iBase-t Hosts 5th Webinar Presented by the MOM Institute: Pick the Right Metrics for MES Success

iBase-t Hosts 5th Educational Webinar Presented by the MOM Institute: Pick the Right Metrics for MES Success
WHAT: This webinar examines what metrics should be considered as part of implementing and maintaining a Manufacturing Execution System, or MES. Different metrics should be identified, depending upon the lifecycle stage of your deployment. Pick the right metrics for MES success to gain stakeholder acceptance and justify future investment to gain the full scope of possible performance improvements. 

WHO: Jan Snoeij, President and Sr. Business Consultant at the Manufacturing Operations Management Institute (MOMi), will lead the discussion on this topic. Drawing upon his many years of experience, he will provide thoughtful insights on how and what to measure as part of evaluating the success of a Manufacturing Execution (MES), Quality Management (QMS) or Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul (MRO) System in the context of a digitalization transformation strategy. Jan is actively involved in MESA International as a member of the International Board and various working groups.

WHERE: Watch here: https://info.ibaset.com/on-demand-webinar-pick-the-right-metrics-for-mes-success 

WHEN: Live 30-minute broadcast will occur on Wednesday, March 10 from 8:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. PDT / 11:00 – 11:30 EDT.

About iBase-t
iBase-t is a leading provider of manufacturing, quality and MRO solutions that enable digital continuity across the enterprise. With 30+ years of experience in highly engineered, regulated industries, iBase-t simplifies the complex by empowering customers to gain real-time visibility, take control, and drive velocity across operations. The iSeries, powered by Solumina, has a cloud-native microservices architecture with open APIs that extends a digital ecosystem to drive innovation, simplify hardware and software systems integration, and deploy advanced technologies. iBase-t works closely with many industry leaders, including Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Rolls Royce, Pratt & Whitney, and Textron. Learn more at iBase-t.com

Understand the Opportunity Cost (Risk) of Deferring an MES Software Upgrade

Understand the Opportunity Cost (Risk) of Deferring an MES Upgrade
While the field of Economics is largely theoretical, many concepts can help quantify difficult decisions. Opportunity cost is a great example. You can apply this methodology to better understand the full impact of considering a purchase of a Manufacturing Execution System or MES. Sometimes competing priorities can make this purchase difficult to justify. Those managing manufacturing operations might think it better to delay an MES Software upgrade, especially if their existing solution provider promises great things will be available in five years if they wait. Understanding the opportunity cost or risk of deferring an MES Software upgrade, however, might lead you to a different conclusion. 

What is an Opportunity Cost?

To start this discussion, let’s define “opportunity cost.” Wikipedia states that “Opportunity cost is the loss or the benefit that could have been enjoyed if the alternative choice was chosen.” So, with every decision you make there are two repercussions: What directly results from making that decision, and what indirectly results, as a cost of not doing an alternative decision. 

For example, if you chose to purchase a Tesla today, you likely will pay a higher price than another comparable, less luxurious car today. But, as part of that decision, you will pay less for gasoline and maintenance costs, will generate less pollution, and could benefit from a lower depreciation rate than a traditional new vehicle. In this case, choosing the alternative decision might have cost you more money in the long run, despite paying a higher up-front cost. The point is to consider the costs and benefits of making a decision and doing the alternative when making an important decision.

The Risk or Cost of Deferring the Reward of an MES Software Purchase or Upgrade

Let us now apply the concept of opportunity cost to an MES purchase or upgrade. To illustrate, I’ll present two scenarios: 

  • Manufacturer Alpha – has an existing set of manufacturing systems that work fine but have not been upgraded in ten years. The Alpha team knows they need to do a refresh. They plan to wait five more years, at which point they will buy a new system from their existing supplier, which has promised will be ready by that time.
  • Manufacturer Beta – has the same system as the Alpha team, operates in the same industry, and sells to the same customers … but they decide to invest today in a new MES instead of waiting five years. 


Here are the assumptions used in this scenario:

  • The MES project is part of a broader digital transformation strategy, with executive buy-in
  • The MES deployment time takes one year before fully functional across all plants
  • The MES Software chosen by the Beta team has a microservices architecture, so can be incrementally improved over time as often as needed 
  • All necessary resources are available to complete the current install or future upgrades
  • The economy does not enter a substantial recession for the five years of this analysis

The Reward of a New MES

The following benefits are assumed to be possible upon the successful implementation of a new MES:

  1. Customer Satisfaction Improves
  2. Employee Productivity Increases
  3. Business Process Efficiency Gains
  4. On-time Customer Delivery Improves
  5. Customer base increases, resulting in more profit

To quantify the value of the above benefits, let’s hypothetically assume a three percent improvement is possible on all metrics. With this logic, here is what could be the impact to the bottom line from the above metrics:

  1. Customer Satisfaction Improvement of 3% could yield lower turnover, customer acquisition, and support costs, saving the company 3% of total costs
  2. Employee Productivity Increase of 3% could translate into saving the company 3% of costs
  3. Business Process Efficiency Gain of 3% could translate into saving the company 3% of costs
  4. On-time Customer Delivery Improves customer satisfaction; for this analysis, we will assume these cost savings are already included above in #1
  5. Customer base increases, resulting in greater profitability; we’ll assume this is already included above

Based on the above assumptions, we have the potential of saving 3+3+3 or 9 percent of costs every year. With a one-year implementation timeframe, these savings could be captured for four years by the Beta team, once live. Then, the Alpha team will start their MES upgrade. Following their one-year implementation, the Beta team will capture a total of five years of cost savings of 9 percent a year before the Alpha team catches up, reflecting the opportunity cost that Alpha pays to defer their decision. 

Technology Obsolescence 

Meanwhile, Manufacturer Beta will have enjoyed up to 15 new product enhancements, feature additions, or performance upgrades. The reason is that every year Alpha is locked into their legacy MES, Beta gets upgraded three times a year, a benefit attributable to picking a new, modern MES solution. New product updates rolled out every three to four months create enormous value for Beta, helping to contribute to further economic benefits year after year. Even though the opportunity cost to Alpha for not capturing this benefit was not quantified in this analysis, there certainly is value. 

Read this related article, Reduce the Risk of an MES Deployment by Thinking like a Venture Capitalist

In conclusion, what should now be clear is that the decision to “do nothing” or defer the decision to upgrade an MES for five years has an opportunity cost tied to that choice. Depending upon the level of expected future benefits, these costs could be quite substantial. Manufacturers faced with a pending MES upgrade would be well advised to consider all opportunity costs before making their final decision. 

New Call-to-action

Avoid Technical Debt by Rationalizing Your IT/OT Architecture

Avoid Technical Debt by Rationalizing Your IT/OT EcosystemThe concept of technical debt was put forth almost thirty years ago. It describes a phenomenon in software programming whereby decisions made early in programming to simplify something or do a “quick fix” end up compounding into a complication later in a project that impacts performance. Think of technical debt like interest compounding on a credit card you seldom use, to then one day find out you owe a huge amount of deferred interest. Just as in the financial case, the more technical debt you incur and the longer you take to repay it due to compounding interest, the cost to dig yourself out of this debt can become unbearable. Similarly, keep these concepts in mind by rationalizing your IT/OT ecosystem. 

Originally technical debt was applied specifically to software development, but the concept has now been applied to other aspects of technology deployment. It is used to describe architectural problems, application portfolio issues, and a wide variety of other technology-related problems businesses face.

This article may be of interest: Why Now is the Time to Cut Technical Debt

Debt Isn’t Always a Bad Thing

Sometimes it makes sense to take on debt. Most people don’t wait to purchase a home until they can pay the full purchase price, so they take out a mortgage (debt). Likewise, in the technical sense, taking on debt can be a good decision as well. 

In the software development field, it makes sense to make a few code hacks to test out a user interface (UI) and get immediate feedback from some potential customers. But if you let those code hacks remain so you can get the product to market faster, the debt will ultimately come due as you try to support, maintain, and evolve the UI, potentially becoming unaffordable. 

It is like borrowing against your home for a grand “around the world” vacation and your debt exceeding the value of your home. Any change in circumstance and you might lose your home if you can’t pay back that debt.

How to Address IT/OT Architectural Technical Debt 

Considering the broader view of technical debt, there are several ways an enterprise can’t rationalize the technical debt they incur. Since complex discrete manufacturing and asset-intensive organizations, such as those operating in the aerospace, defense, or other industrial sectors have a mixed information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) architecture, they are often at risk from technical debt from an IT/OT architectural aspect. 

It can be easy to justify adding to your technical debt by allowing for an ad-hoc implementation of these types of technology solutions on a point basis, given the complexity that can surround a better designed and more costly solution. Alternatively, it can be easy to accept point solutions when trying to best operate a collection of systems that you may have “inherited” from a previous management team, or through a recent merger or acquisition.  

It is important to note that this is not a repudiation of a best-of-breed approach to systems and application selection. It is, though, a reminder that as with any choice, one should consider the technical debt that every decision carries. It is important to remember that a single-vendor approach carries technical debt as well since it ties you to the vendor’s pace of evolution and feature adoption.

A Well-Defined Ecosystem Reduces Debt

To minimize the technical debt associated with a multi-vendor environment that still retains your ability to migrate and evolve as technology and functional demands dictate, it is important to view your environment, not as a collection of independent solutions but rather as an ecosystem of interconnected parts that all work together. 

Biologically speaking, you would not expect flora and fauna found in a tropical rain forest to survive in a desert environment. Of course, you could spend an exorbitant amount to create tropical conditions, but that is the equivalent of incurring debt.

In the creation of your IT/OT ecosystem, it is equally important to select solutions that work together in your defined environment. Some key environmental factors that you should consider when defining your ecosystem are:

  • Supporting industry and corporate regulatory compliance
  • Ensuring adherence to appropriate safety and security standards 
  • Utilizing common technology and communication standards
  • Maintaining recognized user interface models and technologies
  • Designing for platform interoperability, such as common APIs, Cloud platform infrastructure, or interface support

Each industry may have additional environmental factors as will companies that may have corporate technology standards. Pick a set of suppliers that can exist in a compatible ecosystem to capture the benefits that a best-of-breed approach can deliver while minimizing the technical debt associated with a multi-vendor IT/OT architecture. 

New call-to-action

iBase-t Appoints Chief Customer Officer and Chief Financial Officer as Demand for Digital Transformation Accelerates

iBase-t Appoints Chief Customer Officer, Chief Financial Officer as Demand for Digital Transformation Accelerates

Scott Baril promoted to CCO to reinforce customer-centric strategic direction; Daniel de Haas promoted to CFO to ensure sufficient access to capital markets to fund expansion 

FOOTHILL RANCH, Calif. – Feb. 17, 2021 iBase-t, the company that simplifies how complex products are built and maintained, today announced it will strengthen its executive leadership by promoting Scott Baril to Chief Customer Officer and Daniel de Haas to Chief Financial Officer. 

Both positions are newly created roles designed to help the company exceed customer expectations and support strategic growth plans as iBase-t scales its recently launched Solumina iSeries that simplifies complex industrial manufacturing operations, enabled in large part with its innovative, microservices-based architecture. These new additions to the executive leadership team can help drive the company’s strategic direction forward as the industry accelerates the deployment of digital transformation solutions.

“The push for digital continuity across manufacturing operations has dramatically increased since the onset of the pandemic. These individuals have shown remarkable leadership and adaptability – two attributes that will strengthen our executive team to help keep pace with recent growth,” said Naveen Poonian, CEO, iBase-t. “We remain committed to exceeding our customers’ expectations as they recognize the need to go paperless with new digital solutions.”

Scott Baril brings 20+ years of professional services and supply chain management experience and will play an important role in managing and elevating the overall customer experience at iBase-t.

“iBase-t has a long history and outstanding reputation in delivering business value to a range of complex manufacturing customers,” said Baril. “I am excited to be in this role at such a pivotal time in the market. I am confident we can scale our customer base and continue to expand on the manufacturing expertise that iBase-t’s Professional Services consistently delivers across the globe.”

Daniel de Haas brings 20+ years of international Accounting, Controlling, and Finance leadership from public Fortune-500 and privately held distribution and manufacturing companies. As CFO, he will focus on managing the company’s capital structure, cash flow, and sources of funds for growth.

“Having experienced hyper-growth in previous positions, I see many similarities in the market opportunity that iBase-t now faces,” said Daniel de Haas. “I am excited to provide the financial leadership to ensure the right investments are made to best grow our business.”

About iBase-t
iBase-t is a software company that simplifies how complex products are built and maintained. Founded in Southern California in 1986, iBase-t solutions ensure digital continuity across manufacturing, quality, and maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) operations on a global scale. The iSeries, powered by Solumina, is a cloud-native platform that establishes a digital ecosystem to drive innovation and improve operational performance. With offices in the U.S., UK, France, and India, iBase-t customers include Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Rolls Royce, Pratt & Whitney, and Textron. Learn more at iBase-t.com

Q&A on The Importance of Software Acceptance Testing Webinar

The theme of our fourth educational webinar, The Importance of End User Acceptance, was a reminder of how important it is to engage with those who will be using a Manufacturing Execution System (MES) or any other IT system as part of the implementation. This is a mindset that should be in place throughout the process of scoping, vendor selection, and training. It is easy to get caught up in features, functionalities, and integration requirements. But, without a clear focus on acceptance testing, it will be hard to justify the value and have any sort of long-term success. 

Register now to watch a recording of this acceptance testing presentation.

At the end of the MOM Institute’s presentation, there were several questions raised – plus others we didn’t have time to include in the original broadcast. Below is a summary of what was discussed.  Consider these as you manage your current and next systems implementation to achieve the greatest success! 

During the presentation it was mentioned how important it is to set up KPI metrics to measure the success of acceptance testing – can you share any?

This is a good question, but a difficult one to answer. One option is to ask users to sign off on their acceptance, but that is more theoretical. One approach is to match KPIs that track your progress, with the concept being that if you don’t achieve those progress checkpoints, the reasons is because of a lack of user acceptance. But, once again, this is probably more theoretical as there could be other reasons for not achieving this project based KPI metrics. Probably your best option is to do a series of interviews, just like you did at the start of the project when you defined its scope. Follow up interviews can then ask users if their needs have been met. Or, if not, identify the shortcomings and continue to address them until fixed. The key is opening and continuing with a line of communications that persists through the entire project, including post go-live. 

What are some techniques for managing changing business stakeholder requirements over a long implementation period?

To start, I’ll assume that your team of stakeholders has project insights that will progress over time. You undoubtedly have smart people who initially bought into the project. The best way to manage how this set of expectations will evolve over time is to manage this process with regular, effective communication. Your stakeholder team will have cycles and objectives of what they want to accomplish in the next 3, 5 or 7 years of time. Similarly, as we talked about with regular communications with end users, it is equally important to embrace this approach with the business stakeholders too. You need to manage perspective and adjust to maintain close alignment. 

Should my software vendor have representation on my manufacturing Center of Excellence team?

Yes. Not only for the duration of your project, but it would be a good idea to do so on a continuous basis, if possible. Vendors should be partners to work closely as part of your organization. During the time while you are working on the project and deploying the software, of course, it is a great idea to have a vendor expert on your team. They are the subject matter expert on the best way to use their software, how it works, and what other customers are doing. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Use them as an expert to help with both specific project initiatives as well as in the future on how to extract greater value from your investment. 

A comment came in from an attendee during the response to the above question. Their company has a change board approval committee, so all users and stakeholder review any changes to projects, to add structure to change management. This also helps with managing the possible “shiny new features” that can creep into a project to stay focused on what is most important and maintain alignment in the right project objectives. 

Read this article for further insights, Easing Change Management in Manufacturing 

I like this user-centric approach in viewing the Manufacturing IT design and deployment; in Software Development this is (part of it) specifically addressing UI/UX methodologies. Any comments?

This is a great analogy and has much relevance. In the same way that a software program is designed from the start to meet a challenge and deliver a user experience that is well thought out, intuitive, and easy to use, a successful software implementation should follow the same steps. While no one will likely argue with this type of logic, it is easy to get distracted or too focused on one component of a project or software release. Taking a step back and realizing that nothing else really matters in the broader scope of the project without the right UI/UX to ensure user needs are met.

New Call-to-action

5 Benefits of the IIoT in Manufacturing

5 Ways the IIoT has Changed Manufacturing

After years of promises and potential, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is finally, truly here. The IIoT was initially touted as having the potential to impact every industry in the world, driving the next leap forward in productivity. Often these claims fall short over time – the opposite may be the case. The IIoT has changed manufacturing and continues to do so as we’ll explore in this article. 

The World of Smart Devices

We all carry our smartphones everywhere we go now, and it seems normal. Just watch an old movie and be reminded of the challenge of making a phone call when no public options existed. More than just being a phone, these devices are multi-functional, reminding us of appointments, telling us where we parked our car, and be updating us on late-breaking news stories.

What creates the value with each of these devices people carry is the intelligence that is provided based on data collected. Now, this is true with every device and piece of equipment on the factory floor. What has made this digital transformation possible is the investment manufacturers have made in enterprise systems to collect, process, and distribute data. Systems such as Manufacturing Execution (MES), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), and others can now share data with people, processes, and equipment with greater ease and efficiency.

On the topic of Digital Transformation, this article may be of interest: 5 Ways to Measure Success in Digital Transformation

All the pieces are in place. Everything and everybody is increasingly connected, or soon will be. The question is, how will you make the most of that connectivity? 

5 Ways the IIoT Has Changed Manufacturing

  1. Increase the value of automation. Robots and smart equipment are everywhere in manufacturing – there is a significant opportunity to create greater value with the IIoT. On the simplest level, smart machinery can send a wealth of information to systems like MES to perform quality analyses to drive performance improvement in processes and products. But we can take this further. Imagine a factory where all the automated devices are interconnected in a live network, sharing real-time data about events, which could then trigger activities and alert workers, all in real-time. A robot on a production line can improve the efficiency of that line, but robots communicating as part of a larger system can improve an entire factory or even an enterprise.
  2. Streamline key operations. Practices like Lean manufacturing, demand-driven production, and Just-in-Time inventory replenishment have been around for years, but they have become much more realistic and practical with the IIoT. For example, production line equipment can send triggers to the warehouse, where automated carts can find and load smart pallets and then deliver them where they’re needed, automatically. This process, in turn, can signal the inventory system to order replacement supplies, and so on. With the IIoT, this kind of complex chain of actions can be initiated, tracked, and completed without any human involvement unless needed.
  3. Reduce production downtime. Breakdowns, parts shortages, accidents – many things can throw a monkey wrench into your production plan. The IIoT can help you respond to these events swiftly and efficiently, such as by having equipment send immediate alerts to maintenance teams, who can then use IIoT connectivity to identify and find the tools and information they need. Gong a step further, the IIoT can take predictive maintenance to a new level. Sensors can collect data from your machines by using vibrational, acoustic, infrared, or many other multi-dimensional methods to warn of machine failures before they happen. When properly harnessed through the IIoT, predictive maintenance can help make machine downtime a thing of the past.
  4. Enhance the customer experience. The IIoT allows you to stay connected to your customer, even after the product is in their hands. This is achieved by using data collection to see the performance in real-life action. You could send repair instructions directly to the customer through an app on their smartphone. You could drive sales and marketing opportunities by seeing exactly how your product is used. If you have digitalized your MRO (Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul) system, you have a much more comprehensive view into operations status, repair history, and the like, which can then be fed back into your MES or other systems for continuous improvement. The possibilities are endless, and they all result in a stronger, closer relationship with your customers.
  5. Completing the Digital Thread. A modern Digital Thread can greatly benefit from IIoT infrastructure. Using the IIoT data at every stage of the product lifecycle, will help you to correct and optimize the design and quality of your product. If you’re dealing with a complex and highly engineered product that is subject to frequent Engineering Change Orders (ECOs) during production, a Digital Thread can maintain uptime and optimize production processes by quickly sending updated, step-by-step instructions to technicians. A complete Digital Thread is the best way to deliver the best product at the fastest rate possible, made possible by the Industrial Internet of Things, among other factors.

This is just a high-level snapshot of the IIoT’s impact on modern industrial operations. The IIoT has changed the landscape manufacturers operate in. More importantly, it has raised expectations on what data can be made available to support intelligent decision support. That “Jeanie” is now out of the bottle with no turning back!

The cost of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and automation are declining with their abilities and connectivity quickly increasing. Those that have/are investing in building out their digital infrastructure will be able to take advantage of and harness this intelligence and connectivity with the greatest potential for performance improvement. As part of this planning, it will be necessary to have sufficiently flexible systems to accommodate the continued growth and innovation that is expected to continue. The IIoT is no longer a distant promise for the future. It’s here today. And, it’s one more reason to embrace digital transformation in your manufacturing enterprise.

New call-to-action

Defining the Right Manufacturing Metrics is the First Step to Proving the Benefits of MES

Defining the Right MES Metric is the First Step to Proving the Benefits

I am a big fan of the quote “if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” While there is some controversy on who originally said it, its message still holds true today. Imagine trying to improve your health by lowering your blood pressure if you had no way to measure your blood pressure! It would be a difficult proposition. The same holds true with a Manufacturing Execution System (MES) investment. If you don’t pick the right MES metric to measure performance, you can’t possibly improve it.

Many businesses continue to struggle with business process and performance improvement, especially when implementing new technology projects. This shortcoming has been exasperated by the fourth industrial revolution, commonly referred to as “Industry 4.0.” This whole movement is led by the need to access more data with greater context and accuracy to then help drive decision support and performance improvement. 

A successful MES implementation is more than picking the right technology, as explained here, Fostering Culture Change with MES to a Enable Digital Transformation Framework.

It is a commonly cited statistic that anywhere from 50% to 70% of digital transformation projects fail today. And, unfortunately, many of those projects often include MES implementation or expansion projects. So, what can be done to help overcome this problem? 

Here are three possible MES metrics that businesses could be pursuing, but for one reason or another, are doing wrong:

  • Measuring things that the MES project can’t impact
  • Measuring the wrong things to determine project success
  • Using outdated metrics that don’t reflect Industry 4.0 performance

The best way to define and then capture the benefits of an Industry 4.0 driven MES project is first identify the right MES metric that aligns with the project goals. Then, put in place the right measurement and reporting methodologies that allow you to drive the continuous improvement efforts that will deliver those benefits.

Know Which Improvements an MES Project Can Drive

Digital transformation often promises to deliver a wide range of benefits such as better customer satisfaction, reduced manufacturing costs, higher productivity, or even an ability to shift to an “as-a-service” business model. Many times, however, MES projects are bundled with a broader digital transformation project to make it easier to secure funding and/or obtain the necessary resources and staff to implement. 

This can pose the risk of setting false expectations. MES projects, while being supportive of the types of benefits described above, generally cannot drive them without having access to other systems, data, or staffing to bring the entire digital transformation project together. MES, by its nature, is about manufacturing execution. The benefits that MES drives are more precisely stated as building it right the first time, ensuring the right people are doing the right things, and ensuring everything associated with building or producing a product is properly captured and documented. While all these benefits certainly have an impact on enabling broader-scale business benefits such as improving customer satisfaction or facilitating a transition to an “as-a-service” business model, they can’t cause it as a standalone investment.

Do the RIGHT Measurement

As I stated at the start of this article, you must measure something if you want it to improve. If you are trying to lose weight, you must step on a scale occasionally. You could measure your waste size and if it is decreasing, assume you are losing weight but if your loss is being driven by an aggressive exercise program you may be losing inches but gaining weight since muscle is denser than fat. 

Likewise, if your justification for an MES project is that you will improve production efficiency and product build quality and you measure first-pass-yield (FPY) and total production volume per shift as the only key performance indicator (KPI) metric for MES success, then you may struggle to prove MES value. 

One possible outcome is that after the initial MES implementation led to a greatly improved FPY – but at the cost of reduced productivity. Greater focus on FPY could have a repercussion of implementing new work processes to drive quality improvement. It is important to have the right MES metrics, and then over time, adjust them as the implementation progresses and other components of your overall Industry 4.0 strategy are executed.

Industry 4.0 & Digital Transformation Needs New MES Metrics

Finally, today’s manufacturing performance metrics are based on today’s manufacturing models and the current level of technology. In quality, a primary metric is FPY. It is often what business process improvement projects use as a KPI. But consider that in an I4.0 world where artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) can provide preemptive guidance such that FPY yield approaches 100%, FPY as performance metric becomes less valuable. An alternative metric such as “mean time between quality alerts” or “severity-frequency index of quality alerts” might be a much better metric of quality performance.  

There are numerous other examples of next-generation metrics that need to emerge to better gauge business performance in an Industry 4.0 future. Basing your MES implementation on some of the right MES metric might prove your investment is more valuable than you originally thought.

New Call-to-action

iBase-t Launches eLearning University

iBase-t Launches eLearning University

Virtual training program eases customer on-boarding process, accelerates user adoption, and streamlines the implementation of iBase-t solutions by customers and partners.

FOOTHILL RANCH, Calif. – Feb. 4, 2021 iBase-t, the company that simplifies how complex products are built and maintained, today announced the launch of iBase-t University, a new eLearning, on-demand training curriculum. The program was designed to streamline and simplify the learning process of iBase-t solutions for customers, partners, and employees. This program includes eLearning courses focused on Solumina iSeries, the recently launched microservices-based manufacturing software solution that enables superior resilience and operational agility.

As a virtual eLearning platform, this role-based program provides 24/7 access to customers and partners transitioning to the new iSeries platform. Initial feedback has been positive, with recent graduates pointing to the benefit of engaging in training courses that are easy to navigate during a time that best fits with their schedule. 

“iBase-t University demonstrates our commitment to streamline the customer on-boarding process by simplifying how we educate our customers and partners – regardless of their time zone or location. This eLearning program empowers our customers and partners to use our software to its fullest potential right away, for a greater return on investment,” said Scott Baril, Chief Customer Officer, iBase-t. “Manufacturers increasingly operate in remote environments. The ability to train anytime, anywhere is critical for success.” 

iBase-t just announced Solumina MSE, a cloud-native Midsize Enterprise Solution based on Solumina iSeries, the companies a microservices-based Manufacturing Execution System (MES). Designed to be implemented without customization, deployment time and cost can be significantly reduced. iBase-t University complements this new offering as a highly scalable, low-cost training option to further simplify the management of shop floor operations. 

This new eLearning platform plays a critical role in providing a training platform for customers and partners to keep up with the pace of innovation that is part of the iSeries.

About iBase-t
iBase-t is a software company that simplifies how complex products are built and maintained. Founded in Southern California in 1986, iBase-t solutions ensure digital continuity across manufacturing, quality, and maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) operations on a global scale. The iSeries, powered by Solumina, is a cloud-native platform that establishes a digital ecosystem to drive innovation and improve operational performance. With offices in the U.S., UK, France, and India, iBase-t customers include Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Rolls Royce, Pratt & Whitney, and Textron. Learn more at iBase-t.com

Easing Change Management in Manufacturing

Changing How Manufacturers Manage Change

Enterprise software is different from other corporate investments in one important way. When you build new manufacturing plants or buy a fleet of trucks, you expect them to last for years in their current condition without major changes. You service and maintain your assets, of course, but you don’t expect to install new engines in your trucks or replace your production-line robots every 6 months. Change management in manufacturing is difficult when producing highly engineering and regulated products.

Updates and new versions are frequently required on a regular basis to address issues, fix problems, provide new functionality, or just to keep up with the latest hardware devices. This is further complicated by the fact that enterprise IT systems, such as a Manufacturing Execution System (MES) that is (or should be) tightly integrated with other enterprise applications.

Change management in an MES has a ripple effect on these other systems, such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) systems. And, as these other systems require to change themselves, this adds further complexity. Add in all the special use applications, and you can see why just keeping everything actively interconnected is a daunting change management challenge. And all this is in addition to the change involved in deploying a new system in the first place, which is often done for the express purpose of changing how people work, or at least how effectively they work.

Fortunately, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, thanks to new technologies and advances that have been made with enterprise software applications including migration to the cloud and other architecture updates, as explained below.

Three Ways to Ease Change Management in Complex Discrete Manufacturing

There’s no one way to address this issue, and what works for one manufacturer may not work for another. Nonetheless, here are three key factors you should seriously consider, which in turn will heavily influence how well your software system can deal with change. Or, in the case of new purchases, are factors to consider when selecting your next manufacturing software purchase.

1. Deployment Options. Does the software you are considering give you the option to use with 80% or more of the required functionality already pre-configured? Or, is it more of a toolkit? Here is where the concept of customization vs. configuration comes into play. If you need to make a change, is it a custom change that will cause problems the next time you do a version update? Or, is it a configuration option that can easily be retained on a go forward basis? Continuing with this theme, can you run it on a secure cloud or on premise, or both? Options like these allow you to plan a deployment strategy that best meets your resources and goals while reducing possible disruption on your users or operations the next time a change is required. The more flexibility you have today, the easier it will be to adapt to future modifications, often unforeseen at the time of your original purchase. 

2. Modular Architecture. Can you configure your enterprise system the way you want to? Can you update it without impacting other functions or departments? Can you add just the new features you need today, and do so on your own time schedule? These factors have recently become a greater concern after having lived through the prior year where change and disruption were nearly constant. Borrowing a technology from other dynamic software industries, manufacturers have discovered the benefits of a microservices architecture to address this challenge. This architecture, which is inherently modular, makes everything easier, ranging from putting together the system you want now, to changing it in the future. You can choose to update only the features you want as they become available, about as easily as adding apps to your phone. More importantly, modularity also makes it easier for vendors to develop and add new capabilities to your system, helping you to stay on the leading edge of change instead of lagging behind.

3. Open Digital Ecosystem. Does the solution you are considering support an open architecture to ease how systems interoperate and data is shared? Not naming names here … but, we all know of at least one vendor that has chosen to block this important capability in the interest of self-preservation. This decision often leads to issues in the future when change must happen but is blocked by a lack of open interoperability. The use of an open Application Programming Interface (API) can make a big difference on maintaining integration as individual software applications are upgraded or changed. Support for all popular user devices is especially important and can help drive user acceptance and productivity. More broadly, you’ll want solutions that have been designed from the start to be part of an open digital ecosystem – this will be essential if you want to keep up with advancing technologies. 

All three of these points can be reduced to just one word: Choices. If you have the choice to deploy, to update, and to link to the rest of the world based on your needs vs. your vendor’s decision to try and lock in customer loyalty, then you will be well positioned to manage change. Ask the right questions about your choices in these three areas, and you’ll take much of the pain out of future change management with better and more options.

New Call-to-action