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Achieving excellent manufacturing efficiency is a daily — and long-term — challenge for many organizations. Most have difficulty determining their unique issues and finding the right solution because there are multiple factors that contribute to and influence excellence.

Modern manufacturers are turning to manufacturing execution systems (MES) to identify and act upon their unique problems, whether those relate to machines, the workers operating them...or both.

Standardized Work

Of all the factors contributing to efficiency, one of the most important to address is workers. People operating machines on the plant floor are a critical component of overall efficiency, yet few manufacturers have the tools needed to monitor, measure, and improve their performance.

MES solutions focus on two primary factors that influence operator efficiency: speed and accuracy. In other words, how quickly they do the right work the right way. MES software gives manufacturers the framework to standardize processes, enforce them across the organization, and use data to control/refine processes to ensure optimum efficiency.

Every machine operator affects efficiency with their specific knowledge, skill, and speed. Without standardized processes, they’ll try to resolve issues using their own best judgement — but those judgements may not be correct. With standards in place, workers are quickly able to identify the problem and the right way to solve it. No guesswork, missteps, or delays. 

With an MES solution in place, any time a worker strays from the standard, management knows and can take immediate corrective action. They instantly know how long each worker takes to complete different tasks and can compare against the standard, which tells them how many pieces per hour are expected.

Real-Time Visibility

The classic business axiom says, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” Think of MES software as an eye-opener. It brings to light everything from the magnitude of wasted indirect labor to larger problems (and opportunities) you likely weren’t previously focused on.

For instance, when you don’t know what’s happening on the production line, you can’t possibly know how to optimize manufacturing. Visibility into both workers and their machines — and how they’re interacting — is critical for any manufacturer wanting to achieve manufacturing excellence

With MES software, management and workers can see, in real time

  • If the right materials/parts are where they need to be, when they need to be there
  • If workers are “plugged in” and available to perform process steps...and if their product is available to work on

With operational visibility, the entire organization sees any issues that are emerging or trending: Is there a problem with a specific step in a process, or with a particular machine or worker? Without it, problems continue to put a strain on efficiency and, often, develop into more serious issues. 

This kind of visibility isn’t only beneficial for management, it’s a positive thing for workers, too. Knowing how they’re performing can be very motivating and rewarding to workers. 

“What gets measured gets improved” is a very appropriate saying when talking about the benefits of an MES solution. Along with the data being generated come insights that can be used to make informed decisions across the organization. 

MES software gives management and workers:

  • Data and analysis in real time, such as downtime (when it’s happening, where it’s happening, and for how long), quality issues (what workers are having problems with specific process steps), and performance (including actions that are not being executed accurately)...all displayed graphically so it’s easy for workers to understand and respond appropriately to
  • The resources machine operators need in order to react quickly and accurately when an issue arises. This eliminates reliance on “quick fixes” that aren’t scalable, need frequent maintenance/upgrading, and affect efficiency and product quality
  • Benchmarks — of machines, production lines, production runs, and more — that serve as guidelines for making improvements 
  • True cost transparency of producing a product, specific quality issues, and worker performance challenges, as well as insight into the impacts of frequent product changes.

How an MES Solution Reduces Costs

An MES software solution not only improves worker efficiency and allows for more informed decision making, it improves profitability that results from:

  • Reduced labor costs: Data collected from both machines and the workers interacting with them helps management identify specific areas needing improvement, which leads to greater worker efficiency and more consistent product quality
  • Increased production: Instead of reducing labor, plants struggling to meet production demands during peak production periods (often seasonal) can boost production
  • Reduced material costs: With controlled processes in place, manufacturers may see more optimized quantity of materials being used to meet specifications; in other words, less overwork and reduced waste
  • Increased quality: The benefits of a boost in quality are numerous (less rework, shorter downtimes, fewer warranty claims down the road, more repeat business, etc.). Plus, improving quality doesn’t necessarily demand higher costs; once an MES solution is in place, quality and costs are much more in synch

Manufacturing efficiency is a critical goal for today’s manufacturers, who are competing daily for market share and cannot afford quality or efficiency issues to detract from their competitiveness.

An MES solution monitors and controls all process steps on the assembly line, helping to sharpen decision making and leading to significant improvements in overall efficiency. 

The right MES solution makes manufacturers more competitive, arming them with powerful data and insights needed to error-proof their processes. The result? Improved overall efficiency and enhanced product quality: two critical assets in the fight to maintain and gain market share. 

Without an MES, you’re operating half-blind, just guessing at what’s driving your quality and efficiency problems. With an MES solution, you’ll surely be surprised by what you’ll learn and the opportunities you’ll uncover.

Here’s an example we experienced at PINpoint. A top-tier global manufacturing customer thought they knew how much labor was being wasted, but they couldn’t measure it. Once MES software was implemented, they were shocked to discover that 32% of their labor was spent on non-value-add activities.

Want to learn more about all the ways PINpoint’s V5 MES solution can help you achieve manufacturing efficiency and excellence? Reach out now to arrange a demo!

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