Back in the 1990’s, the discipline of lean techniques helped to lay the foundations of manufacturers’ digital transformation, although they didn’t know it yet. Then came the buzz about OEE, lean production and six sigma, which gave rise to a surge in solution implementations focused on improving overall equipment effectiveness.
For the companies that invested in this way of working, constantly developing and adjusting lean methodology has become second nature; OEE is an integral part of their commitment to continuous improvement. Relatively small percentage savings in availability, performance and quality quickly accumulate, boosting profitability and market share.
Despite this, the well-known productivity metric is still greatly under-utilised in manufacturing today. This view is consistent with a recent report by McKinsey, which reveals most companies today merely scratch the surface of potential applications for the data: on a modern oil-production platform, for example, only 1 percent of the data generated by the 30,000 sensors is ever examined.
One of the common reasons for untapped digital opportunities often lies with ineffective change management. OEE expert and Astec Managing Director Andy Tripp explains;
“It would be reasonable to assume that global organisations would take the lead in strategic and cultural evolution, but it is not unusual to find local sites completely detached from global head office initiatives. Even when a Business Change Manager is employed, this alone isn’t sufficient to galvanise mid-level management into action. Many UK manufacturing sites are either half-heartedly adopting new advanced analytics programs or even worse, ignoring them and missing the opportunity in its entirety.”
To help alleviate change inertia, Astec offers guidance through the process of maturing pilot projects to an organisation-wide approach – the embodiment of the ‘think big, start small, scale fast’ mantra.
“We specialise in cross-functional integration across departments and organisational functions. Our holistic approach takes into account factors from across the enterprise. Large data sets can be combined and visualised so customers can assess the true business impact of process and equipment losses from issues such as unplanned downtime and faulty equipment.”
For larger industrials in particular, the current disruptive climate can certainly present challenges. A recent study from PwC research arm Strategy& found 66% of manufacturing leaders do not have a clear smart factory vision and strategy, and only 25% believe their employees have suitable qualifications to master a digital future.
Beyond the traditional focus on maximising efficiency, the next step in performance improvement will require companies to establish an IT-centric, robust technical infrastructure. One possible route to achieve this is to outsource implementation, training and support. This approach has the benefit of bringing immediate value while simultaneously extending the skill sets of existing employees. With the correct capabilities, infrastructure and management – including benchmarking and new ways of monitoring progress, industrial manufacturers can remain confident in a rapidly changing climate.
Astec implements innovative software solutions to deliver a competitive advantage for clients. Using the latest technology from globally respected partners, invaluable operational insight can be extracted for increased capacity, improved quality and reduced operating costs.
Serving industries such as Food & Beverage, CPG, pharmaceutical and utilities, Astec provide a range of real-time, data driven solutions and support services to help many of the world’s leading companies to improve their operations and help strengthen their market position.