An Easy First Step toward MES and Paperless Manufacturing

Companies struggle with the decision to implement MES. We remove the fear with a simple first step any manufacturer can take, offering both an ROI and real benefit.

With the advent of data-driven manufacturing and Industry 4.0, many manufacturers are looking at MES and paperless manufacturing. The problem is some are just looking. They see the benefits, but they worry about the risk or the cost, or they fear the new technology will hinder productive work for an unknown benefit. For these companies, it’s better to deal with the problems they know than take a risk on paperless manufacturing and MES.

In my mind, companies don’t see the project through small, manageable steps. They can only imagine the massive effort required to finish the project. The good news is you don’t have to do everything at once. In fact, you shouldn’t, and anyone telling you that’s how it is done is setting you up for headache and failure (and probably selling you an overly complex and over-engineered system). It is much easier to implement the system in smaller phases, applying a single function to a product line. Roll out the project at a comfortable pace you control to minimize risk and cost.

Here is our suggestion for a very manageable first step in an MES implementation using our software system, Quantum. Start by taking your approved work plans and moving them into the digital system. At this point, don’t worry if the plans are perfect, they just need to be approved and correct. Often your application engineer can migrate the files for you during installation. All you need to do is review the digital planning, ensuring it is the same as your existing approved plans, before rolling into production.

The Secret to Quick MES Benefits and Success

At this point, you can start sending the digital work instructions and planning directly to the shop floor. If each operation is assigned to a work center, Quantum can auto-route the plans.  Workers can access the planning and begin work just like they did with paper-based operations. But, using Quantum, there are immediate benefits for the company, including:

  1. Routing your operations through Quantum will immediately populate the WIP dashboard. This allows you to track projects, and you can see where any project is at anytime and anywhere.

  2. Quantum will begin generating an as-built report for all work, which can be immediately accessed by a single button.

  3. Your planning is now under revision control and stored in a library of approved planning. You can access, copy and route any plan within Quantum.

  4. In addition, by using your existing work plans, there is minimal (if any) training for the shop floor to begin using Quantum.

  5. Finally, you can get rid of much of the annoying paper that creates errors and adds costs.
Stop for a moment and consider the savings and shop floor improvement from these benefits. Once you migrate the planning to Quantum and have digital access on the shop floor, you begin benefitting without even trying.

After the first step, there are a number of additional phases for you to consider. Some suggestions we offer our customers include:

  • Improve your existing planning with visual work instructions. Use a smartphone to take photos of work to include as an attachment to operations.

  • Add data collection to planning. It’s a simple process that will add depth to the as-built report and become the foundation for automatic tolerance checks and Quality Control.

  • Include operations for shipping to eliminate errors after production.

  • Utilize other functions in the system like machine maintenance plans, labor estimates, and scheduling.

  • Add tooling, materials and supplies to enable traceability and increase supply chain monitoring.

… and more. With the flexibility of a behavior-based system like Quantum, you aren’t trapped in a schedule, or required to implement any of the functionality until you are ready. Move the project at your pace, focusing on items that offer the greatest return and benefit.

Using a phased implementation and a smart MES and MOM (Manufacturing Operations Management) platform like Quantum, you can minimize the risk and complexity of the implementation to focus on your key priorities. Don’t let yourself be handicapped by fear. If you haven’t already, take another look at MES and manufacturing software and consider how a controlled, phased implementation can benefit you.

Want to learn more, or see how much more you can do with paperless manufacturing? Then contact CIMx today for a free shop floor evaluation. We’re happy to help.

Topics: How can you implement paperless manufacturing?

Written by David Oeters