Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Backstory: “Think. Plan. Do. Measure what gets done.”

May 3, 2017
By Paul Hogendoorn FreePoint Technologies

May 3, 2017 – Most manufacturers consider this a statement they can relate to, especially the last two components: do and measure what gets done. The biggest opportunity for improvement however, is through the first two components: thinking and planning.

Unfortunately, there’s not as much technology readily available for this as there is for the doing and the measuring parts.

For the doing part, manufacturers make significant investments to replace and upgrade our machines. For the measuring part, we make investments in ERP systems, and to a lesser extent, in machine monitoring systems. These investments make sense to manufacturers because we realize the importance of making data-driven decisions, and that we can’t improve what we don’t measure.

However, frequently these systems fail to deliver the benefits and advantages we need to compete, or fail to deliver a return on their (often significant) investment. Their potential benefits are often limited by one of two beliefs:

1) the thinking and planning have already been done, or


2) it is someone else’s responsibility to do the thinking and planning.

Many plants have planning and modelling tools, but they are only for select processes (running CNC simulations for instance) or select individuals (the general manager or production scheduler). But efficiency and effectiveness are not the same thing, and to run a plant effectively, you need everyone to think and plan. If you run a part on the wrong machine while running that machine efficiently, you are really just wasting time efficiently. If one final assembly requires 20 individual pieces to be machined and 19 of them are done in time, you are not 95 per cent on time, you are 100 per cent late.

Manufacturers may be sensitive to these kinds of conditions, but yet they continue to experience them routinely. Why? Because they make it only one or two peoples’ responsibility to think and plan, when in fact it should be a responsibility shared by many more.

Plant-level software solutions need to do more than schedule production or monitor machines; they need to engage everyone involved in the Think. Plan. Do. Measure what gets done. process.

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