I’m sure you know the feeling when you buy the latest smartphone. The shiny packaging. That new phone feel. The lightning fast performance. Expecting that it’ll have better internet connection, take better pictures, and have a much improved battery life! You’re excited to unbox it. But then, when you hold the phone, it’s much bigger than you expected, and it doesn’t fit in your pocket. When you switch it on, it seems too complicated to use. Even simple things like sending a text seems like an ordeal! Even though the phone cost more than your monthly mortgage, you decide it’s not worth it. So, continue using your old phone that you’re used to. Ultimately, there’s zero return on investment. Surprisingly, there are similarities between this example and when you purchase production control software.

After buying it, you may find the software is not providing the benefits you expected. Often, when this is the case, it’s because of some misconceptions or misleading information you’ve heard about how production control software can improve your business. Which creates unrealistic expectations about how it can work.  

Implementing a new production control system can have a far-reaching impact on your business. Other than the direct cost involved, you’ll certainly be conscious of the time and resources required to implement it. So, it’s an important decision to get right. Imagine you had to do it twice!  

So, let’s see how you can get it right. 

Using the correct tools is key 

When the incorrect tools are used, it’s inevitable things won’t go right! There’s a lot of systems labelled ‘production control software’, but many are actually ”lite ERP systems”. These will often do a job, but ultimately, they’re not designed for the task you’re trying to do. Unfortunately, while these tools might have the name brand that suggests high quality and reliable, systems that imitate something else rarely perform the job as well as the original. You need a production control system that has been crafted specially to improve your manufacturing environment. 

Let’s look at Fitfactory’s system for example. With features such as; automate paperwork from quotation to invoice, digitalise job card production and full traceability for ISO9001 and AS9100 compliance. We design our systems specifically to help manufacturing SMEs to improve their overall efficiency. 

We are digitalising the shop floors across the UK. 

We’ve been digitising complex business processes from manufacturing shop floors to the production offices for decades. Our production control software improves manufacturing efficiency and streamlines the production line. We’ve helped manufacturers across the UK realise the true value from their business by implementing a system suited to their niche requirements. Moreover, we understand that technology isn’t the only answer. Every business is a combination of people, processes and technology. So, we consider what is right for your business. 

“Excessive Dependence on Automation May be Dangerous” 

Many manufacturers believe that a production control system will accelerate production times and bring in more opportunities automatically after implementing it. However, success can only be achieved alongside your efforts. Therefore, the more you put in, the more you’ll get out. Let’s check the 3 major mistakes that prevent manufacturers from realising the desired returns on investment from a production control system: 

1. A Production control system will plan, track and schedule jobs

Many manufacturing managers have the misconception that a production control system can plan, track, schedule, and operate activities on the shop floor. But in reality, it’s planning software that performs these tasks. A production control system does some of this, but primarily, it is used to gain better control of production activities, automate paperwork generation from quote to invoice, and improve inventory & resource management. Furthermore, a Shop Floor Data Capture system collects real-time information of activities on the shop floor. However, it needs to be tied into the production control system to do so – otherwise, you could not allocate jobs or operations for them to complete (resulting in the system being useless). 

Ultimately, implementing a production control system without knowing how it’s actually going to provide benefits is much like buying a car without being able to drive! From the functional point of view, the car will work fine but you won’t be able to reach any destination until you know how to drive it. 

Learn more about what production control systems can do.  

2. The system will automatically make improvements to your business 

It’s true that a production control system will streamline and automate key parts of your production control process. However, once it’s set up is when you can really start to use it to drive continuous improvements.  

Because production control systems digitally map your production process, they capture a lot of data. Capturing data is one of the first steps to improving performance, but capturing data alone won’t improve your business performance. There’s much more to it. Additionally, you may not be an expert at interpreting data and creating beautiful graphs and charts.

However, you understand your business and the goals you are working to achieve. To help you get the most out of any technology you need to know what KPIs to track and monitor to help you make important decisions about your business. If you approach the purchase with this in mind, you can make sure that the solution you’re buying is able to give you this information, which will help you gain value from your system. 

“Be Patient. Great Things Take Time”  

However, this isn’t the time to be gung-ho. Attacking all fronts at once to improve efficiency can actually have a detrimental effect. Some disciplined analysis will help you to pinpoint priority areas and quick wins. By starting from the highest priority area of the production line and working through, you can make gradual improvements that help you improve over time. Remember – It’s not a one-day process, it’ll take time! 

Check out Fitfactory’s Digital Fitness Assessment for help identifying where to start your digital transformation.  

3. Not following through the data provided by the Production Control Solution 

Most workshops and factories are quite similar when we talk about data. You have probably seen noticeboards laden with charts and tables in factories. This data is recorded and reported faithfully, but unfortunately, often left untapped. 

There’s no point in taking the time to collect data if you have no plans to act on it! Let’s look at an example: 

A mobile phone company is introducing a new phone to the market. They do significant research, and learn which features and designs their customers want. However, they believe they know best. So, they ignore the research and develop the new features they want to build. Of course, they might be correct – but it’s very finger in the air! The more likely outcome, is that they will continue to deliver great products with amazing features that simply don’t sell, because they don’t fit the market.

In fact, their competitors might introduce a new mobile phone with fewer features, but customers are more drawn to it, because it fits their needs better. Ultimately, the competitor may have collected the same data, but acted on it better, resulting in improved profits. 

Similarly, a production control system will provide you with all necessary information, but until you use that information to bring changes in your manufacturing environment, nothing will improve. At the end of the day, you will say your system has not delivered the promised ROI, but it can only do so much on its own. 

Tricorn Production Control Software Dashboard on Fitfactory Business Intelligence
Visualise production KPIs in simple, elegant dashboards

Putting it all together 

So, hopefully, after reading this blog, you will have a better idea of what to look for in a production control system, how to avoid mistakes, and how it will help you realise the return on investment. Certainly, an investment in a production control system is rarely wasted. 

To find out how to implement production control software successfully, speak to a member of our team today. 

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