A robust production system built on platforms like Microsoft Azure and Microsoft Dynamics 365 makes the foundation of the EY Smart Factory.
Over the years, most manufacturers have deployed some type of operational excellence or continuous improvement program to boost their performance. But while those programs may have delivered some immediate benefits, in our experience, those results almost always turned out to be unsustainable over the longer term.
Why is that? The biggest reason is that the programs failed to knit the new ways of working into the fabric of how the company operates. Organizations gradually lose focus and become complacent, and the old problems the programs were designed to solve end up seeping back into the daily routine.
What the manufacturers need
What manufacturers need instead is a robust production system that looks at how an organization works much more broadly. It incorporates not only well-known improvement tools and processes, such as Six Sigma and Lean, but also the organization structure, roles and responsibilities. By doing so, it makes sure that the changes and the results “stick.”
Such a production system is the foundation of the EY Smart Factory, which is a solution built on technologies from Microsoft, an EY alliance partner. The EY Smart Factory helps manufacturing executives develop, implement and drive global operational excellence programs in a connected and centrally controlled system. In addition to operating on Microsoft Azure, the EY Smart Factory uses Microsoft Dynamics 365 to help manufacturers unify relationships, processes and data across not only the shop floor but the entire organization.
Key elements that make the EY Smart Factory different from traditional performance-improvement programs
A few fundamental elements are key to generating the kind of sustainable results that so many manufacturers struggle to achieve. The first is the concept of servant leadership. The EY Smart Factory production system helps enable manufacturers to develop their leaders as highly effective coaches.
It equips those leaders with what they need to stay engaged with what is happening across the organization on a daily basis. It also helps enable them to continually build new capabilities among the front-line individuals who work with equipment to transform raw materials into finished goods. Such leadership is vital to the organization’s becoming self-sufficient and achieving sustainable results.
Standards as a key element
Standards are another key element of this production system. But in this case, we’re not talking about the rigid and strict standards of old that can turn an employee’s job into a boring, repetitive routine. The standards in the EY Smart Factory production system are unique in two ways:
- They are positioned as not the definitive, unquestioned way of working, but rather, the best current approach. People are encouraged to always look for better ways to do things and improve on the standards in place.
- The standards are put in place where problems have been solved, to draw a direct line between the use of those standards and beneficial impacts to the company. Such a clear connection illustrates the importance of standards and builds a cultural desire for people to follow them.
If the standards solve problems, enable the company to be more successful and make people’s jobs easier, why would they want to do things any other way?