Friday, February 28, 2014

ASQ Influential Voices: Smart Operations

In his blog this month, ASQ CEO, Paul Borawski writes about their latest manufacturing outlook survey

An interesting takeaway for me was the idea of Smart Manufacturing which was defined as, “the integration of network-based data and information that provides real-time understanding, reasoning, planning, management and related decision making of all aspects of a manufacturing and supply chain enterprise”.

It sounds like a great systems-based approach to running your business. According to the survey, 82% of those that have implemented this, already acknowledge some level of efficiency gain; 49% have seen fewer defects; and 45% report increased customer satisfaction.

Those are great results – but if I walked in on Monday morning and tried to sell the benefits of applying a “manufacturing” improvement system, I’d have some managers running for the door!  Why narrow our audience by implying that these ideas only work in a factory environment?

The value of managing your processes and supply chain is universally applicable to any type of operation. So let’s call this something different; how about, “Smart Operations”. Every organization has a series of variables that drive the operation: labor, equipment, raw materials, information, physical/digital logistics, and customer inputs.

We begin to see the system as a whole only when we methodically quantify, measure, and correlate all these factors. A smart operation understands all the variables and levers which are vital to making smart management decisions.

In the face of a tough economy and unrelenting competitive pressures, we must find ways to optimize, integrate, and streamline our operations... making them leaner and smarter!

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