June 24, 2015 at 5:42 AM

Is Your MES Sunk Cost Software?

Want to improve production and increase profit? We borrow tips from one of the top poker players in the world (and a cognitive psychologist) to show how you can deliver better business results quickly and easily.

The other day we celebrated my brother’s birthday with a trip to his favorite restaurant.  The plan was a quick lunch, a trip to the movies, and then ice cream. Problem was, a horde of hungry people decided to get lunch at the same time. The lobby and waiting area was packed. “It can’t be that bad,” we told ourselves. “Let’s just wait it out. We have time before the movie.”

So we waited. And waited. And then waited some more. My brother and Dad spent time designing miniature houses with napkins and chopsticks.

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June 10, 2015 at 5:35 AM

Do You Need a Two Comma MES?

Some companies throw money away for software that will never do what they need, not knowing a better solution is available without gutting your profits.

 

I love the show Silicon Valley on HBO. It’s raw, open and makes fun of the software industry. Even with the absurd situations and characters, I recognize a grain of truth. There are times I cringe – some humor is misplaced, the language can be foul, and there are inappropriate things happening all the time. Yet, even when the show seems to make no sense at all, (like, why you would be obsessed with sesame seeds on burgers from “The Bur-gur King”?) I recognize… something true. It’s this recognition of reality in absurdity that makes Silicon Valley so entertaining.

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April 8, 2015 at 6:19 AM

It’s Not Just About Sales – It’s About Building Lasting Relationships

Even in the manufacturing software industry, every company has a different tactic for building profits. Understanding the sales process can tell you a lot about the company.

In her blog (a blog I often take time to read), The Irreverent Sales Girl states, “I think the biggest mistake salespeople make today, is that they try to pretend they’re not salespeople.” 

Companies need to make money, but when they haven’t taken the time to ensure their product adds value to the customer and profit to their business, they struggle to build trust with customers (a common problem for some MES suppliers) and resort to smoke and mirrors to hide the true cost of their product. Every business needs a mechanism or system for generating profit. Without it, you have no way to pay salaries or grow the company.
 

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March 11, 2015 at 5:45 AM

The Curious Connection between Waffle House and your MES Vendor

Waffle House has turned its commitment to customers into an enduring brand. What commitment has your MES supplier made to you?

Have you heard of the Waffle House Index? It’s a metric used by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) to track the severity of a storm… and a metric that can give you key insight into the level of service your MES supplier provides.

Waffle House offers quality American breakfast food all day long, every day, and the company prides itself on serving customers no matter the weather. This has become a hallmark of the Waffle House brand – the website even promises “Each restaurant is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and quality is constant location to location.”

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February 24, 2015 at 6:15 AM

3 Keys to Effective Software Customer Service

Don’t be fooled by marketing smoke and mirrors, effective customer service can be defined by a few key elements.

 

A few weeks ago, I took my car to a dealership for some work. “Don’t worry,” the service rep said as he took my keys. “I’m going to have my team get right to work.”  I should have run away the minute he said, “team.”

It took the team more than 3 days to get the work done – work that another mechanic said should take a few hours. I called to ask for an update every day, and every day the front desk transferred me to the Service Rep.  The Rep sent my call to the Lead Mechanic, who consulted with and transferred me to my Project Lead.

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January 8, 2015 at 10:07 AM

What Can You Do to Keep Your Company from Drowning in Technology Debt?

Many companies today are drowning in tech debt, and they don’t even know it. A few simple tips will help you manage your tech debt and determine your next steps in enterprise upkeep.

 


Technology debt
is a term that originated in programming. Originally, it explained the programming debt developers would incur while writing code. A quick and easy solution in programming might incur a future “tech debt” – when that quick solution would require significant modification or hinder future progress. Another solution might require more development resources to implement, but will drastically reduce or eliminate the need for modification and better support future development.

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September 24, 2014 at 6:44 AM

Insider Tips for Avoiding High-Cost Service Charges

Software companies know upgrades are necessary for your manufacturing solution.  They may even be budgeting for your high-cost service fees. Don’t get fooled – learn the truth here.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

Face it, manufacturing is a constantly changing industry.  New processes, new technology, and new products mean the shop floor is adapting and adjusting.  A work flow that succeeds one week may be in need of an update the next.

So, as you plan the installation of a new MES or paperless manufacturing solution, consider how you will adjust and adapt as your manufacturing needs change.  Ask yourself – is your software vendor planning to upgrade?  How they will ensure the solution continues to stay relevant?  Is an upgrade an additional fee or a standard offering?

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September 18, 2014 at 6:46 AM

The Secret to a Successful Manufacturing Strategy

Manufacturing is changing, as disruptive technology force companies to adapt.  Learn how to manage disruption and build a successful business strategy with a few simple tips.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

I was re-reading Garntner Predicts 2014 and found a quote that really brought focus to troubling trends I’d seen in manufacturing recently:

"With digital business, IT leaders must come to terms with what digital really means in the context of their work. It is bigger in scope than the typical company definition of IT, because it includes technology outside a company's control: smart mobile devices (in the hands of customers, citizens and employees), social media, technology embedded in products (such as cars), the integration of IT and operational technologies (such as telecom networks, factory networks and energy grids), and the Internet of Things (physical objects becoming electronically tractable)." Note: Bold is my addition.

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September 11, 2014 at 6:49 AM

5 Ways You Can Tell If Your Software is Wasting Money

Is your software getting old and dusty?  If so, it is likely costing you money, resources and productivity. We offer ways you can tell if it’s time for an upgrade or new system.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

Is your software getting dusty, stale, moldy and old?  Is it costing you more to maintain it than it makes for your business?  Many companies are currently using old applications that hurt production and siphon away profits.

It’s true – code can get old and dusty, becoming Legacy code or a dusty deck.  It can collect (digital) mold and (binary) creaks and cracks, just like an old house or any other human construct.  Just like an old house, code and applications become increasingly costly and begin to degrade and deteriorate over time, unless you invest in adequate system upkeep.

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August 12, 2014 at 7:00 AM

Pushing the Envelope with MES and Paperless Manufacturing

Want to get the most out of your paperless manufacturing system? Evaluate the push technology in your system using a few simple tips.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

In manufacturing, a few seconds can mean the difference between success and scrap.  A single error can snowball and lead to missed shipping deadlines, lost profit and angry customers.  Consistency and repeatable processes is the key to success, while complexity leads to errors, waste and worse.

Push technology systems, which automatically deliver contextually relevant data to the shop floor user, and have significant benefits for manufacturers.  Despite this, many companies still rely on less efficient pull technology systems for their MES and paperless manufacturing.  Pull systems require the user to request the data each time, adding complexity and introducing opportunities for errors.

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August 7, 2014 at 9:04 AM

Are You Getting the Whole Story from Your MES Vendor?

The decisions a vendor makes while building their system can have an impact on the viability and cost of your solution. Learn how you can protect yourself from hidden costs and frustration.

By Kristin McLane, President of CIMx Software

Make versus Buy? It is a question that has vexed many a manufacturer looking for the shop floor control and visibility an MES (Manufacturing Execution System) or paperless manufacturing system will provide.

Building your own software system, the “make” in this equation, has its advantages. You can design the system you want, and if you have the patience, resources, and money to make it happen, that’s the system you will get. But, it will be significantly more expensive and risky than other options, and you will need to invest time and resources to secure the long-term reliability and maintainability of the software.

Buying a software system means reaching out to vendors, researching options and how they will work with your workflow and shop floor, and purchasing the solution you need. It is less expensive, and you have software support (at least, with reliable vendors you do), but it does require initial work, and training and preparation on the shop floor.

There is no right or wrong answer to the make versus buy question for you. That said, MES and paperless manufacturing vendors also face the option to make versus buy, and their answer can have a major impact on the product they offer you.

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August 5, 2014 at 8:34 AM

What do we mean by “Off-the-Shelf” Paperless Manufacturing?

For manufacturers searching for an Off-the-Shelf (OTS) software solution for the shop floor, but the truth is, you may be surprised what OTS for different vendors.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

It’s easy to see why an Off-the-Shelf (OTS) paperless manufacturing software is an appealing option for manufacturers.

Custom software solutions may be designed specifically for your shop, but it’s expensive – both in money and resources. Upgrades and changes will be equally expensive. Systems take years to build, and are risky. Many projects never even make it to the shop floor.

An OTS system costs a fraction of a custom system, and can be installed and working in significantly less time. Most OTS systems offer more functionality and an upgrade path, and are supported by the software vendor. It’s less risky, and project success is easier to achieve.

Researching OTS solutions on the market will quickly reveal a strange truth. Some companies say they are OTS because they use a library of “modules.” They design a solution using modules to shave a few months off the implementation. Other vendors purchase a company (or three), and mix and match functionality to create a Frankenstein-like solution. Perhaps OTS means they use old code (you know… code written 15-20 years ago) for the foundation of your new solution, then customize the rest. Some call this “custom off-the-shelf,” as if they have discovered a magic bean offering you the best of both worlds.

To alleviate doubt and questions you might have, here’s some of what you’ll find in our off-the-shelf solution:

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July 8, 2014 at 6:23 AM

Care and Feeding of Your MES or Paperless Manufacturing System

Maximizing the ROI and benefit of your shop floor system isn’t hard, if you plan for regular upkeep and maintenance of the system.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

This spring, I planted a garden in the back yard.  With the kids, I tilled the ground, added fertilizer and topsoil, put up tomato cages, and carefully planted seeds.  I’m happy to report, our efforts worked.  In just a few days we saw new growth peek out of the ground.  There are leafy green lettuce, prickly tendrils of cucumbers, and tomato vines slowly making their way up the cages.

But, here’s what I’ve come to learn… planting a (successful) garden requires some work!  We now have a “watering schedule,” and each night one of us takes the hose and waters the garden.  On the weekend, we pull weeds.  We’ve added more stakes for the wayward tomatoes that want to grow out, not up.  Keeping the belligerent cucumber in line is daily task.  But, we’ve already made our first salad from lettuce in the garden, so the diligence in our upkeep is paying off.

I see a lot of similarities between an MES or paperless manufacturing system and my garden.

Any good MES (or garden) project starts by studying your current processes and work flow, then formulating a requirement list.  Then you have to plan the project, coordinate schedules with your team, gather the tools and materials and put it all together.

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June 25, 2014 at 8:13 AM

The Future of Medical Device Manufacturing

As companies work to comply with changing regulations in the Medical Device industry, there is an opportunity to improve production and revenue for the savvy manufacturer.

 By Anthony Cuilwik, CEO of CIMx Software

Change is happening across the Medical Device Manufacturing industry.
 
Additional standards are being implemented at an accelerated pace across the industry.  There is a push for electronic medical records to increase collaboration and improve patient care.  Hospital facilities and medical treatments are under increased scrutiny.  In addition, globalization of medical device production, the rapid development of new treatments, and a focused push to lower the cost of treatment are just a few of the reasons the industry must adapt and adjust to new regulations, standards and processes.
 
In fact, in a recent survey, 43.3% of medical device manufacturers reported changing regulatory environment as the biggest challenge they face in the future.  Companies are looking at cost efficient ways to, “… navigate the increased regulatory burden,” according to another industry report.   New standards require more detailed and careful labeling, dating, use-by dates, sourcing, detailed manufacturing records, and accountability, resulting in tightened production constraints and record requirements.  To comply, manufacturers must adopt new processes and utilize new tools.
 
At the same time, changes in the medical device industry are pushing manufacturers to lower cost and standardize production for a global market, while absorbing a new tax on medical devices.  As the population ages and the cost of healthcare increases, everyone must look at ways to make healthcare cost effective and more available.  To meet these goals, manufacturers must adjust their operations to improve production, lower cost and increase quality, while accommodating new regulations. 

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June 19, 2014 at 8:07 AM

What Can You Learn About Your MES and Paperless Manufacturing Vendor?

With 4 simple tips, you can learn a lot about a manufacturing software solution before you ever sign a contract.

By Kristin McLane, President of CIMx Software

I have called a dozen landscapers to move a large pile of dirt in my backyard.  I still can’t get a return call or sales appointment.  I don’t have the tools or the expertise to move the dirt.  I’m at the mercy of the vendors.  How is it that I can’t find a single company to call me back?  I’m realistic – I know there are times you can’t take on new work, but a simple phone call is all I want. 

What message are these companies sending to potential customers? I don’t want to sign a contract without knowing they will deliver on their promise. What confidence do I have in their work if they can’t even be bothered to give me a call?

I’m constantly amazed at this same lack of follow-through in the software industry. Too many prospects tell us we were one of the few (or the only) vendors to call them back. How is that possible? We’re never too busy to help, and we’d love to grow our business while helping you grow yours. It’s not that we don’t have a full calendar – we are blessed with a full pipeline of work and high standards for our product. We want to build the system features that continue to make our products more robust, user-friendly and dynamic, and that takes time and effort.

But, we also know how frustrating a problem you can’t solve alone can be. When you’re talking manufacturing software like MES or paperless manufacturing, build-it-yourself solutions often become disasters that spiral out-of-control, consume resources and build frustration. So if you know that you can’t, won’t or shouldn’t DIY, then you rely on the vendors (just like me). This can lead to frustration. You have a problem, but the potential solution-providers ignore you. What can you do? Here are a few pointers I’ve learned in software and manufacturing solution industry (and I’m considering for the mud dump in my backyard):

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