Opening the garage door recently, I heard an alarm. A beeping noise coming from my car.  Never a good sign and not one to let things languish on, I went to work.  I wasn’t aware that my car actually had an alarm other than the one that emits a loud noise if you push the panic button on the key fob or open the door with the alarm engaged. And, this was a periodic beeping, much like a smoke detector would make at 3 a.m. when you’ve forgotten to replace the batteries.  Problem is, there’s no smoke detector in my garage.


Last week, we talked about data-driven decision-making. Harvard Business School points out that “more than half of Americans rely on their ‘gut’ in order to decide what to believe, even when [and this is the point that is really scary to me] they are confronted with evidence that speaks to the contrary.” We talked about confirmation bias, the process of actually favoring information that supports what you believe to already be true.

Both confirmation bias and this tendency to follow your gut are in ample supply on most shop floors. Shop floors without access to data often run on yesterday’s news. Whatever happened yesterday is a basis for what’s possible or usual for today. Small fluctuations up and down are expected, but in general, trends stay steady. Or should they?

If I think I know what I’m looking for, do I actively search for it no matter what else presents itself? Turns out, yes. Sometimes.


investigate beyond assumption

I walked out, listening to the alarm, which was coming directly from my vehicle. I ignored the watering system and the dog fence. Both of these systems have battery packs on the wall near my car and both make noise if they are damaged. In the case of the dog fence, it lets you know if you’ve accidentally cut the wire as you’re gardening. The watering system rings if you crush one of their water heads or disconnect it so you’re aware that water is spilling outside of the sealed system.

Moving forward, neither the watering system nor the dog fence was the source of my sound, but my instincts still failed me. I made a quick assessment and moved on it.

Have you done that recently? Have you noticed something happening on your shop floor and moved forward with the predictable path, the one you assumed put it in motion? I do not want to call you a liar, but I will freely admit I would not believe you if you said you hadn’t. Every day this happens. All the time.

  • You see an area of the shop backing up and you put more resources on it or move part of the work to another area.
  • Product is backing up in the aisles and you get someone to move it to a holding area.
  • A customer calls wondering where their shipment is and you run around looking for the order.

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In each case, you go into “firefighting” mode. Had you considered other, perhaps less obvious, reasons? In the first case, for example, is the work backing up because a shipment of inventory hasn’t arrived and no one knows whether or not you have enough materials to finish the job? People are looking for raw goods and you’re busy moving the work to a different work center that also will not be able to complete it. Or, maybe, you have plenty of inventory and, instead, you have an issue with instructions. Or, perhaps, the work you’re asking the operator(s) at the backed-up work center to complete doesn't fit with the materials on hand. In this case, you have plenty of raw goods to complete the work but not the right information.

Each of the issues on your shop floor could be looked at from many different angles – problems with people, information, materials, orders, and machines. It’s difficult, nay impossible, to find the time to get to the real heart of the matter when you just need to get orders out the door. You run towards the “alarm you hear” and try to stop it. This isn’t getting to the source of the problem but rather just stops the beeping.


accurate data provides needed detail

You need a system to provide you with all the information so you can assess it. A quick look at inventory, an alert sent by an operator telling you what the problem is. You need to know what’s going on so you can determine what you need to do. Gathering information at the time of the issue is only possible when you’re gathering that information minute-by-minute in your shop. And, by my count at least, unless you want to pay a whole bunch of people money to walk around all day and capture all that information, a manufacturing software system is what makes it possible.

Manufacturing software goes well beyond your finance system. Your ERP tells you what you need to know about how much you billed your customers, the cost of your inventory, and paid your people.  It does not tell you how much money you made. It reports income, but income has nothing to do with how much you made. Just how much money you have left to count.


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If you want to know how much you’re making, you’re going to need a lot more information than that finance system has, even on a good day. You need to know who did the work, how much and how long, when and where, and with what resources. And, with today’s issues with the supply chain, from one day to another, the actual materials you are using may cost significantly more than the same materials yesterday. These issues are way too nuanced for your accounting system to handle.




I spent a bit of time trying to locate the beeping in my car and what it signaled only to find out that my garage door opener does the same thing as the smoke detectors in my house. I forget that the opener has a battery to let the door go up or down one or two more times after the electricity goes out so I’m not locked out of the house. That battery lasts a long time. Long enough for me to forget that it’s there.

What makes you forget the evidence that’s actually there? If you’re worried about the things you don’t know or can’t see, give us a call to find out what you can do with a system that can help.

Ready to move forward faster? Engage with us to talk more about visibility and the power of real-time shop floor data for complete production control. We’re only an email away,

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

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