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Show Me The Data – Are You Crazy?

Maybe it is just me (but I think not). It is the kind of thing that everyone assumes everyone knows, but they don’t. As a school-boy, at high school, the young Michael had to wear the school uniform. Nothing fancy, blazer, trousers, normal regular stuff. What I could not get my head around though was how come every ten minutes I was being told off for having my shirt hanging out? Why did it do that? I tucked it in, over and over again. I did nothing different really as compared to everyone else. How come my shirt was coming out and no-one else’s did? Sadly, it was not until many years later that I learned the importance of a good belt…..  

A “good belt” is also important in manufacturing. How wonderful it is today to be master of the domain, having every possible piece of information available to us in real-time with a complex analytics engine, continuously scanning and analysing the data telling us about opportunities to improve. You don’t have that? Take a look at our Valor MSS Asset Management and Business Intelligence modules. It is real and here today.

Not wanting to be caught out by technology, the “C” level guys are now beginning to be very interested in all of this information from the shop floor. This information is useful for the business, providing the ability for better planning, asset management and material cost savings. It is also nice to see and demonstrate to visitors that the shop-floor is under control.

Questions start coming: Why does that machine keep stopping all the time?  Why is there a build-up of WIP between these processes? Why is this machine not running anything right now? Why is my first pass yield only 50%!?! The answer to these questions can be easy for the shop-floor managers to understand. Many machines stop for material replenishment, sometimes machine capabilities restrict line balance, sometimes we hit target sooner than expected, and if the second board fails the ICT…..

There is no such understanding at the “C” level. Everything should be “green”, everything “under control”. No red marks, no cause for concern, unless something is actually going wrong. Guess what – the “C” level are right! It is all about the data interpretation and display. The information is the same, it is just as timely, but, it needs to be qualified in a different way to show that we are in or out of control. A routine machine stop that cannot be avoided that is part of the normal operation, does not need to catch the attention of the “C” level.

When you are planning your information systems for the “C” level, there is a lot more to think about than simple data in a database. In general, this also applies to any other people in other roles who might have access to the data. Think about the point of view of the user of the information. Doing it right allows responsible people in the organisation to do their job and contribute to a successful result. Just show everything in the same way to everyone? It confuses them. Dirty washing. Your shirt is hanging out!

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About Michael Ford

Michael FordMICHAEL FORD SENIOR MARKETING DEVELOPMENT MANAGER, VALOR DIVISION, MENTOR GRAPHICS Michael started his career as a computer software and hardware engineer in 1982. Working for Sony in the UK, Michael became one of the first successful adopters of computer technology into the manufacturing shop-floor, going on to manage in Japan Sony’s global Lean Manufacturing solutions. Joining Valor Computerized Systems in 2008 gave Michael the opportunity to apply his experience into the main-stream of the industry. With almost 30 years’ experience, Michael’s key strength is the instinct of finding solutions and opportunities where there had been challenges and problems. Michael is currently working as part of the Marketing Development team within the Valor Division of Mentor Graphics, focussing on the realisation of real and practical solutions for manufacturing based on the application of Lean Thinking, end to end, from design through the entire manufacturing process. Visit The Michael Ford Manufacturing Blog

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