thumbnail post
All the Important Features That Your Manufacturing Software Needs to Provide     

One of the most important things to understand about manufacturing software is that no two options are created equally. Yes, they’re all designed for businesses LIKE yours – but depending on what you’re trying to accomplish, they may not be the right fit given your long-term strategy. 

For example: if continuous improvement is one of your major focuses as a manufacturer and as a business professional, there are a number of key features you’ll want to make sure any manufacturing software you choose to invest in includes. 

Critical Features for Your Manufacturing Software: Breaking Things Down 

Obviously, as a manufacturer, one of your top priorities always involves keeping every last piece of equipment on your shop floor up and running for as long as possible. Therefore, it makes sense that the number one feature you want to look for in manufacturing software comes by way of some form of comprehensive downtime tracking functionality. 

Remember that downtime tracking is about more than just gaining an understanding of your line’s efficiency. It’s also your key to instantly learning the cause, the length and even the frequency of downtime events – including small ones like those micro starts and stops that you may not have been paying attention to but that are costing huge amounts of time and money just the same. 

Not only that, but innovative solutions like Thrive take this one step further by using a unique algorithm to calculate the impact on uptime and production each downtime event WOULD have had if it had been fixed. So not only will you know what your biggest source of downtime is right now, but you’ll also be able to see the major advantages you’ll achieve if you set your mind to fixing it, too. 

These days, another one of the most important features to look for in manufacturing software has to do with dashboards that take all of your complicated, high volume data and distill it down into a series of visual charts that literally anyone in your business can understand. You should be able to log into this dashboard from any device on Earth with an active Internet connection thanks to the cloud, and you should be able to access and print a performance snapshot anytime, anywhere, no exceptions. At any given moment, you should never be more than just a few quick mouse clicks away from seeing your equipment’s efficiency, your historical performance, operator comments and more – all in any date range that you choose. 

Speaking of date ranges, your manufacturing software should also offer historical performance dating back days, weeks, months or even years if you so choose. Then and only then will you be able to learn what the past is trying to tell you in order to build a much more successful (not to mention profitable) future for your organization. 

To find out more about all of the important features that your manufacturing software needs to be able to provide, or to get answers to any other important questions that you may have, please don’t delay – contact Thrive today. 

 

thumbnail post
The Art of Making the Most Out of Planned Downtimes     

By far, one of the most frustrating “costs of doing business” for any manufacturer is downtime in all its forms. 

Yes, if you had to pick between unplanned and planned downtimes, the latter is always preferred. Planned periods of downtime you can control, whereas unplanned instances are fraught with uncertainty and frustration. 

Having said that, you don’t necessarily have to write planned downtimes off as an “inconvenience that you’re just going to have to deal with.” In fact, you can actually turn it into an opportunity to shift your attention to other matters that are just as critical to your long-term success. 

Turning Planned Downtime Into an Opportunity: Your Overview 

Obviously, whether you’re talking about a planned lunch break period or an entire shift change, you’ll want to keep even your planned downtimes as short and as infrequent as possible. Every minute that those machines are offline is a minute that you’re not making money and especially given everything that is going on in the world right now, that’s probably a situation you’d want to avoid if you’re able to. 

Having said that, planned downtimes are actually a perfect opportunity to take care of a lot of those preventative maintenance items that you’ve been working through on your checklist. Rather than waiting for something to break so that you can fix it, it makes far more sense to stop a small problem today before it has a chance to become a much bigger (not to mention more expensive) one down the road. 

Of course, maybe the biggest criticism that a lot of people have when it comes to preventative maintenance is that you’re performing “excessive maintenance.” To put it another way, people are concerned that technicians are spending so much time inspecting and maintaining pieces of equipment that probably don’t (yet) require that level of attention-to-detail. 

While this is certainly valid from one perspective, it also underlines the importance of having the right downtime tracking solution by your side in the first place. By understanding the maximum potential of each piece of equipment on your shop floor, and by being able to take a closer look at their current status at a moment’s notice, you always know WHERE to direct those human resources during periods of planned downtimes. 

They don’t have to spend time inspecting everything only to accomplish nothing if everything is working as it should be. But by tracking OEE, you won’t have to go looking for those “small problems to fix” today because the data will come right out and tell you. That way, during shift changes or lunch periods, technicians can step in and address those issues to avoid costly UNPLANNED periods of downtime moving forward. 

If you’d like to find out even more information about what you can do to make the most out of planned downtime events, or if you’d just like to discuss your needs as a business with someone in a bit more detail, please don’t delay – contact Thrive today. 

 

thumbnail post
How to Measure Your Efficiency in Real Time and Why This is So Important   

In general, real time efficiency tracking is exactly what it sounds like: your ability to dive deep into what is going on with your production lines and monitor things as they happen. Rather than waiting for someone to hand you a report at the end of the day, you see what is happening instantly – all so that you can make better and more informed decisions across the board. 

Many manufacturers make the mistake of relying exclusively on historical data and reporting and, while this is also telling, only real time efficiency monitoring will bring with it a number of clear advantages that your business simply cannot afford to overlook. 

Why Real Time Visibility Matters: Letting the Present Inform the Future 

One of the biggest advantages that real time tracking and monitoring brings to the table ultimately comes down to an increased sense of responsibility (not to mention accountability) on behalf of your operators. If you always know exactly how efficient someone is being at a moment’s notice, you know who is already doing their best and who could need a little more guidance. Maybe someone needs a bit of additional training on this one particular machine. Perhaps they need more help becoming invested in your company culture. Regardless, these are the types of issues that you’ll know about immediately – putting you in an excellent position to do something about them right away. 

Obviously, one of the main advantages of real time efficiency tracking comes down to how it can help you decrease (and often eliminate) downtime across your company. Keep in mind that when you partner with a downtime tracking and management solution like Thrive, this means that you can track your production line efficiency on an ongoing basis and analyze trends according to shift, line or even SKU. If your downtime issues are a matter of all those micro starts and stops throughout the day adding up to a much greater period than you realized, you’re going to know about it. If it’s a larger problem and you have to optimize assets or prioritize certain types of maintenance over others, you’re going to know about that, too. 

In the end, you should remember that yes, historical data is incredibly important – but it’s also just one small part of a much larger story. Equally critical is your ability to take a look at exactly what is going on across your production lines at a moment’s notice. By being able to see exactly what is going on right now, you’ll have a better idea of where you’re headed – and you have better control over that destination as well. 

If you’d like to find out more information about how to measure your efficiency in real time and why this is so important to your ongoing success, or if you’d just like to discuss your own needs with someone in a bit more detail, please don’t delay – contact Thrive today. 

 

thumbnail post
Unlock the Narrative Hidden Inside Your Historical Data With the Right Solution   

With the sheer volume of data that your business is creating on a daily basis, simply making sense of it all can often feel like an uphill battle. But what you’re talking about is more than just 1s and 0s sitting on a hard drive somewhere. 

Inside that data is the true story of what is really going on with your business – not just in terms of where you’ve come from, but also with regards to where you’re likely headed. If you want to uncover that narrative and get to the truth of your company, you need the right solution designed for all of this and more. 

Historical Data: The True Story of What’s Happening With Your Business 

With the right downtime tracking solution like Thrive by your side, you can always access a historical performance chart that lets you trend your equipment’s performance by days, weeks, months or even years. If you want to “go back in time” and see exactly how a shift performed last week or last month, there’s absolutely nothing stopping you. 

But what this comprehensive level of reporting really does involves allowing you to let the past inform the future, so to speak. If you know where you currently stand today and you know where you started, you know exactly how far you were able to come – and you know what worked and what didn’t along the way. 

Historical performance charts with this level of detail will show you when a piece of equipment or even an entire shift is suddenly getting less and less efficient over time, for example. You can pinpoint exactly where the issue began and, in all likelihood, what caused it. Maybe you hired an operator who wasn’t trained properly. Perhaps it’s an issue with a legacy piece of equipment that is no longer as effective as it once was and maintenance will now need to be prioritized moving forward. Regardless of what your hypothesis happens to be, the data will confirm it – thus allowing you to make smarter and more informed choices moving forward. 

But the major reason why the historical performance reporting in a solution like Thrive are so critical is because they unlock true company-wide reporting, probably for the first time. 

With Thrive, you can see both the current and historical performance of EVERY location in your company in a single, easy-to-understand chart. Not only can you see which plants are historically underperforming given a particular task, but you can also find locations that can easily accept more volume, too. This puts you in a position to better allocate training funds, upgrade technology and more – all because historical data allowed you to uncover trends and patterns that wouldn’t have otherwise been obvious. 

If you’d like to find out more information about unlocking the narrative hidden inside your historical data, or if you’d just like to learn more about our innovative downtime tracking solution and what it can do for a business like yours, please don’t hesitate to contact Thrive today. 

thumbnail post
What to Look for in a Downtime Tracking Solution Partner  

More and more manufacturers want to start intelligently tracking downtime these days, but a lot of them aren’t sure where to begin. Typically, the first step you need to take involves finding yourself a partner who can offer an intuitive, scalable and flexible downtime tracking solution to meet your needs. But be warned – not all so-called “partners” are created equally. 

A Genuine Collaborator in Every Sense of the Term 

Maybe the most important thing to look for when choosing a downtime tracking solution partner has to do with their perspective about your relationship in general. You don’t need someone who is going to come in, offer you a generic solution and say “here, we’ve done our part, good luck.” You need someone who is ready to work with your business to build the best downtime tracking experience possible, regardless of what that looks like within the context of your business. 

Case in point: at Thrive, we only build things into our solution because our customers expressly ask for it. We never add something simply because it’s cool or flashy, or because we think the market needs it. 

Everyone in the industry is going in the same, complex direction. They’re adding more features, more functionality, more pointless automation – you name it. Because we actually listen to and collaborate with our customers, we’re actually going in the opposite direction at Thrive. We only build what you tell us to and we’re focused on creating something that allows you not to replace your workforce, but make the most out of them. 

Not Just an Easy Solution, But Effortless 

Another one of the major things to look for in a downtime tracking partner ultimately has to do with the level of support they’re willing to offer long after that initial purchase is made. 

At Thrive, it’s absolutely true that we’re always available to answer your questions about how our solution works – but honestly, we don’t think we’re going to get to that point. We purposely don’t offer training of any kind because we built our solution from the top down to be so easy that anyone can do it. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about someone who has been with your business for years or who just walked in the door for the first time last week – they’ll be able to pick right up and get to work like an old pro. 

Other companies design software that is intentionally confusing and cumbersome so that they can sell you support services later – and that’s just now how we’ve ever done things and we’re certainly not going to start. If we have to train you on how to use our software, we believe that means we didn’t build it right to begin with. 

If you’d like to find out more information about what to look for in a downtime tracking solutions partner, or if you’d just like to learn more about our own downtime tracking and OEE management software to see more about what it can do, please don’t delay – contact Thrive today. 

 

 

thumbnail post
The Long-Term Benefits of Implementing a Downtime Tracking Solution   

Believe it or not, there are still people who are skeptical as to the value of downtime tracking software. “I know whether or not my equipment is running,” they say to themselves. “I have eyes. What do I need that type of tool for?” 

Yes, downtime tracking is a great way to provide real-time equipment performance tracking. But the long-term benefits are so much greater than that – especially as your business continues to grow and expand in the future. 

The Major Advantages of Downtime Tracking: Your Overview 

Possibly the biggest long-term benefit of implementing a downtime tracking solution has to do with how you’re never more than a few quick mouse clicks away from a total road map of all equipment performance across your business. It’s so simple to compile this information that you can easily do so right before your morning meeting as you’re still having that fresh cup of coffee. 

But this is about more than just convenience, of course. If you know exactly how your equipment is performing (and can compare the current status to historical data), you can identify poor performing equipment almost instantly. Then, you can hand that insight off to your maintenance team so that they can prioritize their own activities throughout the day in a more efficient way. You can see how minor and even major actions will impact production, thus informing your maintenance team about what is a high priority for the day and what can be pushed off down the road a bit. 

Speaking of historical data, this is another one of the most significant long-term advantages of implementing a downtime tracking solution like Thrive – it actually gets more invaluable and more insightful the longer you use it. 

With historical performance charts, you can track your equipment’s performance by individual machines or by entire lines over a period of days, weeks, months or even years. This is a great way to see how your overall equipment effectiveness changes over time. You can also see the results of actions you’re taking in the present day and watch as your entire business trends towards reduced downtime and increased efficiency. 

Plus, with company-wide reporting, you can manage multiple locations within the same business from the Thrive dashboard – even if they’re all spread out across the country or even the state. You can easily compare lines that produce the same product to find plants that can accept more volume, as well as quickly identify those that are underperforming. Are you looking at a situation where one plant needs a bit more training? Is it simply a matter of people being forced to make do with outdated technology that could easily be upgraded? Do you need more standardized practices to keep things running smoothly? 

A downtime tracking solution can help you answer all of these questions and more, which is why this is one investment that is absolutely worth making for your business. 

If you’d like to find out more information about the undeniable long-term benefits of implementing a downtime tracking solution, or if you’d just like to discuss your own needs as a business with someone in a bit more detail, please don’t delay - contact Thrive today. 

thumbnail post
Why Thrive Tracks Planned Downtime Events Separately   

One of the most important things to understand about downtime events is that not all instances are created equally. Yes, if a critical piece of equipment suddenly breaks and grinds production to a halt, that’s a problem. But something as simple as a shift change is a downtime event, too – albeit a planned one. 

At Thrive, our innovative downtime management solution actually tracks these events separately from those unplanned outages. We do this for a number of important reasons, all of which are worth exploring. 

Diving Deep Into Planned Downtime Events 

Maybe the biggest reason why Thrive tracks planned downtime events separately from unplanned instances has to do with their very nature – planned events are obviously something that you know about in advance (and therefore have a much higher level of control over), whereas that isn’t true with unplanned downtimes. 

Unplanned downtimes are when you suddenly find yourself with a problem on your hands that you really can’t explain. The information you need to make the most out of that experience – to fix the issue and mitigate risk – falls into an entirely different category than something like a line change over for obvious reasons. 

But that doesn’t mean your current planned downtime figures have to simply be a “cost of doing business” or a “necessary evil” – far from it, and Thrive can help to that end, too. 

Because Thrive makes it a point to track planned downtime events separately, you can set an individual goal time for each reason. You can specify that your next line change over should only take a certain number of minutes, for example, based on similar experiences you’ve had in the past. 

Then, if that event exceeds that goal time, your equipment operators have an opportunity to assign a reason for the delay. They can tell you exactly what the issue was in a way that helps you fix it, thus allowing that next planned downtime event to execute even faster as a result. 

Likewise, tracking planned downtime separately allows you to answer a number of important questions – especially if all similar change overs aren’t happening at the exact same pace, as logic dictates that they would. Only Thrive provides you with this deep level of insight that can help you not only analyze the changeover process to identify and capitalize on opportunities for improvement, but that can also help you create standardized processes to ultimately reduce planned downtimes across the board. 

Even if the issue is something as simple as all breaks aren’t ending on time, seeing this level of data – especially in a highly visual and intuitive way through the Thrive dashboard – helps to build a culture of both ownership and accountability that will serve your business well for years to come. 

If you’re interested in learning more about why Thrive tracks planned downtime events separately from those unexpected outages, or if you have any additional questions that you’d like to go over with someone in a bit more detail, please don’t delay - contact us today. 

thumbnail post
Why You Should Implement OEE Across Your Entire Production Line   

In the simplest terms possible, overall equipment effectiveness (or OEE for short) is maybe the most important key performance indicator there is. In the manufacturing industry in particular, it’s used to determine the efficiency of a plant and its operations. If you want to make sure not only that you’re producing the highest quality parts as effectively as you can with as few potential downsides as possible, tracking OEE is how you do it – all while making sure that you’re taking advantage of the full capacity of your manufacturing equipment at the exact same time. 

But still, far too many business leaders make the mistake of assuming that OEE is only relevant to individual machines on the shop floor. They have a list of their most critical assets and they’re very interested in reading those stats, but a lot of other machines tend to fall by the wayside. Not only is this a mistake, but you should absolutely take things as far as they will go by implementing OEE across your entire production line. 

OEE: Global Data, Global Visibility 

Remember that one of the core benefits of OEE is that allows you to both measure and visualize your plant’s operational effectiveness at a moment’s notice. Once you know exactly what you’re dealing with and what problems you are faced with, you’re in an excellent position to create actionable steps to not only improve quality and production but also save time and eliminate waste as well. 

Why would you NOT want to be able to do that within the context of your entire production line? 

With a solution like Thrive by your side, you’ll always know the efficiency of your entire production line so long as you actually choose to implement it that way. You’re talking about an automated downtime tracking solution that effectively measures production output and compares it against your line’s maximum potential. Plus, with production run records, you can easily track shift efficiency or even analyze trends line by line. 

All of this means that when you choose to implement OEE across the entirety of your enterprise, you can easily see how efficiently your line produces each product. You can take a deep dive into potential machine output based on SKU. But more than that, you can sit back and let the software do all of this automatically – all so that you can spend less time collecting those insights and more time putting them to good use. 

This simply isn’t something you’ll be able to achieve if you only care about OEE within the context of a few machines or specific assets. If you truly want global visibility over your production lines (and you should), this is absolutely a step worth taking and we’re proud to stand by your side while you do it. 

If you’d like to find out even more about why you should absolutely implement OEE across your entire production line, or if you’d just like to discuss other important topics with someone in a bit more detail, please don’t delay - reach out to your friends at Thrive today.