Options vs. Features in Manufacturing ERP Software

More features and less paid options for IQMS ERPWhen is an option no longer an option but a necessity? When purchasing equipment it can be the stripped down model or the one fully loaded with all options. You may remember when an automatic transmission and radio were an option when buying a new car. Now a full-blown stereo is included and the manual transmission is the option! Automobiles now come loaded with what used to be options! Power seats, power windows, side view mirrors on both sides etc..

What is the cost to add these things after the purchase? Well it can be a ton of money! The same thing goes for manufacturing equipment. More and more features now standard were once pricey options.  Bells and whistles are in abundance on many of the newest injection molding machines for instance. They can run all by themselves, keeping track of tons of data, even counting cycles and shutting down if the job is finished or some parameter is going out of control! SPC and closed loop control for pressure curves allow the machine to adjust to changes in viscosity on its own! So why not include a programable I/O card for add-on equipment? Maybe even make the cycle count available for remote monitoring!

I would like to challenge the machine manufacturers out there to take notice. Without using any names there are some who provide an output for cycle counting but most do not. Those that do not will gladly charge you to add an I/O board and update the programming. Some of these charges add up to thousands of dollars! While at the same time these same companies will tell you all the great things the machine can do by interfacing with other equipment to allow you more flexibility and use less manpower!

It often takes a herculean effort for some machine manufacturers to simply provide an output for the start of a cycle! I mean this should be one of the features included! What is the cost of such a simple feature when done before shipping the equipment as compared to after? Well we know out of who’s pocket the later comes from! Yours! Robots and sprue pickers need this type of interface. Why not provide a standard output for counting cycles that connects to an ERP system that can really benefit the company’s bottom line!

With more accurate counts and better visibility of cycles compared to standards we all make more money! Less waste and higher efficiencies truly add value to you and your business! If we do a better job in today’s economy we make ourselves stand out from the competition, thus gaining more customers and a possible need to expand capacity. This translates to buying more of that equipment from a company with enough forethought to add simple features such as programmable outputs!

The point is this, times change and new circumstances are created. That old car you bought 40 years ago is outdated for a reason! Somebody realized it’s easier to offer features instead of options. You’re going to buy the thing anyway, why not have the versatility and freedom to be inventive along the way! What do you think?

Neil Gow, IQMS Director of Manufacturing, has more than 30 years of experience in manufacturing, working as a technical expert in thermoplastics before joining IQMS. Neil is primarily responsible for the manufacturing, assembling, implementation and configuration of IQMS' production and process monitoring systems in customer facilities worldwide.