If you've never heard of enterprise manufacturing intelligence (EMI), don't worry -- you're not alone. Some of the biggest software vendors in the industry are a little fuzzy on it, too.
EMI can be defined in many ways, but the most accurate description of it is that it is the gathering of information from all divisions of a manufacturing operation with the goal and expectation that executives will analyze the information and make decisions to streamline operations.
As such, it's gaining increasing recognition among forward-thinking manufacturers as a method of gathering and analyzing information in real time as it comes off the shop floor and from other areas of their companies.
"The whole concept of EMI is to grab information from all different sources at your disposal, perform an analysis and make decisions based on it," says Tom Hoffman, director of Tecnomatix product marketing for Siemens PLM Software. "You can optimize your systems, make adjustments all the way along the line, shorten your production time and remove errors."
Cavan Baillie, SAP support manager North America for Scapa Group PLC, says the decision to implement SAP's EMI software solution for the business arose out of a pressing need to keep workers from wasting time.
Scapa manufactures industrial adhesive tape worldwide. Baillie says the company initially implemented SAP's EMI software in its European operations and saw immediate benefits.
"Our primary goal was to stop our shop-floor associates from having to cease operations to enter data manually into a computer," Baillie says. "EMI offers us the flexibility to see everything we need to see in real time without interrupting our associates' days."
The implementation of the SAP EMI software had some glitches at first (which Baillie says had nothing to do with the software and everything to do with the initial vendor they chose to implement it), but the system is now in place and working well.
"It's been instrumental in helping us streamline our manufacturing processes," Baillie says. "We are able to cut down on waiting times for materials, analyze immediately what's happening on the floor and make adjustments as necessary to keep us moving in the right direction."
Another reason to implement EMI software is to bring everyone together, says Brad Mountz, CEO of Mountz Inc., a manufacturer and distributor of precision torque tools. He says the company, a long-time NetSuite customer, chose NetSuite's EMI package because he needed everyone in his organization to be working from the same software platform. He also wanted transparency in his operations for all members of the executive team and the workers.
"We have a diverse workforce that operates in different offices around the world," Mountz says. "Before we installed NetSuite's EMI package, we didn't have the ability to do live look-ins across the entire company. Now people can see the information they need to see when they need to see it. It allows our whole business to run more effectively."
Mountz says his company also appreciated the fact that NetSuite's software is cloud-based, which allowed his company to save money because it didn't have to purchase and maintain its own servers.
"We saved a ton of money moving to the cloud -- it's what we were waiting for," Mountz says. "We were able to lower our costs and get everyone on the same platform. Everyone won."
Kenneth Kemp, IT manager of Brentwood Industries, a plastics manufacturer that operates and maintains eight plants, says his company's decision to go with Infor's EMI software stemmed from its need to increase the reporting efficiency from all its plants. Kemp has used Infor's series of products for the past eight to 10 years before moving to its EMI solution.
"We collect a lot of information about our operations from the shop floor," Kemp says. "We have much better access for all of the people who need to see it since we decided to upgrade to an EMI system."
Kemp says the upgrade, which occurred in September 2007, required him to change out the existing hardware and licensing. It took the company six months to complete the upgrade.
"The changeout wasn't the smoothest transition ever because the upgrade contained a whole new user interface that it took our employees a bit of time to get used to," Kemp says. "But I would do it again in a heartbeat -- and our employees would revolt if I tried to take the software from them now."
Kemp says using the EMI software has increased his on-time deliverables to 98% and reduced his labor costs from 8.6% to 4.8%. He estimates the executive's ability to see real-time information about all of its operations -- shop floor, financial and other company data -- has improved business by 45%.
"We have found a software that allows us to seamlessly expand into new markets and that will grow with us as we grow," Kemp says. "Switching to an EMI solution has helped us immensely."
Mountz says the best part of his installation is the flexibility the new software allows his company.
"It allows us to compete against much larger competitors," Mountz says. "We've been thrilled with our move to EMI. We think it's the way business will be done in the future."
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