Overcoming the barriers of digital investment to achieve Operational Excellence

The concept of continuous improvement is a gradual step change in processes to drive greater efficiencies in manufacturing. Whether a large blue-chip company or a small to medium enterprise, understanding the importance of continuous improvement is just the beginning. Start with small scale incremental improvements, working your way up to larger-scale lean projects to boost efficiency, drive quality and reduce waste.

The DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve, Control) methodology for root cause analysis can be applied for rapid improvement once a month or through a more holistic approach; either way, the results will start to show organically over time.

The benefits of operational excellence are endless; zero wastage, decreased cost per unit, improved quality consistency, improved efficiency and output, employee engagement and end user satisfaction to name a few.

91% of respondents from this year’s Annual Manufacturing Report (AMR) agree that “Data from connected machines and people will inform decision-making and reduce costs”. So, there is a definite understanding that new digital technologies will improve the efficiency of manufacturing processes, but are these benefits enough to prompt change?

Challenge the status quo

Most successful businesses are never happy with their status quo, striving for a larger slice of market share, higher turnovers and better profit figures. However, when looking closer into their internal processes we often find the need to ask “why” is somewhat neglected. Some people are happy to sit in the present, never questioning the way things are done because “that’s just the way we’ve always done it”. People are often fearful of change and reluctant to work out of their comfort zone, which is a major barrier to challenging the status quo. Continuous improvement needs to be embedded into the whole culture of the organisation and requires a key person to drive change. Technology on its own is not enough, people are the driving force in a continuous improvement journey.

Digital readiness & lack of adoption

Technology and innovation around operational excellence is progressing faster than ever before. By sticking to the status quo there is a high risk of falling behind competition. According to the AMR, 74% of respondents accept they’ll need to adopt digital technologies in order to prosper, compared to 69% in 2018. But there is still a gap between awareness and investment and implementation, with one in four respondents currently having no digital plans, and 26% unsure how to implement it.

This lack of adoption coupled with three out of five manufacturing systems failing to meet expectations and management struggling to realise their intended benefits, is quite a worrying combination. What’s stopping organisations? 38% of respondents from the AMR understand the power of digitalising their manufacturing processes but are postponing investment decisions to take advantage of short-term profits through the low-wage economy.

Deciding whether to implement a continuous improvement project with subsequent digital technology must be based on proven facts and ROI, and not on a “wing and a prayer”. We must change the attitudes of the decision makers and make it clear that the improvement process can be smooth, inexpensive and with the advice and support of CI experts, results will pay dividends.

Organisations can either take the plunge and invest in digital technologies that will give them the edge over competition or stand still. 

Watch our on-demand Webinar "The key drivers to IIoT technology adoption in the pharmaceutical manufacturing sector" 

Oliver Stone – Head of Operational Excellence, Cimlogic

Oliver Stone is a certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and works closely with existing customers to enhance their OpEx Programs by identifying opportunities to make significant production improvements; whilst getting the most out of existing systems and data.

Cimlogic provide operational excellence support including proof of concept workshops and system engagement services to help manufacturers explore the benefits of a digital technology system and to form a strong business case. 

For more information about Cimlogic’s OpEx services please visit https://www.cimlogic.co.uk/services/op-ex-and-manufacturing-improvement/ or email enquiries@cimlogic.co.uk.