Tag Archives: Shop floor visibility

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.

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5 Critical Benefits of Shop Floor Visibility

Do these common complaints sound familiar?

“I’m accountable to our customers. I need to know when an order is going to ship.”

“If I need to know what’s happening on the shop floor, no one can give me a straight answer.”

“When a problem happens, I’m the last one to know.”

A lack of production visibility underlies each of these problems. The profit-driver and central focus of a manufacturing business is production, but few companies have any idea what’s happening on the shop floor from one moment to the next.

The Blind Spot in Manufacturing

As we discussed in our last blog, How Much Does the Lack of Production Visibility Cost Manufacturers? companies utilize flawed systems, like their ERP, or error-prone processes, like paper records, to track and monitor production. Critical data and warning signs slip through the cracks, and their business struggles to retroactively fix problems rather than proactively grow the business, even as money and efficiency drain away. Without a dedicated workflow system like Smart Manufacturing to monitor and manage production, these companies will never have real-time production visibility.

Managing and Monitoring Production

A solution based on Smart Manufacturing provides real-time visibility and delivers benefits beyond a dashboard or a morning report. Data collected becomes the foundation of proactive production management, providing a positive impact across the business. For example:

  • Identify and track ship dates with pinpoint precision.

Quit paying overtime or fees for late shipments, and know with a single glance when an order will ship. With real-time production data, manufacturers can release an order and know with confidence when work will be complete. Scheduling bottlenecks aren’t a surprise, and adjustments to the schedule or routing can be made to eliminate problems before they occur. Get an update with a click of a button and stay on top of production to ensure orders ship on-time, every time.

  • Lower production costs.

On any shop floor, hidden inefficiencies will drain profit from every order. With real-time visibility, you can identify inefficiencies – operations that generate additional scrap, wasteful processes or employees that may need additional training – and implement solutions. With accurate, real-time visibility you lower costs across the production lifecycle, drastically reducing expenses.

  • Speedy, error-free New Product Introduction (NPI).

When complications and errors occur during NPI, frustrations and costs mount. As the company attempts to solve problems they may not fully understand, profit and production is lost. When an NPI is successful and the shop floor delivers at a lower bid, without defects and ahead of schedule, the manufacturer becomes a hero. With production visibility, manufacturers quickly identify, in real-time, where and when a problem occurs. Alternate work paths can be implemented and the result seen immediately – efficient and seamless NPI.

  • Sustainable process improvement.

For many manufacturers, process improvement is a waste of time and resources. After the initiative, the shop floor quickly reverts back to the comforts of less-efficient but more familiar processes. Real-time visibility not only supports process improvement by providing critical data for measuring success, but also provides the feedback loops shop floor employees need to utilize the improvements. Companies with real-time production visibility see sustainable, improved results with almost every improvement initiative.

  • Increased quality and lower scrap and waste.

Quality escapes, scrap and waste put a manufacturer at risk. With real-time production visibility, the shop floor receives immediate feedback on quality, and products that don’t meet engineering specifications are quickly identified for rework. With immediate feedback, operators can see the processes that work and the processes that result in escapes. Manufacturers with real-time visibility quickly achieve higher output, increased quality and the elimination of scrap and waste.

Turning Visibility into Increased Margins and Output

If you’re ready to quit making mistakes and errors, and optimize your profit, production and efficiency, then contact CIMx Software to see how quickly a Smart Manufacturing system can give you real-time production visibility while eliminating errors and manufacturing problems.

For most manufacturers, it’s a few simple steps to move to a Smart Manufacturing system. Processes currently draining resources and effort can be automated while error-prone paper methods can be shifted to a digital system. Collect and organize the data in real-time, rather than after work is complete and start manufacturing smarter today.

Take the first step toward Smart Manufacturing by contacting CIMx today at www.cimx.com.

How much Does the Lack of Production Visibility Cost Manufacturers?

When mistakes occur on the shop floor – a part doesn’t meet specifications or a piece is out of tolerance – manufacturers pay in lost profit and slowed production. The longer it takes to identify the error and implement a solution, the more damage is done to your business by excessive waste and angry customers.

If you miss the problem and ship a faulty product, customers will find a different manufacturer. How many mistakes are going unnoticed on your shop floor right now? At what point in production does a non-compliance occur? Can you assure a customer it was the last time they’ll see this issue?

The underlying problem is a lack of production visibility – a problem for many manufacturers. This leads to a lack of conformance and control, and costs the business money. Efficient production operations require production visibility. When your ERP’s blind spot is the shop floor, companies throw away resources and effort every day and on every order.

Capturing Critical Production Data

The problem isn’t effort on the shop floor; it’s the tools being used to provide production visibility.

Paper is a black hole for visibility with data collected by paper almost unusable. The data provides a false sense of security – companies believe the data collection solves problems when in reality it is masking them. Even when the data finds its way to a report the data must be viewed with skepticism – data on paper is ripe for mistakes. The work and effort necessary to collect and collate paper-based data is wasted, especially when you consider the high potential for inaccuracy.

Many companies prioritize the collection of machine data. Machine data provides a limited view of production processes, often after mistakes and errors have been made. You need data on your labor force for the complete story on production.

Many companies mistakenly rely on their ERP for production reporting. ERP systems struggle to adequately track and manage work. As a transactional system, the ERP works upstream in the production value chain. It manages orders and financial transactions, but it can’t capture the nuance or cause-and-effect links required in a workflow. Companies relying on their ERP for production have a dangerously flawed view of production, resulting in squandered opportunities and wasted resources.

Manufacturing Software as a Window to the Shop Floor

For real-time production visibility, you need a workflow-based system that represents the interaction between the materials, people and processes that fuel production. These Smart Manufacturing systems predict when and what proactive effort will improve output and efficiency. Forward looking, rather than reactive, it gives manufacturers the power to deliver just-in-time response to issues. It’s more than a simple snapshot of production, but rather a comprehensive view of operations. Smart Manufacturing systems deliver less downtime and scrap, and higher output, efficiency and quality.

By linking your ERP to Smart software supporting and managing shop floor operations, the ERP has the real-time production data it needs to operate efficiently without clogging the smooth upstream operation of the business. The sales and customer-service team can consult scheduled ship dates from the MES data to accurately assess when an order will be completed. Production supervisors and the shop floor team utilize software designed to support their unique workflow needs without navigating the transactional processes required in an ERP.

Get back control of the shop floor and know, with certainty, when and where mistakes happen. Manage the shop floor through a workflow system, and not notes on a traveler or bits of data coaxed out of an ERP.

Learn more about the real-time production visibility and workflow-based software in Quantum by contact CIMx at www.cimx.com.

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.

5 Reasons to be Thankful for Paperless Manufacturing

Paperless Manufacturing and MES are some of the best investments manufacturers can make.  We take a look at a few of the reasons companies are thankful for their software system.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

Paperless manufacturing and MES is the best investment you can make for your shop floor.  Image by www.colourbox.com

Paperless manufacturing and MES is the best investment you can make for your shop floor. Image by http://www.colourbox.com

It’s the time of year where those of us in the United States begin considering everything we have to be thankful for. Turkey dinners, pumpkin pies, and the inevitable turkey leftovers are on tables everywhere.

The past year, we’ve worked with a number of manufacturers implementing paperless manufacturing and MES (Manufacturing Execution Systems) on their shop floor.  Most have already reached an ROI, so we asked a few what the top benefits were.  Below are the top 5 in no particular order. To be honest, every company found different benefits, but these are the ones we heard over and over. Here we go….

  • No More Paper!

Okay, we all know paper on the shop floor is error-prone and annoying.  You print up paper-based travelers and work instructions, then spend countless hours shuffling the paper around and around, back and forth, flipping pages, then rushing like crazy when change occurs your highly-complex and mission-critical production process.  Then we spend even more time storing and organizing the paper.

With paperless manufacturing and MES, the system handles all that – securely managing your data and making sure each person gets the correct information when and where you need it.

  • Real-time, honest shop floor visibility.

We all want to know what’s going on in production.  For many, the shop floor is this dark hole of machines, noise and confusion where orders go in and we pray a product comes out.

But, once you have a secure software system offering tools that manage production, real-time visibility isn’t just possible – it’s a natural by-product of your standard process.  Once you start using the dashboard, you’ll wonder how you ever operated without one.

  • Visual work instructions are easier to understand.

Want to increase production and eliminate scrap?  Why not give your engineers better planning tools.  Why not improve your work plans with video, visual work instructions, and information that is easy to reference and use.

Adding visual work instructions or a simple video (shot on a cell phone) will improve shop floor retention by as much as 80%, and reduce errors by as much as 70%.  That sounds good to me…

  • Changes are easier and faster.

Change management is more than just getting new instructions to the right person on the shop floor, but for some companies, change management is a jogger with a red pen.  Effective change management requires revision control, accurately tracking changes to the work instructions and ensuring the shop floor has the most recent and accurate version of the work instructions.

You shouldn’t need a planner with running shoes and a bigger pen.  Change management requires a structured process and the tools to accurately record and implement change.

  • Process steps are enforced, eliminating errors.

Many companies assemble Lean Teams and implement Six Sigma initiatives.  They come up with catchy names and meet over lunch to develop new processes.  These teams will get results, for awhile, but over time the improvements fade as everyone goes back to always doing what they have in the past.

Process enforcement isn’t a new punishment for workers that use the wrong process.  It’s giving your team the tools to do their work correctly, better, faster, and with fewer errors.  Process improvement happens when you have the tools for process enforcement in place.


 

This all sounds good, but I know many still aren’t convinced paperless manufacturing will work for them.  That may have been true a few years ago, but with new software it’s easy to install and train while re-using your existing work instructions to have the system up and running in less than 2 months.

Still nervous about taking the next step?  Contact us today and ask about a low-cost pilot to see how your production will benefit from going paperless.

Why Not Now?

Paperless manufacturing and the digital shop floor are changing manufacturing for the better, but there are still companies reluctant to embrace the future.

By Tony Cuilwik, CEO of CIMx Software

You will implement a paperless solution on your shop floor.  It will happen.  Manufacturing, the market and technology are changing too quickly to continue supporting old, inefficient paper-based processes.  The move to paperless will save money and improve your competitive position.  So why not make the move now?  What are you waiting for?

With paperless manufacturing, if you can improve production, remove errors, and see and ROI within 9 months, why not make a decision now? Illustration by www.colourbox.com

With paperless manufacturing, if you can improve production, remove errors, and see and ROI within 9 months, why not make a decision now? Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

Every company that has moved from a paper-driven environment to a carefully planned paperless one has saved money, improved worker morale, improved productivity and increased quality.  Paperless manufacturing delivers shop floor visibility and manufacturing control like no other product.  Companies eliminate errors, increase productivity and increase profitability with a paperless system.  Even purchasing a simple system with limited functionality is better than relying on error-prone paper.  One aerospace manufacturing company executive remarked that the purchase of a paperless solution was the best return on his money in many years of shop floor purchases.

As obvious as the choice may be for us, there are legitimate reasons for waiting and “making it work” with paper for a little longer.  I understand that, but let’s take a look at some of the reasons:

Money

Money (or the loss of money) is a good reason for any company to wait on implementing a project.  But, a good paperless system will deliver an ROI in less than 9 months.  Some companies report an ROI in less than 3 months after implementation.  The positive return on a paperless solution ranges from 3 to 10 times the initial cost annually.  As you research paperless solutions, keep these numbers in mind.  As long as you find a solution that makes sense financially, the project will pay for itself.

Risk

Any capital project carries a risk, and for many paperless manufacturing is an even greater risk because it impacts the profit driver of a manufacturing business – the shop floor.   There is a risk with any project.  For example, the promised or expected benefits won’t materialize, the project is never finished, and the money is wasted.  This is a valid concern, because in overly complex projects, projects with a massive requirement list, or a custom system, project cost and schedule overruns are common, and many companies end the project early to cut their losses.

On the other hand, many times the company will discover more benefit than initially envisioned.  They will expand the use of the technology into all corners of the plant.  The key to mitigating risk and ensuring benefit is to manage the choice of solution carefully.  Roll the project out in smaller phases, and initially focus on fewer requirements – ensuring you tackle the key project drivers before rolling out nice-to-have items.  Large, complex, and expensive solutions are a much greater risk, regardless from who they are purchased, because there are many more factors to manage in the project and heavy costs for any small change.

Fear

Following a few simple tips, you can position a project for success. Image by www.colourbox.com

Following a few simple tips, you can position a project for success. Image by http://www.colourbox.com

Fear is closely related to risk, and with good reason.  Moving to paperless manufacturing is a big decision, and it will impact your business.  If you are the one tasked with making a decision, the wrong decision could be embarrassing or worse.  Software solutions are being sold with inflated promises, and when you don’t achieve the desired results, even a successful project can look like a failure.

Once again, you can minimize fear with a simple phased project utilizing small, inexpensive phases to meet bigger goals.  Rather than create a massive requirement list, make a focused list with clearly measurable ROI benefits after each step.  With a phased project, you have more control.  After each phase, evaluate the results and make changes as needed.  Look for a vendor willing to offer guarantees on price, schedule and results to further eliminate the source of fear, risk or hesitation.

Getting started on your paperless manufacturing project

Paper-based manufacturing processes are error-prone, inefficient, needlessly expensive and aren’t suited to meet the demands of modern manufacturing.  As more and more shop floors move to a paperless system, paperless manufacturing will be the new standard.  But, there are risks to moving to paperless, and as of now there are many still unwilling to implement a project.  We understand that.

But, if you’re ready, there are a few simple steps you can take to overcome fear, lower the cost and reduce the risk.  If a positive financial outcome can be shown and the expected project results can be documented and guaranteed, then “why not now?” Why wait?  Every day you delay making a decision is another day your shop floor loses money, struggles with errors, and works to overcome an inefficient system.  Make the move to paperless manufacturing or at least research your options.

Want to know more or talk about how paperless manufacturing can help you?  Give us a call or leave us a message, and let’s see what we can do for you.

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.