Agility is among the essential factors for success in modern manufacturing. An agile manufacturer is able to deal more effectively when unexpected events happen through a combination of preparation, oversight, and resilient workflows.
Manufacturers can develop agile shop floors by improving in a variety of different areas, from their established practices to the tools they use. Here are some of the top ways that manufacturers can become more agile today.
1. Improving Visibility
Agile manufacturing means being able to roll with the punches, but you need to see them coming to do that. Improving visibility by expanding the scope and speed of data collection and aggregation will let production teams know what’s really happening on the shop floor.
With a real-time understanding of production, manufacturers can find solutions to problems faster. They save time while evaluating and analyzing their options, which ultimately translates to fewer production delays and improved productivity.
2. Tracking KPIs
Every manufacturer relies on key performance indicators (KPIs) to evaluate how well their operations are running. KPIs can be used to take a clear look at individual shifts and production runs after they’re completed, but that isn’t all they can do. To be truly agile, a manufacturer should be tracking KPIs in real-time.
Ongoing KPI tracking can let production teams know that a particular production run is outside of process tolerances while there’s still time to do something about it. Instead of reacting after the fact, an agile shop floor proactively monitors KPIs throughout the entire process.
3. Avoiding Information Silos
An agile manufacturer is able to address issues quickly. To do so, they need access to the right information. Within any industry, there is always a risk that important details will become compartmentalized within specific departments. These vertical information silos make the lateral transfer of information incredibly difficult, putting up barriers that take time and effort to overcome.
Instead, an agile shop floor can rely on a robust single source of truth for production information. By bringing together essential production data into a unified system, manufacturers avoid important knowledge becoming locked behind department or role-specific software or files.
4. Automating Data Collection
Manufacturers rely on a variety of systems to collect and manage their production data. They also rely on their production teams, technicians, and other individuals. Shop floors that rely on enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions alone tend to fall into patterns that inevitably lead to human error in data collection.
Automating data collection with a solution that integrates with your ERP system can reduce opportunities for human error wherever possible. Instead of relying on teams manually transferring run reports and other data between systems, an automated solution can provide accurate ongoing data collection.
5. Seeing the Big Picture
Agile manufacturers focus on production data and how they can best use it to their advantage in preparation, mitigation, and optimization. To use available data as effectively as possible, managers, production teams, and other stakeholders need to be able to view it in the appropriate context.
An effective solution will give stakeholders the ability to navigate through multiple levels of production data, from the entire organization down to individual machines. This holistic approach to production data provides a better foundation for manufacturers to make the right decisions no matter what challenges they’re facing.
6. Expanding Communication
The different roles on the shop floor need to have effective communications in place in order to be truly agile. The dynamic response to changes that an agile manufacturer demonstrates requires production teams to be able to work together, which takes solid communication.
Having teams rely on a variety of communication systems can lead to information becoming lost and important messages going unseen. The most important factor in shop floor communication is to implement a single solution for communication that doesn’t cause these issues.
7. Identifying Issues Quickly
There’s a lot more to being an agile manufacturer than being able to respond to issues quickly, but that is an essential part of it. Shop floors need ongoing monitoring to identify deviations in output, material and energy consumption, and other KPIs.
Even having this information readily available isn’t enough to be truly agile. An effective solution should have automated alerts for production teams that allow them to respond to issues as quickly as possible. Identifying a problem is the first step to fixing it and one where non-agile manufacturers can lose a lot of time.
8. Using Cloud Solutions
Today, most manufacturers rely on cloud services to some extent. However, many haven’t made a move to implement cloud systems on the shop floor. A cloud solution can provide greater accessibility and improved support for essential production functions.
A cloud solution can streamline how various departments within an operation communicate and interact. With a straightforward solution for sharing production data across all teams and even separate locations under the same company, cloud services are a fundamental tool for agile manufacturers.
9. Refining Scheduling
Production scheduling plays an essential role in manufacturing. One of the biggest challenges that manufacturers face is balancing the resilience necessary to become agile with the principles of lean and just-in-time manufacturing. Refining scheduling is the solution.
Shop floors need to take a more dynamic approach to production scheduling, being able to adjust during production runs as conditions change. This presents a significant challenge when trying to optimize production scheduling, one that needs the right solution to accomplish.
10. Finding the Right Solution
Matics is a real-time operational intelligence (RtOI) solution that provides manufacturers with the tools and support they need to develop more agile shop floors. This cloud-based solution works with your existing ERP and other systems to collect, aggregate, and manage production data.
By providing teams with real-time data and alerts, Matics lets manufacturers know what’s really happening on the shop floor. Additional features help teams streamline communication, optimize scheduling, and better meet the demands of modern agile manufacturing. You can contact our team today to schedule a demo.