Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The 4 Misunderstanding About Manufacturing Systems Implementations

A few weeks ago I attended the ISPE annual meeting in Orlando. My company was hosting a session about technology and operational excellence that was pretty well attended. I take that as a sign of general interest in the topic. I believe that the interest was on the pure operational excellent side, yet the session tried to highlight the synergies that exist between manufacturing systems and operational excellence.

My colleague Carsten Holm Pedersen held a talk on the synergies between systems and operational excellence. The main theme of his talk was what he called “The 4 Myths” about manufacturing information systems or as I refer to them as “The 4 Misunderstanding” about Manufacturing System implementations. I really liked his message so I wanted to share it here.

Focus ROI
Sole focus on ROI ensures success because it defines qualitative business goals and sets a defined scope. However this also means that focus is diverted to “easy wins” rather than usable solutions and enhancement that have obvious value are ignored or rejected as “scope creep”. Furthermore there is risk that synergies from process improvement and other OpEx initiatives are not incorporated or supported by the system.


Use of Standard Systems
Application of standard systems is more effective and guarantees use of “Best Practices”. They reduce risk and provide superior maintainability. The reality is that these so-called “Best Practices” are not necessarily a good fit to your process and sometimes they are not “best” at all, but simply a result of “that is the way we have always done it” thinking. As such they sometimes do not provide the flexibility or adaptability to specific processes and force unnecessary constraints. Focus is diverted to “What we can buy” rather than “What we need”.


Competitive approaches increase productivity
Employing a competitive approach where different projects are competing for the same funds motivates and steers project teams to achieve better results. In fact just the contrary is true, this approach only ensures sub-optimization. It inhibits collaboration and does not leverage the inherent need for systems to be built to support the process. Systems are built to provide specific point solutions and not enable a streamlined lean manufacturing process or superior process understanding.


Integration should be avoided.
Interoperability between systems is not that important and if it is implemented has to be in real time. On the contrary one of the inherent attributes of Manufacturing Systems is interoperability with all levels in the manufacturing process. Not including interoperability with other system may seriously inhibit the usability of a solution and some obvious benefits to process visibility may be ignored. Also each interface may have different “real-time” requirements that have to be evaluated by needs and value.

There is obviously much more to these than what I can put in this post so let me know what you think and make sure to follow Carsten for more discussion on these topics.

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