Why Connected Workers Are Vital to Mid-Sized Manufacturers

The National Association of Manufacturers has forecast that more than 2 million manufacturing jobs will go unfilled by the end of this decade.  This was as of May 2021, and current supply chain and labor shortage issues are likely to accelerate this trend.  Bearing the brunt of this will be the small to medium-sized manufacturers, as they compete against larger enterprises better positioned to outbid them for skilled resources.  This has been one of the reasons so many small to mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) are looking to digital transformation as a way to remain competitive.  Taking the initial steps toward digital transformation is not complicated, but many tier-two/three manufacturers are not leveraging their most important assets fully.  Connected workers are more productive, more engaged, and less likely to seek other employment.

Gen Z and Millennials Value Technology

The current turnover in the workforce is being led by Gen Z and millennial workers.  These workers are also referred to as the iGeneration (iGen) or those who have always had access to the internet.  They are the very definition of connected individuals.  They have been shunning manufacturing jobs in particular because they are seen as being low-tech.  A recent study by Deloitte has some encouraging news but manufacturing is still not seen as a truly innovative industry.  To attract younger workers, and compete against the tier one manufacturers, mid-sized manufacturers need to step up their technology profile.

Connected workers are the key to creating an engaged workforce.  It has been long recognized that when workers are engaged, they are more productive.  The COVID pandemic challenged many businesses in trying to keep their workforce engaged as service and white-collar jobs shifted to remote work.  Manufacturers, however, usually had their employees on-site as remote work wasn’t an option, so they may feel that engagement was easily retained.  The reality is that for the Gen Z and millennial workers engagement is more about connectivity than physical presence.

Leveraging the Connected Worker

Besides the direct benefits of the connected worker, mid-sized manufacturers can realize additional returns by connecting workers digitally.  Gen Z and millennial workers are collaborative by nature.  Being part of the IGen, they expect to be able to interact with peers to test out ideas and seek input as to decisions they need to make.  Bringing that model into the workplace, albeit in a controlled mechanism, such as a digital manufacturing operations platform with collaborative features, can result in more innovation.  These iGen workers place a high priority on sustainability, diversity, and inclusion as well and businesses that can attract and retain iGen workers will likely see improvement in these areas as they leverage connectivity tools in the workplace.

The greatest benefit of the connected worker is the ability to leverage key skills across the business, both geographically and vertically within the enterprise to drive process improvement.  With the remainder of 2022 and 2023 looking to face continuing critical labor shortages, businesses need to leverage every worker to the fullest.  Connected workers are the best hedge against turnover and ongoing labor shortages.  Invest in a digital technologies that facilitate collaboration by connecting workers to ensure not just survival but profitability as a small or mid-sized manufacturer.

Gartner Magic Quadrant

Razorleaf Partners with iBase-t to Drive Manufacturing Transformation

Collaboration expands product and service portfolio for both organizations to support Industry 4.0 initiative

Lake Forest, Calif. – June 22, 2022Razorleaf Corporation, a consulting and systems integrator specializing in product life cycle management (PLM), today announced a new strategic partnership with iBase-t, the company that simplifies how complex products are built and maintained, to drive digital transformation for manufacturers to more effectively bring new products to market.

The partnership brings together two established leaders in manufacturing transformation to offer strategic consulting, deployment, and technical services built around iBase-t’s Solumina iSeries platform, an industry-leading software solution that simplifies how complex manufacturing, quality, and MRO processes are managed and improved to support Industry 4.0 strategies.

“Razorleaf’s expertise in Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) and Integration represents an expansion of our customer value,” said Daniel Flick, VP of Global Alliances, iBase-t. “PLM data is fundamental to complex manufacturing operations, which rely on accurate, real-time engineering and production specifications. Successful Industry 4.0 initiatives drive the highest value when enabling a consistent digital thread across disparate systems. Razorleaf shares our vision to support product and operations innovation and help manufacturers accomplish their digital transformation initiatives.”

“Our iBase-t partnership expands our application and technical expertise beyond PLM and Integration to encompass MES, MRO and Supply Chain — which is a natural progression of how manufacturers are evolving their product processes into manufacturing,” said Razorleaf CEO Eric Doubell. “This partnership opens new opportunities for our global clients who are considering expanding smart manufacturing initiatives to embrace the shop floor, supply chain and MRO. We look forward to working closely with iBase-t and delivering success for their customers.”

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, Honeywell Aerospace, Rolls Royce, Pratt & Whitney, and Textron.

About Razorleaf

Founded in 2000, Razorleaf is a consulting & systems integrator with specialized expertise in PLM. We are focused on helping manufacturing organizations connect products and processes across the digital enterprise to drive more value from the innovation process. Led by a highly skilled and seasoned team of experts across the United States and Europe, Razorleaf transforms businesses by offering comprehensive consulting and implementation services focused on managing the digital thread across the product life cycle and supply chain. For more information, visit http://www.razorleaf.com.

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.

Media Contacts

For Razorleaf:

Juliann Grant, VP of Marketing

330-676-0022 x7151

[email protected]

For iBase-t:

Tom Hennessey, CMO

(949) 958-5200

[email protected]

Cloud-based Manufacturing Operations Can Accelerate Your Digital Transformation

Manufacturers, particularly small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), are embracing the concept of digital transformation more than ever before.  Consulting companies, the media, analyst firms, software and technology providers, and even business-academic institutions like HBR and MIT Sloan are continually providing reasons manufacturers need to “go digital”.

Case studies provide benefit examples ranging from productivity gains (some significant) to business saving realignments that rescue a struggling SME.  Business leadership is inundated with suggestions on what to do to transform their business but many fail to make any significant gains.  Often it is because they are making a fatal flaw in their approach to digital transformation.  It may be thinking too big, too small, or simply tackling the wrong opportunity.  For SMEs that are part of a manufacturing value chain, one of the projects that offer the most impact when trying to transform your business is your operational technology. Notably, technologies applied to the execution of your manufacturing operations should be addressed.  Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) can impact productivity, quality, on-time performance, safety and reliability, and even your ESG performance.

You may have considered upgrading your home-grown MES to kick-start your Digital Transformation.  But, for many SMEs, the fear of tackling a project they believe is “too large” like an MES modernization keeps manufacturers from taking the critical steps forward.

So, what are ways manufacturers can simplify the digital modernization of their operations?

Cloud Manufacturing Can De-Risk MES Projects

A properly architected Cloud-based MES has multiple attributes.  Here are four of the most critical:

  1. A modular, microservices architecture
  2. Multi-cloud capabilities
  3. Value-based licensing
  4. World-class functionalities

While intuitively it would seem functionality should be first on the list, for many enterprises leveraging that functionality will be a long journey and the first three recommendations are what will make that journey so much easier.

Microservices are essential to any modern Cloud-based solution.  MES solutions built using a modular, microservices architecture provide SMEs two critical benefits: the ability to implement functionality incrementally, and a  transparent ability to upgrade..  This means you can adopt MES capabilities when and where most needed without having to do big-bang projects.  It also means you can expect the MES software to evolve to meet regulatory requirements and market best practices.

Multi-cloud capabilities mean you won’t be tied to a specific platform.  As an SME you may normally consider Microsoft your platform of choice and want to use Azure.  However, if your customers are operating in a secure AWS environment, you may find that to be the way to deploy your MES capabilities as they relate to them.  Not being constrained to one platform gives you the flexibility to serve your customers in an environment that works for both of you.

Of course, the two options above are meaningless unless you can afford to make the move to the Cloud.  All major Cloud platforms offer usage-based pricing but not all MES vendors do.  You want a solution provider who recognizes that you may not need or be able to use every feature and function they offer and will let you subscribe based on what you need.  Think of the streaming model instead of a massive cable bill for dozens of channels you will never watch.  Your MES provider should allow you to license by users and the features they need.

Finally, microservice-based solutions are one of the best ways to ensure the vendor not only currently delivers world-class functionality but can continue to provide it in the future.  At the same time, if the vendor lacks a few world-class capabilities today, it should not be an impediment to engaging with them provided you are convinced their strategic vision matches your and the industry’s needs.  If they are based on a microservices architecture, they can introduce new capabilities in a seamless fashion so those capabilities will be ready when you need them.

The “Do Nothing” Option isn’t Free

Many SMEs, when faced with complex and costly options to move forward, do nothing to avoid failure.  The problem with that approach is that while there is no direct outlay, the opportunity costs are often what sink the business.  When a competitor can outprice you, deliver higher quality, deliver sooner or provide a more sustainable product than you, ultimately you will lose business.  Look to the Cloud to accelerate your ability to make the Digital Transformation moves that will make your business successful.

UK Digital Manufacturing Productivity Report

3D Printing in Medical Devices: Leveraging a Digital Manufacturing Partner

When you think of a hospital printing organ implants and creating custom joint replacements in a matter of hours, you might be picturing a scene decades from now. Thanks to 3D printing, that reality is only a handful of years away.

This is just one example of the potential impact of 3D printing. From one-of-a-kind human joints to mass-produced customized prosthetics, 3D printing could revolutionize medical device manufacturing. In the FDA’s own words: “When it comes to 3D printing, you might say that the future is already here.”

What makes 3D printing so different? What are the possibilities in the medical device industry? And why do manufacturers need digital tools like a Manufacturing Execution System (MES) to be successful?

The Advantages of Additive

3D printing in manufacturing, also called additive manufacturing, is becoming a key component of agile production in life sciences. Few industries require the level of customization that medical devices often involve, and 3D printing can be the right tool to create one-of-a-kind devices for a wide variety of applications.

3D printing allows designers to make changes without the need to set up additional equipment or tools. Designs can originate from many sources, the most common being CAD drawings or MRIs. This level of flexibility has enabled medical manufacturers to make unique prosthetics, implants, and more that are matched to a patient’s specific anatomy. The ability to make these unique devices helps doctors and surgeons treat their patients more effectively, and can save money for the manufacturer.

State of the Business

The current administration’s new package of aid for the nation’s manufacturing Small to Mid-sized enterprises, called Additive Manufacturing Forward, intends to promote innovation and the adoption of additive manufacturing to address several problems – including blocked supply chains and off-shored manufacturing jobs. . As with other manufacturing equipment, the FDA regulates the medical devices being produced, but does not regulate 3D printers themselves. This means that manufacturers can use 3D printing anywhere they see fit, but they must meet the regulatory standards for the finished product and adhere to current, good manufacturing processes. The FDA maintains an active web page to promote knowledge and collaboration in 3D printing research and development, which you can link to here.

In some applications, the 3D printer is the production line by itself, meaning that the product can be made solely from raw goods and 3D printers. In other applications, a product might be produced by standard production means, then customized by including a 3D printed part. This allows easy and rapid customization within a production line.

Examples of 3D Printing Applications

  • Surgical instruments: hemostats, scalpel handles, medical clamps, forceps, retractors, and more; 3D printers can produce virtually every tool surgeons need for an operation. (source)
  • Bioprinting living organs and tissue: “Bioprinting” is the process of depositing living cells into specific shapes to form tissues and organs. The cells used in this process can be taken directly from the patient, reducing the chance of their body rejecting the implant. (source)
  • Orthopedic implants: 3D printing has the potential to revolutionize the experience of patients healing from joint replacements or broken bones. The benefits are similar to prosthetics, in that they can be customized to fit the patient’s unique shape. (source)
  • Anatomical models: MRI and CT scans can be processed, modeling the patient’s anatomy and converting the files to an STL format to be printed. They can be used simply for educational purposes, or for more specialized uses. 3D printed models of a patient’s anatomy gives doctors a finely detailed, holistic understanding of their patient’s health. For surgeons, these models can improve their preoperative planning and lead to a better overall result. (source)

The Role of Manufacturing Execution Systems in 3D Printing

The FDA requires manufacturers to manage and track all related operations around the 3D printer, including raw materials. In an industry so complex and regulated, manufacturers will need digital systems like MES to stay in control. This is especially so in a hybrid production environment that combines conventional manufacturing with additive manufacturing.

According to leading 3D printer marketplace Aniwaa, manufacturers often struggle to exploit the full potential of their hardware. This is because they “have not efficiently organized their AM production workflow: information moves awkwardly from one system to another, machines operate with half-empty print beds, and finished parts are slow to reach their final destination.”

These are exactly the details that a Manufacturing Execution System (MES) is designed to manage and coordinate. 3D printing is inherently digital, typically originating from CAD designs. MES extends that digital capability across all processes, enabling manufacturers to manage, standardize, and track production down to the precise level required for the most complex medical devices. 


We’re only at the dawn of 3D printing in medical devices, but the advantages are so great that the field is growing fast. Top medical innovators plan to integrate 3D printing into their production throughout the next decade. In order for manufacturers to manage and regulate these applications, they will need an MES that is agile and easy to integrate not only with 3D printers but with other production-related systems and even external suppliers and partners.

The medical device industry will look very different 10 years from now, led by innovative technologies such as 3D printing. Is your organization ready to join the frontier of medical innovation? Find out how an MES will give you the competitive edge to lead in this industry.

Gartner Magic Quadrant

3 Ways Digital Systems Can Boost Manufacturing Productivity

As the UK emerges from the pandemic, there has never been a more important time to relinquish paper-based systems and spreadsheets and leverage the power of digital technologies to gain a productivity advantage in manufacturing.

Our new Digital Manufacturing Productivity report, supported by the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC), reveals that 94% of highly engineered industrial UK manufacturers believe a lack of digital investment has caused UK manufacturing to fall behind the US. In fact, legacy systems were called out as being a bigger productivity blocker than Brexit, resulting in a significant loss in sales for more than half of respondents.

Manufacturing accounts for 18% of UK GDP, and with UK manufacturers involved in some of the most complex nuclear and space initiatives in the world, it’s alarming to think that state-of-the art projects are potentially being run by spreadsheets. A staggering 95% of manufacturers are still using paper-based processes, while 50% use manual spreadsheets for the majority of processes.

With digitisation as the foundation for future competitiveness, our report is “a wake-up call for all of us who want to see the UK manufacturing sector thrive in the years to come,” says Dr. Clive Hickman OBE, FREng, Chief Executive of the Manufacturing Technology Centre.

While the UK has some catching up to do, companies all around the world have been sluggish to adopt new technologies. For organisations ready to act now, here are three ways investing in digital systems can boost UK manufacturing productivity: 

1. Speeding up manufacturing 

A lack of digital maturity is slowing manufacturers down. Of the companies we surveyed that have implemented Industry 4.0 and smart factory technologies in response to the pandemic and social distancing rules, more than two-thirds (68%) said this made them more productive, and more than half (51%) said it made their business more agile.

2. Reducing costly mistakes 

The wrong tools for the job at best cause inefficiencies and lead to mistakes, at worst, can result in failed projects and leaders losing their jobs. It’s almost ten years since spreadsheet errors contributed to JP Morgan Chase losing $6 billion in the London Whale incident. In the manufacturing industry, this lack of digital maturity risks causes equally damaging outcomes.

3. Attracting the next generation of talent 

There is a consensus that it’s getting harder to attract people to work in UK manufacturing. Our report found that outdated technology is one of the top reasons for people exiting the industry. Not only will a lack of investment in digital systems damage short-term productivity, but the impact on talent pipelines and future leaders will also be to the detriment of future innovation and competitive advantage.

Even when the benefits of increased efficiency, productivity, and performance are compelling, change might seem daunting. However, manufacturers who are willing to adopt an innovative mindset and work with the specialist Manufacturing Execution Systems the industry needs as part of a long-term growth strategy will be the winners in the new manufacturing economy. 

For free access to the Manufacturing Productivity Report, please visit here. 

UK Digital Manufacturing Productivity Report

iBase-t Recognized as a Leader in the 2022 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Manufacturing Execution Systems

iBase-t Recognized as a Leader in the 2022 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Manufacturing Execution Systems

Lake Forest, Calif. – June 6, 2022 – iBase-t, the company that simplifies how complex products are built and maintained, has been positioned by Gartner as a Leader in the Magic Quadrant for Manufacturing Execution Systems for its offering, iBase-t Solumina iSeries. Gartner’s evaluation was based on criteria analyzing the company’s overall completeness of vision and ability to execute.

iBase-t continues to advance its offerings with innovative technologies and deployment strategies. Its Solumina iSeries provides an ideal foundation for its MES, Supplier Quality Management (SQM), and Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) solutions. A modular, cloud-native, agile no-code/low-code platform the iBase-t Solumina iSeries’ microservices architecture is based on containers and Kubernetes and leverages REST API endpoints to deliver integrated solutions that drive significant value, quickly.

“We are honored to be recognized as an industry leader by Gartner. At iBase-t, we remain committed to simplifying the complex and helping manufacturers manage operations with greater ease, efficiency, and quality,” said Naveen Poonian, CEO at iBase-t. “We feel this recognition reaffirms our dedication to accelerate the value our customers’ are realizing through their digital transformation journey and we remain committed to continue evolving our product to meet new manufacturing challenges.”

Magic Quadrant reports are a culmination of rigorous, fact-based research in specific markets, providing a wide-angle view of the relative positions of the providers in markets where growth is high and provider differentiation is distinct. Providers are positioned into four quadrants: Leaders, Challengers, Visionaries, and Niche Players. The research enables you to get the most from market analysis in alignment with your unique business and technology needs.

View a complimentary copy of the Magic Quadrant report to learn more about iBase-t’s strengths and cautions, among other providers’ offerings here. 

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.

iBase-t Recognized as Visionary

Gartner® names iBase-t a Visionary in the 2023 Magic Quadrant for MES

2022 Gartner MES Magic Quadrant“A Gartner Magic Quadrant is a culmination of research in a specific market, giving you a wide-angle view of the relative positions of the market’s competitors.

By applying a graphical treatment and a uniform set of evaluation criteria, a Magic Quadrant helps you quickly ascertain how well technology providers are executing their stated visions and how well they are performing against Gartner’s market view.”

See the full report for details.

Source: Gartner, Magic Quadrant for Manufacturing Execution Systems, by By Rick Franzosa, Christian Hestermann, 31 May 2022

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product, or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, express, or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

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