Quick, what’s the number one problem with engineers and manufacturing-oriented people dealing with typical management types? What is it that Dilbert has recently been pimping the pointy-haired boss about? How about deciding based upon facts rather than deciding based upon whim, myths, ignorance?

That is my number one annoyance right up unto today. If you are not grounded on facts and reality, I don’t want to listen (even when I have to).

Well, now there are, er, facts to support your position. I talked recently with my friend Julie Fraser of analyst firm Cambashi about the results of her latest “Metrics that Matter” survey in coordination with MESA International. Her research reveals that companies that integrate metrics into their decision-making process perform better than those who don’t.

Research Report

Companies improving on multi-faceted metrics such as overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) and forward-looking metrics such as portion of orders booked within schedule freeze period are more likely to improve their financial performance. This is just one finding from “Pursuit of Performance Excellence: Business Success through Effective Plant Operations Metrics” the research findings report released Feb. 29, 2012.

This is the fourth primary research study in the MESA Metrics that Matter series, started in 2006. As in the original Metrics that Matter study, the respondents who improved significantly on business metrics over the past three years are considered “Business Movers.” While some of the “Business Movers” are in fast-growing industries, as with previous studies, the size, region, and industry profile of the Business Movers is not a major factor. The consistent differences are in how they measure performance. They are far more likely than others to have improved on metrics that are not only multi-faceted and predictive, but also focused on minimizing non-value-added time, supplier performance, and they translate operations results into financial terms. They also provide line-level performance metrics to operators and supervisors more consistently and effectively.

This primary research revealed that significant improvements in financial performance are the result of a multi-faceted effort in the areas of plant performance metrics programs, improvements, and IT applications. Based on a survey of 305 individuals from a wide range of manufacturing and production companies, the results illustrate the approach, business processes, and software technologies used today and how they correlate to dramatic business performance improvement.

This research also shows that over a third of responding companies are piloting or planning to buy manufacturing execution systems or manufacturing operations management systems (MES/MOM) and operational dashboard software, also called operational intelligence (OI) or enterprise manufacturing intelligence (EMI). Those using MES/MOM and operational dashboards are more likely to have made greater business performance improvements than others.

Fraser told me that this year researchers did more to take questions the last report raised and dig deeper. Aside from the results already noted, one big finding was the concern among respondents about skill sets for operators. 55 percent have more concern than on the study three years ago. The growing complexity of companies, who now have many more products and more automation, requires more sophistication from people.

Another key finding is the importance of automation of data collection. “We can actually see which ones have automatic data collection from the data. The area most advanced right now is inventory,” said Fraser. In another finding, business leaders were twice as likely versus others to provide line-level metrics.

The comprehensive report, Pursuit of Performance Excellence: Business Success through Effective Plant Operations Metrics, available to MESA Premium Members or with special invitation has extensive charts and graphs to illustrate findings, along with quotes from Industry Leaders who participated in telephone interviews. This report also offers best practice advice on crafting an effective performance metrics program similar to how the Business Movers gauge and accelerate improvement.

The public report, Pursuit of Performance Excellence: Business Success through Effective Plant Operations Metrics Summary Report is available to all interested parties from Cambashi or the study sponsors. The six co-sponsor companies who underwrote and helped to guide the study are: Premium sponsors: Rockwell Automation, SAP AG, Solarsoft Business Systems and Tata Consultancy Services. Camstar is a premium sponsor for semiconductor and medical device industry verticals. IQity Solutions is a supporting sponsor.

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