Supporting Lean Manufacturing
Lean Manufacturing is about being more competitive, more agile and less wasteful leading to improvements in production efficiency and helping manufacturers to gain competitive advantage. Lean programmes are implemented simply because there is no other option but to improve. Much can be achieved through such programmes especially in the early stages.
Lean is a wide ranging activity that is aligned with improvement. Many initiatives can be classed as Lean and each such initiative should start by making the easy gains in the early stages, with enthusiasm increasing as the rewards appear.
A frequently experienced issue occurs during later stages; the early gains have been made but further gains seem elusive or simply too difficult to grapple with. What is frequently not communicated by the Lean community is that as improvements are made it becomes difficult to sustain that rate of improvement, but, instinctively one knows that there is more to be done.
Regrettably this is when initiatives can fail and some of the gains can be lost. This happens because manual and spreadsheet based tools cannot cope with fine details (no time and hard to measure), issues that could deliver benefit are elusive and in reality hidden from normal observation. Human nature is to move on; previous successes become unmanaged and falter, new initiatives are harder to detect or even justify.
The data that is needed is frequently laying unused in the many automation devices that are found in manufacturing and processes. One has to get access to the data (data acquisition) move it to a repository (usually a historian as opposed to a database) and then covert it to useful information, providing insight into what is really happening in your production equipment and processes. EmsPT has experienced these circumstances many times, providing solutions that become a second stage boost to lean initiatives, just when the going is becoming hard.
When you are embarking on or are even a long way into a lean initiative, would it help if you could have a second stage booster that would avoid stalling and went on to produce sustainable results; something that allowed you to gain hard evidence which could be used to optimise your processes and equipment performance? A system which would have other ongoing benefits to your operational efficiency and the support for continuous improvement?