With even small to midsize molders going global, software and process-control companies are seeing an increased demand for products that can help entrepreneurs bridge hundreds of thousands of miles.
Mick Thiel, president of Mattec Corp. (Booth S532) noted that he knows of one small molder that began production in Ireland, but has expanded to the Czech Republic and North Carolina.
But with a coordinated process-control system, he can access up-to-the-second production data from each of those plants from his desk, Thiel said during a June 19 interview at NPE 2006 in Chicago.
He knows what presses are running at peak capacity and which are down for maintenance. He can tell what is running on each press no matter where they are located.
``Even the small guys are getting bigger and bigger,'' he said. ``We have customers now in 20 countries, and they want common systems. They need to know what is going on.''
IQMS Corp. (Booth S338) has continued to boost its capabilities in real-time monitoring and global access to keep up with its customers that want to be able to access that information from anywhere, at any time - even from their Blackberry or another palmtop when they're on the road.
``They're telling us that they want to have a single database, a single place to put all the information from everywhere,'' said President Randy Flamm.
It is not just a matter of micromanaging. Molders need to meet production demands from customers operating globally. They must make sure that a part looks the same regardless of where it is made, and need to have tight control over processing to ensure that, Flamm said.
``The processing technologies, the machines and the shop-floor systems - they want them to be the same all the way down the line,'' Thiel said.
The instant production feedback also can help them assure customers that their parts are on schedule for delivery. They can check press capacity and know if they can take on additional work.
The unified software gives molders better control for lean manufacturing and just-in-time delivery, Flamm said.
``They're becoming a true link in the supply chain,'' he said. ``They get orders from their customers, and have to be able to coordinate shipments coming in from their suppliers and what is going out.''
The global reach also has increased the demand to make controls available in multiple languages.
IQMS now has its data available in two Chinese dialects.
The touch screen on a Mattec system offers 11 different language options, including English, Spanish, Czech and Lithuanian. More languages will come on-line as customers continue to expand, Thiel said.
The continuing requirement for software and process control systems to be available worldwide helped prompt Mattec's acquisition by CMS Software Inc
``We have to keep getting bigger,'' Thiel said. ``You have to have the global presence to meet the demands of your customers.''