Part 2 of 2 - 6 Process Types that are holding you back from Reaching World Class Manufacturing Standards

everything is a process

This post is based on one key premise.  Every aspect of manufacturing is a process, every one. 

The race to world class therefore is about turning every facet of your facility into a robust, integrated and highly repeatable process.   To do that, the Key Performance Indicators for each process need to be identified and measured, they need to be controlled and then using data and analytics continually improved upon over time.  If you look at any facility, they are a combination of "Core" and "non-Core" processes.  We define core processes as ones where plants have the expertise, robust systems and focused data driven execution necessary to optimize them.  Non-core processes are the ones where plants are missing one or all three of these elements.  Therefore the plants that are winning the race to world class are the ones that have a greater percentage of their processes operating at "core" levels. On-going efforts to turn as many non-core processes into core ones as fast as possible is the name of the game. 

The trick, is to identify when a process is non-core, when its unknowingly hurting productivity or profitability.   In Part 1 we discussed how awareness is always the 1st step and identified the 1st three types of processes that may be unnecessarily stealing your resources and generating waste in your facility.   Part 2 identifies the next three process types that need to be systematically optimized and brought to World Class.

#4 – The Incomplete Process

“Variation is evil”

Jack Welch

6 Sigma is designed to eliminate KPI variability from the manufacturing process.  In fact in this video, Jack Welch discusses how 6 Sigma companies are ones where management understands that variation is evil. The premise is that if you can tightly control and reduce variability of the Key Performance Inputs to a manufacturing process, you will achieve highly repeatable outputs.  Many "Incomplete Processes" are ones that are controlling some of those inputs, while ignoring or are not aware of the other inputs that have influence on the output.  Variation in these process inputs is whats hurting productivity and stands in the way of World Class Performance.

Companies can have excellent process controls in place, but if they are only managing a few of the lead variables, then their process is still subject to uncontrolled variation.  Imagine trying to predict the weather with any degree of accuracy (ie the desired output is accurate weather prediction) by only using temperature and relative humidity as your lead inputs.  It doesn't matter how accurate and precise your temperature and RH measurements are, they only provide a small piece of the overall picture necessary to consistently achieve your desired output.  Incomplete processes in a manufacturing environment are missing key variables, and don't have the data necessary to understand and learn how these variables interact with one another.  Incomplete Processes lead to unexpected events, which then leads companies to try and contain issues resulting in highly wasteful "Containment Processes", the 3rd type of process that keeps companies from reaching World Class.

#5 - The Broken Process

“Innovation is only Innovation when it is sustainable.” Donald Clark


You've gone through the trouble of identifying all the Inputs that influence your output, you understand how the inputs interact with one another and have defined your control actions to reduce process variation to get World Class Outputs.  So whats wrong now?  Sustainability.  Ensuring that data driven corrective actions are happening in a consistent and highly repeatable manner can be a real challenge in an environment where competing priorities, shifting personnel and relentless change is always moving the needle.  

Anyone that has spent any time in manufacturing, has witnessed the implementation of an innovative solution designed to reduce cost and improve productivity that worked great during its initial phase but eventually stopped delivering value, or worst ended up putting the process into an even more wasteful state.  In the initial stages, Engineering takes on the project and micromanages through the variables that the new innovation or technology has introduced to the process.  The problem occurs when the innovation moves from the project phase to the operating phase.  Sustainability is the challenge.  It requires: Sampling and analysis of the KPI's, KPI interpretation to determine next steps that support the overall objective, timely corrective action based on that data, and then overall process review to ensure that net value is being realized.  If the hand-off to operations is missing any one of these elements, or if any one of these steps stops working, then KPI variability starts to creep back into the process eventually resulting in waste and event risk.    

#6 – The Ancient Process

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

Albert Einstein

Your process is robust, sustainable and in control.  Whats the problem now?!  Well as we know, the only constant is change.  As technology and innovation continues to march forward, a critical look at your processes is necessary to see if there is a significant and real opportunity to make a step change in productivity or cost reduction.  The challenge is separating true and impact-ful process innovation from distractions or "bright shiny objects".  We don't advocate change for changes sake.  Change always carries with it an element of risk and therefore the potential change needs to be fully evaluated, understood, together with a commitment to fully implement and sustain that change (see process #5 above).

One of the biggest issues we see with many facilities, is that in an effort to reduce cost or improve productivity, an innovation is introduced before the process itself is truly in control.  The innovation is meant to address a specific result the plant is experiencing (example: a facility is generating too much waste, so a recycling process is introduced).  The capital is justified based on the current waste volumes and costs.  Instead, a World Class mindset requires that 1st, all the sources of waste are evaluated and optimized.  Variability is worked out of the process upstream to minimize the volume of waste being generated in the 1st place.  Often this step can completely eliminate the ROI associated with the proposed innovation since the volumes and costs no longer exist to the same extent.  Attempting to innovate a non-controlled process leads to further waste, wasted effort, time and resources. 

World Class Processes

“If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.”

Peter Drucker

If EVERYTHING in manufacturing is a process, then World Class Companies work relentlessly to integrate and optimize all the processes within their facility.  As innovation and change continues to march forward, an ongoing commitment to process evaluation, integration and optimization is critical.  The companies that can prioritize and then act in a focused manner will win the race to World Class.

About Zimmark:

Zimmark helps parts manufacturers reach World Class by bringing our specialized expertise, robust systems and data driven execution necessary to optimize processes that are not part of our clients' focused core. Our World Class Performance Audit, identifies current state, it determines if a process is non-core and subject to one of the 6 process conditions discussed above. Integration, optimization, data and analytics helps our clients ensure that all aspects of their operation are running at World Class Levels.  

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