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By: Virginia Shram
March 10, 2023
So you’re a business leader looking to streamline production with a manufacturing execution system – but you’re unsure how to choose the correct software solution for your unique needs.
We’re here to help with this handy FAQ. Even if you decide VKS isn’t the right solution for you right now, we’ll be happy to help you on your path to continuous improvement.
Not at all – your traditional MES shares many features with VKS, but the two can also serve distinct goals within the production process depending on how you deploy the platforms.
While an MES is designed to work on the front-end of production (i.e. on the shop floor), VKS is attuned to the front-end workers who are performing those job actions.
Therefore, it is entirely possible (and often recommended) to use an MES for detailed data collection and planning orders of operations while also using VKS for hands-on learning, assembly instructions, and other worker-centric tasks. In other words, an MES tracks overall productivity metrics, while VKS helps define productivity through employee jobs.
We take “quality at the source” seriously, so we cater to workers who are the first point of contact along the production line to ensure that standardization is the first priority and the strongest foundation for continuous improvement.
If you decide to only use an MES and forego adding a VKS platform, you can still meet manufacturing standards but you will miss out on critical integrations between your equipment and your software systems.
VKS features like ToolConnect and Smart Forms are unique features that will help transform your connected technology into a cohesive Smart Factory. Torque tools can be given automated presets to guarantee precision beyond what you can see with the human eye, taking the guesswork out of quality control.
As for work instructions, a basic MES will be able to link to pdf instructions, but these are neither interactive nor do they accumulate real-time data about each assembly step.
By using VKS as an MES, you are putting your work instructions – the first line of defense against variability defects – at the forefront of production.
There’s no need to integrate instructions from an MES into VKS because VKS tracks work order specifications automatically as they are completed. This makes it easy for your back-end ERP (enterprise resource planning) system to do the necessary calculations for high-level analysis.
To sum, VKS functions as a more user-friendly MES, which allows you to start standardization efforts immediately on the shop floor with little training.
Getting “too big” for VKS to be beneficial is like a brand being “too established” to consider basic metrics like defect rates or the opportunity cost of machine downtime. If, like us, you believe that continuous improvement is a north star metric that emulates a perfectly lean environment, then you will never run out of practical applications for VKS features.
We have customers who have VKS deployed at a single location and we also have customers where VKS is deployed over 50 locations and more. VKS can support thousands of separate guidebooks for different work orders, so don’t be afraid of scalability hampering your digital platforms.
VKS is first and foremost designed to be accessible and user-friendly, so there’s no need to put all of your workers through an IT bootcamp.
However, because VKS is a web application, you will need decent wifi available throughout your factory. A stable internet connection is becoming more and more important these days in manufacturing with IIoT network applications, so it’s rare to have an offline factory that doesn’t support VKS.
When it comes to any potential difficulties with converting existing processes into VKS (such as updating paper hard copies into pdfs), we provide services like generating scripts to help with the uploading process so that you can hit the ground running.
Many of our clients say something like, “We already have a data collection system we work well with, but we also really like your work instructions solution. Is it possible to use both?”
No need to choose between favorites – simply let us know and we will integrate VKS with your setup by building custom APIs so that everything runs seamlessly.
The best part about our APIs is that you don’t have to worry about inputting duplicate data – once the operator follows the work instructions, data is automatically sent for processing within your ERP or complementary MES. The operator only has to use a single platform because everything is all in one place.
No need to sign off on one platform and sign into another to access basic functionality.
Not everyone strives for total connectivity – manual assembly processes are still plenty efficient for some manufacturers. If you rely more on human expertise than on industrial machinery, you will find VKS more than sufficient enough for your operations.
Actually, in these particular environments, VKS is the ideal option to cover all your MES and assembly needs.
In general, ERP systems are very good at resource management, scheduling operations, and data regarding traceability.
On the other hand, ERPs are clunky at best for work instructions, so you may run into too many production line practical issues to accurately assess and use all that high-level data.
Moving one step closer to the shop floor, the benefits of an MES would be complete machine automation and interconnectivity. However, any kind of work instructions through an MES are going to be machine-oriented. This means that they will abstract data well but not necessarily encourage standard operations.
If you are more focused on manpower and skilled work than you are on the latest machinery, VKS is the perfect option for building quality into your product, as everything’s all in one place for practical use.
An issue we often see with MES solutions is that they offer way too many options in setup. It’s great to have a plethora of options, but it can be confusing to manage, frustrating to use, and even delay improvements because system maintenance is daunting.
Before committing to a large and unintuitive MES, try a customized VKS solution that targets your preferred KPIs and best practices. Since everything VKS does is interconnected and syncs with your current BI software or other system, this reduces the amount of platforms you have to use to achieve your high standards for manufacturing.
Every one of our clients is unique, and we give them exactly the tools they need to reach their goals.
“There’s software out there that says, ‘This is how you’re going to do it.’ What I like about VKS is it doesn’t try to make me do things I don’t want to do, but it allows me to do what I want to do.”
Hear more of Steve's thoughts about VKS implementation in our case study, VKS Kicks Mobility Worldwide’s Performance Into High Gear
Don’t worry, your data is always going to be your data. If you try out VKS and our platform somehow doesn’t work for your business plan, there’s always the option to export all of your production data to whichever platform you prefer.
We pride ourselves on bridging the gap between complicated software systems and practical, shop-floor solutions. The first thing we aim to establish is what your needs are currently.
If you haven’t seen the answer to your particular question above, we would be happy to jump on a quick call with you to show exactly what our software looks like.
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