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Manual machine data capture is an inefficient way to monitor productivity
James BrookFeb 23, 2024 10:54:01 AM7 min read

Understand whether your factory and people are ready to benefit from digital technologies

Manufacturers are increasingly turning to digital technologies to identify and remove inefficient processes from the factory floor. But, when it comes to deciding which digital technologies to implement and at what pace/scale, several important considerations should be taken into account. 

This article looks at potential Accelerators and Barriers manufacturers may experience in their business which knowingly or unknowingly may affect the pace, scale and success of a change program such as implementing technology within its factory operations.  

We have provided several examples of Accelerators and potential Barriers under five key areas that relate to a manufacturer's current approach:

1.     Culture
2.    Systems & Infrastructure
3.    Communication
4.    Activities
5.    Metrics & Results

01. Culture

Accelerators

  • There is much talk and discussion around continuous improvement, which shows we have the right attitude, intention and mindset. But because we don't have accurate data to start from, it results in people often having different opinions on where to start.

  • We have initiatives in place and are putting aside time and resources to improve. However, if there is a lack of business intelligence these initiatives may be a little scattergun or not as effective as you’d like.

  • Decisions for improvements are based upon hearsay, rumours or opinion rather than data.

  • Top-level targets and people try to track progress are set but we don’t have the tools to know how to achieve them.

Barriers

  • Traditionally there has been resistance to change and trying new ways of working.
  • We are unsure if we will get a return on investment, so the business is worried about putting the budget aside.  don’t want to put time or budget into this, it’s not a priority.
  • Everyone in the business seems busy and focused on their priorities, which results in a culture where no one will dedicate the time to lead a change program such as implementing new technology. 
  • Although the business and many of our team would like to implement a focused culture of continuous improvement, it is hard to do, as we don't have any accurate data as a starting point to work from. It almost feels like a chicken-and-egg situation! 

02. Systems, Processes & Infrastructure

Accelerators

  • We have access to trusted data in some areas of our business, so there is evidence that the business values the importance of accurate data.
  • New systems previously installed have been adopted well, so overall the business has a positive approach to exploring new technologies. 
  • We are trying to gather data but it is a highly manual and time-consuming task, and if jobs are falling behind, capturing the data takes a back seat.
  • The management team recognises that we need to build a joined-up view of the business from multiple datasets/systems/sources.

Barriers

  • Like most manufacturers, we are busy trying to get jobs out the door and on time. Therefore there is a resistance to allocate time to finding a system or process that will enable us to accurately capture shop floor production data
  • Any data we gather is often inconsistent and prone to being biased.
  • We simply can’t allocate the time to join up our information to get a bigger picture.
  • Many of the team think it's too hard to get the data and are resistant to trying new technologies. They associate digitisation projects as being hugely expensive and time-consuming as this is traditionally how technology projects have been in the past. 

Manual machine data capture is an inefficient way to monitor productivity

If your factory is already trying to capture shop floor data using manual, paper-based methods, then it is a good signal that you and your team are ready to embrace technologies that automate this, such as machine monitoring.  

03. Communication

Accelerators

  • We are working towards open visibility of results and information for everyone to see.
  • We encourage teams to share the same information so we all come to the same conclusions.
  • We include everyone when we’re making changes and the wider business context, so no one feels like they are being personally scrutinised or picked out – they know it is a business improvement project.

Team communication on the factory floor is key to supporting continuous improvement

Barriers

  • Information often isn't communicated well across the business, this can unfortunately lead to data silos and therefore we miss opportunities to improve processes. 
  • Our people often worry about what they know/don’t know and how information is being used.
  • Individuals often feel criticised, micromanaged or mistrusted due to the fact we don't communicate information as effectively as we could.
  • In the past, any form of change to processes or systems has been poorly communicated which has led to projects not providing the business and our people with the results we had hoped for.

04. Activities

Accelerators

  • We have clear business structures/meetings/processes that bring continuous improvement into the daily work of our staff.
  • We know who is responsible for driving forward each initiative, and the business provides the appropriate resources to support them.
  • We have/are working towards having clear goals/targets so our teams can adjust their processors/activities accordingly, ensuring our people are working together to achieve them.

Barriers

  • Improvement projects are typically very ad-hoc. We may allocate resources to a project, but because of the nature of the work we do, the person or team get pulled away and told to focus on something else that may have become a priority. 
  • Due to the busy nature of our shop floor, it is often difficult to have a coordinated approach to improving our operations. We have the right intentions but it often seems people are doing their own thing and it ends up a bit messy and doesn’t shift the dial as much as we'd like (need) it to.
  • If people look busy, the business assumes that they are doing the 'right activities'  but if we are honest with ourselves, it’s not always clear whether the activities being done are having the right impact.

05. Metrics & Results

Accelerators

  • We have measurable targets with a clear start and end state and actively track progress.
  • Any change programs we’ve done in the past have had well-defined metrics so we know if an initiative has been successful.
  • When we implement new processes or tools, we proactively measure the ROI or business impact.
  • We understand that any change initiatives need to have a tangible positive impact on the daily lives of our staff.
  • We celebrate improvements openly across the business and acknowledge the team effort it takes to implement production improvements.

Barriers

  • It can be unclear when an initiative is done as we struggle to measure it.
  • Historically projects have tended to limp along and in many cases never get closed out, celebrated or quantified which means when new project initiatives are put forward as ideas, there is sometimes a feeling of ' Is it worth trying this?'
  • Improvements aren’t measured so are rarely communicated properly so even if the project is a success, the people who made it happen are not congratulated or informed.

Summary: Deciding if your factory is ready to digitise!

By carefully considering these factors and relating them to the environment that’s currently present in your factory, you can determine whether your business is ready to embark on the journey of digitising your processes.

It's important to approach digitisation strategically, with a clear understanding of the benefits and challenges involved and a well-defined end goal in mind.

If you’re still not sure your factory is ready to start digitising its processes, our advice would be to speak to fellow manufacturers who have tried it already. It is likely at least one manufacturer you know will have been through the same experience already. Alternatively, seek out factory digitisation success stories to see how other manufacturers have approached and benefited from implementing technologies on their factory floor. 

Food for thought

Here are five questions to ask when looking to implement new technology in your factory.

1. How will it benefit customers?
2. Will it give us a competitive advantage?
3. How will it benefit our people?
4. How does it impact processes? Simplify? De-risk?
5. What investment criteria are we putting against this project?

And finally...Start small, don't go for big-bang projects from the off. Look for the biggest benefit with the shortest payback period.

 

Start your Factory Digitisation Journey with FourJaw

Book a call with one of our manufacturing technology experts and find out how FourJaw can support your factory and its people on its journey to embracing digital technologies. 
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James Brook

A passionate and experienced Marketing Leader with a background of 15+ years in developing and implementing marketing, brand, and product strategies for companies across a breadth of sectors and geographies. Over the last five years, James has worked in the technology space, having led the global marketing function at an Industrial monitoring and control company and more recently joining FourJaw as Head of Marketing & Communications. FourJaw is a SaaS business that is helping to change the world of manufacturing productivity through its IoT machine monitoring platfom.