Tag Archives: MES system

What Tesla Teaches You about MES

The software sales process has never been customer-centric, but that may be changing.

By Kristin McLane, President of CIMx Software

Researching and buying software is a horrible job.

When you buy a commodity, many rely on the “seeing-is-believing” methodology.  Until you can hold a product in your hand, feel and use it, see it in action, the buyer will be reluctant to let go of their money.

Have you ever tried to hold software in your hand? Can you imagine “trying-out” an MES without training or an implementation?  Software is already one of the most challenging things to sell, and MES even more challenging.

You can demonstrate software, but rarely will an MES do exactly what the customer wants or needs.  Remember our last blog on manufacturers crafting requirement lists with 250 items or more?  No product will exactly match all 250 the way a customer wants (unless they pay for high-priced customization and additional complexity.)

We recognize an MES is not easy to buy, but there are actions suppliers can take to benefit the customer.

A Lesson from Tesla

Not all commodities rely on “seeing-is-believing.”  Tesla has turned the car industry on its head by not following conventional wisdom.

There’s a Tesla dealer near my house where I can look at a single turquoise blue S model sitting in a showroom.  I can sit in the car.  I can see it and touch it, but I can’t turn it on.  I imagine the road underneath my feet as the ever-so-smooth sales guy talks me through its performance, offering an impression, but still not the experience itself…

Despite Tesla’s reluctance to just give the customer what they think they want – the showroom’s always full.  People are buying these cars without driving them, paying $30, $40, even $70,000 dollars without demanding the “just-because-I’m-here,” discount.

Tesla broke the mold.  Where other electric car makers went after the young, hip, eco-conscious millennials and cost-conscious seniors, Musk went directly for the luxury car market.  He identified a better way of selling his product.

The Flaw in the MES Sales Process

So what’s that have to do with MES and software sales?

man under money on white background. Isolated 3D image

IS the software sales process for MES working for you? Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

It’s simple.  People expect software to be incredibly complex.  Companies think they’ll have to change their processes and labor through a long “learning” period.  They expect the project to be a major investment in time, money, resources and effort.

Software suppliers are counting on this. They offer products with significant “service” charges attached to them, and a whole team (you are paying for) to help you through the process so they can capitalize the expectations.

The software sales guy is not helping, either.  They only make a commission when you buy it.  There’s incentive for him or her to tell you what you want to hear.  The supplier eagerly agrees to every one of the requirements, seeing the project and price grow like a hungry, bloated monster.

Going back to the “seeing-is-believing” conundrum in software sales, you need to trust the sales person to answer every question and help you navigate the purchase process.  The sales person is only making money if you spend it, so they keep telling you what you want to hear.

Sound miserable?  It is.

A Better Way to Sell Paperless Manufacturing

Most companies are happy to sell manufacturing software this way, but there are better options.

For example, our business model is focused on software products, and not software services. Our goal is to make money when you use our product, and not when you ask us to fix the product because it’s not working the way you want it to.

We take a consultative approach to sales. We make sure there is a technical resource or application engineer to answer questions honestly, and not just a sales rep. We know our solution may not be right for everyone, and we’ll tell a prospect to look elsewhere if we can’t adequately help them.

We also offer a guarantee.  We’ve talked about our guarantees before, but I’m not just selling us here.  I’m selling anyone in this industry that’s willing to provide you a written guarantee as part of the project – they will meet your written requirements for the amount of money in the proposal.  If they’re able to do that, I’d trust them.

Finally, with CIMx you have personalized demos. Our goal is to show (as close as possible) what the experience will be like on the shop floor. We put your material into the system and mirror your shop floor processes, offering you as close to a “see” as possible.

It’s a different way of selling software, it doesn’t follow conventional wisdom and it doesn’t appeal to everyone, but if you’d like to learn more then contact us today.

As for that Tesla, I haven’t gotten to the point where I’m willing to buy one yet, but I still admire the approach Tesla is taking to re-invent the car-buying process, even if I can’t feel the hum of the engine and purr of the road beneath my wheels.

Advertisements

Why Do MES Implementations Fail, and What You Can Do

An MES Implementation can be a high-risk project, but there are steps you can take to minimize risk and improve success.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

Companies may not talk about it, but there are MES and manufacturing software implementations that fail. There is risk with any major software implementation. ERP and PLM implementations will sometimes fail (even more than MES), and while there is no magic formula for implementation success, you’re not helpless against trouble.  There’s no magic 12-step process for every project, but there are warning signs savvy manufacturers can use to avoid trouble, and steps you can take to help protect your company.

5 Reasons MES Implementations Fail

Implementation projects fail for a number of reasons, including:

  • Culture: An MES implementation is as much a cultural project as a technological one. If the software wasn’t selected with the shop floor’s needs in mind, or the project goal isn’t clear from the beginning, failure is likely. Operators need to use the software for the project to be a success. A smart platform can be introduced in stages that operators readily accept, eliminating the resistance and culture shock common in “Big Bang” implementations that try to implement every piece of functionality at once.
  • man under money on white background. Isolated 3D image

    Don’t get buried by the cost of your overly complex MES. Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

    Expense: As project complexity increases, costs skyrocket. Changing requirements also lead to massive cost overruns. Annoying and unforeseen delays and service charges from the software supplier can also derail a project. At some point, most companies will cancel the implementation rather than continuing to bleed expenses.

  • Out-of-Scope System Work: Many companies try to sell “master” systems fulfilling a number of functions. An ERP is not an MES or PLM. Inevitably an integrated, single source solution causes more problems than it solves since it results in a lowest common denominator solution, as the supplier tries to cram functionality into their system. Many times, it leads to a system that is difficult to use.
  • Customization: Many companies initially believe custom software is the only solution for their shop floor. The truth is few companies have the resources for the initial development, or the capability necessary to maintain the system as production needs change.  Building that perfect system will take a long time, and you need to accept high risk and frustration. It’s better to use a supplier that offers custom features on a smart platform that can be implemented at a low cost and ensure a sustainable system.
  • Supplier Promises: Some suppliers make exorbitant promises during the sales process promises that are extremely difficult to fulfill. As the list of broken promises and scope modifications grow, some companies decide to cancel the project out of frustration. There are ways to limit scope creep, limit cost add-ons and manage in-house modification flow.

This is not a comprehensive list, but it does touch on many of the core reasons a manufacturer will choose to cancel a project.  Canceling a project is a passive, but final, failure, and is many times the best decision for the long-term growth of the business.

A worse failure is an “active failure” where the project is implemented and does not achieve the improvements expected nor provides a positive ROI.  Companies with an active failure continue to lose money year after year, clinging to a software system that bleeds profit and productivity with minimal, if any, benefit.

Protecting Yourself from Implementation Failure

Never fear, there are steps you can take to position your company for success when implementing a new MES or digital manufacturing system. Consider this:

  • 3d render of time concept roadsign board isolated on white background

    Don’t let fear stop you from improving production. Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

    Phased Implementation: Rather than trying to install and implement everything at once ( “Big Bang” style), a phased implementation gives the manufacturer more control over the project. Risk can be minimized by selecting and using the features and functionality the company wants, dictating the pace of change and complexity.

  • Aligning IT and OT: An MES is as much an OT (Operations Technology) project as IT (Information Technology). A project has a much greater chance of success if IT and OT are aligned from the beginning, selecting a project that meets the needs of both core users.
  • Trust: Many times an MES buyer will make a software decision based on grandiose promises from a supplier, rather than embracing their intuition and finding a partner company they trust.
  • Focus on Core Requirements: Many MES projects start with an initial need, and then additional requirements are added to the project. Each addition increases the schedule, cost and risk. Focus on solving the real problems in Phase 1, and the savings can pay for additional items in phase 2. A supplier that cannot provide a phased implementation has a solution without the necessary flexibility to be sustainable in your environment.

Managing Software Projects

For most failed software projects, it’s impossible to identify a single reason for the failure. It’s a combination that leads to the painful decision to accept failure rather than continuing to work with an active failure that will limit your profitability far into the future. Most times, this is the right decision to make. Trying to twist and contort the shop floor or the software just to make it work isn’t a good way to optimize production.

No one likes to admit or accept failure. It leaves a bitter taste in your mouth and can be devastating to a business. By following a few simple tips and staying on top of your project, you can avoid the problems that lead to failure.

Want to learn more, or see why and how CIMx guarantees major project milestones? Contact us today for a shop floor analysis or project estimate to see how we can best help you.

How to Win With a Manufacturing Shop Floor Pilot Program

Conducting a Pilot Program for your MES or Paperless Manufacturing system won’t guarantee project success, but there are clear benefits for the savvy shop floor.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

Ever talk to someone in the manufacturing industry about a software pilot program?  Unfortunately, I don’t know of a topic more likely to kill a conversation at a dinner party (… “So, how’s your pilot program going?  Pass the biscuits, please!)  If it does happen to come up, you will quickly discover something we’ve come to accept.

Understanding the reasons and potential benefits of your pilot program will help ensure a focused project.  Image by www.colourbox.com

Understanding the reasons and potential benefits of your pilot program will help ensure a focused project. Image by http://www.colourbox.com

We call it the Shop Floor Pilot Program Conundrum – a strange place where multiple realities merge.

Here’s what I mean.  The vendor might see the pilot program as an extended demo, or as an easy way to get their foot on the shop floor and another step in the software sale.  The manufacturing executive sees it as an inexpensive vendor service and low risk way to confirm product selection.  The shop floor sees it as a pain-in-the-butt project from corporate.  Savvy shop floors, however, see it as a way to kick the wheels of a new toy and proof the sky is falling, and shop floor errors can be fixed with the right tools.  IT might be wondering how much work this will mean for them.

Benefits of the Pilot Program

The conundrum in all this… they may all be right.  In the end, there’s no “wrong” way to view the pilot program, but conflicting ideas can lead to missed opportunities that negatively impact the final project.  So, in our quest to de-mystify the conundrum, here are a few things a shop floor pilot program could (potentially) definitely do for you:

  • Define an achievable requirement list.  Many MES projects suffer from “requirement bloat” as everyone in the company offers their opinion on what the system should do.  A good pilot program will splash some needed reality on the requirement list.  It will focus the project on achievable requirements that make a positive impact on the business.
  • Build shop floor acceptance for the program.  Giving the shop floor team, who will be working with the new system the most, the chance to work with the software is a great idea.  Once they see the software won’t lead to robots replace people, but will help them do their job better, faster, and with fewer errors, they’ll work hard to make the project a success.
  • Low risk first step before a much larger investment.  Spending a little money to install the software on one line is much cheaper than buying all the equipment to install it everywhere before you know how it works.  This way, you can identify challenges early and will have a better idea of final cost of the total project.
  • Build a stronger case for an ROI.  Before you install the software, an estimated ROI will be mostly conjecture.  With a pilot program, you will have real shop floor data you can attach to the estimate to prove the ROI.  Plus, nothing can build an advocate for the project than an executive seeing firsthand the benefits of the investment and how it will work.

There are benefits to a pilot program.  They can help define a project, prove the ROI, and minimize risk.  But, if you begin your pilot project with false expectations, you end up with confusion.  The vendor isn’t sure what they’re offering, the shop floor isn’t sure what they’re getting and the executives aren’t sure what they’re buying.  No one is happy.

Eliminate confusion, and make sure you understand what the pilot program can do for you.  Have you been part of a successful pilot program in the past?  If so, what made it a success?  What did you do to eliminate confusion?  Let us know, we’d love to hear from you!

A Look Back at Paperless Manufacturing in 2013

At the beginning of 2013, we made a few predictions.  Looking back, the results were surprising, and enlightening.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

Each year there is an inevitable flurry of predictions and lists – speculation on the New Year and analysis of the old.  I’ll admit, it’s fun – the predictions and lists have become an annual tradition much like holiday cards and champagne toasts.

But this year, we decided to break the tradition, step back and take a look at our predictions for the previous year before offering our predictions for 2014.

What can you learn about the future of paperless manufacturing by looking at the past year?  Illustration by www.colourbox.com

What can you learn about the future of paperless manufacturing by looking at the past year? Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

Manufacturing Growth and Capital Expenditures?

We predicted moderate growth in 2013, and we’re seeing proof of that growth even now.  In August, the manufacturing sector grew at its fastest pace in more than two years, with continued growth throughout Q4.

Capital expenditures are always a little trickier to predict and track.  But, a number of businesses are already predicting increased capital expenditures for 2014 – including Apple, who increased their spending from $7 billion to $11 billion.

Overall, the global economy benefitted from increased corporate spending and manufacturing growth in 2013.

American Manufacturing in Transition?

In 2012, we predicted a number of factors would pressure American Manufacturing, and we certainly saw that.  We mentioned the need for a skilled labor force, increased productivity and improved quality – but other factors added to the pressure in surprising ways, such as a surge in shale gas drilling that is helping fuel a resurgence in American industry, and an increase in automation driving the need for a skilled labor force.

We also saw a trend in “reshoring” (or bringing their manufacturing to America) from companies such as Ford Motor, GE and NCR.  In a recent survey of manufacturers, 54% said they were planning to or considering a move to reshore, up nearly 20% from a survey earlier in 2013.  American manufacturing is certainly still in a transition, but the future is looking much brighter.

Quality Growing in Importance?

We saw the growing importance of quality as a trend for paperless manufacturing in 2013.  In fact, quality is a driving reason companies are turning back to America for manufacturing.  Companies such as Procter & Gamble use innovations in the manufacturing process to not only improve quality, but drive business growth.

This year, CIMx saw a number of companies turn to MES and paperless manufacturing to not only improve production, but improve quality.  Companies have seen that process improvement programs such as Lean and Six Sigma are not enough.  Sustainable improvement can only be achieved with the real-time data collection and process control made possible with paperless manufacturing.

What will 2014 hold for your business? Photo credit www.colourbox.com

What will 2014 hold for your business? Photo credit http://www.colourbox.com

Is Manufacturing Going Mobile?

We predicted increased interest in mobile manufacturing in 2013.  This year, a number of companies began marketing mobile “apps” for manufacturing.  Manufacturers have a wealth of mobile manufacturing apps options, including role-based apps shown to improve production by 5% to 10% and process improvement apps on the Google Play store.

Manufacturers are still tentatively approaching mobile applications on the shop floor.  More and more, the benefits of mobile manufacturing are making an impact on the manufacturing community, but companies recognize it’s not enough to give a worker a tablet and expect production to improve.  Detailed production plans won’t fit on a smart phone screen, no matter how good the app is.  Companies are discovering the key to benefitting from mobile manufacturing is finding the right app, the right tool, and rolling it out to the shop floor appropriately.

Are there New Solutions?

We also made a (very) safe prediction that new solutions and new options would roll out the industry in 2013, and even we were surprised in how this prediction played out.

Who would have thought GE would turn to 3D Printers for jet engines?  Or that NASA and Aerojet Rocketdyne would successfully test fire a rocket engine partially built from 3D Printer technology?  Or that we are no longer looking at robots to replace humans on the shop floor, but to enhance them.

In paperless manufacturing, more and more companies are rejecting the old way of implementing a system (long development, expensive service costs and disruptive implementation) for new, lower-cost solution focused methods such as phased implementation and off-the-shelf Web 2.0 solutions.  The industry and technology is evolving too quickly to expect a 2-3 year development project to deliver an acceptable ROI.  Solutions should begin delivering an ROI a few months after implementation.

This time of year, prognosticators are common, but I would guess most are looking ahead, not behind.  Once you’ve put away the bottle of champagne and the New Year’s parties are over, take a moment to reflect on where you’ve been and where you and your manufacturing business are going.  Many times, you’ll be surprised at what you discover.  Our predictions in 2013 weren’t meant to shock the industry, but it’s interesting and enlightening to see how they played out during the year.

Next week, we’ll look ahead to 2014 and offer our predictions for the New Year.  And, as always, if you have a question let us know… we’re always happy to help.

How We Can Make the Internet of Things Work for Manufacturing

The future is coming and carrying a wealth of production data, are you ready to capitalize on it?  Is your competition?

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

I don’t know where I first heard the term, Internet of Things (or, if I was a Cisco Champion, The Internet of Everything), but I quickly filed the term away for future consideration.  Yet, we are quickly coming to the point where we may soon be a cog in the grand Internet of Things machine whether we want to or not, and it’s going to have a tremendous impact on manufacturing.

Our world is rapidly becoming an Internet of Things, and it will have a profound impact on manufacturing. Illustration by www.colourbox.com

Our world is rapidly becoming an Internet of Things, and it will have a profound impact on manufacturing. Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

The Internet of Things is a conceptual world in which every object (a Thing) is given a Unique Identifier (UID) and the ability to automatically collect data and transfer it over a network without human or computer interface.  Currently, a Thing can be anything, from a sensor on your cell phone, to an RFID chip in a package, to a health monitor (such as the FitBit Flex) worn to track footsteps and your health.  In this way, everything operates in a giant system, continually collecting data to give a real-time assessment of a moment.  Still confused?  Consider it the first step toward living in the Matrix, or the tool the NSA is using to keep tabs on us.

According to Techtarget.com and modern computer theory, the Internet of Things (IoT) is becoming a reality due to the, “… convergence of wireless technologies, micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) and the Internet.”  With the recent increase in length of IP addresses from 32 bits to 128 bits with Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6), we have a system in place to create the IoT.  According to Steve Leibson and TechTarget, with IPv6 “we could ‘assign an IPV6 address to every atom on the surface of the earth, and still have enough addresses left to do another 100+ earths.’” This means, we’ve built a system that can assign a UID to everything on our planet.  It’s not a question of can we build the IoT, but when – if we’re not already living there.

The result of the Internet of Things is more data, and more accurate data.  Previously, nearly all data was captured by humans punching buttons, typing or measuring – which lead to gaps in data, or data that was just plain wrong.  But, in the future, more (vastly more) accurate data will be collected with minimal effort – and it is up to us to make the most of it.

What will you do with accurate, complete, real-time shop floor data?  Illustration by www.colourbox.com

What will you do with accurate, complete, real-time shop floor data? Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

Do you think your business will dodge this incoming deluge of actionable data?  Don’t bet on it.  Manufacturing is at the forefront of the IoT.  According to McKinsey & Co, “… 40% of the connected devices will be related to real time analytics of supply chains and equipment,” such as those used in manufacturing.

When I saw that statistic, and began considering what the Internet of Things will mean for the shop floor, I’ll admit – I was intimidated at first.  Many of us have enough trouble getting product out the door, let alone pouring over data gathered by the boxes in shipping, metal press machines, and the assembly line.  But that’s not thinking ahead, and it’s letting a potential advantage slip through our fingers. 

Now, more than ever, manufacturing needs to start looking at process control.  It’s time to see the shop floor not as a tool of the ERP or CRM (you know… a machine you crank-up so you can fill orders) but an integrated piece of a cohesive enterprise.

Choices and options.

The shop floor control provided by paperless manufacturing will ensure you capitalize on the data provided by the Internet of Things. Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com.

Ask yourself, do you have process visibility and control?  Do you know where an order is before the RFID on your packaging does?  Do you have true shop floor control?  If the Internet of Things reveals a potential problem, are you confident in your ability to fix it before your business starts losing money?  How are you going to capitalize on real-time, actionable data your IoT-enabled enterprise will begin delivering?  Once your customers are plugged into the data the system is generating, are they going to like what they see?

Face it, the future is coming and paper-based work instructions won’t give you the control and visibility you need, so what are you going to do about it?  Give CIMx a call and let us show you how process control, visibility, and the Internet of Things can work for your business.

How You Can Make Manufacturing Collaboration Work for your Shop Floor

Knowledge-driven enterprises are using collaboration to successfully solve problems, but manufacturing struggles to use collaboration in the modern production environment.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

Sometimes, you come across articles on the Internet you just have to investigate.

Here’s one.  It involves robots, stolen gold, missing treasure, NASA engineers, world-renowned oceanographers, and manufacturing.  A man named David Lang wanted to investigate the legend of missing gold deep underwater at the bottom of a well.  He recruited Eric Stackpole, a NASA Engineer, to create a sea exploration robot, known as OpenROV, to search for the treasure.  They offered free step-by-step instructions on building the robot on their website, and used crowdsourced modifications to improve the robot.

Don't waste your most valuable resource - your employees.  Illustration by www.colourbox.com

Don’t waste your most valuable resource – your employees. Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

Crowdsourcing and manufacturing collaboration have vastly improved the original robot, and lowered the cost.  “That’s what actually makes the project so successful: rapid iteration,” one of the inventors said. “We can build one for the same price as a 1,000 (robots) and change on a dime.”

Think about that… two treasure-hunters have tapped into a problem-solving resource and found benefits that would be the envy of discrete manufacturing shop floors across the world.  Customer modifications and change orders are simplified without raising costs.  Quality and production improves.  Best practices are collected, and overall cost drops.

Yet, manufacturers struggle to create a collaborative work environment.  In fact, according to the latest estimates, manufacturing is growing less collaborative, as knowledge silos build and employees and their best practices retire and are lost.  Customers are demanding custom orders that manufacturers can’t meet.  Rapid iteration is difficult, if not impossible.  How can a shop floor work collaboratively when they can’t even be sure if the paper-based work instructions are correct?

I read the story of Lang, Stackpole and their hunt for missing gold and recognized a few lessons manufacturing should consider in the future:

  • Shop floor and process visibility is critical.  The free (and very visible) step-by-step instructions offered by Lang and Stackpole inspired crowdsourcing.  Real-time data collection and visibility, and integrated computer systems and shop floor assets, should be your goal.
  • Data collection is the key.  Process improvement and increased quality are important benefits of crowdsourcing and collaboration, and you can’t measure or compare improvements without rigorous data collection.
  • Shop floor process control ensures sustainable collaboration.  Paper-based work instructions are too rigid to be sustainable.  Look at paperless manufacturing to improve collaboration.
  • Improved communication builds collaboration.  The OpenROV website and forum allows users to easily share ideas.  Real-time data collection and visual work instructions is a good beginning to improving collaboration.
  • A complete communication network using flexible computing platforms builds collaboration and eliminates knowledge silos.  Custom-built programs and legacy systems are the foundation for tribal knowledge in many companies.
The key to successful manufacturing collaboration if putting the right pieces in place.  Illustration by www.colourbox.com

The key to successful manufacturing collaboration if putting the right pieces in place. Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

So, if two guys looking for gold at the bottom of the well can do it – improve production through collaboration – why do we manufacturers with all our innovation, resources and know-how struggle to make it work?

Admittedly, Lang and Stackpole don’t have much regulation to worry about and amazingly low overhead, but there is a benefit to collaboration the industry is recognizing.  The ideas presented here shouldn’t be seen as a checklist for collaborative success, but goals that will help foster a more collaborative manufacturing enterprise.

Have you considered collaborative manufacturing before?  If so, what steps have you taken to create a shop floor that works collaboratively or uses crowdsourcing?  Let us know!

Is Your Shop Floor Hammering to Make It Fit?

Most manufacturers know quality and efficiency would suffer if they asked their shop floor to use the wrong tool, but all too often that’s what happens when a shop floor uses an ERP to do the work of an MES.

By Kristin McLane

Do you hammer to fit your shop floor operations? Clip art by Microsoft.

Do you hammer to fit your shop floor operations? Clip art by Microsoft.

Hammer to fit.  It’s a term we use at CIMx to talk about the inevitable moment in manufacturing when you realize your sub-assemblies don’t fit properly, or a part is a little bit off.  Many times, the solution is to tap, bang, press, cajole or weasel the part back into place.  It’s not a best practice, and I’m sure no credible manufacturing expert ever proudly claimed to be the best at “hammering it in place.”  But, if you’ve ever been on a manufacturing shop floor, you know there’s not a lot of time to stand around (or at least there shouldn’t be).  Many times you do what you can to keep the process moving, but hammer to fit is NOT the optimal manufacturing process.

Here’s the point… in the low tolerance, highly-engineered world of discrete manufacturing… or, to be honest, all manufacturing today, I don’t think anyone ever wrote “hammer to fit” in the work instructions.  There is always a solution for making the parts fit and the customer wouldn’t accept something that was done any other way.

In fact, many times there isn’t even a hammer available on the shop floor.  A hammer is the least seen tool in the tool crib.  I’ve seen drills, saws, all kinds of tools that attach or separate objects, but rarely have I ever seen a hammer.  So if we don’t really hammer parts to fit them together (really – most times we take it apart and make it right), then why do many of us try to make our supporting tools – such as software, applications and processes – do things they weren’t built for?  Using the wrong tool for shop floor control and visibility is like writing “hammer to fit” in your work instruction and expecting efficient operation and quality results.

Make sure your shop floor has the right tools for success. Illustration from www.colourbox.com

Make sure your shop floor has the right tools for success. Illustration from http://www.colourbox.com

We’ve been banging on the topic of ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) versus MES (Manufacturing Execution System) for a while now.  We started a dialogue on why you need both – and you do – and what each system does.  An ERP system, naturally or through the use of add-on functions, simply cannot do what an MES does. It’s not built to deliver the process control or visibility the shop floor needs.

If you need to track, bill, order, sell or report on something, use your ERP.  But if you need to build, use an MES.  Simply put, the MES builds things while the ERP tracks.  Trying to use one system to do the work of the other is using a tool to do a job it wasn’t meant to do.  You can make it look like it fits, but the solution isn’t efficient and it won’t last, won’t perform, it’s probably costing you money, and it most certainly isn’t supporting your shop floor the way you need it to.

If you need an ERP, there are lots of vendors out there that provide the window into your data an ERP gives you.  If you need shop floor and process control and information management, then use an MES.  Talk to us, we’re happy to help.  Visit us at www.cimx.com.