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What Can We Learn About Paperless Manufacturing from a Cup of Coffee?

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The best software tools work seamlessly with your existing process, making the experience better, much like the ubiquitous coffee cup we use every morning.

By Kristin McLane, President of CIMx Software

Every morning, I have a cup of coffee on my desk. It’s the darkest roast possible and I sip it throughout the entire morning. When I pick it up at the coffee shop, I put a coffee sleeve on it to hold the cup comfortably without burning my hands. The sleeve is a common tool for coffee drinkers, an improvement over the days of annoying Styrofoam cups.

Cup sleeves make it easier to enjoy the coffee, keep your fingers from being burned, and are useful no matter the size of your cup. They slide up only as far as necessary – simple, flexible and incredibly useful. You don’t spend a second thinking about selecting one or how improved the coffee experience is with one. You use it because it’s easy-to-use and it works. Now, you’ve trained yourself to pick one up because a cup of coffee is too hot and the sleeve is the solution.

In the world of software packages for your business processes, a tool like a coffee sleeve is very useful. If that tool could manage your shop floor, improve quality and increase production, it would dramatically increase your profits. Many tools on the MES market sell themselves this way. If you Google “paperless manufacturing,” you will find close to a million records (at last count). Some of these tools will run various parts of your shop floor. Some will improve quality. Some will increase production. A few manage the shop floor. But the thing about the simple cup sleeve that works so well is that it dramatically improves the coffee experience, it works so well with the cup, and it’s so simple to use it doesn’t require a change in behavior.

That is the flaw in most shop floor tools. When you explore the universe of paperless shop floor software packages, it’s difficult to discern the difference between the highly effective “sleeves” versus the complex software packages that demand you purchase and consume coffee in an entirely different way (or even make you drink tea or water down the coffee – the villains). These systems halt shop floor progress as your team works to integrate an invasive tool. You struggle with a solution that is too costly or too time-consuming, and as you struggle, all progress you might make from the solution is swallowed in the process.

As you research paperless manufacturing solutions, don’t forget the long-term costs such systems might require. Consider our cup sleeve analogy. It’s as if you found a tool that protected your hand from the heat, but only if you get a new size cup. If the market begins offering new cups, you’ll find that sleeve no longer works. This happens all the time in software – we call it obsolescence.

CIMx Software guarantees customers will never struggle with a solution that is obsolete. Our carefully architected system protects your investment. The CIMx system provides a continuous upgrade path without the expensive services bills other software vendors charge. It’s a benefit we’ve designed and built into our system.

People go for coffee every day because coffee offers them a benefit that makes their day better. For some, it’s the heat of freshly brewed java. For others, it’s the flavorful aroma, or the caffeine pick-me-up. Maybe a cup of coffee is just a habit or instinct. In manufacturing, you have the problems to solve. For example, your production might be slowing or your quality decreasing. Perhaps you’ve not been able to increase throughput as the economy turns. As you search for a solution, consider the cup of coffee for your desk – discover a manufacturing program that injects heat and caffeine into your organization with a tool that won’t require a new cup size or a change in your drinking habits. Look for a solution that’s ready to help you right away.