbox.com

If so, you must have missed the tiny message at the bottom of the last screen of the trailer that mentions how the flashy marketing ad DOES NOT contain or represent in-game graphics.  It’s easy to miss, especially with the sleight-of-hand companies utilize so effectively in advertising.

Unfortunately, MES and paperless manufacturing providers are under no obligation to offer even a cleverly hidden message during their demos.  This is why a company might select a computer system after a demo, and discover the system they purchased isn’t what they thought it would be.  It might require a major shop floor process change (one that your team isn’t prepared to make), or expensive service charges and customization just to match the promised functionality.

Here’s why – many companies “build” a demo for a presentation to illustrate how a product will work, instead of just showing you the product.   Companies that require long implementations (measured in months or years instead of weeks) or use products that require customization (or configuration as it is known now) are notorious for this.  If it’s going to take 6+ months to get your software ready for installation, do you really think they will knock out an honest demo before you’ve purchased anything?

Here are a few tips to help you cut through the demo hype:

  • Use your shop floor information in the demo.  Once you’ve signed an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement), give the vendor a sample of your shop floor information.  How easily will your work instructions be integrated, and how much work went into the integration?  This will give you an idea of how long it will take to load your work instructions into the system, and what it will look like on the shop floor.
  • Go off-script.  Look for an opportunity in the demo to focus more closely at the functionality you need.  If shop floor data collection is what you need, then ask if additional data collection can be added to a work order.  Watch as they add it.  Going off-script will let you see how the system functions outside of the demo.
  • Is the product installation ready?  Many companies offer a product with a lower base cost, but a much higher service charge for configuration and installation.  During the demo, ask if the product is installation ready.  Could it be installed on-site after the demo?  Ask how large the installation and product team will be?  The answers you get will give you a better idea of what service costs you are looking at, and how much “configuration” (or customization) will go into the system you purchase.

Many times, there is a big difference between the product offered during a demo, and the one that is eventually installed on the shop floor.  Make sure you know what those differences will be before you make a decision.  A few questions and a little extra preparation can make the difference between a successful MES or Paperless Manufacturing installation, and a system that will hold your company back.

Want to learn more?  Give us a call or leave a message, we’re always happy to help.