When it comes to unwanted fires, there are two types of people who deal with them: firefighters and fire preventers. The firefighters are people who arrive on the scene with all of their equipment and expertise. They deal with the situation as quickly as possible and emerge from the dowsed fire as heroes. Kids want to be like them and the rest of us respect and admire them.
The fire preventers are a little more motherly. They want to make rules and inspect things to make sure a fire never happens at all. People look at the fire preventers as being more bothersome and well … nerdy. In the end, they do not receive much respect for the job they do.
In the world of manufacturing management (and just about any management), there are the firefighter managers and the fire preventer managers. The firefighter managers spend most of their days putting out fires around them and they become very good at it. They are praised for “saving the day.” They become heroes. The fire preventer managers are busy establishing rules and constantly monitoring factors that may contribute to unwanted situations. Because few fires do arise, the efforts of the fire preventers sometimes go unnoticed and unrecognized.
In the world of business, I think most managers would agree that the fire preventer is the best kind of manager. We all sleep better at night knowing that a fire preventer is in charge rather than a firefighter. Yet why are there so many firefighters in management today? Is it because they get more praise for being a firefighter or is it because they have no time to focus on fire prevention because of all the fires they are putting out? I think most firefighter managers would state the latter. They want to get out of their firefighter role and become the fire preventer. Take it from an old firefighter manager himself - it is hard to change this cycle of management. It just doesn’t feel like there is time for anything else.
Fortunately, there is a fix for the firefighter. Even though there are some old habits that need to be changed for the firefighter, I am not suggesting a 12-step program. What I suggest is creating structure and management automation through a good manufacturing software system. This way, you have a structure that automatically helps you do fire prevention and before you know it, you are fighting fewer fires.
Manufacturing and business management systems like EnterpriseIQ create the methods and automated systems from the expertise of many fire preventers. These “nerds of business” have quietly generated clear methods to help prevent management fires long before they happen. Their methods and systems started out many years ago as spreadsheets and databases, but over time, they have turned into what is known today as manufacturing ERP software.
Let’s look at a couple of fires that manufacturing managers have to deal with regularly:
My personal favorite is large orders with impossibly short lead times. These orders throw everyone into a panic. The firefighter managers have to come in and figure out how to “make it happen” or potentially lose a customer. These types of fires are most often caused by sales representatives promising delivery dates without understanding shop capacity. A fire preventer manager using EnterpriseIQ solves the problem long before it happens with the IQMS Sales and Distribution module that is tied directly to the shop floor. The real-time monitoring modules allow for up-to-the-minute knowledge of manufacturing capacity, so when a customer calls for an order, the sales department knows exactly what the lead time will be.
Another dreaded fire is created from down machines. Fire preventers would make sure the machine doesn’t go down or affect schedules. They would do this through the IQMS' Preventative Maintenance and RealTime Process Monitoring tools. The first of these modules reminds operators to perform maintenance on machines. The other collects machine data to best forecast decommission dates and monitors the health of the machine.
It is pretty easy to say that IQMS' software has preventative methods in place to stop most management manufacturing fires out there. How do I know this? Because the IQMS modules were largely created out of need to extinguish thousands of situations and management fires. With IQMS, you are not just getting the backing of a talented and knowledgeable group of engineers, programmers, writers, trainers and enterprise software experts. You are also getting the shared knowledge of thousands of manufacturing managers who have contributed to the structure of the IQMS software.
So if you are firefighter who is currently having a hard time embracing the whole enterprise systems world, take it from an old firefighter himself: Becoming the fire preventer is so much nicer. If your company has adopted IQMS and you are struggling to accept its benefits, look into it. It is without question a remarkable system.
If you are someone looking for an automated method of becoming a fire preventer, then look seriously at what IQMS has to offer. You will be amazed. And then you will understand when I say, “EnterpriseIQ from IQMS will turn firefighting managers into fire preventing managers.”
What sort of tools have you embraced to make you more of a fire preventer?
This guest blog post was written by Automation Specialist, Lynn Loughmiller.