MIE Solutions UK: Keep it simple
9 November 2016
Whilst more and more manufacturers are using all-encompassing software packages to control, link and integrate the various elements of their businesses, some may find the whole concept a little daunting. Through its product MIE Trak Pro and a transparent, ethical ‘keep it simple’ approach, Redditch-based software MIE Solutions aims to change all that as Dave Tudor discovered.
Some systems are quite complex. Often they’re module-based and customers can select the functionality they need. Some software developers will happily modify their products to suit specific client applications – an approach that is no doubt effective, but also time consuming and perhaps not suitable for mass markets.
“The second reason is based around functionality. How is the production scheduling module going to work efficiently if it isn’t aware that the raw material for a job hasn’t arrived or if a machine is down due to maintenance?” she contests. “Similarly, the HR module with MIE Trak Pro means that you’ll know when your operators are on holiday so production capacity can be adjusted accordingly.
“In manufacturing there are many interlinked influential factors that directly affect multiple operations and we firmly believe the system needs to ‘know it all’ in order to function efficiently. The whole ethos behind MIE Trak Pro is to include everything that affects productivity and lead-times. We also listen to our customers; the vast majority of software updates, modifications and enhancements are made as a direct result of feedback from our clients – and because of our non-modular approach, all customers reap the benefits.”
One size fits all
Twelve employee MIE Solutions UK was established in 2007 (after previously been part of Metalsoft since 1998) by sales director Sam Hawkes and technical director Chris Mann but the overall operation is very much a global business. The UK facility works closely in partnership with a sister site located in California on the software development side and there are sales offices located in Chicago, Florida, Mexico, South Africa and Australia. The global user base is around the 10,000 mark.
Many manufacturing companies are recruiting apprentices to combat the epidemic skills shortage that is affecting just about every business in the UK and it’s good to see software developers like MIE adopting the same strategies. There are currently two apprentices on the payroll, hopefully following in the footsteps of their two predecessors who have since been employed full-time by the company. Ms Hawkes is keen to continue with the initiative: “They’re our future at the end of the day,” she observes.
Because it is essentially non-modular MIE has worked hard to make MIE Trak Pro as comprehensive as possible. Actually to be entirely accurate, the product does offer one optional module should customers require it and that’s Shop Floor Data Capture which involves the integration of hardware such as kiosks, barcode readers and touchscreen devices like tablets.
“It’s important to note that not all customers will need all the modules,” Ms Hawkes adds. “In fact some clients will only ever need around 50% of the total functionality offered by the package. However this has never been a problem simply because our pricing is so competitive.”
Up and running
Both Sam Hawkes and technical director Chris Mann have roots in the sheetmetal industry so it’s perhaps no surprise that MIE Trak Pro is particularly successful in the sheetmetal/fabrication sector, but both are keen to emphasise that the generic qualities of the system are totally transferrable and applicable to any manufacturing company. A recent new customer for example is a producer of printed circuit boards; other customers include precision machining subcontractors, automotive companies and plastic injection moulders.
I’ve mentioned this before but to many small SMEs, the idea of purchasing software can appear prohibitively expensive. When any spare cash becomes available to a small subcontractor, it’s quite natural for him or her to want to invest that in new machinery or equipment.
But there are real tangible, operational benefits to purchasing a software system – better utilisation of data, less data duplication errors, greater control over costs and better efficiencies generally to name but a few – but part of MIE Trak Pro’s appeal is the fact that it’s very affordable, and because of the highly transparent way the company operates, there are no hidden costs.
The software itself costs £2,000 per user licence with additional training and ongoing support contracts being ‘a fraction of the price offered by our competitors’ the company claims.
MIE is also very accommodating regarding actually purchasing the software: “We’re a very friendly, flexible company” Ms Hawkes enthuses. “We can offer finance agreements, renting options and flexible payment terms. We really go the extra mile for our customers.”
Survey speaks volumes
The future looks pretty positive for MIE. Year on year growth means that the company has outgrown its current premises and a move to a new facility is imminent. “We’re in a really good position at the moment,” Ms Hawkes concludes. “We’ve enjoyed healthy levels of growth since we began and I really do want to take on more apprentices and staff. Our new offices will be located about a mile and a half from here and will give us three times as much space.”
MIE Solutions UK