"If it's not on Facebook, it didn't happen." This statement is roughly equivalent to the more primitive variant: "If a tree falls in the middle of the woods and nobody was there to hear it, did it make a noise?"
The Manufacturing equivalent is: "If a machine breaks down and nobody is there to see the andon light flashing, is it really down?" We all know the answer to these hypothetical questions: Of course.
But what if nobody was monitoring a machine when it broke down? Who will fix it? When will it get fixed? How long will it take? How do we prevent this type of breakdown in the future? Fortunately for us, manufacturing software can help us answer these questions and many more questions like them.
In the true spirit of continuous improvement, manufacturing has turned to the Internet to take full advantage of software hosted in the cloud. Software hosted on the Internet is known as "SaaS," meaning "Software as a Service." There are many reasons why manufacturers are turning to SaaS software. Here are just a few:
I don't mean "easy button" simple, I mean simple to scale. SaaS manufacturing software is quick to install. The infrastructure is already in place. No need to purchase and deploy expensive servers, you don't have to configure complex networks, and you don't have to mess with any pesky VPNs. SaaS software updates are fast, frequent, and free. No more late nights in the server room installing security patches (although I do miss having an excuse to drink Dr. Pepper at 1 am). You never outgrow your hardware, either. SaaS software has dynamic sizing all figured out.
Manufacturing software on the cloud is simple to configure as well. Gone are the days when you need a BS degree in database design. Most SaaS applications provide tools to upload Excel spreadsheets to get started, and simple settings screens to manage your assets.
All you need is an Internet connection and a browser. Okay, maybe it is "easy button" simple.
Manufacturers are data-driven. Decisions are best backed by good, accurate data. Retrieving data has historically been challenging in manufacturing. We all have horror stories about missing a deadline because the database server was locked up. SaaS software for manufacturers has this figured out, too. Reporting data is only a few clicks away. We don't discriminate against old data, either: you can generate reports for yesterday, last week, several months in the past months, or for several years. It is your data, after all.
SaaS software also has a way of breaking down barriers to record manufacturing data. Simple tasks can use web forms. Complex tasks can use APIs. You can even automate simple tasks using APIs. Since it is easy to put quality data into your SaaS software, you can get quality data out. Better data means more informed decisions. When making million dollar data-driven decisions, accessible, quality data really matters.
"A chart is worth a thousand emails." There are some people who can eat, sleep, and breathe in the abstract, but most of us need something more tactile. To find out where you fit on the spectrum, answer one simple question: Would you rather someone describe to you in great detail the inverse relationship of time versus downtime, or would you rather see a downtime trend chart? Give me the chart! Most of us are visual thinkers, because our brains are really good at visual processing.
This is another area where manufacturing SaaS software really shines. We can extract multiple data points and represent them on a simple, elegant chart. These charts can be easily shared with members of your team and others. Having the right data represented in the right format helps short-circuit conversations to arrive at an informed decision faster. If you're like me, we'll always choose a simple chart over a thousand complex emails.
Yes, connectable is a word. In the context of SaaS Manufacturing Software, it means that you can link all of your favorite applications together. Let me give you an example. You have a PLC that monitors a machine's state. If the machine goes down, the PLC can send a signal to your SaaS software to report the down machine, including the exact error code. Since the SaaS software is on the cloud, it can notify individuals that the machine is down. This all happens within a minute. Downtime now has much to worry about. Simply put, Connectability is making our manufacturing plants much, much more efficient. And no, connectability is not a word.
Safety is perhaps the most important aspect of SaaS manufacturing software. If data is not kept private, the company would go out of business faster than a tree falls in the forest. In order to keep customers' data safe, SaaS companies use a number of security tactics, including:
- Secure data connections. This protects data between the source and the server. Leading2Lean uses SHA-2 and 2048-bit encryption, over TLS 1.2. Just trust me here. This is great news for our customers!
- Encryption at rest. This protects data after it has been saved to the cloud. The only way to access data is with the correct decryption keys and protocol.
- Physical data center security. Data centers have heightened security protocols so that only those who have proper security access can gain access to the building. These security protocols help prevent physical theft of data.
Since Manufacturing SaaS software providers employ these security tactics, customers' data remains safe and secure, allowing you to enjoy all of the benefits of SaaS software with peace of mind.
Each of the above benefits have one common theme: Efficiency. Every list, form, and report in manufacturing software are scrutinized and tooled to be as efficient as possible. The result is software that helps you do more with less, which improves your bottom line. Since time is a finite resource, this is a welcomed result.
If you aren't currently using SaaS manufacturing software, give us a call. We can help you improve your efficiency in a safe, connectable, visual, and accessible way.
And remember, if it's not in L2L, it didn't happen.