Tag Archives: software solution

The Most Critical Factor in a Successful MES Implementation

After more than 18 years of offering shop floor software solutions to manufacturers, we’ve gained insight into one surprising factor that can lead a project to success or failure.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

When implementing a paperless manufacturing system, selecting the right vendor can be more important than the right system. Illustration by www.colourbox.com

When implementing a paperless manufacturing system, selecting the right vendor can be more important than the right system. Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

I was once asked to name the one factor that would make a difference in the success or failure of an MES or paperless manufacturing implementation. I pushed to think outside of the box, but first considered many of the standard, and legitimate, factors that contribute to project success such as…

… an honest evaluation of your shop floor processes. This is vitally important. Without input from the users of a system and a vision of how it will support production, you can be left with a system that hinders more than supports operations.

… a focused list of requirements. There are projects doomed from the start by a requirement list numbering in the hundreds, even thousands, and many of those “requirements” offering little ROI. The price ends up ballooning as the project team focuses on items that add little to overall project success.

… product functionality. Functionality will define the software, but let’s be honest; comparing functionality lists isn’t a critical requirement for a project. Given enough time and resources, a software vendor can add any functionality you need. I’d rather have an adaptable system that supports my production than one that has more buttons on each screen, leading me to features I may never use.

… cost. An over-priced product that doesn’t aid production or offer a reasonable ROI will doom a project, and you do need a clear picture of the ROI before implementation begins. But, if you’ve determined your ROI on the project, and the schedule is acceptable, the project should pay for itself, or you go find another vendor.

There are a number of other factors I considered, but the more I thought about it, the more one factor kept coming up. It’s not one many companies think about, but it ultimately leads to success more than any other factor…


The Trust Factor in your Manufacturing Solution

I know, it sounds silly. Even writing it, I’m reminded of the phrases you might find in an online dating form. “Seeking SO to build trust and for long walks on the beach…” BLAH!

But, consider these factors when evaluating how much priority to give “trust” when selecting a vendor:

  • Cost.

Many software vendors are reluctant to offer a “price not to exceed” guarantee on an estimate, because they rely on service charges to pad the final bill. They plan to add service charges for necessary work not included in the initial estimate. Yes, there are vendors out there giving the rest of us a bad name. Find a software vendor you can trust to give you an honest estimate.

  • Culture.

Shop floor software is as much a cultural solution as a technological one. Consider this – you can have the best software in the world, but if your workers aren’t using it to improve production, it becomes shelfware. Try to cram a solution on someone and they’ll find a way to ignore it. You need a vendor willing to work with your shop floor as well as the front office and management, helping to guide employees to a new way of working. Trust is going to be a vital tool for a successful vendor.

  • Processes.

The functionality of the software is only one piece of a complex puzzle that is a shop floor system. The functions need to manage and support the manufacturing processes. In the past, when MES and paperless manufacturing systems were only available to the largest manufacturing companies, software was built custom so process fit was (hopefully) given. Today, with the availability of modern, off-the-shelf solutions, you need a vendor who will work with you to map the existing functionality of the software to your processes, and partner with you to configure the system to meet your specialized needs. They have to understand your processes to offer the best, most cost effective solution possible. The only way to be sure they are working with your best interests at heart is through trust.

  • Total Cost of Ownership.

The first bill you receive for your shop floor system is only part of the overall cost of the software. Most solutions are designed to be a long-term solution, so there will be recurring costs, adding to the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). You want a vendor that isn’t going to sell you software, install it and then leave. You want one that will work as a partner, helping to ensure the software remains an effective and efficient tool for production over the life of the installation. Do they offer an upgrade path? Will upgrading the software be cost effective, or will it be cost prohibitive? Are you going to be relying on a help desk to solve problems, or will you have a knowledgeable resource available when you need them?

As I thought about the critical factors in project success, I kept coming back to trust. Purchasing an MES isn’t like purchasing a vacuum or even an app for your phone. It’s an investment not only in money, but time and company resources. The system should provide a long-term solution, not just short term relief. It should grow with you and your company, providing a foundation for growth and increased production.

You need to evaluate the purchase of a shop floor solution differently. Consider factors other than just cost, or a list of functionality. Done properly, you are purchasing more than just code on a server (somewhere) but a manufacturing partner willing to provide a tool for your shop floor for many years to come. This is why CIMx works so hard to earn the trust of our customers. We understand how critical trust is in an implementation. From the beginning, our goal is to offer a long-term solution to our customers. Building trust guides our every interaction with a customer. We see every implementation as the beginning of a partnership.

If you aren’t sure you can trust your vendor, then you are presenting your project team with a challenge they may never overcome. Want to learn more, or see how CIMx can help you solve manufacturing challenges, then contact us today,

5 MES Misconceptions That Are Hurting Your Business

Don’t get suckered in by MES and Paperless Manufacturing misconceptions, especially when reality can deliver so much shop floor benefit.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

You misconceptions regarding manufacturing software solutions may be holding your company back. Illustration by www.colourbox.com

You misconceptions regarding manufacturing software solutions may be holding your company back. Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

Perception versus reality…

CIMx has been serving manufacturers for more than 18 years, and we’ve seen, heard and learned a lot.  Occasionally we come across industry perceptions that are totally, completely, and utterly detached from reality.  It’s the perception versus reality conundrum… many cling to a false perception so much it becomes a reality.  Problem is, their perception is hurting their business and costing them money.

Let’s take a look at our top perception issues in paperless manufacturing, and see what a little “reality” medicine can do for you…

  • Perception: An MES has to be a massive, risky project that will take years to implement.

Reality: Nope.  If you use a modern system built using the latest software tools, you can implement in less than two months.  With a flexible system, you reuse your existing work instructions.  Migrate the files into the system, map your current shop floor processes to the software, and with a few hours of training you can be using an MES.

There are monolithic software systems out there built on code written 15 to 20 years ago.  They will require teams of developers working for years to get it to fit your processes.  I’m sure it will have features piled on features… but, in the end, the reward is never worth the cost and risk.  If someone tells you the project will take more than a year to implement, it’s time to look for another vendor.

  • Perception: The Shop Floor will never accept an MES or a different way to do work.

Reality: This is just silly.  One of the major benefits of an MES is improving production and driving shop floor consistency.  If the system you install doesn’t improve production and make it easier for the shop floor to complete work, then you don’t have a good solution.

In our experience, if you install the software at a single station and let the shop floor see how much it makes their job easier, everyone will be excited to get their hands on the system.

  • Perception: Using an MES means I can’t use my current processes, and they’re working just fine now.
Understanding the truth about manufacturing software solutions will help you unlock the potential of your shop floor. Illustration by www.colourbox.com

Understanding the truth about manufacturing software solutions will help you unlock the potential of your shop floor. Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

Reality: First off, as long as you aren’t using an older, template-based system, you should be able to map your current processes to the new system.  Next, every paperless manufacturing installation should be based on a clear ROI.  If you find an ROI, then you’ve identified potential improvements.

And, let’s be honest, there are savings and benefit everywhere in an MES.  How much will you save on paper and printing, or on non-productive time delivering plans to the work stations?  How important would a real-time WIP dashboard be to you?

  • Perception: I’ll get better customer support from a bigger company.

Reality: Okay, I’ve been seeing this one out there with all the “market consolidation” going on… but let’s be honest, in any other industry do you seek out a massive corporation because of their exceptional customer service?  Big companies need to consider the ROI for service.   All those employees need to be paid, so they will throw any resource at a project they can as long as you can pay.

Truth is, if your software solution needs all those resources, then there is something fundamentally wrong with it, or the company is intent on making money on service charges.  Unless you are planning on an expensive, complicated and risky software installation, then look for dedicated support and a company you can trust.

  • Perception: The only way I can get the MES I want is through customization.

Reality: In the past, manufacturing software tools were much more specialized – using templates and forms to recreate shop floor work instructions and travelers.  The templates created “buckets” to store specific information, and utilized rigid processes to map the work flow on the shop floor.  But, what worked for one company didn’t work for another, and any change required a fundamental change, or customization, of the software.

Today, there are systems that don’t use templates or forms.  These systems offer tools that work with your work instructions, and support your optimal work flow.  You don’t need to customize the software when the core functionality is adaptable and flexible enough to meet your needs.  Any company “customizing” a solution is likely using core software written years ago, and the customization is more likely just to get it to work right than “optimize” it for you.

There you have it… a few of the market misconceptions that may be costing you money.  Before you select a solution or make a decision about your manufacturing software, get the truth.  Want to know more, or see how paperless manufacturing can help you?  Contact us for a free evaluation of your shop floor processes.