4 Reasons Why Manufacturing Excellence Is Within Reach…
Finding opportunities for improvement is easy, but taking the steps necessary to improve is much more challenging. The unfortunate mess in my basement is proof of that. I wrote a list of “basement improvements,” but boxes sit against the wall and shelves still aren’t hung.
Too often, process improvement faces a similar challenge in manufacturing. We recognize steps for improvement, but taking them is more difficult. But I believe now, more than ever, manufacturing excellence is within reach. Here are a few simple reasons why:
- Seamless, integrated communication is possible (and affordable). To manage change and ensure quality, shop floor workers need access to up-to-the-minute information and the latest plans. Managers need access to quality control and other data instantly so they can rapidly respond and make informed decisions. With improvements to data collection, integrated MES software systems, wireless networks, and secure mobile technology, seamless communication is not only feasible, but easy to implement using the right tools.
- Lean and Six Sigma processes are sustainable. There is no doubt Lean and Six Sigma processes improve efficiency, work flow, and inventory control, leading to improved shop floor processes and company profit. According to the Manufacturing Advisory Service in the UK, implementing Lean manufacturing principles will, on average, improve productivity 25%, reduce scrap levels 26%, and improve delivery performance by 26%. The challenge has been sustaining improvements. MES systems implement and maintain a production system that takes advantage of improvements through procedural enforcement and controlled processes.
- Shop floor workers are becoming more proficient with technology. Mobile technology is revolutionizing manufacturing, and is now as commonplace as the smart phone. In fact, according to AdAge, 4.8 billion (out of 6 billion) people on the planet have a mobile phone (and only 4.2 billion own a toothbrush)! In an age where everyone has multiple home computers and many of us spend more time browsing the web than watching TV, we all find it much easier to accept new technology, even on the shop floor.
- Quick implementation of new technology is possible. Implementing an MES project doesn’t necessarily mean taking production offline for an extended period of time. There are currently OOTB (Out Of The Box) projects that deliver the functionality manufacturers need, and can be implemented and go live in production in 90 days or less (sometimes, much less). Creating an implementation plan with short, focused phases can show an almost immediate ROI.
The truth is, production shops are dynamic environments where change, both planned and unplanned, is the norm. Technology has improved and processes developed to give us the capability to manage change and risk, and deliver quality results in less time and money.
The goal of this blog, Paperless Manufacturing, is to focus on manufacturing excellence and what steps we can take to get there. Manufacturing excellence is a lofty goal, but it’s not one we can ignore. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, U.S. manufacturing produces $1.7 trillion dollars of value each year. For every $1 spent in manufacturing, $1.35 is added to the economy. We have too much riding on manufacturing not to strive for excellence.
If you have an idea for a blog topic, a question you want to ask, or an issue you want to discuss, let us know. If you have something you want to add to the conversation (and who doesn’t want to be heard), leave a comment. We’re listening. You can email us here. Improvement should be the goal for all of us. Next week we’ll talk about mobile technology, manufacturing, and what you should look for as you plan for the future.