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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Why you should do this when looking at Business Performance

Raising Performance is always a challenge (many a sleepless night) but it’s not just about getting it right in your manufacturing processes, it’s about looking at your business as a whole.

Recently, we were asked to support a £40m turnover company with an objective to reduce costs.

Now, although Reducing Costs (and in particular eliminating waste) is an excellent focus, you can sometime lose sight of what other advantages/opportunities there may be, new market opportunities, sales optimisation, finance, etc.

During our detailed business diagnostic, it became apparent that there were some fantastic opportunities to be realised with particular projects on Increasing Growth and Efficiency Savings.

With TCMUK’s Business Practitioners coaching and mentoring our customers internal team, a total of £700K+ efficiency savings, £1M in cash flow improvement and a 17% growth opportunity have been realised so far within the business, with further projects being highlighted for implementation over the next 2/3 years.

So remember, step back and look at the whole business not just the usual suspects (this goes for any size organisation) and you’ll be confident (and hopefully sleeping) knowing you are focused on the right things.

And don’t forget, if getting results like this is on your agenda and you’re looking for some sector expertise, call on 0330 311 2820

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The new ISO9001:2015 standard has arrived.

It focuses on a process-based approach with the aim to produce a desired outcome. Several changes have occurred from the 9001:2008 version: The process approach strongly emphasises that the Quality Management System has to be woven into and fully aligned with an organisation’s strategic direction.

The PDCA (plan-do-check-act) methodology is overlaid on the system of processes, which apply both to individual processes as well as the Quality Management System as a whole. A strong focus on risk-based thinking is required now! It is aimed at “preventing unfavourable outcomes,” such as non-conforming products and services.

The standard has now been published and there is a transition period of 3 years to make the necessary changes, so do you have a plan on how you will tackle it?

Quoting BSI, with more than a million organisations certified to ISO 9001, it’s the most widely recognised standard in the world. ISO 9001:2015 sets out requirements for quality management systems, and is suitable for all types of organisations.

It….

Enables you to better align and integrate multiple management standards

Takes a risk-based approach, becoming a tool for preventive action

Moves away from prescriptive paperwork

The standard is currently being rolled out, so if you are looking for a competitive edge within Production and Service areas, ISO9001:2015 maybe it.

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Re-Thinking Being Lean?????

I’ve recently read articles on Lean Manufacturing and in particular how certain businesses have been re-thinking the implementation of Lean.

Now for a bit of background on the articles. All of the business Leaders that started the implementation had been replaced and within 6 months of them being replaced the new Leader had decided to drop the programme. Now most of the stakeholder’s state that their objective is to address the challenges to delivering high-value to the customer, mmmmmm I wonder? By agreeing to drop a programme of business improvement?

Yes, lean takes time, yes lean utilises the front-line workers, yes you have to manage it and believe in it, but Lean is a long term strategy, a set of principles on how you do business, your business DNA. I wonder sometimes with the drive for instant results in a short space of time, particularly from stakeholders, the impatience for money, dividends, investors ultimately see the Leader that introduced the programme removed. This leads me to believe that stakeholders/leaders are either, ignorant, arrogant, none the wiser or have their own interest at heart, on what long term strategy and Implementation actually and physically means. I have been told about the removal of 11 Operations Managers over a 18 month period due to perceived lack of results, you cannot be that wrong in your recruitment process (or perhaps you can but that’s a separate discussion), so leads me to believe it’s the level above that’s the issue.

Now don’t get me wrong, if your haemorrhaging money within operations due to scrap or process variation don’t go and implement a 5S programme. Instead stop the haemorrhaging by attacking the root causes for variation and scrap, get controllable and predictable outputs. 5S may be part of the implementation but it’s not the saviour.

I worked in a number of businesses in my career and still see the same issues regarding short term results oriented thinking that has cost millions (and yes I mean millions in some cases). When I actually know that had the Lean Initiative programme, Operational Excellence, etc. been executed and maintained when it started, those losses wouldn’t have appeared and would have been quite the opposite.

Cost cutting is often a major reason for ditching the latest programme, and Leaders think that through the force of their personality or financial acumen that they are going to be able to fix the business without the aid of every employee in the business, how foolish are they??????

Any Improvement Programme is not going to be easy, but the benefits are massive for everyone, it takes time but ‘time’ is not a reason not to try.

What did make me smile was one of the businesses new Leaders justified the termination of the programme due to that fact that the frontline workers were involved, but in involving them had potentially reduced turnover times by 6.5 mins which equated into £410000/year of increased revenue.

Lean Manufacturing, business Improvement, whatever you call it, is not a short term strategy, but that’s not a reason not to pursue it.

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The Productivity Puzzle and Lean

I’ve never been one to shout about Lean, Six Sigma or Theory of Constraints, to individuals to solve a solution. I personally have though, applied the tools and techniques to resolve a situation or gain an opportunity I have faced. Granted, it’s not just about the application of tools and techniques, it’s equally important to focus on People, Culture and Managing Change within today’s organisations and society. Every single person has touched or been a part of a Lean process, within our everyday life from grocery shopping to our work we will have been in contact with lean in motion.

The interesting thing I have noticed recently are the articles beginning to appear regarding “is Lean at a crossroads?” and “How Lean is perceived today” particularly in the UK (but perhaps globally). An article by Morpheus Group stated “Businesses are taking a much more pragmatic approach, using a blend of tools….with very few businesses labeling their Corporate Programmes as Lean”.

It does seem that Lean and other Japanese terms associated with it are perceived a risk to alienating the workforce. I wonder why? Are we that uncomfortable with something that is not invented by us?? Are we hiding behind the terms as an excuse not to change??? (There is no doubting it is hard to implement and sustain, but that should never be an excuse). When I personally think about these questions it’s never been about the wording (don’t get me wrong I do cringe with some of them) but it’s about the application, execution/implementation that is key and the right behaviours that drive it so that we can benefit from it.

Businesses are placing a lot of importance on Strategic Cost Saving and Quality. This is absolutely fundamental in “Change” for any business. Strategy and Performance Management, Policy Deployment, Hoshin Kanri, whatever you choose to call it, is the back bone of your business, it is how you do business.

I believe Business Improvement is more important today than it ever has been with the globalisation of markets. What is it that gives us the competitive edge? In particular UK Productivity remains below pre-recession levels. I have been in discussion groups where an estimated 40% of productivity is lost through non value added activities, an estimated £3 Billion cost. Something Lean, Six Sigma, TOC can certainly impact.

This debate will carry on and involves so much from skills, impact on society, etc., etc.

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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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Less Can be More in Report Writing – telling the Story Using an A3 Report.

Some contacts asking about A3 Problem Solving, I thought I would do a quick overview.

Problem solving is about thinking, but writing things down can help thinking as well.

Using the A3 process we can document key information and decisions each step of the way which can then be shared with others, to get input, and make modifications by using that input.

Why A3? Originally it was because much of the communication across Toyota (the various sites and nations) was by fax, and this was the largest size paper that could fit in a fax machine. (Amazing how some things materialise)

A3 Problem Solving Template

The key fundamental about A3 reports is not the format or the finesse with which you fill in the different sections which fancy drawings, charts etc. It’s the COMMUNICATION process. The A3 is fundamental to the process of problem solving and decision-making. It allows the most critical of information to be shared with your business or businesses for others to evaluate on the thought processes used and as a means for requesting support and advice, which in turn aligns everyone in the organisation on how the A3 will move forward.

The above image is a typical layout (not set in stone though, as previously mentioned the format is not the point), but it highlights the different stages and guidelines for completion.

For anyone interested contact me and I’ll send the guide and some examples in PowerPoint format. My personal opinion is use paper and pencil for a start.

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We’re different it won’t work here

It’s been an interesting month, great meetings, new contacts and one of the most interesting presentations I‘ve given regarding Operational Excellence and Problem Solving.

The presentation was given to the Manufacturing and Construction sectors as part of a Seminar/Workshop.

The comments at the end we’re ones I have heard over and over again, “We’re Different, it won’t work here!

Is “we’re different” an excuse not try to improve?

This got me thinking in one of my reflective moments, what is it that naturally creates this push back? Do we think that Business Excellence, Operational Excellence, Lean or Six Sigma is a technical tool and technique, only applied to manufacturing, high volume processes, etc? Is it we naturally assume that it’s for the automotive industry?

There are a number of answers you can come up with that can be assigned to this emotion and push back.

So we have to ask ourselves

Do business improvement principles (as that is all they are) apply to pretty much every process? Yes, I’d say so. Does that mean its easy to put in place? Absolutely not. But that, along with being different, should be no reason to not try.

Which leads me on from last month’s article REFLECTION! and into OPERATIONAL EXCELLENCE TRANSFORMATION

We must first seek to understand what is it we are trying to solve, what problem? This could be as an organisation, function, sub-process.

Then we must ask,

What process improvement needs to be done? What do I need to design, re-design, improve to solve our problem and achieve our objective?

Next,

Do I have the capability in house? Do I have the skillset within my team?

We then come to,

What mindset do I need to have? Growth? (One of learning as we do not have the capability in house), Implementation (I have the capability so execute, or get support if you don’t), Experimental (try and test)

Remembering that Leadership behaviour and Programme Management are the key. The governance process you apply.

Final thought – it’s often said that “Operational Excellence doesn’t succeed or fail… it’s just a set of principles. What succeeds or fails is the organisation or the leaders who try.” Success isn’t guaranteed — it requires hard work and creativity to figure out how will work in your setting, because you are different!

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