The EY Smart Factory solution helps manufacturers move from error-prone manual processes to a digitally connected, well-integrated system.
Despite manufacturers’ widespread use of technology in many areas of their business, manual processes are still very much alive and well in the factory. Because these manual processes are run by people, errors are also a big issue. The EY Smart Factory solution, powered by Microsoft Azure, helps manufacturers transform the manual processes into standard digital processes, which makes the factory smarter.
The fact is, a vast majority of manufacturers today still run a big portion of the shop floor on whiteboards and clipboards. This can lead to a number of problems that can significantly impact a factory’s performance. One major problem is the amount of effort it takes to manage and present information in a way that facilitates decision-making.
Challenges around disconnected data
Manufacturers’ myriad systems generate a lot of data, but they are not connected and do not talk to each other. So, a person may be able to, for example, use a tool to visualize data in the quality system to determine the occurrence of defects, but there is no automated way to put that data into context with other relevant data to get the bigger picture. This means that he or she needs to contextualize all the data manually, which is a significant effort.
Since manual processes are run by people, errors are inevitable. These could be due to poor penmanship that people have to decipher, or it could be because of simple mistakes that all humans can make. Errors also could result from unintended changes in the intent and meaning of what is conveyed when a piece of information is summarized and handed over from party to party.
Both the preceding issues feed into a third problem: the time taken to respond to data. Consider a simple example: an operator hears a piece of equipment squeak, which he immediately knows is the sound of a bearing going bad. He fills out a paper defect tag, or possibly writes down the defect on the whiteboard.
Because there is no mechanic associated directly with his line, the defect notice is not reviewed until the next day. Then, it takes another day for a mechanic to be assigned and dispatched to investigate the issue. In the meantime, the condition of the bearing progresses from being a defect that someone detected to being in a non-working condition. This then results in an equipment breakdown.
In this case, the long reaction time will cost the manufacturer significantly. It will not only be a more expensive repair but will also lead to a loss of productivity, both of which could have been avoided.
Changing the game with EY Smart Factory’s Catalyst Smart Daily Management application
The EY Smart Factory’s Catalyst Smart Daily Management application, built on Microsoft Azure, helps manufacturers minimize the problems associated with manual, time-consuming and error-prone processes across the factory. Through the Microsoft Surface Go device, Smart Daily Management provides access to all the digital standard work processes and related information that are key to running a manufacturer’s business.
Importantly, Smart Daily Management is based on user-centered design so that people can intuitively understand how to use it with very minimal training. This is a huge factor in driving widespread adoption and use.
The tool helps users access what they need by providing three distinct views of information.
The first view
The first view is called My Analytics, which is a digital dashboard that integrates data from across a manufacturer’s key systems to help users understand their specific area of responsibility from a performance perspective. This gives them what they need to know, to make a decision.
For instance, a person operating a bottle-capping machine in a brewery will get a real-time view of how the capper is running, while the site manager for the brewery will see how the facility is operating in aggregate.
The second view
The second view is called My Meetings, which is designed to streamline the structured communications in which everyone in a manufacturing organization participates to some extent. It could be as simple as a shift exchange with a peer, or a sequence of tiered production meetings over the course of a day that includes everyone from the shop floor to the plant manager.
Through My Meetings, everyone gets a consistent agenda and relevant consolidated data, while the meeting leader gets access to all the information that he or she needs to effectively manage the meeting. The meeting leader also has access to an integrated digital workflow to help navigate the meeting agenda most effectively. My Meetings provides a user experience that is a far cry from the whiteboard and manual notes that are typical with so many manufacturers.