We are at a strange time in manufacturing. The manufacturing industry is changing rapidly. The advent of new technologies and the availability of large amounts of valuable new data is leading all of us down a path of eventual digital transformation. However, most manufacturers aren’t there yet, and most of the technologies, projects, and processes that will provide these transformations simply aren’t palatable to a large number of businesses… yet.
It is projected that 218 will be a turning point for the industry. Many top consultancies and experts are predicting that 2021 will be a year in which many manufacturers begin their march towards a smarter shop floor, more automated machines, and greater use of data.
Below, we’ve put together a practical list of some of the top projects that will put manufacturers on the right path in 2018. These are projects that deliver ROI quickly and will help move businesses along the path towards a smarter shop floor and eventual digital transformation.
These are projects that should help avoid lengthy implementations and high costs.
1. Centralize All Data, Even Manually Entered Data
We’ve talked about the benefits of this before. Centralizing data is really step 1 for any organization that is hoping for an eventual digital transformation. Additionally, it is the first step towards just about any type of automaton or machine learning project; as these initiatives require lots of GOOD data to operate properly.
Centralizing data goes beyond just getting all the data in place, it means contextualizing it and making it available to everyone that needs to access it. This includes any data that is currently entered manually.
Being able to have all of your data together in a single location means that trends and opportunities can be easily spotted and adjusted. This means solving problems as they occurring; rather than learning about them later after the time to save money by fixing them has passed.
Project Grade: A+
Why: These projects are very low-cost, quick, and deliver a fast cost-payback. Making one or two processes more efficient could massively reduce overtime work or cut downtime in half.
2.) Get off of paper
This is something else we have discussed before. One manufacturer we spoke with recently claimed these benefits of removing paper spreadsheets and processes…
- Looking at scrap detail
- Evaluating downtime detail
- Seeing what regular production looked like
- Being able to look at this info multiple times a day to see when it was actually shifting
- and more…
Paper processes typically don’t provide the accuracy or relevance to help manufacturers do these things. If the paper processes do produce good data, that data usually isn’t reviewed until a much later time; when the opportunities to do anything about outliers or issues are gone. Additionally, paper data is typically not reviewed across the organization on a regular basis; removing its value considerably.
At the end of the day, there aren’t any manufacturers that will tell that their efforts to get off of paper were a waste of effort. It is universally a praised and welcomed improvement inside of manufacturing businesses.
Project Grade: A-
Why: These projects are usually inexpensive and offer huge benefits in being able to increase machine uptime and improve quality and performance. They can be painful for many in the beg.; as many are used to their paper processes, but few miss it once its gone.
3.) Change incentives to reward team performance
Manufacturing businesses have a lot of different teams and departments that all rely on each other for ultimate success. They all need to be on the same page and understand how they are measured to be successful. Some companies give financial rewards for consistently hitting departmental KPIs. Others give additional time off or let the teams leave early.
Manufacturers typically find that some shifts and operators do better than others. However, existing incentive models often leave out an important opportunity for improvement. Encourage information sharing so you can raise the overall performance of the plant and have the operators help each other.
By just rewarding top-performing areas, the lower performing areas may miss out on the information that is driving the other teams forward. Incentive’s for departmental or organization-wide performance should be encouraged. Furthermore, efforts towards cross-department data-sharing should be both rewarded and encouraged.
Project Grade: B
Why: This project can have a transformative effect on overall manufacturing performance if done properly inside of the right organizations. Many manufacturers even believe that their current incentives may encourage bad data collecting. These types of organizational incentives can help reduce that. However, these projects may not fit every organization.