Tag Archives: Process improvement

How to Turn your KPIs into Profit and Production

There’s an old saying, “If you can measure it, you can manage it.”

Manufacturers with Production Control Systems (PCS) know the truth of that saying. With the PCS providing the real-time data and process control, these companies supercharge their Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) with real-time data to accurately track and measure shop floor progress. That real-time data turns KPIs from an instrument of observation to a tool for radically accelerating and sustaining production while generating profit.

Turn Raw Production Data into Efficient Operations

Here are four ways real-time data and KPIs deliver powerful benefits for manufacturers:

  • Accelerate and sustain continuous improvement programs.

Continuous improvement is critical, but many companies have difficulty maintaining progress once the program is over. New behaviors are difficult to maintain, and old habits die hard. KPIs allow the company and team members to monitor the progress. Your team can use that real-time data to support improvements long after the program is over. With everyone sharing the KPI and monitoring progress, collaboration increases and success is shared.

  • Benchmark performance to identify areas for improvement.

Use KPIs to benchmark and compare areas of the business. Identify underperforming areas and discover what works in areas of high-performance. With that insight, you’ll discover those slight adjustments that pay big dividends. For example, higher scrap and non-conformance rates at certain operations may indicate machines or tools that require maintenance, or a problem with a supplier. Target and eliminate the problems for a positive net effect across the production value chain.

  • Identify higher profit work

KPIs are an excellent way to evaluate production data in real-time, revealing the inefficiencies that cripple profit margins if left unchecked. For example, Estimated versus Actual production times, a common KPI, identify products that consume more resources than expected, delivering a lower profit. By focusing on higher-profit work, the company generates more revenue for less effort.

  • Evaluate planned workarounds

When an issue occurs in production, supervisors will implement planned workarounds that often result in more problems than they solve. KPIs monitor progress as the workaround is implemented. Evaluate the solution in real-time and implement additional changes as needed to maintain progress. With KPIs, the orders stay on schedule and ship dates aren’t missed.

Turn Real-time Data into Production and Profit

Most, if not all, manufacturers utilize Key Performance Indicators to monitor production. The difference for manufacturers with a Production Control System in place is the real-time data that fuels the KPI. Supervisors and management track and monitor production, accessing critical KPIs from anywhere. The PCS makes the company more agile, able to control production and manage work. The shop floor reacts to issues and opportunities as they happen, rather than studying events in a report a day later.

Contact CIMx today to see how Quantum can supercharge your KPIs and reports with real-time data to accelerate production and profit for your business.

Advertisements

How to Lower Costs and Eliminate the High-Price of Doing Nothing

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

Profitable revenue growth and increasing the bottom line is the goal of every business. Any company, especially a manufacturer, not focused on growth is dying (even if they don’t know it yet).

Many manufacturing companies ignore the problems and inefficiencies hindering revenue growth. By embracing a “wait-till-next-year” solution-strategy the company ends up doing nothing, losing money and sacrificing revenue.

Ignoring problems is not a business strategy.

Analyzing the Cost of Doing Nothing

Let’s take a look at the cost of “doing nothing” for manufacturers.

Many companies struggle to ship on-time. Problems with production control and management leave the business vulnerable to late shipments. Without shop floor visibility or accurate production data, shipping estimates are guesswork. Without production control, a single problem can leave the shop floor behind schedule.

The result is late shipments. Companies might rush ship the order or discount to “fix” the late shipment, but the real cost is much deeper and more painful.

For example, paying operator overtime can double labor costs. As the exhausted shop floor rushes to complete work, errors and scrap increases. Pushing machines increases repair and maintenance costs. Without production control, accommodating a rush shipment leaves a tight production schedule in tatters, further adding production costs.

If you can’t guarantee a ship date to a customer, then the customer will find a manufacturer who can, further eating away at the bottom line.

The cost of doing nothing, measured by the impact of late shipments and a lack of production management and control, is lost revenue, fading profitability and a tarnished reputation. Doing nothing isn’t a viable option.

The Benefit of a Solution

Eliminating late shipments through manufacturing software like Quantum will not only capture the lost revenue and increase profitability, but deliver additional benefits.

For example, providing accurate shipping estimates makes it easier to secure additional business. The shop floor can better handle this increased business by maximizing shop floor uptime and OEE with schedule accuracy. Accuracy leads to better bids and lower costs as you identify opportunities for sustainable process improvements. By maximizing your workforce and labor, the company can minimize the need for skilled labor, solving a problem many companies struggle with today.

The True ROI of a Manufacturing Solution

The ROI for Quantum is the elimination of obvious costs, like late shipments, and the hidden costs of problems and inefficiencies in production. With the solution in place, companies realize a rapid ROI for the production software solution.

Over time, benefits continue to increase; allowing the company to further invest in the business. The shop floor can better handle the change and increased output that comes with a growing business.

Companies need to stop seeing problems as a cost center, but a potential source of revenue. Solving problems will not only cut expenses but will add to the bottom line. Quit accepting errors, scrap and inefficiency as the cost of doing business.

Want to learn more, or see how manufacturing software can help your business, then contact CIMx Software today to talk to an Application Specialist about Quantum.

Aligning IT and Operations for Successful Smart Manufacturing

Finding success with Smart Manufacturing requires more than software. Six questions will help position your team for improved production with Smart Manufacturing.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

The key to Smart Manufacturing is “alignment” between IT and operations. In a perfect production system, IT-driven tools collect, analyze, archive and deliver critical data to operations, fueling production. Tasks are automated when appropriate and possible, letting users focus on value-added work. IT delivers the appropriate tools, collects the right data, and synchronizes with operations, while operations adapt processes and workflow to make effective use of the data and tools.

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

Manufacturing is changing. Are you ready? Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

The Key to Success with Smart Manufacturing

Success with Smart Manufacturing isn’t a measure of the amount of data or processing power, or the number of integrations or drop-down menus you inflict on a production line. IT-driven tools don’t necessarily mean more software, functionality and systems. Unnecessary complexity will hurt production. Alignment, and success with Smart Manufacturing, requires the right tools and right processes.

Consider the following questions as you plan your own Smart Manufacturing program:

  • Are you putting good data into your system? Many companies moving from a paper-based or legacy system will load bad or incomplete data into a new MES or paperless manufacturing system. Inefficient processes are required to cope with bad data, and continue because no one bothers to correct it. Take time to correct errors before the project begins or adopt a solution that has built in error identification and correction.
  • Are you collecting the right production data? With the IoT (Internet of Things) and modern MES, there is no limit to the data you can collect. Don’t overwhelm operations with data that adds little practical value. Consider the ROI of the data you collect, and set up appropriate data collection.
  • Do you have the shop floor control to make use of the data? You need to synchronize the effort of IT and operations. The tools implemented by IT should match production needs. Operations should adapt to optimize the benefits of the new system, and not cling to old and inefficient processes. Both teams need to communicate and work towards a common goal.
  • Can you analyze trends to track overall efficiency? Process improvement is a core benefit of an MES or paperless manufacturing system. With a software system robust enough to analyze trends, you can identify process weaknesses and help make shop floor management a science rather than guesswork. Move from reacting to problems to proactively avoiding those problems.
  • Can you avoid operator fatigue once the software is in place? Software shouldn’t require operators service the system rather than focus on production. More than overly complex interfaces, it may also lead to operators refusing to use the system or creatively finding ways to avoid it. Consider if the system is truly easy-to-use for both operations and IT.
  • Can the system manage change efficiently? Once installed, many software systems will reflect the operational needs at a certain point in time. As the system ages, those needs will change. Determine how effectively the system can accommodate change, as this will affect the long-term value and TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) of the software.
3d small people - rolls gear

Companies that successfully use the strength of both IT and Operations resources are ready for digital manufacturing. Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

Optimize Production with Digital Manufacturing

Smart Manufacturing brings IT and Operations into alignment. IT-driven tools improve operations and the shop floor, increase operational efficiency, and deliver better production results. Operations need processes in place to optimize usage of these tools.

Companies that take the time to explore digital manufacturing and design a Smart Manufacturing program that meets the needs of both IT and operations find significantly more success once the system is in place.

Want to learn more, or see how an implementation program can help prepare your company for Smart Manufacturing, then contact CIMx today for a free initial shop floor evaluation with an application engineer. We’re always happy to help harmonize your people, processes and technology.

What Will Shop Floor Control and Visibility Mean for You?

Many manufacturing software companies claim they offer visibility and control, but gaps in their functionality can leave an unsuspecting customer scrambling to fill the holes.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

Does your manufacturing software offer real time shop floor visibility and control? Image by www.colourbox.com

Does your manufacturing software offer real time shop floor visibility and control? Image by http://www.colourbox.com

MES vendors love to claim their software offers, “manufacturing visibility and control.” It sounds good, and it’s an easy claim to make because any manufacturing manager with a bullhorn could stand on a catwalk above the shop floor and have visibility and control. He can see people working, and if he blows that horn people will stop working. A catwalk and a bullhorn is not the visibility and control manufacturers need when purchasing an MES.

These empty promises have led to confusion, and even anger, among small and mid-sized companies moving to a digital manufacturing solution. Companies claim they offer visibility and control, then leave customers to struggle with an inadequate system.

Here’s what you should look for in software claiming to offer real-time visibility and control:

  • Does it offer a single source of information on the production process? This is especially important for smaller shops. A single, small error or discrepancy between data sources can quickly escalate to a major disaster that leads to lost customers and production shut-downs.
  • Will you have a real-time dashboard of WIP, with active data collection on the shop floor? Some systems offer a simple list of the work being done, but there is no way to track progress or obtain the granular data customers expect from their vendors.
  • Can it automatically generate auditable production records? If your system is collecting production records, it should be able to generate a complete record of production, an important tool for meeting regulations and trending analysis.
  • Will it eliminate errors from faulty information or multiple data inputs? Automated tolerance checking and system connectivity will improve production visibility. For example, tolerance checking allows quality control to see errors before they escalate, and connectivity automatically sends shop floor data to the ERP for use in sales and customer service.
  • Does the system offer process enforcement? Process enforcement, supporting your shop floor team, can drastically improve efficiency. In addition, it is an important tool for process improvement, ensuring the gains made are maintained even after the program is over.
  • How will the system handle redline edits and work order changes? Simply sending emails with PDF work instructions isn’t real shop floor control. The system must provide revision control and a process for managing change.
  • Is there a messaging system or a way to send alerts? It may seem like a simple feature, but simply communicating in-system will increase collaboration and eliminate non-productive time it would take sending a message.
What can shop floor visibility and control do for you? Illustration by www.colourbox.com

What can shop floor visibility and control do for you? Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

An integrated, robust MES should support your enterprise, dramatically improve production, and become the foundation of your manufacturing process. It can be more than a tool to “fix” a problem. A system claiming to offer manufacturing visibility and control should offer the robust functionality described, and lead to improvement, not just a repair.

If it doesn’t, then you might find yourself climbing a ladder above the shop floor with a bullhorn in your hand to get the functionality you need and your customers expect.

Contact CIMx today to learn what shop floor visibility and control and paperless manufacturing can do for your company.

Will You Survive the Imminent Demise of Paper-Based Manufacturing?

Still reluctant to explore paperless manufacturing on your shop floor?  Change is happening, and the decisions you make now will shape your future.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

Sometimes you can see global change happening from miles away.  The first time I logged onto the Internet I knew there was so much more to this new world than text-based games and discussion forums.

tombstone-black-whiteAnd sometimes global change can surprise you.  I’ll admit, the tablet-craze was a shock.  It couldn’t fit in my pocket, and it didn’t have nearly the functionality of a laptop, yet it’s a craze that doesn’t seem to be fading.  Reality TV was another surprise.  Honestly, how can we explain the Kardashians?

That said, are you ready for the demise of paper-based manufacturing?  Are you surprised that paper travelers and paper build books are gasping for breath and struggling to survive?  How will you respond when the market demands you move to paperless manufacturing?

Still in denial (which, in this case, is not the river in Egypt), then consider this:

  • Customers are demanding more custom manufacturing and small runs.  Their business needs more control over the manufacturing you provide.  The market is moving away from traditional manufacturing.  It doesn’t provide the control and visibility custom manufacturing requires.  Sure, paper works, but it provides diminishing returns that cut into your bottom line.
  • Big data is here.  You’re going to see more tools to convert that data into responses that benefit your business.  Process improvement, for example.  You need data and process control to implement Six Sigma and Lean Manufacturing.  Paper-based manufacturing is a glaring hole in big data.  It doesn’t provide adequate support for analytics.
  • Manufacturing needs stronger information tools than paper can provide.  For example, visual information and multi-lingual work instructions aren’t easily supported on paper.  Complex manufacturing drives paper toward bigger and bigger build books, creating more errors and more problems, while a paperless solution provides scalable tools for the work.
  • Quality is improved with paperless manufacturing, and quality was recently cited in studies as more important to profitability in manufacturing than productivity.  Paper is the source of many quality escapes in manufacturing (lost information, and lack of revision control, for example), while paperless manufacturing directly addresses many of these problems.
  • Technology has eliminated many of the concerns potential customers have with paperless manufacturing and MES.  For example, with Quantum, CIMx can install a paperless manufacturing system in a few weeks.  Training for the system can be completed days.  With a phased implementation, the customer is in complete control of the installation and gains production benefits quickly.
Prepare for the future and improve production with paperless manufacturing. Image by www.colourbox.com

Prepare for the future and improve production with paperless manufacturing. Image by http://www.colourbox.com

I will admit, even with the clear benefits of paperless manufacturing there will be shop floors that cling to paper, fearing change.  They may be profitable, in spite of themselves, but it is hard to deny the market is moving (rapidly) toward paperless manufacturing.  In 2013, manufacturers spent $5 billion on paperless manufacturing systems.  That’s a LOT of money to be spent without a clear ROI and benefit.

The world is changing, are you ready?  Will the market drive change on your shop floor, or will you control the change, ensuring maximum benefit for your business?  Or will you be stuck carrying a giant phone book tethered to the wall by a rotary phone while your competitors are using a smart phone?

Want to learn more, or are you ready to make a change.  Contact CIMx today to learn how we can help, or sign up for our free webinar.

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.