Manufacturing and The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things – IoT (Wikipedia) is the network of physical objects or “things” embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity, which enables these objects to collect and exchange data.

The IoT has created a lot of conversations, some stating it’s all hype, some questioning it’s benefits more of something for the future and obviously the ones in support.

Now let’s not pretend here, the IoT is already here, we have smart houses, apps for lights, heating, music, etc. Recently, my neighbours installed a security system which allowed them to view, check, and switch their alarm on and off accessed from internet, this also alerted him to security issues around the property (the most important aspect). So we can’t say it’s not here already.

Now put this into the manufacturing environment.

Some renowned manufacturers have already started investing in hardware, software, and networking systems. Build the IoT infrastructure now to capitalise on its benefits.

I read in an article recently that GE anticipates $19 trillion in profits and cost savings projected over the next decade.

One major area I can see the benefit is Energy Efficiency. To be able to track all facilities, machines energy consumption on a granular level, this visibility will give feedback on a machines abnormal to normal status, something that we can action, countermeasure, control. It will highlight our waste, our areas for improvement, and better understanding of our costs and how to control them. And as stated this has to be a major benefit for manufacturing, something I certainly wanted as an Exec.

The ability to benchmark similar machines/resources, predict maintenance issues with surges in unusual energy consumption, highlighting the out of hours energy waste and being able to control and manage this. All of these will have a direct impact on the bottom line and this is just scratching the service.

The connectivity within production processes is another example, let’s say a machine is not running at optimal performance, this machine would send an alarm highlighting it’s situation to the production team, it could then slow itself down (as not to self-destruct) communicate with its upstream and downstream processes and slow them down limiting the amount of lost production and or downtime and controlling the standard in process stock.

Bosch’s Stefan Ferber stated “The Internet of Things allows for a new way of organising industry production: by connecting machines, warehousing systems and goods, we can create smart production systems that basically control each other without requiring any manual intervention.”

I will always remember the saying “ the Data will set you free” by allowing you to make “Informed Decisions”, can’t get much better than real time data, and that’s the possibility with IoT.

The Internet of Things global economic impact is massive. Approx. 25% of Global Manufacturers are already using IoT technology, this is expected to grow to 80% by 2025. In reading different articles/surveys most cannot put a definitive figure on the potential impact but the range is between $1.9 to $14.4 trillion dollars on the global economy.

Digital Manufacturing Stats from ASQ:

The American Society for Quality (ASQ) surveyed manufacturing companies that have digitised their processes and found astounding results:

  • 82% increased efficiency
  • 49% experienced fewer product defects
  • 45% increased customer satisfaction

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Manage Time as a Resource

If your managing time in all sectors of the business, from Sales, Product Development and Production it will result in shorter planning and development cycles, as well as less process time in manufacturing.

Whether you’re a manufacturer making computer components, tin cans, widgets or an individual working in a purchasing department producing orders, reports, or budgets you are still producing an output, an output that someone wants.

We all have our processes (inputs) and transform them into something someone wants (outputs).

Time is the key element to control within our processes, for this we use standard work.

The establishment of time based standardised processes is the greatest key to creating consistent performance. Only when the process is stable you can begin the creative process of improvement.

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Improving Performance – Engineering Company Case Study

Increased Delivery, Increased Sales

**No images or Business Name as Customer NDA in place**

Opportunity

This Private Equity owned business was under performing against budget. Particular attention was required within the operational areas with Productivity and On Time Delivery drifting.

The Managing Director required a system to: communicate the strategy, allocate resources, focus and align actions, and control business drift. He wanted to ensure that all key improvement activities had ownership, responsibility, accountability and the relevant training and practitioner support required to increase overall company performance.

Improvement

Working with the Managing Director & Executive Team the decision of implementing Strategy Deployment and A3 Problem Solving was agreed along with hands-on project execution support.

Training was given to all Management and Leaders in what Policy Deployment and A3 Problem Solving is, what benefits and how the process should be structured to enable execution of the business objectives. Key fundamentals were as follows:

  • Identify the few, long term breakthrough objectives that are critical to long term success of the company.
  • Link these objectives with specific action plans throughout the organisation.
  • Focus and align the company’s internal organisations to achieve these long-term objectives.
  • Turn the strategic plan into a year – over – year action plan.
  • Coaches and Mentors others

Workshops were held to ascertain the critical improvement activities to be focused on within the business. Training and Coaching was given to the owners of each A3 Plan on how to manage and communicate through the A3 process. Guidance and training to understand background, current state, problem definition, analysis, actions and follow up.

Management Control Rooms were introduced with regular performance reviews held with all owners and stakeholders present. Ongoing coaching and mentoring in Management Behaviour for the process along with business improvement training and our Lean Coaching Programme to ensure execution and sustainability. Operational Excellence and Process Optimisation workshops/projects were completed covering Sales, Purchasing & Logistics, Operations and Planning.

The company significantly impacted it’s financial position over a 9 month period,

  • Increasing Sales by 20%
  • Delivery by 33%
  • Efficiency by 28%.

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The 7 Wastes, they rob us blind!

Getting your teams SEEING & ELIMINATING WASTE is a grass root fundamental in business nowadays.

Sounds obvious really, but how many people came to work today to spend their time on waste? Some maybe! But not most. So what is waste, and how do you identify it?

Some waste is obvious. But other forms of waste are more difficult to spot or to solve. I’m sure in most organisations it’s sometimes very difficult to identify what is waste and what is not, but make no mistake the root of all unprofitable activity links back to them.

7 Wastes Infographic

Identifying and eliminating waste should not be a rare event conducted by process re-engineering every few years. It should be a regular process, built into regular iterations, determined as much as possible by your people, and tackled in small, timely steps.

Making improvements little-but-often in this way creates a culture of continuous improvement – a learning environment – which for some organisations could potentially give you the edge over competitors.

The 7 Wastes: (These 7 Wastes come to work every day, never have a day’ off sick or take a holiday, they don’t pick-up a salary, BUT they rob us blind! Meet the HIDDEN Employee TIM WOOD)

T – Transport: The conveyance or transportation of material or parts adds no value

I –  Inventory: Inventory is any quantities of parts or material held within the system which are not being worked on.

M – Motion: Any motion by operators or machines when carrying out cycles of work which does not add value, IS WASTE!

W – Waiting: occurs when either material or operators wait for machines to complete cycles of work.

O – Overproduction: occurs when product is manufactured in excess of customer demand or in advance of customer demand.

O – Over-Processing: Where resource or effort is applied to a product or process that adds cost but no value for the customer.

D – Defects: (including all rework): Any manufactured product which does not meet customer requirements after the normal process, IS WASTE!

7 Wastes within a process

For further information on how we can help you eliminate these wastes, call 0330 311 2820 or email info@tcmuklimited.co.uk

Many thanks for reading this. If you liked it then please share this post with your networks or better still leave your thoughts in the form of a comment. Constructive comments are always welcome and if you have questions on the subject matter you can connect with me on LinkedIn and send me a message.

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Manufacturing Websites, to web or not to web?

Recently I started a discussion regarding SMEs and their websites, the discussion started with this quote “an interesting observation this week whilst working, how many SMEs lack an all singing all dancing website. What’s the reason, with 90+% of people now looking on line this should be a priority.” Now all singing all dancing to me means bringing a Return on Investment. Here some excellent extracts and comments from the people involved, I’ve tried to get a balance within the discussion, and this is not my area of expertise.

Ashley Pearce: “In research I conducted recently an overwhelming number of those involved with Business Development in the UK Manufacturing Sector didn’t understand the actual function of a website.
Where does it fit in? Is it just a standalone item? Is it our “Digital shopfront“? Is it relevant in our industry?
These were common questions that we arrived at after a short discussion with most. It’s what inspired a number of articles explaining the “System of Modern Sales & Marketing” over on the Manufacturing Network UK Blog.
Fundamentally a Website is often NOT, but SHOULD be seen as, “Part of a System” for attracting, nurturing and converting leads into customers. Can you see the many ways your website & web presence CAN contribute to the system?”

Ashley Pearce: “For me, the most effective way to explain how a website “Fits in” has been to direct them towards the subject of “Inbound Marketing” – with FAIR WARNING. As we say over on the Manufacturing Network Blog almost weekly, “Wear Your Manufacturing Industry Blinkers” when reading anything about marketing your business online.

Most of the information, content and articles out there explaining how it works is NOT written for you, the UK Manufacturer. I think this is why an Integrated approach to Online Marketing and Offline Sales for UK Manufacturing has been very slow to evolve. Lack of “Context” – Explained in the UK Manufacturing Industry context, we may start to see some savvy marketers leaping ahead of the competition”

Garry Taylor: “There is a feeling that unless you can get on the first 2 pages of Google there’s no Point having a Web page. as we don’t actually do sales transactions over the Internet we view as an online brochure with the blog giving any up to date info and an opportunity for feedback plus, small companies are being pushed to pay per click. Everyone knows most people clicking on your sight are not buying so you pay for nothing.”

Richard Stinson: “I spent many years in the engineering sector, from toolmaker to technical sales and I had the privilege of working directly and indirectly with many SME’s as well as the giants like Rolls and BAE. I came to realise quite quickly that the big boys have regular web trawls looking for potential suppliers, just in case their current suppliers let them down or become swamped with work. They literally have a file of reserve suppliers on their list found online. The moral of this story is that unless the SME’s had an effective web presence they were overlooked for many of these lucrative contracts.”

Alan Kent: “Whilst I can appreciate that having a web site might bring you some business, not having one will definitely bring you none. I do feel that it is becoming a bit BS5750-ish though as having a fancy web site costs money that many SMEs would rather channel into capital equipment or a decent salesman who will definitely generate revenues. I can recall putting in a lot of effort into attaining BS5750 in the 1990s which cost a lot of time and money and brought in no sales leads whatsoever. At the time no-one had realised that it was simply a way of showing that you had a process and was never expected to generate leads but without it, you would definitely get no leads.”

Chris Davis: “There are loads of things you can do here. Small web site intelligently constructed .. put stuff on eBay and Amazon have a blog use social media .. Wiki presence .. the list goes on but none of these are difficult or really expensive. It’s not an option to not have a cyber presence?”

Jeremy Wisner: “The topic concerns the need for an ‘All singing/dancing’ website. For many SMEs, operating in specialist niches, it is questionable about the return on such a site. Absolutely, a solid and informative web presence is a must (largely for contact information and credibility). However, it is in the nature of many niche-SMEs that they will know who their potential customers are and will be cultivating B2B relationships via more direct approaches, rather than hoping to WOW website visitors. Niche products and services, by nature, often require specialised knowledge to explain to USP to potential buyers. Of course, retail is a whole different discussion.
90%+ will look online, yes. However, I’d argue that for the niche players, the hard yards have already been covered by the ‘song and dance’ created offline – backed up by effective SEO work – which again strengthens credibility.”

Adam Payne: “Disagree with you Jeremy, when I look at the SMEs including two that we were looking to acquire in a niche market, had limited website presence and no sales and marketing function, relying on word of mouth and guess how they were performing. If you are looking to expand your business you need an online presence, again as an example, recently I was supporting a company to try and source stretch forming, the search was not easy due to again lack of online presence and SEO setup, I ‘m sure to god there are businesses in the UK, but they missed a big opportunity. Now this is not my area, but if you are happy as a business then you stay as you are, but rest assured someone will be around the corner waiting to pounce if you are not bringing in customers, if you are looking to expand you need multiple marketing pillars and a top website is one of those with an inbound marketing approach (blog showing expertise, contact form with call to action, etc).”

Ashley Pearce: “This discussion thread has done a great deal in exposing the core beliefs that sit behind the reason / purpose / ultimate aim behind a website for a B2B Sales focused business.

The purpose of a website for B2C or retail is completely different. The website can have more to do with sales and sales fulfillment than it can with building the confidence of a prospect and developing a relationship.

Just because they look the same on the outside and are accessed via a web browser does not mean they are the “same thing”.

Fact 1: You are not going to receive sales through your company website in the manufacturing industry. You’re not selling products, you’re selling capability.

Fact 2: Buyers do their searching a researching online before EVER reaching out and asking for information, requesting a quote or expressing interest.

Lesson: If your website doesn’t start a conversation with the Buyers and Engineers visiting it, you will be overlooked…”

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Applying Lean Principles to the Back Office (Manufacturing or Service)

In today’s uncertain financial times it is becoming more and more imperative that businesses look at their activities and focus in on minimising unnecessary costs, reducing waste and improving inefficient procedures.

A large part of any business are the administration costs which represent a significant element of the total business overhead. These office processes are as targetable for process improvement as any traditional manufacturing or production operation.

Lean Office

If fact some sources state that over 60% of the costs of a product or service come from administrative processes. In general, the higher the number of human touches or decision points in a process, the greater the ROI in optimising that process and with an average employee spending 30 to 40 percent of his or her time looking for information they can’t find, these processes are swamped with waste. Most of the users to these processes will have developed workarounds over time, with this comes process slip and inefficiencies.

How do we then start to optimise these processes?

The answer is simply “Apply Lean Principles”.

By defining Value in the eyes of the customer (not the provider) we create a robust specification. We must then build repeatable processes (without waste) to deliver that specification.

My approach has always been Analyse, Design, Implement and Sustain.

Analyse the current situation: process mapping, data gathering, and business assessments.

Design the future state process/structure, design roles and responsibilities, design the implementation plan and communication plan.

Implement: Execute the plan with good leadership commitment and governance (Obeya Room Process, Operations Room, War Room)

Sustain: Conduct follow up reviews, post change assessments to ensure adherence, management reviews of KPI’s (key performance indicators)and implement a framework for continuous improvement.

Tangible Customer Benefits:

  • Sales Customer Facing Time Increased by 245%.
  • Process Efficiency Increased by 95%.
  • 38% of lost Sales back into the business.

Remember:

Reality is invariably different from perception,
Few things work the way we think they do!

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