The faster a manufacturer can identify and eliminate disconnects in manufacturing processes, the more resilient and competitive they become. However, the most challenging gaps can be difficult to pinpoint and solve without the right technology.
Finding disconnects with real-time data
Uncovering where the disconnects or gaps are and knowing if production errors are a symptom or the leading cause of a process gap takes real-time data. When every phase of the manufacturing process is part of a single digital platform, it’s faster to troubleshoot symptoms, identify root causes and know how fast gaps are growing. Therefore, relying on real-time production and process monitoring data to gain greater visibility, control, and insights across every phase of the manufacturing process is vital.
Manufacturers are prioritizing automation spending that increases flexibility and resilience. PwC’s recent survey of 700 manufacturers globally found that 67% say resilience and flexibility are the key drivers of current and future automation spending. The core technologies manufacturers need to stay agile are also proving effective in identifying manufacturing process gaps. Real-time production and process monitoring are core to these efforts.
Creating a roadmap for eliminating process disconnects
The goal is to know where, how, and why gaps in manufacturing processes occur. Fortunately, there’s been much work done in this area. For example, shop floor research eventually led to the Toyota Production System identifying the seven most common process gaps that create waste. The following five steps are a suggested roadmap to help you eliminate disconnects in your manufacturing processes:
- Start by looking at the seven most common sources of waste in manufacturing operations. This is where the research and many years of manufacturers implementing the Toyota Production System pay off. Engineers creating the system found seven core sources of waste across their shop floors, which together generate over 80% of all disconnects a typical manufacturer experiences. They include transportation and management, inventory planning and management, the excess motion of machinery and people, and waiting for machinery and resources to be available. Additional process disconnects happen because of overproduction, overprocessing, and defective products.
- Gain greater visibility into disconnects with real-time production and process monitoring. Think of real-time monitoring as the source of insight and intelligence needed to track down and solve the root cause of a process gap. Identifying why gaps happen and where they start comes from continuously comparing real-time production and process monitoring data. Combining that data in the same historian database on a digital platform the entire manufacturing process runs on is vital.
- Use statistical process control (SPC) to identify why and where disconnects are happening. SPC inspects data from every measurable production process. Manufacturers across all industries have widely adopted SPC as a technique that’s proven effective at quickly finding gaps in and across production processes. Using SPC, manufacturers know if they’re making progress in solving the underlying root causes that led to a gap.
- Set quantifiable goals to track and improve trouble spots using a visual control system. Manufacturers set production and quality goals based on the lessons learned from closing process gaps. The goal is to improve manufacturing operations permanently by making the lessons learned a core part of how they get work done. Going one step further and reporting to everyone on the shop floor and across operations how the company overcame the trouble spot is also vital.
- Take steps to make plant productivity and quality improvements permanent. Manufacturers can’t let the lessons learned from closing process gaps disappear and be lost. Instead, the focus needs to be doubling down on why the gap happened first and how the lessons learned can become part of their manufacturing operations’ core DNA. Making plant productivity and quality improvements permanent occurs when a manufacturer relies on a single, unified digital platform where improvements in one area strengthen the entire manufacturing process company-wide. Combining real-time production and process monitoring data with ERP, MES, WMS, and Quality Management systems help to make sure plant productivity and quality gains become a core part of how a manufacturer operates.
Eliminating disconnects in manufacturing processes needs to start with real-time data. Manufacturers are doubling down on automation to gain the insights needed to decipher why gaps are occurring, identify symptoms and root causes, and take action quickly to solve and permanently eliminate them. The result is a more resilient and flexible manufacturing operation positioned for success in the future.