Frequently Asked
Questions MIS

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What is an MIS for packaging?

An MIS (management information system) provides packaging industry manufacturers (folding carton, flexible packaging, corrugated and label converters) with a comprehensive overview of all the information they need to make decisions ranging from daily minutiae to top-level strategy.

Instead of the guesswork and time wasting trying to pinpoint a problem an MIS provides real-time management of the full range of business and production processes– from customer service and sales, to prepress and scheduling, production, warehouse, machines, personnel and business analytics.

 

An MIS provides DATA.

Digital management systems like HiFlow’s MIS provide the framework for an Industry 4.0 and Smart Factory strategy in your plant. The data captured on processes, machines and people in your business and on the shop floor provides facility managers and decision makers with conditions in the production process can be optimized and improved for increased output. An MIS provides data on Inventory, tooling, sales, customer service, accounting, production and shop floor processes, warehouse, shipping.

 

An MIS increases SPEED.
  • Smart scheduling gets the job in production fast– and optimizes the capacities of your plant
  • Estimators can create quotes in just a few clicks with an MIS
  • Visual workflow allows shop workers to see status of jobs at a glance
  • An MIS automates manual processes, increasing speed
  • Information is centralized in one database any department can access

 

An MIS provides ANALYSIS.

This may be the most important feature of the MIS – taking the entirety of the data collected and presenting it in a way that managers can use. Open a dashboard, and in a few clicks, get the information and analysis you need through our BI and Reporting modules.

  • Key performance indicators
  • Downtime dashboards
  • OEE dashboards
  • Inventory Availability dashboards
  • Calculate customer and product profitability.
  • Evaluates the efficiency of machines and employees.
  • Analysis of production costs at the level of each operation, enabling cost reduction efforts.

These are just a few ways an MIS, like HiFlow, can streamline the process of managing the complexities of packaging companies and make them more productive, efficient, and ultimately, more profitable.

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What is a MES (Manufacturing Execution System)?

When all aspects of your plant – from shop floor to shipping – are interconnected digitally, transparency is created into your packaging manufacturing operations. The MES piece of HiFlow is key to transforming the manufacturing process from a complex of isolated silos into a seamless production environment. The MES is the key to achieving Smart Factory and Industry 4.0 advantages.

Each day, your plant produces millions of points of data. An MES collects that data, sends it to your MIS which turns it into information you can use. Connected machines (with smart sensors) and devices on the shop floor capture and communicate this information instantly to every part of your organization.

Why Is collecting data Important?

Seeing real time data brings visibility. The MES collects, monitors, tracks, documents, and controls the process of jobs from raw materials to finished products. Data informs decision making and prevents bottlenecks and stoppages. MES is key to automating business and production processes.

Why is collecting data important? An MES allows you to

              • MONITOR and control activities on the shop floor, for a smoothly run operation.
              • TRACK inventory levels, manage material availability, with real-time visibility.
              • Ensure QUALITY CONTROL by monitoring & enforcing quality standards throughout the production process.
              • View LIVE DATA in business intelligence modules for accurate analytics and more accurate forecasting.
              • Get INSIGHT into production performance, efficiency, and quality.
              • REAL TIME reports and performance metrics, allowing stakeholders to monitor operational performance and make informed decisions.

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How do MIS and MES work together?

You may be thinking ‘I already have an MES. Why do I need an MIS for my manufacturing?’ or, ‘I have an MIS/ERP, why do I need an MES?

The answer is that they work in tandem to bring about operational clarity that neither system can achieve independently. Integrating the two is important because they enable coordination of production with inventory management, business operations, sales and customer service.

MIS and MES systems have complementary roles within manufacturing operations.

The MIS: An MIS provides a comprehensive overview of the entire organization; it’s used to monitor, coordinate, manage and plan operational activity such as order creation and processing, plant scheduling, inventory management and customer service.  MIS systems provide a platform for sharing information across the organization streamlining the flow of communication across every department. An MIS automates key business and production processes.

The MES: An MES controls and optimizes the detailed execution of manufacturing processes on the shop floor. It operates in real-time or near-real-time, focusing on the immediate execution and monitoring of production processes and integrating business processes with manufacturing processes. An MES is integral in providing product traceability, dynamic production scheduling, connectivity of manufacturing operations to the back office, quality management at all levels, and optimization of shop floor operations and plant resources.

By combining MIS and MES, an integrated ecosystem is formed, offering a comprehensive perspective on business operations and creating a streamlined experience for capturing, tracking, and analyzing real-time data for strategic decision making.

 

What’s the difference between HiFlow and ‘out of the box’ ERP systems?

It certainly is tempting to buy management software that is just plug and play. But is it really optimal for your business to have a one-size-fits-all software solution? While there are similarities among most packaging operations, each has its own idiosyncrasies which make a plug-and-play solution too generic to meet those individual needs, including preferred terminology, equipment configuration and more.
With HiFlow, you can be assured that the software you buy is the perfect fit. We do that through our modular system – with over 70 modules, we can configure a tailor-made solution for your unique business.

HiFlow also makes sure that our system integrates to your entire technology stack and seamlessly connects your information across your business and production ecosystem. All your departments are connected to HiFlow’s one central database. Then the various features you need in order to optimize production, warehouse and business services work together as one system.

What is the difference between SAAS and HiFlow’s software licensing?

It’s essentially Rent vs Own, two different ways of paying for software. When you purchase software outright, as with HiFlow, you pay a one-time upfront price and own the licenses to use the software indefinitely. With Software as a Service (SaaS), a cloud provider hosts your software, and the software is made available to end-users via a subscription model where fees are assessed monthly/quarterly/yearly.
SaaS costs will rise over time because you are continually incurring fees for the duration of the subscription agreement. While SaaS can seem more affordable in the very short-term, it can quickly become the more expensive option as the engagement continues over time. Secondly, you must continue to pay the recurring SaaS subscription fees in order to keep using it. If you stop paying, you lose access completely.

With HiFlow’s model, you will always own the software licenses and can continue using the software, for decades if you choose. HiFlow offers regular software updates and new features quarterly that are included in its support service. You have complete control over your data, and your data remains secure.

I am a medium-sized commercial shop expanding into folding carton. Can you help me?

Absolutely. HiFlow software encompasses both the Commercial and Packaging industries. We have several customers who began as commercial printers and subsequently added folding carton and other label & packaging capabilities.

Do you offer additional development services if we need it?

Here’s the great news: HiFlow Solutions offers software development services if you have a need of any customization. With over 50 developers and software engineers, HiFlow can assist with various kinds of custom development. And – you get IT services at a lot lower cost. Reach out to us for a quote on your next IT project.

We don’t know what we need, can you help us define it?

Our approach is consultative. Before we even show our product in a demo, one of our experts chats with you. We find out who you are, what you do, what equipment you have, what your pain points are. Our sales consultants have decades of experience in packaging, labels, flexo, corrugated and commercial printing and work with you to help define how our product can best help you. HiFlow also offers on-site evaluations and ROI evaluations as well. Interested in a discovery call or on-site visit? Contact us!

I am in Latin America. Does the software come in my language?

HiFlow is available in most world languages, including Spanish. HiFlow’s software is already completely translated to Spanish for our Latin American market.

We have recently opened an office in Mexico City dedicated to our Latin American customers. Contact us and we’ll put you in touch with our LatAm representative.

I already have prepress software (Esko) that the team loves. Can you integrate with it?

Absolutely. Prepress is a common integration for us, and we often integrate with ESKO. Because of our unique IT structure, we can easily integrate to any prepress ERP or software app during implementation.

Do you have an accounting system in your software?

Our belief is that there are many great AR and AP software solutions out there, and company accounting departments already have software that they have been using. HiFlow easily integrates with any accounting ERP. We have done integrations with Sage, Quickbooks, SAP and others.

The HiFlow system then sends accurate, real-time data to accounting ERPs. HiFlow does offer time saving automation with these modules: Invoicing, Procurement, Purchase Order Management, Payments.

We have to meet strict regulatory requirements. Do you help with compliance?

HiFlow works with many customers who have compliance needs, from pharmaceutical and cosmetics to food packaging companies. HiFlow handles ISO requirements, as well as FDA, FHDA, GMP, and EU MDR. It meets the requirements of software systems: FDA guidelines 21 CFR Part 11 and 21 CFR Part 210/211, as well as EU GMP guidelines including the GMP Annex 11 for Computerized Systems Guidelines. The system provides an audit trail, traceability, document versioning, electronic signatures and quality control. In addition, our system can be set up to meet any specific regulations you may need.

Can I configure the solution to meet my future needs?

Yes. The way that HiFlow was developed makes it highly scalable. Once you purchase the system modules you need to get started, future module purchases are easy to integrate. In addition, HiFlow updates its software four times a year, and you receive the latest technology that continues to grow with your company and with changing market dynamics.

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Are you cloud or on premises based?

We provide both options – on premises software installed on your business’ computers and servers, and cloud based services through Azure, Microsoft’s cloud hosting provider, accessed through a web browser.

Both on-premises and cloud computing can provide your business with the IT infrastructure it needs. The model you choose will likely depend on the following: 

• Level of data security needed 
• Compliance issues (where strict data regulation is required )
• Data ownership concerns 
• Internet connectivity concerns (i.e., downtime risks)
• Redundancy requirements for critical services 
• Total cost of ownership 

You can also go hybrid. A hybrid solution means building  a mixed computing environment where applications are run using a combination of computing, storage, and services in different environments—public clouds and private clouds, and on-premises. With HiFlow and Azure you can customize your infrastructure  according to your needs. 

Still have questions? Contact one of our technical advisors.

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