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The current buzz-term “Big Data” may be slightly misleading in the strictest sense. The concept is nothing new. Most manufacturers are quite accustomed to having “big,” some might say huge, amounts of data flowing throughout their organizations, but have historically lacked the context that gives that data actionable meaning—giving birth to the oft used phrase, “data rich, but information poor.”
It’s no surprise that data-driven businesses make better decisions. So, with the amount of data surging through the manufacturing environment, professionals from the shop floor to the top floor should have everything needed to optimize production, right? Unfortunately, because of the fractured IT landscape found in many enterprises, more often than not this isn’t the case.
Over the course of the last several years, cloud solutions in the arena of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM) software have gone from a pool in which few wanted to dip their toe, to a place where many are comfortably swimming and enjoying the lifecycle benefits the architecture provides. Initial concerns about security and safety still exist, though vendors have advanced their offerings and showed enough social proof in the marketplace to quell the foremost worries.
With over 200 survey responses for the co-sponsored LNS Research-MESA Metrics That Matter research study, we have been digging into the results to determine what drove the greatest manufacturing performance improvements in 2013. The preliminary analyses have been insightful, and, as always, we’re excited to share the data with you.
There are many ways to approach improvements to quality management, and the strategy you ultimately choose has as much to do with your existing investments and resources as it does your future goals and quality vision.
Looking at some of the most widely used metrics and key performance indicators by manufacturers—overall equipment effectiveness, scrap, yield, etc.—one variable that consistently impacts each is quality. If products or processes are out of quality specification, those measurements will be negatively impacted. For years, manufacturers have overcome such non-conformances by initiating corrective and preventive action (CAPA) procedures, often managing them with log books, spreadsheets, or other homegrown solutions.
As time marches forward, new technological capabilities often reach a point where their affordability and benefits make them approach a level of indispensability. In the developed world and beyond, cell phones have reached this status for most consumers when it comes to communication and, for most of us, it’s hard now to imagine our lives without them.
Among the hundreds and sometimes thousands of manufacturing metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) across plants that require attention, how do senior leaders responsible for quality prioritize what is most important for achieving upcoming performance targets and also for improving performance in the future?
As a manufacturer in an increasingly competitive marketplace, there’s a good chance you’re on an Operational Excellence journey of some kind. And while your specific objectives may vary depending on the industry in which you operate, your geographic footprint, or current strengths and weaknesses, chances are that achieving greater operational agility is one of your important Operational Excellence initiatives. Agility is critical in allowing you to come closer to being a more customer-driven organization—which should be an important goal for any manufacturing company.
It was great to watch the Olympics and see all of the athletes' hard work and dedication in action. If you think about it, like you, each of these athletes were (and many still are) on a continuous improvement journey with the ultimate goal of excellence. We were certainly inspired by their performance and plan to keep that mindset with us as we progress through 2014. And we hope you will, too!
© 2014 matthewlittlefield.com