February 19, 2019 at 9:00 AM

The 5 Critical Requirements When Researching Production Control Systems

Which ERPs Can Manage Production? | Part 2 of 2

In part 2 of our ERP for production series, we cover the critical factors to understand when researching production systems. To learn more about requirements based on your size revisit Part 1 where we discuss the difference between “Growing” and “Influencer” sized manufacturing needs.

Regardless of size, every manufacturer needs to keep these 5 factors in mind when selecting their next production control system:

  • Demand clear upfront pricing (including implementation and customization)
  • Request a live demo
  • Never fall in love with gimmicks
  • Know your shop’s needs
  • There is no such thing as simple production 
Read More
February 12, 2019 at 4:17 PM

What the Size of Your Shop Says about Your Production Needs

Which ERPs Can Manage Production? | Part 1 of 2

I’m going to save you some time and get straight to the point; there are really only 4 ERPs that are designed to manage any element of live production.

If you’re a smaller shop (5-15 Operators) then Shoptech or JobBoss are potential fits. They’re inexpensive (comparatively) but offer limited functionality without expensive customization and are restrictive to growth.

If you’re a larger manufacturer (300+ Operators) then reaching out to systems like INFOR or IQMS are a good place to start, but expect a long install and high cost of entry.

*Note: For shops between 75-300 Operators, there are answers. Just not in the form of an ERP.

Here’s the catch.

Unless you already have these ERPs implemented you’re looking at 3 years (minimum) to rip out your existing system and replace it with the new ERP just to get to the functionality that these systems consider secondary to their front-office tools.

ERPs were designed for the financial, HR and ordering segments of your business, so the production functionality has likely only been bolted on to their product in the past 5-10 years.

So let’s refine the question. It isn’t, “which ERPs can manage production?” but rather, “which system is the right fit for my shop?”. 

Read More
February 2, 2019 at 3:00 PM

How am I going to pay for shop floor improvements?

Federal Award Programs Designed for U.S. Manufacturers

You are too busy to surf through the internet hunting down government grants. Production is backing up, you had another experienced Operator retire that needs replaced and your calendar is booked with meetings of people trying to convince you to drive your prices down even lower just to compete with overseas competition. 

The stress of just keeping a small manufacturing business afloat is overwhelming.

If these are your reasons for not seeking federal funding, then you’re exactly the kind of plant the government’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) was created to support.

Read More
December 18, 2018 at 8:51 AM

Where Can I Find Qualified Operators?

Increasing Production Without Increasing Hiring

In 1987, manufacturing jobs made up 33% of all employment in the United States. Today, those numbers have plummeted to 8% (Pew Research Labs, July 2017).

Our Experts speak with manufacturers all around the country and we've heard the same thing from every state. The common refrain is an inability to find enough people qualified to do the work. This leads to skyrocketing salaries, overtime bloat, and the ultimate frustration of being forced to turn away work due to a lack of resources or an inability to meet the customer’s tight deadline.

So where do you find the right people to increase productivity? On your own shop floor.

You don't need to lower your standards just to bring on under-qualified Operators, you need to give your existing team everything they need to succeed with your current workforce.

Read More
November 9, 2018 at 11:00 AM

No ERP Can Control Workflow

2018 Advanced Manufacturing Technology Show Series |  6 of 6

You’ve hired an ERP vendor. You should never say you bought an ERP. You hired a vendor. They’re going to be with you for a long time. Get to know them. You bought a system. You’re paying a lot of bills during the scoping process and you can’t yet use it to do anything. 

You’re exhausted. You’ve spent more money and time than you would like and certainly than you’d care to remember. You don’t have a system yet. But you have a new hire. A fabulous new hire.

Read More
November 1, 2018 at 11:00 AM

The Real Gap in Your ERP

2018 Advanced Manufacturing Technology Show Series |  5 of 6

Nearly every company we talk to thinks that an MES fills a gap in their ERP. It seems logical from the outside, but a real MES is light years beyond a functionality bridge.

The ERP vendors would like you to think it’s true. It helps them win the argument that the ERP should do everything and even that the ERP can do everything (which it most certainly cannot).

An ERP is transactional. It handles things – a bill, a person, a customer, an order. If you’ve ever been around the implementation of an ERP, you understand the depth of pain it takes to install. That pain that you experience, and I do mean pain (have you ever seen an ERP implementation on-time or on-budget?) is the vendor building the system for you.

Read More
October 29, 2018 at 11:00 AM

Turn the Tables on Software Vendors

2018 Advanced Manufacturing Technology Show Series |  4 of 6

We’ve spent the last few weeks talking about software vendors – what makes a good one, how to tell and how to know what questions to ask. Now let’s talk about what makes a great customer. In order to have the best customer experience, there are some things that you should know.

Remember, you are going to be in this relationship for a long time (unless you have a really crappy software vendor and rip it out quickly, which I hope you never have to do).

There are a few things that all companies (manufacturing or otherwise) can do to make their software-buying experience run as smoothly as possible. Everything that you do affects the way that you will experience the product, the service and the relationship with the vendor, so do what you can to make the most of it.

Read More
October 26, 2018 at 11:00 AM

What’s worrisome about software vendors

2018 Advanced Manufacturing Technology Show Series |  3 of 6

I could give you all the advice I have to help you pick just the right software vendor and it still wouldn’t be enough to get you the right choice right away. In the age of consultative selling, software sales people are very good at telling you and showing you exactly what they want you to see which always happens to be what they’re great at. They’re also good at covering up their weaknesses. 

So how can you tell what they are not telling you?

Read More
October 23, 2018 at 11:00 AM

What Matters Long-term in Software

2018 Advanced Manufacturing Technology Show Series |  2 of 6

Software is like a roommate. It is part of your life, your processes and your work. It should make your life easier. It’s a long-term choice that you don’t make lightly. With that said, what should you care about when selecting software and taking the long view?

We talked last time about ensuring that the software that you select works for you into the future. How can you test that? How would you even know what you’re going to do in the future? Here are a few things to consider and an easy test for any product that you’re reviewing.

Read More
October 19, 2018 at 11:00 AM

The Best Software Experience

2018 Advanced Manufacturing Technology Show Series |  1 of 6

What is the best experience you’ve had with software? How about with a software vendor? I pause when I ask that question because I know what’s coming – silence or anger. People that I speak to either haven’t had a good experience with a software vendor or it’s been so long that they can’t remember one.

Having spent the last 25 years in software, I am deeply saddened by this, in manufacturing especially, but I feel for the entire industry. People don’t make choices for software lightly, no matter the purpose. Software invades your life. You can’t even leave your house without something electronic making your coffee or protecting your house.

You want it to be easy. You want it to work right “out of the box” and for an expensive coffee maker or kitchen appliance that might be true. For the rest of you, there’s radio silence.

Read More
September 26, 2018 at 9:00 AM

The Truth about Production Scheduling Software – 2018 Edition

The majority of manufacturers schedule their daily work one of two ways: color-coded spreadsheets or magnets on dry erase boards. It isn’t ideal, but it’s cheap and, more often than not, it gets the job done.

However, as shops grow and Orders become more numerous and complex, manual scheduling becomes more of a guessing game than a science. Our team of manufacturing system experts has examined the functionality you need to know about, and the marketing-speak to avoid, when researching the right Scheduler for your shop.

Read More
September 13, 2018 at 10:25 AM

The Selling Power of a Great Manufacturing Audit

Industry standards and regulations are moving targets.

Maintaining your customer base is dependent on retaining your various certifications. Unfortunately, keeping up with these standards and regulations, regardless of your industry, is a time consuming and expensive process.

 

Preferred Vendor/Manufacturer Lists

In order to make the coveted preferred vendor lists of a customer, your facility will be put through a gauntlet of vigorous audits and comprehensive reporting . However, it is never enough to simply manufacture to specification. You must be able to prove every step was executed to perfection. It’s like being back in your high school math class with a teacher that makes you show your work.

Read More
August 28, 2018 at 3:32 PM

Manufacturing Has Changed - Why Haven't you?

Walk onto any shop floor in America and ask an Operator to tell you about all of the ways their job has changed since their first day in manufacturing.

Whether they’ve spent their entire life on a shop floor or it’s their first week on the job, a common theme will emerge: manufacturing is all about change. 

Read More
August 17, 2018 at 9:50 AM

The Margin Wars

How to Succeed in Global Manufacturing

Let’s be frank, most of your customers can’t tell the difference between your plant and the next job shop on their vendor list. You may have the best machinery, the most skilled operators and a spotless reputation, but all they really care about are the big three: quality, turnaround-time and price.

It’s frustrating, illogical and unfair; but it’s the world we sell in.

To stay competitive in manufacturing your shop needs to become the go-to supplier for every run. This means guaranteeing delivery dates, eliminating turnbacks and producing the same work with fewer resources than your competitors.

Read More
August 9, 2018 at 2:30 PM

Turning Manufacturing Audits into Profit

 Audits can either cost you money or make you money. The choice is yours.

In the manufacturing industry, audits are the key factor in determining a company’s continued growth or imminent decline. Audits quantify the success of your team’s efforts by ensuring your shop is up to snuff in every stage of production.

However, the stress and time invested into filing frequent audits can weigh on your team, slowing down production and negatively impacting your bottom line.

Read More