For the first time, in September, FPT Software had introduced akaMES (Manufacture management system) – a digitalized solutions for factories to manage, supervise, and synchronize real-time manufacture procedures, from raw material processing to finished products.
10 years to understand the pain of factories
akaMES is a solution born 100% out of the efforts from FPT Software, and can solve the persistent “pain” of factories that had lasted for decades, including those hailed as “brilliant manufacturing” of the time.
Since around 10 years ago, Mr. Le Minh Quan, an IT engineer had worked both in Vietnam and abroad to learn about new technology models at factories. However, after these years, in factories of both developing and developed nations, he realized that even smart factories – those called “brilliant manufacturing”, are facing mutual “pain points”.
First of all, most factories lack a comprehensive system that can manage machineries in real time, and is able to be integrated in manufacturing schedules. Therefore, when there are problems with the machineries, managers will not be able to give immediate estimation on the impact that the resulting downtime causes to the actual manufacturing cost.
Second, factories are missing one solution that can closely supervises material allocation to specific lines and machines. As a result, managers will find it hard to pinpoint the exact reason to occurring problems during these allocations, and cannot deprive suitable rectifications.
Third, factories are weak in backward tracking, and therefore cannot find the source that causes damaged products, low quality materials, or lacking in performance of employees…
While these pain points are mostly Mr. Quan’s personal experience, his conclusions are very much similar to the results of a research presented in 2017, at a Summit for Leaders in WBR Digital & Smart Manufacturing. The research is done via surveying 100 factories leading in car manufacturing, FMCG, chemistry, energy, and defense.
In particular, the research had shown that 50% of these factories find their current technology ill-fitted to their manufacturing demands. And even with the knowledge of this pain point, most of them are not yet ready for transforming and investing in new equipment and technologies. Among those, 31% listed system integration as their major reason.
In reality, most reports on manufacturers are often researches and indirect surveys, rather than practical experience. Meanwhile, with 10 years of experience, spent in direct contact and working with factories, Mr. Quan clearly understand what’s actually happening there.
Having gather an adequate amount of know-hows, as well as a kindling to making technological product, Mr. Quan had come to FPT Software in 2016, determined to develop products that may counter the mutual pain point of factories. And finally, in 2018, in the heat of production at FPT Software, he had proposed an idea on akaMES, and later encouraged by Mr. Nguyen Duc Kinh – CEO of VI MFG.
Since April 2019, Quan had gone on to become the Product Owner of akaMES in realizing his dream for solving the “pain” of many factories.
Persuading customers even before akaMES’s birth
Products are normally only commercialized after its completion. However, akaMES has already attracted customers before, for it satisfies a persisting need of businesses. A month before the development of akaMES, Sonion – an European company that majors in making products for the deaf, had contacted FPT Software to discuss making a solution to their manufacturing line.
Sonion was extremely interested in the product, and thus had sent 11 specialists to work with FPT Software. Among the 11 are 7 specialists from Sonion itself, and another 3 are from OBNG – Sonion’s advisory partner. Those from OBNG are experts of 20-30 years of experience in retail, estate, commerce, marketing, as well as supply chain and inventory management.
The firm wanted to quickly reach an agreement on akaMES, and as a result had set a deadline of 3 days for the discussion to end. And it was by no means exaggerating to say those days were full of mind battles.
In 3 consecutive days, 9 hours each day, 11 experts from Sonion constantly inquire FPT Software on the technical aspect of akaMES. Questions asked includes: whether the product can be integrated to systems, what is the deployment model, what are the management layers from workers to managers to high officials, and so on. Set with the mission to counter FPT Software, OBNG plays the role of pushing the height of discussion, wanting to prompt FPT to reveal akaMES’s weaknesses. Yet, Sonion found themselves agreeing more and more after each discussion, even sometimes ending OBNG’s arguments to move on to other aspects.
As OBNG ran out of arguments against FPT Software, it started to prompted for actual examples of businesses using akaMES with actual results. Should FPT Software be able to answer to this inquiry, Sonion will further believe in any resulting partnership with FPT Software. Knowing this, the team rushed with all their might to complete the product to introduce it to new customers.
FPT Software had thoroughly impressed Sonion with akaMES’ technical features via the discussions, as well as headed the firm to more advanced ones, in order to provide better service and integration for possible further feature expansion. Furthermore, instead of selling the product with its existing features, FPT Software had convinced Sonion that, HR allocation is the medium to understanding the firm’s internal struggles and demands. The result is direct working with the akaMES team, and the team shall answer to any requirements from Sonion.
In fact, this can compared to buying clothes off the rack and having clothes designed and tailored. It is apparent that the tailored “clothes” will always be more fitting and suitable to the firm.
Further dreams ahead
Having waited an entire decade to be able to make the product, to Mr. Quan, akaMES is not simply a solution and a technology that integrates various applications for factories. In fact, akaMES represents his dream of “easing the pain” (aka the prevalent problems) of factories, those he had witnessed through years. In 2020, Mr. Quan hopes that akaMES will help around 100 factories, with 3000 employees in Vietnam and Japan.
After spending 10 years in manufacturing, and as the one who directly create the product, Mr. Quan and the akaMES team is not prideful only of their product’s quality, but also of their “sale” ability. For them, nobody can acclaim the products as well as those that birthed it. And with this in mind, Mr. Quan is inspiring the team to create documents and flagship the product sale strategy by focusing on technological contents regarding the products. This is very much different to the price competitive approach adopted by most outsourcing firms.
The journey of moving from an outsourcing firm to making products at FPT Software had never been an easy one. Yet, rich experience and passion had ensured success stories for many project teams, including those that worked on akaMES, akaDoc…
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