We are halfway through the issues we typically see in manufacturing that we need to solve for our customers. Things like scrap, late shipments, overruns, inventory shortages, and operator workflows. Each week, we’re exploring an issue and how we see it most often present itself. Signs to look for if you’re in manufacturing and what they might mean. Then, we share questions you should ask and things you should look for as you’re trying to solve that problem.

 

Production control in manufacturing

Imagine it’s summer break and we’re taking a step back to see what else is possible. Let’s talk about some of the soft skills you will need to look for in a vendor; things you want any vendor or partner you select to have. If you want production control in manufacturing, you need to work with someone who understands what that means. Why are you looking for more control? Control in what areas? What are you willing to sacrifice to get it?

Sound confusing?

In manufacturing, work is constantly moving. We’re not talking about tack time here. That is one kind of “forced” movement in the shop. We’re talking movement of the materials that you use to make your products. The tools that you need to do the work. The people you need to get the job done. Are they available? When and where are they so?

 

See How Production Management  Works in Quantum

 

MANUFACTURING software for Your shop

It is difficult to know how all these pieces fit together but they do. At least in your shop, they do. So, the one-size-fits-all approach is not going to work for you. You need someone to listen and understand your problems within your shop. You don’t need a repetitive, tired, old, canned demo – or, worse, video demo – that a vendor did last week for someone that works in an entirely different space than you.

How can you tell if a vendor understands? What part of the buying process tells you that they’re someone you want to work with? Someone that can identify and help to solve your issues, not just the symptoms?

We’re going to drop in content around the different processes that you will need to understand to answer these questions over the next few weeks before we return to hard-core manufacturing issues: the buying process, demo process, installation, and support process. And we’ll touch on guarantees as well.

In each step of the process, you need to establish your own set of needs. Vendors will often call these requirements, but not everything you need or want will be a requirement or should be. Some of these will be things that you know would help you but will fit into that bucket that you might trade in and out of, something that we talked about earlier.

Let’s start with the big picture and then dive in.

 

Here's How We Designed Quantum for Today's Manufacturers

 

how to buy a manufacturing software tool

During the buying process, you want a vendor that will explore the issue(s) with you. Not someone who lectures or tells you what you “need to know”; rather, someone that lets the issue(s) unfold as you interact. A vendor that’s there to “teach you” may not understand what you need.   Those lessons are both expensive and lost on you.

We can return to the age-old 5 questions plus one we all learned in school to get us there: who, what, when, where, why, and how. Each of these will have relevance to both your purchase and use of the tool that you select. Of them, we find the “what” to be the most difficult, so we’re starting with the how and then working our way backward.

You will want a vendor that has a written process for your purchase that they can walk you through one step at a time. You may certainly have one or more stops that you need to add to that, but if they don’t cover the waterfront with their process, you will miss items. Let us give you an example. If a company that sells manufacturing software asks you what you need most and sells solely around those item(s), the system you buy and the way that it’s implemented may require you to phenomenally change the way you do things. We’re going to use our favorite example to illustrate this.

In the world of composite manufacturing, we’ve seen super clean shops and shops that do an apply and repair approach. In the latter category, we had a wind turbine blade manufacturer that we worked with. Wind turbine blades in their completed state are over 170 feet long. If you’ve seen one transported on the highway to its destination, it spans the length of two flatbeds trucks. In the factory setting, the buildings in which these are made are long and it takes a long time to walk all the way around, so this manufacturer built bridge spans to walk over the production line perpendicularly.

Their quality control person was critical to production; being in the apply and repair approach to carbon composite manufacturing, they had set workflows for every type of error they saw in manufacturing (nicks, dings, substrate issues, painting issues, foreign objects embedding themselves, etc. In the morning, the QE would move from left to right across the plant, checking with each production team on the issues he needed to resolve for them. One of our major suggestions to them was to focus on the most important part of the work that QE should be doing and ignore what he was currently doing, as it was dictated by their situation. Software frees you geographically; location of the work on the shop floor is no longer a hindrance as you can access it from anywhere.

Ask your vendor to tell you how many stages they have in their process and what the benefit is for you in each of them. What should you be learning through each of them? As you are progressing through the steps, you and they should both be getting value from the time spent. They are learning about you and it gives them the information they need to continue to sell you. What about you? What do they expect you are receiving as part of these calls and meetings?

 

I'D LIKE TO SEE QUANTUM

 

Why buy a manufacturing software tool

As you get to the bottom of your vendors’ selling process and your buying process, you should be learning a bit about how you will be expected to go through the process. Next time, let’s focus on why. That’s really where the rubber meets the road.

Over the course of this project, we will continue to investigate the who, what, when, where, why, and how of purchasing a manufacturing software solution.  These pieces should serve as a step-by-step guide to get you there.

Ready to move forward faster? Engage with us to talk about assessing or mapping your systems and processes.  We’re only an email away, info@cimx.com.

Contact CIMx Software to see how paperless manufacturing can improve production control for you.

How to Buy a Manufacturing Software Tool - Part 2

How to Buy a Manufacturing Software Tool - Part 2

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How to Buy a Manufacturing Software Tool - Part 3

How to Buy a Manufacturing Software Tool - Part 3

We’re talking about how to buy a Manufacturing Software tool. Deciding you need one may be the easy part; finding the right vendor that will sell and...

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How to Buy a Manufacturing Software Tool - Part 4

How to Buy a Manufacturing Software Tool - Part 4

Manufacturers today are hurting. There's no doubt. Whether you’re growing or not, you are working with less workforce, tight timelines, and a supply...

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