In an interview with Insights Success, Louis Columbus, Principle of IQMS, gave some thought-provoking insights about the company and the industry. IQMS is a leading manufacturer of ERP software that enables the aerospace and defense industry to meet regulatory requirements and ensure quality and safety. Below is the portion of the interview between Louis and Insights Success:
Tell us how it all started and what was the pivotal moment? Also tell us something about Randall and Gary?
IQMS, founder, Randall Flamm began his career in 1973 as a maintenance engineer at a Northern California plastics molding facility. Recognizing the lack of commercially available manufacturing software, Flamm developed a program targeting the information needs of the polymer industry. In 1989, Flamm founded IQMS and continued to evolve the ERP system to support the diverse needs of the company’s growing customer base. Soon customers across a range of industries—aerospace and defense (A&D), automotive, food and beverage, medical device, discrete industrial, and plastics, among others—began relying on their IQMS ERP systems daily to produce high-quality products on schedule. A visionary, Flamm recognized that compliance, quality management, process improvement, speed, and time-to-market would be powerful differentiating factors for manufacturers. He designed the IQMS ERP system to scale on these dimensions, ensuring customers’ expectations and needs would be met and exceeded for years to come. With Flamm’s retirement in 2015, Gary Nemmers joined IQMS as CEO and president.
Flamm, Nemmers, and the senior management team re-oriented every aspect of the company—from the product roadmap to sales, implementation and services strategies—to help customers attain more challenging quality goals faster than ever. In the A&D industry, IQMS is helping manufacturers turn compliance and quality into competitive advantages. Notably, attaining International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) export control and Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) product safety compliance is a daunting task, and the visibility provided by IQMS’s unified ERP platform has enabled A&D manufacturers to excel on this dimension of their manufacturing strategy. Visibility enabled by IQMS also empowers A&D manufacturers with insights to optimize quality assurance, process improvement, and speed to delivery.
What are the red ocean Aerospace/Defense services provided by IQMS that make you ‘Customer’s First Choice’?
A&D manufacturers need to balance growth, profitability, quality, and time-to-market goals with excelling at meeting U.S. and foreign government-mandated requirements, including those from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the U.S. Department of Defense. Across the U.S. and foreign governments, requirements for safety, quality, supply chain visibility — with customer requirements flowing down to sub-suppliers, cost controls, transaction history, customer, and agency contract audit support — change often. This makes an agile, flexible manufacturing system essential for attaining growth goals. IQMS’s ERP system is purpose-built to address these challenges, often learned directly from working closely with customers.
IQMS’s software enables A&D manufacturers to address AS9100 Rev. C and D requirements for ensuring the safety and reliability of products for the aerospace industry, with support for tracking and traceability, document control that meets government-defined standards, and record storage. IQMS’s ERP system also lets A&D manufacturers meet ITAR export requirements across their supply chains, reducing the risk of fines and protecting sensitive intellectual property.
Seeking to continuously improve time-to-market and process efficiency without sacrificing quality, A&D manufacturers increasingly rely on real-time data. With real-time data, manufacturers can galvanize their shop floor performance by finding potential compliance and quality problems faster, monitoring the health of machines, including tracking overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) and identifying potential areas of a production delay. IQMS supports these customers with RealTime™ Production and Process Monitoring. Using these IQMS modules, A&D manufacturers can monitor process and production performance in real time, receiving notifications when production parameters for work center machines, production assets, or other factors are out of variance and need to be fixed. Real-time alerts save A&D manufacturers hundreds of thousands of dollars a year and accumulated months of downtime.
By designing an ERP system aimed at empowering A&D customers to excel at compliance, quality, process improvement, and time-to-market, IQMS is making speed, scale, and simplified operations all achievable goals for A&D manufacturers globally.
What do you see as the things an Aerospace/defense company can do to improve its approach to innovation?
The quickest path to increased innovation for A&D manufacturers is to excel at delivering excellent customer experiences in commercial aircraft, as Boeing is doing today with the 787 Dreamliner. Commercial carriers will continue to battle for customers, making in-cabin traveler experiences critical for greater sales growth. Already, A&D industry innovators are harnessing newer technologies to speed time-to-market, address a growing backlog of orders, improve quality, and create more personalized traveler experiences. These include additive manufacturing, machine learning, smart automation, and blockchain projects and initiatives. Other A&D manufacturers will need to follow suit to remain competitive. For defense-related aerospace and aircraft providers, the quickest path to innovation is using Six Sigma techniques to attain customer-driven innovation.
Considering the current wave of technology and innovation that’s changing the market for good, what are your strategies for increasing innovation at IQMS?
IQMS closely collaborates with customers and listens to what their needs, pains, and evolving business models require from their ERP systems. IQMS founder, Randall Flamm, put in place solid, scalable processes and systems that ensure the company collaborates with customers in creating new products and services. It is a foundational value of IQMS as a company, and it is excellent for fueling innovation. One of the many innovations resulting from collaboration is IQMS WebIQ, which provides manufacturing intelligence in real time across the shop floor, providing the potential to revolutionize A&D manufacturing while driving higher quality, better compliance, and faster time-to-market.
It also enables customers to capitalize on the massive data sets being generated by the millions of sensors proliferating in manufacturing today as a result of Internet of Things (IoT) adoption.
What is the revolutionary change you are experiencing in the industry? How is IQMS strategizing for that?
The greatest revolution we see today is how A&D manufacturers are looking to gain greater supply chain visibility while improving compliance and quality. Balancing supply chain execution and compliance with an ever-increasing series of laws and regulations—while maintaining quality—is a tremendous challenge. We’re strategizing on new ways to meet this challenge by listening to our customers, visiting with them often, and working to create a single, scalable unified ERP system that addresses these three core areas. In the A&D market, the cloud is an enabling technology, driven by the need for greater speed of deployment and supply chain reach. Staying committed to compliance, quality management, process improvement, and faster time-to-market will continue to be the foundation we rely on in bringing value to customers during these turbulent times in the A&D industry.
About the Key Executive Principle at IQMS, Louis Columbus, was previously director, global cloud product management at Ingram Cloud. Previous positions include product marketing at iBASEt, Plex Systems, senior analyst at AMR Research (now Gartner), marketing and business development at Cincom Systems, Ingram Micro, a SaaS start-up and at hardware companies. Louis is also a member of the Enterprise Irregulars. His background includes marketing, product management, sales, and industry analyst roles in the enterprise software and IT industries.