Tag Archives: production records

6 Ways Paperless Manufacturing Can Help Your Shop Floor

A paperless manufacturing system can quickly and easily deliver even more benefits than you might think.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

Ensure an early ROI for your project by focusing on items with the greatest return. Illustration by www.colourbox.com

Ensure an early ROI for your project by focusing on items with the greatest return. Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

Many companies begin researching paperless manufacturing to solve a single problem.  Depending on the problem, paperless manufacturing likely holds the solution.  No other shop floor investment addresses so many of the challenges manufacturing faces.  Which is why manufacturing firms spent more than $5 Billion on MES and paperless manufacturing solutions in 2013, and estimates predict the MES market will expand more than 20% annually.

But, a powerful and capable paperless manufacturing system offers more than just a single solution or capability.  With the right system, you have workflow control and complete shop floor visibility.  As you consider a system for your shop floor, take a look at the six capabilities that provide the foundation of any paperless system.

1)      Track, measure, record and dynamically manage work flow.

Every manufacturer must track and manage workflow – it’s the key to a production system.  The methods used to manage work vary between manufacturers, and can lead to vastly different results.

With paperless systems, work flow is digitized, allowing automated tracking and recording of work.  Management of the work flow is made possible with instantaneous communication and error-free work instructions.

2)      Create production plans with approved, accurate work instructions.

Operations benefit from standards, best practices, and process improvement plans such as Lean manufacturing and Six Sigma only when they are implemented in production.

Using a paperless manufacturing system, procedural enforcement ensures the productions team incorporates best practices on the shop floor.  Planners use only the most recent and approved plans.   A library of approved work plans, best practices and standards ensures your team completes planning in less time and with better work instructions.

3)      Collect data on all production operations.

Data is a valuable commodity.  Unfortunately for many manufacturers, the age and inaccuracy of collected data significantly limits its usefulness.

A successful paperless system collects real-time data at each work station.  The system automatically verifies specified quality metrics fall within acceptable ranges.  The collected data becomes a valuable tool for manufacturers.

4)      Create a complete, accurate production record for all products.

The production record includes every action taken, every specification read, every training module referred to, every log in and out on a job, and every measurement taken on a product.

Most (if not all) manufacturers monitor shop floor activity, but an effective paperless solution automatically creates a comprehensive production record used to verify all actions were completed accurately.  This unified record, compliant with all regulatory body or key customer standards, provides a rich source of accurate data for future use.

5)      Have a continuous real-time view of all open work orders.

In the past, a real-time view of production meant walking around the shop floor asking questions.

With a paperless system, manufacturers can get a comprehensive, real-time view of production.  Current work can be seen in the context of actual work flow order at each moment.  This real time view is invaluable to plant management and quality assurance, helping proactively solve problems and ensure smooth production.  It is a major component of business intelligence.

6)      Enable seamless communication across the enterprise from a single source of truth about production.

Many companies struggle with data coming from multiple locations with no coordination, and often communication focuses on building consensus rather than manufacturing.

Paperless manufacturing is built around the concept of a single source of truth about the product.  Everyone works from the same data and toward the same goal.  The solution has the flexibility to manage, record, and distribute information from multiple sources, eliminating mistakes from faulty information while managing WIP all the time.

Delivering Benefits and ROI with Paperless Manufacturing

Process Improvement graph.

No other shop floor solution addresses so many production challenges, or offers a bigger benefit. Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

With paperless manufacturing, companies reduce quality defects, eliminate human error, minimize waste and scrap, and increase productivity.  The system delivers shop floor control and visibility like no other product on the market.

Current trends in manufacturing are pushing companies to adopt paperless solutions.  Customers demand more customization and quicker turnaround times through smaller production runs.  They expect real-time information on the status of their orders.  Paperless manufacturing offers a clear advantage over paper-driven processes in delivering these goals.

Want to learn more, or to see what paperless manufacturing can do for you, then contact CIMx today.  We’re happy to help.

Insider Tips on Calculating ROI for Your Shop Floor

CIMx Software offers simple tips that take the fear out of calculating ROI for your next paperless manufacturing or shop floor software solution project.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

Calculating ROI for your next paperless manufacturing or MES project is easy with our insider tips.  Illustration by www.colourbox.com

Calculating ROI for your next paperless manufacturing or MES project is easy with our insider tips. Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

Calculating ROI is a dreaded task for many shop floor solution and paperless manufacturing committees.  The final ROI estimate is an uncomfortable marriage of budget, estimate, faith, conjecture, arcane formula, and (sometimes) chicanery – among other things.

We all know it, which is why many committees are stymied when it comes time to create and present an ROI.  For most companies, there is no right or wrong answer, and most times there is no “auto-calculate.”  The final result comes down to a “reasonable” guess based on a mix of fact and estimate, which leads many to question how to even begin the process.   

Never fear, we’ve collected tips, thoughts and ideas on how to get started with a common-sense ROI that will win over the most critical judge.

Calculating the cost of a Paper-based Shop Floor

Start your calculation by looking at your present shop floor.  Consider it a baseline for your calculation.  In every paper-based production shop we’ve encountered, the following is true:

  1. There are employees involved in preparation, distribution and then collection work instructions, work orders, travelers and quality data collection forms.  Many times, these employees are better used in important production tasks;
  2. Change is a way of life on the shop floor. ECOs (Engineering Change Orders) happen, and are approved and distributed – sometimes long after production is complete.  ECO’s distributed after production often require rework or scrap;
  3. Poor instructions, missing information, and misunderstanding about work to be done result in costly errors;
  4. Audits by regulators or customers to certify quality processes in a paper environment takes (significant) time and resources away from production.   Missing information, misplaced records, and data collection errors results in inadequate and costly audit results;
  5. Record keeping – the shuffling, organization, and storage of paper records – is labor-intensive especially in a shop that is growing and expanding.
Where are you leading your shop floor?  Illustration by www.colourbox.com

Where are you leading your shop floor? Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

All of these activities take time, resources and money.  Often, these costs increase in direct proportion to increased production.  None of them directly impact or improve production.  These activities, and many others like them, are costly.  For each issue you identify, calculate or estimate a cost.  Even if the actual cost is not known, you can begin with an estimation.  For example, if 5 employees were involved in collecting data for an audit, then determine the cost in manpower for the audit.  Look at the effort and cost of record keeping, and begin assigning costs (including paper storage, manpower, and mistakes).

 Estimate the Savings of the Solution

The items and issues above are directly addressed (in various ways) by a paperless manufacturing solution.  Most times, a company researching a paperless manufacturing solution will have one or two key issues as the focus of their search.  They seek a simple, low-cost, low-risk solution to eliminate a problem, save time and money, and gain better control and visibility of production.

Don't let fear hold your shop floor back.  Photo by www.colourbox.com

Don’t let fear hold your shop floor back. Photo by http://www.colourbox.com

When calculating an ROI for a potential paperless manufacturing solution, look at the issues the system solves.  For example, does the solution offer:

  • A technology proven to eliminate the need for paper work flow, and the cost and errors that occur using paper.

If the solution eliminates the need for paper, then add the savings you gain from eliminating paper distribution, and the errors you incur from using paper on the shop floor.

  • Creation of automatic as-built and a digital record of production.

A solution that offers automatic record-keeping will eliminate the cost, frustration and errors of record-keeping.  This should also eliminate the cost (in both time and work) and stress associated with audits and assembly of production records for customer services.  Add these savings to your ROI.

  • Improved digital work instructions, work orders, and shop floor data collection.

Digital work instructions and shop floor control and visibility are the heart of paperless manufacturing.  Look at the improvements the system will make to work orders, and determine the mistakes, error and quality escapes that will be eliminated.  Calculate the cost in scrap and rework to the ROI.  Also, digital work instructions should significantly improve production overall.  Add this savings to the ROI. 

  • Change management and shop floor visibility.

Look at the costs incurred by change management, including scrap and rework.  Look at the cost of job tracking.  A system that successfully manages change and offers real time visibility will save on these costs.

Once you’ve matched the solutions provided by the system to the expenses you’ve identified in the previous step, you’ve begun assembling your ROI.

Other Considerations
Take the confusion out of building an ROI estimate with these insider tips. Illustration by www.colourbox.com

Take the confusion out of building an ROI estimate with these insider tips. Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

There is more to be considered when calculating ROI.  Look at the costs and expenses that you may incur with the new system.  Beyond the base cost, maintenance and any license fees, consider other potential high cost features of the system, such as:

  • Can the solution be easily installed?  Look for systems that can be installed in phases.  This will minimize the installation time, risk, and the disruption and changes to production.
  • Does the solution offer simple options for integration into other systems to share data or files?
  • Does the solution use non-proprietary hardware and software?  This will allow self-support if desired, and minimize service charges.
  • What is the cost of upgrades to the software?  Free lifetime upgrades allow the shop floor to take advantage of new technology and avoid obsolescence.

Study the system for other potential costs, and consider these as you calculate the ROI.

Summary

With most paperless manufacturing research projects, as the solution is uncovered and the features and the functionality are revealed, there is a flush of excitement.  But, as the work of calculating and creating an ROI begins, the excitement fades.  But it shouldn’t be that way.

Creating an ROI should be a simple matter of identifying issues on the shop floor, calculating the cost of the issue, and assigning a savings to the solution.

Want to learn more, or see how we can help your shop floor create an ROI for a shop floor solution, let us know!  We’re happy to help.