Why should we change?

Why should we change?

Welcome to “Ask Deb from QA,” a new column from MxD.

Every week, Deb from QA — with decades of experience on the factory floor — will answer your questions to demystify and explain the digital manufacturing industry.

Please submit your questions to debfromqa@mxdusa.org

Dear Deb from QA,

We’re a tool-and-die maker operation, and we’ve been around since the 1960s. We still use paper records and a fax machine. We know we’re supposed to be putting information in a computer, but we’re getting by just fine. So why should we change?


My dears Mom-and-Pop, I can relate. My 86-years-young Aunt Dorothy insisted on using AOL dial-up for a long time. I think she found that ring tone-bleep-blurp-zzzzzzz-ding reassuring. 

But things aren’t as leisurely in the world of manufacturing. This should be stamped on the foreheads of anyone in our industry: Downtime is evil. Repeat it with me. In our business, it’s about the speed of moving and making things. 

I understand the comfort of analog. It feels like you’re in control to write things down and file it in a cabinet or to feed a paper into a fax machine and punch in a phone number. I get that when you’re used to a certain way of doing things, habits are hard to break.

This may seem painfully obvious for anyone currently not living in 1985, but you can type a few words and they appear on your screen in a jiff. And you can share them with someone, like others in your supply chain, in a flash. Remember the whole “downtime is evil” mantra? The time saved is immeasurable.  

But maybe you want to hear a more practical answer. That’s what Deb’s here for.

I’ll say this: It really depends on how long you plan on staying in business. If you’re going to retire in the next few years to the Florida Keys, then keep on keepin’ on (and you must check out my favorite restaurant in Islamorada called Lazy Days!). 

But if you’re planning to grow, and you’ve got competitors, know that with every step they make to get faster and more efficient, they’re taking business away from you. 

Manufacturing is about continuous improvement. Everyone around us is constantly improving. If you don’t, you’re going to get left behind. Downtime is evil. Don’t ever let it win.

Assuring quality,

Deb from QA wants to hear your questions. Send ‘em to DebfromQA@mxdusa.org and she’ll answer as soon as she gets off lunch.