Mobile Workers in Production PlantI admire Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google. They demand data and manage through data and analytics. I have never understood people who try managing without data–or just latch on to one data set that seemingly justifies their ideas while ignoring other data.

Lean is another way of managing that is often ignored. Another article appeared recently about how Lean was an “old” way and had run its course. Just as some don’t understand managing by data and information, others don’t understand that Lean isn’t a program. It is a way of thinking and a way of acting. The cornerstone of Lean thinking and acting is respect for people.

Tim Sowell

These points introduce the ideas of two people whom I admire. First, Tim Sowell is an Invensys Fellow and VP of System Strategy at Invensys in the Common Architecture team in R&D.

He recently posted some ideas on his blog, Time for Information Driven Manufacturing!. Here are a couple of relevant quotes. Check out the link for his entire article.

Information Driven Manufacturing is a manufacturing strategy that combines the concepts of collaboration and value network manufacturing, building on the newer technologies to achieve and sustain a agile competitive multi plant business. A key concept to this strategy is that explicitly recognizes that avoiding change, while comfortable, may represent a bigger risk for the organization than the risk associated with introducing new solutions where appropriate. There is a different culture not taking technology for the sake of it, but an attitude that understands the need for alignment of people, value asset network (multi-plants) and business and operational processes, to reduce cost, but most of all provide a flexible manufacturing base that can adjust with market providing the necessary agility to absorb market change, acquisitions, and new products rapidly and in a cost effective manner.

The cornerstone of information driven company is the empowerment of all people in their roles, to make decisions and act as an aligned team, based upon process and business information, provided in a holistic view (across assets), contextualized, visualized so that it can be analyzed easily relative to their roles. Key is making sure this information and core data are a “Trusted system” and the leading companies are now applying consistent embedded actions to go with the information decision so that consistency in action, and reduction in skill experience are needed to achieve a consistent, timely result.

Note his points of aligning people and the tasks and that the cornerstone is the empowerment of all people in their roles.

Julie Fraser

Julie Fraser, principle of Iyno Advisors, recently wrote Why Plant Information Matters: Because People Matter.

The manufacturing execution system (MES) or manufacturing operations management (MOM) market has never been well defined, as my industry colleague Chris Rezendes of Inex Advisors points out. Most people have some notion of what it means for them, but that is a relatively recent development. In the early days I often explained it as “the control system for the people in the plant.”

You can set it up MES/MOM so operators can’t bypass proper procedures. Yet at core, it does not control but allows those people to take control. MES/MOM takes in, holds, and distributes the information that employees in the production operation need to make sound decisions and take the actions they must to keep the process in control.

The distinction is important. Many industrial companies have a shortage of skilled workers. Part of that is training, but much is also experience and intuition. People who work in production often have a “feel” for when things are going well and not going well – and MES/MOM delivers further information for them to check that gut feel.

Given the appropriate information, production employees will improve the performance of their line, area, and facility. So having the end-to-end view of what’s happening, what’s coming next, what’s going well and not so well can really provide a foundation for the success not only of the employee and that team, but of the company.

Once again, we have a thought leader discussing providing information so that employees are empowered to do their jobs better. The more I travel to technology conferences, the more things I see that have that same common goal. This can only mean good things for manufacturing–if management can just figure out how to get it done.

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