5 Simple Steps for an Effective Manufacturing IT Program — Part 2

In my last post, I talked about the importance of an approach to tie both your project methodology and change acceleration together in a manufacturing IT program. This allows the plants to know what is coming and how to prepare, and that sets value milestones that the program team can aim for. I argued that some lean thinking could be applied to address this and help tie together project methodology, change management, data readiness, ROI, and TCO. Manufacturing gearsThis thinking is based around the 5S approach:

  • Sort
  • Set in Order
  • Shine
  • Standardize
  • Sustain

Last time, I covered the first two, Sort and Set in Order; now I am going to talk about the last three.

Step 3: Shine

During the Set in Order Phase, I recommended setting up a readiness matrix that allows you to access your plants. By visiting the sites and completing this matrix, you now know what needs to be “shined.”

A typical example would be having standard work instructions in place. Your MES will be able to store them, drive adherence, manage change and store data collected as they are processed, but you’ll need the master set ready to load before the system can go live.

Applying some potentially much needed “polish” to existing work instructions and looking for consolidation where possible is a great example of the value add that can be achieved at this step.

Step 4: Standardize

It is best to think of this step as good old fashioned project “go-live.” Development is complete, testing went well, and you’re ready to have your manufacturing IT system drive the type of standardization it was designed for, whether it’s around metrics or execution or both.

I’ve written about how to get a successful project live in previous posts so I won’t cover it here, but just remember you need to Sort, Set in Order and Shine before you can Standardize!

Step 5: Sustain

Once your system is in place, you’ve got to treat it like any continuous improvement (CI) project. Take constant feedback from users, look for areas to expand and start to drive economies of scale by rolling out to other plants.

I’ve often seen project teams overlook the need for this step and end up being too focused on go-live. This can often lead to the ROI of the system missing targets and the program fizzling out or, sometimes even more difficult to deal with, an expectation that once go-live is complete there is no need for further investment and the solution can be “copy and pasted” across multiple sites.

Educating the project team and supporters that the goal is a sustainable system that can drive CI and that go-live is only a milestone to get there is paramount. This will allow you to build an accurate TCO model and keep everyone focused on the bigger picture.

Luke Smaul

Luke works with GE customers to streamline technical programs and turn “complex” into “can do.” His experience and technical insight has helped countless customers implement today’s connected technology in their organizations. Connect with Luke on LinkedIn.

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