December 10, 2019 at 2:00 PM

Decision-Making Model Part 2

In the first piece on the Decision Making Model, we focused on data acquisition.  Data is critical in manufacturing.  In today’s world, things move faster and cost more money than previously.  There is no time or money to spare for mistakes, overruns, underruns or lost time in production.  Data acquisition is one of the keys to performance here.  Data is the new oil in your processes.

Now, we need to talk about information.  Once you’ve got the data you need, you’re going to be hungry for information.  What does the data mean?  What can you do with it?  How can you use it most effectively (and here, we mean both from an investment of time and money)?  Spreadsheet data is not very useful – it’s just numbers.  Data with its context provides information and useful feedback.

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December 3, 2019 at 9:00 AM

Is The Cloud Safe?

SAAS – Software as a Service – is now just known as “the Cloud.”  Clouds, by their very nature, are ephemeral.  They move across the sky, ever-changing.  Is the name supposed to sound magical?  It is not. Magical, that is.

The cloud is where all your information resides.  All those passwords that you save, the “remember me” buttons that you push?  Those have to be kept somewhere, right?  While part of that resides on your computer, it’s all available to anyone who has access (or can gain it).  Week after week, we hear about data breaches.  Thieves sneaking in to get your personal information.  Whether you protect it or not, the information is there.  Your information.  Once you put it “in the cloud” it is available to anyone with access to it. 

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November 27, 2019 at 9:00 AM

Thankful

At CIMx, we are very thankful to work with so many terrific companies and customers.  We speak to manufacturers every day that are making manufacturing work in the U.S. - profitably, efficiently and with great people and resources.  

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November 19, 2019 at 9:00 AM

Trust

Trust.  It’s a firm belief in someone or something.  The definition even goes so far as to say it’s acceptance without evidence or investigation.  We take a lot of things on trust every day, even if you don’t realize it. 

Did you sit at a traffic light this morning on your way to work?  Did you drive on the proper side of the road, whether that’s left or right for you?  You trusted that everyone else on the road was going to follow the same rules of the road that you were and you just went with it.

I would venture to say that you could not say the same about your software vendors.  Do you trust them?

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September 24, 2019 at 10:03 AM

Decision-Making Model Part 1

We’ve talked before about decision methodology.  In brief, the theory we follow for manufacturers is that to stay competitive, you must always make your decisions based on the information currently present.  Collecting more information could be helpful, but spend too much time here, and you have analysis paralysis

The basic tenet of the model is this: review the current landscape of the situation and make a decision based on prior experience and present details.  This is a delicate balance.  Rely too much on experience and you may be blind to what’s currently sitting in front of you.  Ignore the past and you may repeat something you’ve tried that doesn’t work.

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August 27, 2019 at 9:00 AM

Weather You Need Production Control (And We Did Spell That Correctly)

Update 09/03/19: today, as we post this blog, Hurricane Dorian is sitting over the Bahamas.  Little is yet known about how much damage has been done at this time.  Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected. 

 

Whether you believe in global warming or not (we do try to make these blogs historically relevant without being political statements), it’s difficult to watch or read the news without seeing stories about smaller icebergs, deforestation and shifting weather patterns.  We’re not going to talk here about what’s causing those.  We’re more concerned with the idea that things are always changing, even those things that you rely on for stability. 

What do you do when the things that you count on being constant shift?  

Weather is one of those constants in our lives.  Depending on where you live, you expect the patterns of the seasons, water and temperature, to be consistent from year to year.  Everything you buy and do depends on it.  At work and at home, you rely on the weather to be relatively even from day to day, week to week, season to season, year to year.  It would be safe to say that you probably never have created a plan for what to do when the weather shifts dramatically from its current pattern.  It’s something you count on.

What do you count on in your business?  What items are there that you assume will be the same from period to period?  Do you always assume that your sales will be stable or rise?  Do you figure

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August 20, 2019 at 9:00 AM

Curiosity in Manufacturing

As people, we are inherently curious.  Even as we age, that yearning for something new causes us to travel, meet new people, maybe even wander a bit.  Curiosity is a part of human nature.  We all read studies (and see the evidence) of how curious children are when they are born.  We also see the results of traditional educational models in curiosity.  Driving children to conform to a single norm of sitting in straight-line desks and file in lines works for teachers in that in helps to control the chaos of the classroom, but if you were like me and many other entrepreneurs, conforming naturally bucked the curiosity you felt about issues that weren’t on the schedule for the teacher today. 

In a recent Harvard Business Review article on Why Curiosity Matters, Francesco Gina explores curiosity and its results on business specifically.  While most breakthroughs come from curiosity, she cites all the ways that business kill it in their workers.  Critical to this center of thinking is the notion that “it will increase risk and inefficiency.” 

Ms. Gina lays out the benefits of curiosity in work.  Confirmation bias is first on the list.  We’ve talked about this before.  Expecting what you’ll see and seeing it, whether it’s there or not.  This shows up in manufacturing all the time.  We hear it called “tribal knowledge.”  Many companies tell us that their workforce just “knows what to do.”   That only works if you never want to change how they do it. 

In training your workers to “just know,” you are eliminating the possibility of anything new.  My mind immediately goes back to the days of early automation.  Whether that conjures a picture of Lucy trying to wrap chocolates on an assembly line in “I Love Lucy” or assembly workers at the early days of Ford, this is not the way work is done today.  In the era of click and swipe, no one wants to do a job the same way all the time. 

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July 30, 2019 at 9:00 AM

Why Pictures Matter in Manufacturing

Pictures solidify messages.  Science tells us that we forget most of what we read.  (This doesn’t speak well to what you might remember about this blog, so be sure to come back and read it again.)  We remember context.  That could be the place you were when something happened.  Smells.  Visual elements of the world around you.  The writing on the page. 

The last time that you went to a bookstore (you have been to one recently, yes?), do you remember picking up a book because you liked its cover?  Maybe a magazine’s front picture drew you in?  These are images that recalled something in your mind.  They caused you to have an emotion which made you lean in.  If you opened the book, do you remember liking the text, the way it looked on the page?  Or not?

These emotions related to what you see help you to remember the content as well.  Without a connection between seeing something and an emotion, chances of you remembering it shrink drastically.  Studies (and Edgar Dale’s Cone of Experience) show that 10% of people remember what they read but 90% of what they do. 

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June 11, 2019 at 10:00 AM

Why Manufacturing Will Never Live in the Cloud

You wouldn’t allow your competitors to walk your floor and rifle through your files, so why allow strangers to access your data by placing it in the cloud?

Last week SalesForce, one of the most widely-used CRMs on the planet, inadvertently opened access to its Pardot repository leading to a full shutdown. This locked out thousands of users, for more than 15 hours. Not only did this failure result in private data being made available to the rest of the user base, it meant sales teams around the world were hamstrung from doing their job for multiple days.

The amount of potential revenue that was lost is incalculable, but many businesses feel so locked into their contracts and sales processes that they wouldn’t dream of moving onto a new platform. Mistakes happen and Salesforce will learn from this glitch making it even stronger moving forward… right?

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August 30, 2017 at 10:26 AM

What Can Turnkey Manufacturing Software Do for You?

A manufacturing software solution is only as good as the data that fuels it.

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January 10, 2017 at 9:25 AM

Manufacturing Software and Paperless Manufacturing in 2017

We regularly review the manufacturing software market.  Last year, we were twice caught off-guard by references to the “death of Manufacturing Execution Software” (MES) by both a major analyst firm and a competitor.  

Manufacturing software isn’t dying.  With the changes to our industry, the growth of technology, and the need for companies to better manage resources and production, there has never been more need for strong software tools to support production.  Paper, a modified spreadsheet, or an ERP modified with some shop floor functionality, simply can’t provide the capability manufacturers need.  There is no magic bullet, super-system to solve all your enterprise problems and replace manufacturing software.  Predicting the “death of MES” flies directly in the face of what we see every day. 

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December 7, 2016 at 12:12 PM

Overcoming Failure: Simple Steps to Improve Manufacturing Software

Not long ago, I wrote about a concept known as “sunk cost.”  The Sunk Cost Fallacy is a cognitive bias that compels us to cling to an investment even after there is little to no chance of a beneficial return. We feel an unnecessary commitment to decisions of the past, even where we’ve lost our initial investment, and so we keep pouring more resources into it.  For example, continuing to invest in a failed business or clinging to a relationship even after it's gone bad.

I’ve heard Annie Duke, a World champion poker player, discuss the Sunk Cost Fallacy, and I’m fascinated by her lessons on sunk cost, loss aversion and Decision Science. She recently wrote a blog about supermarket lines and sunk cost.  There are valuable lessons for manufacturers in her blog when you consider the amount of money you spend on infrastructure.

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October 4, 2016 at 4:15 PM

Unravelling the Truth of Manufacturing Software Implementations

Software companies are quick to make claims about their implementation process, but the answers often lead to more confusion than actionable information.

What’s a reasonable schedule for an MES or Paperless Manufacturing system implementation?

When I started in this business (years ago), two years was average. Anyone who claimed to implement a full system, configured for the customer, in less than a year was either fudging the truth or delusional.

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September 27, 2016 at 9:19 PM

Managing the Speed of Change in Manufacturing

Manufacturers are continually looking for ways to improve, but are reluctant to actually embrace change, leading many businesses to become stuck in a vicious planning cycle.

Not long ago, I spoke to a Quality Manager at a job shop about Paperless Manufacturing. He loved our software, and recognized it could solve his problems and improve production, but he wasn’t sure if they would implement. “We know we have to do something,” he said. “But, I don’t know if we’re ready to change.”

It’s a line I’ve heard too many times.

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September 7, 2016 at 9:28 AM

The Waiting Game, MES and Paperless Manufacturing

As manufacturers decide to wait to implement a modern manufacturing system, they fall further and further behind their competition.

Not long ago, we started working with a manufacturer still using paper to manage the shop floor.

They printed 80 pages of work instructions for every order. Some days they would have 30 or 40 orders on the shop floor at once – 2,400 to 3,200 pages a day they were managing. They collected data using paper. Afterward a clerk typed the data into a spreadsheet. They tracked orders using email, and as-built records were assembled by hand.

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