We talked last week about the basic requirements for Industry 4.0 in the middle market. You need just two things to get started: data and communication. The data you collect and have access to must be real-time, accurate, and value-based to make it meaningful. Your communication needs to be to the right person when they need it.

If you collect more information than you need it is counter-productive and can skew the data itself; by collecting less you could miss what you need to move forward. Communicating that information more broadly than is required is not just a waste of time and resources, although it surely is that. It can actually adversely affect what’s possible for your shop. Less communication than you need is an issue for anyone using spreadsheets, paper, or even an ERP to run manufacturing but you probably know that already first-hand.

So, let’s talk a bit about what data – the right data – does for your shop. That may help all of this make more sense.


What is the right data?

When a manufacturer asks me this question, I will likely answer their question with a question. I want to know:

1. what you make,

2. how much,

3. in what order,

4. and what are the current issues?

Understanding just a few key bits about your workflow gives me enough information to take a first crack at that issue, although I know there will still be some holes in my own data to be sure of my answer.

In general, however, we are looking for you to have inbound and outbound data from the shop floor.

On the inbound route, you must give the operator(s) all the information they need to do their job(s) correctly. I want to see an alert or a red flag for things they will do differently than usual, a list of inventory, materials, raw goods, tools, parts, ingredients, or subassemblies that they need for the work. And, I would be particularly interested in tracking serial or lot numbers at this point if that’s something you deal with.

Manage and Leverage Production Data with Quantum  LEARN HOW HERE

If you want to make it exceptionally easy for the operator, you could consider the use of videos, photos, illustrations, and notes to personalize the work, but this is not always required. Of course, once you have an order from a customer – whether that’s for an external customer or for internal build-to-stock work – all the pictures in the world won’t be helpful if you don’t have a way to control and communicate it to the shop.

On the outbound route, I am looking for the bare minimum amount of data the operator can provide you without sacrificing time. Automated data capture can help tremendously with this. You need to capture any scrap at the least and, I believe, the start and stop of work. For shops that don’t know how long each job takes they cannot predict whether or not they’re making money on the work. You absolutely must capture time on the job in order to move forward.

This brings me to the ERP. It’s a system that thinks it solves every problem. We’ve written a lot about how it doesn’t help with production and we firmly believe that. Perhaps the thing we hear most often is that operators are “clocking on and off” jobs with the ERP. Unless you want to put a punch card machine by the back door, clocking on a job is not a measure of success.

An operator should only be able to see and report on their work. They should know where the products are moving to next. They should be able to report quantity made, issues they encountered, how they solved them, and even record a supervisor’s approval.


Where should data be available?

When you talk about who should have access to data, the question I hear most is, "What data do they actually have to deliver?" Whether you know it or not, there is data laying all over your shop. From the expert operators, machinists, and employees you have to the machines that collect job information all day long – even without a sophisticated computer front-end – there are systems and processes running that are collecting data without you.

Data should be, most importantly, available to you at the conclusion of each individual piece of work in a job so you can assess whether or not you are making money on the work and whether it will ship on time. Data should be available to you at month’s end to see the jobs that ran well versus those that didn’t and their trend lines to usual. These two data types are radically different but serve equally valuable audiences.

See How Production Management  Works in Quantum  CLICK HERE

In general, the answer is that data should be available to you when and where you need it. It’s hard to know what you need until you need it. Sure, there’s information that you need to capture – order complete, inventory on-hand, etc. Most often, however, it’s the data that is most difficult to capture (and most necessary) for the people that are looking for it.

CIMx has identified 6 key processes that exist on every shop floor, no matter the industry, that are most pervasive for gaps. We feel so strongly about these that we use them throughout our sales cycle to match the work you do to the requirements you have. Call it a double-check. We call it a Process Design Workshop and would be happy to share our insight with you. 

Over the course of this project, we will identify critical issues we see, what’s causing them, and what you can do to stop them. We’ll go through almost 20 areas before we end this series on how to buy a system. These pieces should serve as a step-by-step guide to get you there. 

Anxious to get the information faster? Engage with us for a Process Gap Analysis of your shop. We’re only an email away, info@cimx.com.  And, of course, you can always schedule a live demo of Quantum below.  We look forward to hearing from you.




Contact CIMx Software to see how a Manufacturing Execution System can improve production control for you.

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