Sharing is Caring: Making thousands of unrelated bits of data into relatable information that’s useable by all is how one developer caters to fabricators, manufacturers.

Above: MIE Solutions creates custom dashboards for its clients. This one is geared toward quality control activities.

April, 2024- Making thousands of unrelated bits of data into relatable information that’s useable by all is how one developer caters to fabricators, manufacturers.

MIE Solutions, or Manufacturing Information Exchange, delivers enterprise resource planning systems “made for manufacturers by manufacturers,” says COO Scott Pierson, who has been with the company for three years.

MIE Solutions’ leadership team includes several people who previously worked at industrial companies. “We have amazing employees and visionary leadership, who set goals and plans for three, five and 10 years forward,” Pierson says.

What this team has developed are “feature- rich products,” he says, specifically for mid-size companies. Large multinationals use ERP systems from SAP, NetSuite and Oracle but those are often not well suited to small and mid-sized entities.

The ideal customer base for MIE consists of metal fabricators and job shops. MIE’s customers produce parts and components for such industry segments as structures, doors, playground equipment, fishing lures, energy equipment, and computer gaming peripherals.

Using MIE’s ERP system, customers “turn raw data into meaningful information. Raw data is a whole bunch of unprocessed information but if we can’t make a business decision, it’s not serving a function,” Pierson says. “When we can use that data to make a decision, it becomes informative, which leads to collaboration and action. If you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it,” he says.

When information is shared, it is more likely that everyone will come to the same conclusions and agree on a decision. However, he says, “if you have different information retained by different people—maybe through a legacy system, writing on napkins or using an old spreadsheet —you’re not sharing everything. So that begs the question: whose plan are you following?”

Another feature that MIE Solutions offers is whiteboard scheduling, which includes loads of critical information.


In the previous manufacturing environment that Pierson managed (he worked many years in the furniture industry), “everyone had an idea about ‘what is the plan’ but none of the plans matched. We must work from the same information before you can lay out an amazing schedule. But if one department manager comes up with a decision based on their own priority, that often “conflicts with the goals of other departments.” By using the ERP system, “we communicate the impact of scheduling each job to every department.”

One customer may submit an order but demand the fabricator reduce the lead time for a particular component. As a fabricator, “I must always deliver according to the commitment I gave you. There are many ways to schedule an order. If the customer needs it April 1, I can backward calculate with every department according to what each needs, such as materials purchasing, labor, machine time, etc.,” says Pierson.

A customer integrates its press brake operation by using MIE Trak Pro to schedule and monitor jobs.

It’s necessary to balance competing schedules and build in time for any problems that may arise.

“Manufacturing is one of the most difficult things to do and be consistent daily,” Pierson says, so MIE Trak Pro “puts in place a lot of checks and balances. This reduces the probability of errors. If you are doing this with paper and pencil, spreadsheet or on a white board, you cannot manage all that.”

Sometimes, he says, the schedule is all ready for the day but then the vendor calls to say the material is delayed. “You have to completely change things around.”

Synchronized scheduling is also crucial because “in this labor market, you might have 10 percent of your workforce call in sick one day, which means you don’t have enough people to run all of the machines.” Here, too, the manufacturer “must regenerate the day’s schedule given the available resources.”

Pierson recalls once experiencing one quarter of his workforce call in sick during flu season. “What do you do when you expect to run with 100 employees, and you only have 75? They have to be cross trained and you need to know the skills of each person. “That is the heart of scheduling. 1. Every team member has the same plan. 2. The plan is visible throughout the facility. 3. You can recalibrate the plan given the difficulties,” he says.


MIE Trak Pro will run an entire organization. “We go from quote to cash. and everything in between estimates, scheduling, purchasing, inventory, packaging, shipping, accounting and payment,” says Pierson.

The system is easy to scale, he says. “We have some customers with only two to three people who use our software. Our largest customer issues tens of thousands of quotes per month.”

Diverse operations are a main focus at MIE Solutions. “We have one company that builds only 100 pieces per year, but they are all high-value components. Another company produces 200,000 parts a year. It may not be the same number of users, or parts, but we are familiar with all varieties and our system is very scalable.”


One example of being flexible on scale is serving customers that have multiple locations or multiple divisions, each doing something different. “We can roll it up under one parent company but we can manage multiple locations individually,” Pierson says.

Each factory may want to share workloads, while managing all the data points from a central site. They will want to figure out, “‘can we move an order to another location?’ ‘Yes, instantly.’ What if you use one location to finish your cut material, another to polish and paint, another to assemble, and the last is in charge of shipments? Being able to coordinate all that is important,” he says.

Another obstacle for many shops is when they are trying to integrate an acquisition, and each company has its own different legacy ERP system. “How do these companies unify under one system? We can take acquisitions and roll them into the master program and everyone can use it together. Say you have one division with spreadsheets and a second division is running an old manufacturing execution system (MES). We can bring all the different sources of data into our software, upgrade the standards, align them to use all the same part numbers, and streamline costing programs to understand the overall P&L,” Pierson says.


Some MIE Solutions customers have used the ERP system for 15 years “and now they want us to evaluate whether or not they have been making the best use of their system.” So the company started a new service, MIE Report Card, which evaluates the top 12 to 15 functions. “We measure how their current and historical data aligns with their organization’s goals,” Pierson explains.

“Surprises are common. One thing manufacturers worry about is margin decay. Why aren’t I making the same amount of profit? Has the cost of sales increased?” When leadership comprehends their data and processes, they can make more informed decisions, and the company becomes more competitive.

“We want to help them become more savvy,” he continues. That includes risk assessments. “Customers and potential customers will come to us saying they have choices. 1. Build a bigger facility. That’s risky. 2. Buy a fancy new piece of equipment. That’s also risky. 3. Try to be more efficient with what already exists. We provide option No. 3.”

Pierson says there has been amazing facility expansions and machine purchases among end users served by MIE Solutions. “But if they can get higher production out of the same facility, with the same staff and the same materials,” the risk is much lower. MIE Solutions helps customers to maximize the current environment and, when they want to take the bigger risk, the software will help managers “measure everything and create the cost justification” for the expansion.


Customer retention is a vital goal for manufacturing companies. “It’s expensive to find a new customer so most will spend less money to retain existing customers. Those customers want a fair price, they want to hear from you and they want you to deliver.”

The next goal is to grow business activity with the same customers: “Grab more of their projects; don’t just contract a production run for 10 parts, but 30 parts. It has to start with that so you don’t let your customers slip away,” Pierson says.

One of the built-in features of MIE Trak Pro is the customer relationship management (CRM) system. It performs basic tasks, of course, like tracking customer communication and activity. “It will also examine whether you served them properly in the past. It keeps track of communications, every job, and opens the system up for transparency.”

Soon, says Pierson, MIE Trak Pro plans to feature customer portals so they can see where their own jobs are in the production and shipment process. Allowing sales and customer service to have all the information and be ready to answer questions is necessary. “Customers want answers and they want them to be accurate,” Pierson says. Using Trak Pro, “you can tell them why their order will be there by Friday. And the customer will believe you because your information is so detailed.”


Another development for MIE Trak Pro customers is shareable dashboards. For employees, a dashboard displaying key performance indicators (KPI) “is a way to create a sense of urgency at work, to keep up with what is happening around you,” Pierson says. “Am I faster at the same speed or slower than my peers? Am I part of a winning team? It’s nice to know, ‘hey, we set a record today.’ It’s a motivational tool.”

For managers, a dashboard lets them know whether the shop is productive. “I talked with one company owner about whether he should use dashboards. He said that his people ‘look busy,’ but I know from experience that looking busy doesn’t mean workers are efficient and productive,” says Pierson.

With the dashboard, users know what’s trending: how many hours did the employee add value to the product today? If the standard of operation is to complete a task in one hour, was it done in 45 minutes or 75 minutes? If an employee performed at a high level for 6.5 hours last shift, that’s very helpful to know,” according to Pierson.

“A well implemented ERP system helps align the goals of the people on the shop floor and those in the office towards the same goals and expectations.”

MIE Solutions, 714/786-6230,



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