Ensuring Success: Step 5 – drive operational excellence throughout your entire digital smart factory journey

Posted in Blog on April 13th, 2023

Alex Smith, MES Business Consultant, discusses the key considerations to make when starting a digital journey.   

So, it’s done. You’ve implemented your digital technology- the all singing, all dancing MES system is primed ready to transform your business. You’ve identified today’s business challenges and selected the functionality to overcome them, aligned your business and are ready to improve. You’ve worked closely with a partner who’s implemented the project using a structured approach, certified and proven. Your partner will go on to support you to achieve the business goals and change the way you work today.

But is that it? Your business is sorted, all goals are going to be smashed and no challenges from tomorrow onwards?

Obviously not, but even if that was the case would you be happy being a bit better? Have you invested a tonne of money just to overcome yesterday’s challenges? You’ve got this system for at least 10 years, can you get more out of it?

Adopting digital technologies for long-term success  

Digital technologies don’t happen in one stage – your business, challenges and goals will change and therefore what you need from your tech needs to change too. We’ve all heard of Smart Factories and want one, the dream without constraints would be ‘lights-out’ manufacturing and it is possible. But you will need to continue to evolve as a business.

Now the focus switches from the project and implementation to operational excellence and continuous improvement. As your business adopts the new way of working, review its’ use and how the tech has achieved your goals. Utilise philosophies such as LEAN Six Sigma, and continue to ‘cut the fat’.

If you’ve carried out the early work of identifying the key business challenges and addressing them first, move on to the next set of business challenges. A platform like MES is just that, it has many different facets that can target different areas within your business – Quality, OEE and Performance, Maintenance and Sustainability and Energy to name a few.

Harness your data for greater insight across the supply chain

These areas can be targeted using the investment you have just implemented, but there’s more. Through the whole process, you have been accessing and unlocking data, this data is being represented for real-time decision making, but it is also being recorded. You are starting to build a library of operational data which can be linked to events and outcomes.

Data is now your new best friend, and you should use it. Through your data you can look at trends, the data can help pinpoint events and guess what, you can use that to predict the future! As you’re working on your next batch you see the parameters start to move out, an alarm pings. The last time the parameter moved out the batch failed quality and you wasted 5 days of production…. ACT NOW!

Through data, you can implement Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence techniques to achieve Predictive Manufacturing. Your process and machines will start to think for themselves. Your factory is Smart! You can now turn the lights off.

Want to learn more? Download the complete 5-step guide to ensuring Digital Transformation success.