Last week, we all learned about Sagittarius A-star, the black hole at the center of the Milky Way. Unless, of course, you were following the space race in 1974 when a recent doctoral graduate from Cornell University, Bruce Balick, and his collaborator, Robert L. Brown, found it. It seemed so familiar to me, the language they were using last week to describe it. It’s something we hear all the time.

“It’s super-massive.”

It’s “one of a very few black holes in the universe where we can actually witness the flow of matter nearby.”

… “Less than 1% of the material initially within …(its)… influence reaches the event horizon, or point of no return because much of it is ejected.”

“Black holes are invisible by nature.”

“Their pull is inescapable….”


it doesn't have to be a mystery

If you can’t see a black hole, but you know (or suspect strongly) that it’s there, how do you find it? Well, you look for matter circling around it and generally disappearing into it. If you could get to the other side, you might see that matter. From a manufacturing viewpoint, we are constantly in conversation with customers and prospects alike regarding the information (orders, jobs, inventory) that they send to the shop floor and never see again. “It’s like a black hole.” All the time.


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If you’re using an ERP or simple routing to run your jobs, you probably deal with this every day. It’s difficult, nay impossible, to get any information, let alone something that’s up to date, on the status of any one particular thing. You might get a positive response from production, like:

  • everything’s on target
  • no issues yet, and (my personal favorite)
  • progressing as planned.

It’s the language production will use right up until (and sometimes just past the point) when everything’s not on target, issues abound and the work you planned to get done today is not going to happen. Materials are not where they need to be, or you just don’t have them. Orders are getting behind, stacking up, or are already late. Customers are calling, wondering when to expect their goods, and your day’s just getting started.


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Without a manufacturing software system, you’re entrusting the moving universe that is manufacturing to a toolset that tracks rows or columns on a data sheet or items in a database. It doesn’t know the difference between a pneumatic wrench that must be calibrated every 10 uses and an operator that’s certified only for level 1 or 2 welds. Pick your vertical, you will have similar issues.

Most manufacturing companies, regardless of size, need an Enterprise Resource Planning system (ERP) or financial system to record transactions and provide year-end numbers, a Manufacturing Execution System (MES) to run their shop, and, in highly regulated industries often a Quality Management System (QMS) or that capability within the MES platform. Without an MES, you are running your shop on a toolset that can’t do much better than a black hole telescope where even if you can see there’s a job out there that you’re looking for, you can’t track or trace where it is in process, how it’s progressing and whether you’ll complete it on-time and on-budget (that last one is literally impossible).

You need a system, at its very base, to track jobs, people, materials (not the procurement of them like the ERP, but the use, availability, and location like an MES), and schedule. If you use tools, you will need the system to capture and track use of those – both for the tool record itself, but also for the jobs you used it on in case it comes back bad. You will want the system to prioritize all work by operator or workstation constantly so that as things are progressing through production, they are doing so in the most efficient way.



If you feel like things are escaping you, like work goes in and then “spits out the backside” without any intervention by you but also without the ability to get information in the interim, then perhaps looking at a manufacturing software system is the right next step for you.

Ready to move forward faster? Engage with us to talk about increased shop floor visibility for complete production control from work instructions through shipping.  We’re only an email away,

Contact CIMx Software to see how a Manufacturing Execution System can improve production control for you.

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