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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July 5, 2016 at 11:00 AM

How to Manage the Smart Manufacturing Revolution

For companies still reluctant to change in the face of the next industrial revolution, there are simple strategies you can take to position your company for success.

There’s a famous quote by Albert Einstein that has particular relevance to modern manufacturing – “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

The convergence of Information Technology (IT) and Operations Technology (OT) is having a profound effect on manufacturing. The days when IT resources could get by without ever having stepped on a shop floor are gone. Operations can no longer refuse to put another “damn computer” on a work center or refuse to look at new technology.

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June 14, 2016 at 8:53 AM

The Importance of an MES to Optimizing Manufacturing Quality

Procedures and checks can only take your quality improvements so far.
To maximize your quality, you need to design quality feedback loops.


Manufacturing companies are continually pursuing quality improvements, and with good reason. Improved quality not only increases productivity and profit as non-conformances and scrap are reduced, ensuring the shop floor is focused on product that ships, but also aids in sales. Consumers buying a product don’t care about productivity and efficiency; they care about value and quality - manufacturing quality.

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June 7, 2016 at 11:57 AM

How Much Can You Trust Your KPIs and Data Collection?

There is more to effective manufacturing analytics than reports. You need an effective and efficient process for collecting data.

Manufacturing is changing.

In the past, it was enough to write a few notes on the traveler, type them into a spreadsheet at the end of the day and print up a report. As long as work was completed and product moved, a shop floor could get by.

With the advent of new technology, smart manufacturing, and a digital foundation for production, paper-based data collection is no longer sufficient to support the shop floor.

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April 12, 2016 at 11:38 AM

Improving Quality with Paperless Manufacturing

As manufacturers struggle to reduce costs and improve production, more and more companies are turning to paperless manufacturing to improve quality.

As production grows increasingly more complex the Cost of Quality (COQ) is also increasing, with some companies reporting costs as high as 10% of revenue. The indirect and soft COQ may be even higher as you consider the non-value added time necessary to evaluate and address quality escapes.

When manufacturers consider initiatives to lower costs, quality is an emphasis. Modern MES and paperless manufacturing systems are delivering tremendous value to companies focused on improving quality.

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March 29, 2016 at 8:19 AM

Get Started with Digital Manufacturing Today

We offer an easy way to start a paperless manufacturing project today, giving you a kick start on modernizing production.

For many manufacturers, the decision isn’t which digital manufacturing system to use. It’s whether they should even start a project or not.

These companies struggle. They aren’t working toward process improvement. They wonder when the next disaster will hit because their systems aren’t working.

They know there are problems:

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March 2, 2016 at 2:00 PM

Digital Manufacturing Strategies and MES

We offer simple tips for success for companies looking to improve manufacturing with a digital strategy.

 

There are a lot of options out there for a company looking to update their manufacturing or improve production.

Do you buy new machines? Maybe you look at process improvement through Lean manufacturing or Six-Sigma? Then there are a dizzying array of software products – QMS (Quality Management System), PLM (Project Lifecycle Management), the standard MES (Manufacturing Execution System) or MOM (Manufacturing Operations Management), and then the more esoteric or arcane choices like process and performance analytic engines with IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) and colorful dashboards you can endlessly format.

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November 24, 2015 at 4:04 AM

Reasons to be Thankful for a Smart MES

Ever consider why you should be thankful for a modern, smart manufacturing system? 

In the USA, we’re preparing for the holiday season, and pondering the multitude of reasons we should be thankful.

This got me thinking about Smart MES. Recently, we looked at Smart MES, and discussed data-driven manufacturing. In doing so, we studied the benefits of both. While capabilities and benefits of software are important, neither highlights the true value of the system.

So, in honor of the season of thankfulness, we take a closer look one very important reason why you’ll be thankful you invested in new Smart MES and digital manufacturing.

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November 17, 2015 at 4:24 AM

How to Calculate Whether your Manufacturing Software is Technology-Ready

Now more than ever, manufacturers need software solutions designed to accommodate change. Learn how to determine the technology-readiness of a potential solution.

 

Last week, we discussed the importance of flexibility in manufacturing software. When a software system forces a shop floor or production team to adapt to new processes, or puts arbitrary limits on production, then users will struggle to optimize production or realize the expected benefit of the MES.

Change happens too quickly in modern manufacturing for systems that lack flexibility. How do you manage an update in government regulations? What happens when a customer calls with a new priority and a rush order?

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November 3, 2015 at 4:16 AM

5 Ways You Find Real Value with a Smart MES

Not all manufacturing software is the same. Critically evaluate your current software or a new solution to understand its potential value. 

 

There are a lot of MES and manufacturing software systems out there for companies to choose from, but not all are created equal. They all offer similar functionality. They manage manufacturing information, sending work instructions to the shop floor and collecting data on production.

While some MES offer just the standard core functionality, other systems, especially older software, struggle with functionality-creep, attempting to handle everything from your product lifecycle to financials. We believe ERP (Enterprise Resource Management) and MES are different. Tools that pile functionality in the system force users to work the software rather than manufacturing.

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September 29, 2015 at 4:52 AM

Improve Production with Smart Data Using the Quantum Archive

Don’t waste your manufacturing records. By converting them to Smart Data, you can improve communication and access to information, and enable data-driven manufacturing.

 

Many manufacturers are facing an imminent (and potentially dangerous) records problem – a “data-geddon” you might call it. They have years (even decades) of manufacturing data and records sitting in outdated systems, or on servers or databases slowly falling apart or becoming completely unusable.

They keep these decrepit servers on life support through IT wizardry because they NEED the data for some reason, even though they can’t really use it.

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September 2, 2015 at 4:20 AM

How Data-Driven Manufacturing Will Impact Your Shop Floor

More and more manufacturers are benefitting from paperless manufacturing and systems such as MES – proof of the power in data-driven manufacturing.

 

Change is coming to manufacturing.

Spend enough time reading material out there, listening to analysts or keynote speakers, or just studying the manufacturing market and you can see the signs of change.

As we begin grappling with change, we try to give it a name. Some are calling it “Industry 4.0.” They see the Smart Factory in our future, built on the Internet of Things with cyber-physical tools in every nook and cranny… and on and on…

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