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What Is the Foundation of Your Paperless Manufacturing Solution?

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Position your shop floor for success by identifying and focusing on the key priorities in a potential manufacturing software solution.


Last week, we wrote a blog about the Myths and Legends of MES and Paperless Manufacturing, and afterward, we learned one surprising fact – people love their requirement lists. Many argued the requirement list has to be the primary tool in selecting a solution. I can understand that. For some, the requirement list is the first step in the project. You need to know the scope of the project before you start planning, and the requirement list is a good way to start. It’s also an excellent way to build a business case for the project and justify the expense (and, let’s be honest, a four item list is not nearly as convincing as a 200 item list).

Unfortunately, this leads to a bloated list of low priority items. With a massive requirement list, the key priorities, which should be the focus of your project, can be lost in a sea of lesser items. In addition, the true cost of the solution may never be known, because often those less important items can be much more expensive than the key priorities.

Focusing on the Foundation

The first step in identifying a manufacturing software solution should be determining those key priorities. They will become the foundation of your solution, and the other requirements will spin off them, which is the way it should be.

One way to look at it is to see your future manufacturing solution like a house. When designing or buying a house, you will have a list of priorities – a fireplace, or a big kitchen. Those items are nice, but your search starts by finding a house with a solid foundation – the right square footage and in a good neighborhood. The search has to start with those key priorities. Likewise, you don’t build a house all at once, you start with a foundation, then build a frame and add the details as you go along.  The provider implementing the out-of-the-box solution works the same way – using a plan to build the solution piece by piece. Start with the foundation, and build from there.

Most of the time, the greatest impact from a MES (Manufacturing Execution System) or paperless manufacturing project will come from a few key items. By few, we mean normally 10%, while the other 90% are nice to have items, or simply a wish list of toys for various departments.  This might be improved quality from world-class work instructions, digitizing records, or a comprehensive data collection system. Solving these issues will deliver an ROI and improve production. Integrating other functionality or solutions can be done once the key items are solved by the software.

This is the problem with focusing your search on a comprehensive requirement list. Sure, it can give you an idea of how much functionality comes out-of-the-box, and what may need to be added later, but of even more importance is how the tools in the software solve the biggest issues your shop floor faces. Once you have the outline of a solution in place, the other requirement (the 90%) can be easily integrated into the solution. Want to learn more, or see how the tools in a paperless manufacturing solution can be mapped to your shop floor? Then give CIMx a call, and let us see what we can do for you.