4 minute read 7 Aug 2019
production system deployment

How a digital coach can improve the deployment of a production system

By

Craig Lyjak

EY Global Smart Factory Leader

Operational Excellence thought leader. Digital innovator. Passionate developer of people. Foodie. Father.

4 minute read 7 Aug 2019
Related topics Alliances

The Catalyst Smart Deployment Console helps manufacturers deal with the challenges that they face while deploying a production system.

The smart factory is a hot topic among manufacturers and for good reason. Connecting the shop floor with new digital technologies and creating increasingly intelligent and automated processes can have a massive impact on a manufacturer’s overall performance.

But as many manufacturers have found, simply deploying digital technologies without first addressing shortcomings in their processes, skills and capabilities typically doesn’t generate the big impact they’re looking for. In other words, they need to build a stronger overall foundation for automation, and that’s something many struggle with.

For instance, a survey by the American Productivity & Quality Center (APQC) found that the two biggest challenges that companies experience in automation are:

  1. Lack of a pre-existing process foundation (cited by 48%)
  2. The need to streamline or transform the process for automation (44%)1.

A production system like the one included in the EY Smart Factory solution can help manufacturers develop consistent and standard ways of working and build the right skills from leaders to the shop floor. These are important prerequisites for an effective smart factory.

Challenges around deploying a production system

When deploying a production system, manufacturers often face several tough challenges. Let’s start with the sheer volume of content — potentially tens of thousands of pages — in a large-scale production system. It is a vast body of knowledge that spans everything from safety and environment, to maintaining assets, to developing leaders, to running a training program, to managing quality.

Because that body of knowledge is so great, it is very hard for any one company to have experts in everything. Generalists can go an inch deep and a mile wide, while specialists can go a mile deep but an inch wide. Having enough people with the right mix of expertise at the right locations, at all the points of need, is not only virtually impossible but also financially impractical.

Historically, manufacturers dealt with this dearth of experts by developing coaches in the form of a continuous improvement or operational excellence team with responsibility for a competency, a district or region, or a group of plants. This team would travel to sites to coach the people there on how to effectively leverage the content in the production system. Unfortunately, there are a couple of common problems inherent in that approach:

  • The level of understanding of the production system varies from coach to coach, as does each coach’s effectiveness.
  • The coaches’ contextual knowledge of where they are doing their coaching can be inconsistent. This means that the production system ends up not being deployed evenly in the field.
  • Also, there is the matter of pace. With a regional or central deployment model, a coach can only get so many places up and running quickly.
  • Deployment also can be hampered by variability in leaders across the organization, whether in the quality of leaders’ skills or in their desire to change. This is a particularly prevalent problem for large organizations with many sites.

A digital coach can help

The above reasons are why EY professionals have developed a capability within the EY Smart Factory solution, Catalyst Smart Deployment Console, that helps manufacturers handle the vast amount of content in the production system. This makes coaching more consistent and accessible, and makes deployment less dependent on the ability or desire of individual leaders.

Based on Microsoft Azure, the Catalyst Smart Deployment Console follows the concept of PDCA — plan, do, check, act. The starting point is a self-service assessment that enables a manufacturer to understand specific teams’ maturity relative to the production system being deployed. Based on the answers that teams provide to a set of maturity-based criteria, the console identifies maturity gaps and, in turn, prescribes a sequence of activities to close those gaps. This functionality mimics the role of a coach in a digital world.

Along with these recommendations, the console delivers the specific content associated with each improvement activity. Instead of making people navigate thousands of files in the production system to find the two or three that are relevant to them at their point of need, the console presents only what is needed to achieve the desired outcome.

Finally, there’s monitoring. The console enables a manufacturer to map the progress that teams are making along the capability maturity curve. This helps them ensure that they are on track toward the desired outcomes and also helps them identify corrective action if they’re not.

If, for example, daily production meetings have not become more productive and efficient despite the investment that the meeting’s leader has put into learning how to run a better meeting, the console can help identify a gap in qualitative or quantitative performance. It can also flag the need for further activity or support from a coach.

Need for a robust production system

The smart factory holds tremendous promise for manufacturers — especially as Microsoft Dynamics 365 becomes increasingly adept at helping manufacturers unify relationships, processes and data across not only the shop floor but the entire organization. But to capitalize on that promise, manufacturers first need a robust production system that defines how the organization works.

By delivering the production system through the correct technology, manufacturers can more effectively help their people learn and do what’s needed to deploy that system more quickly and smoothly. This will enable the manufacturer to accelerate its performance improvement.

Summary

Deploying digital technologies without first addressing the shortcomings in processes, skills and capabilities fails to improve a manufacturer’s overall performance. The production system like the one included in the EY Smart Factory solution can help manufacturers develop standard ways of working and help them build the right skills.

However, when deploying a production system, manufacturers often face several challenges. EY professionals have developed a capability within the EY Smart Factory solution, Catalyst Smart Deployment Console, that helps manufacturers deal with deployment-related challenges.

About this article

By

Craig Lyjak

EY Global Smart Factory Leader

Operational Excellence thought leader. Digital innovator. Passionate developer of people. Foodie. Father.

Related topics Alliances