Get Creative with Continuous Improvement

Structured, comprehensive continuous improvement initiatives have created tremendous value for manufacturing organizations. Creating an organization that invests in initiatives to improve performance through lean, six-sigma, Kaizen, and other methodologies while useful, can also prove to be a consuming exercise in change management and cultural evolution.

Continuous improvement doesn’t have to be cumbersome for organizations. Operational excellence can be achieved with great intelligence, and a variety of tools exist to retrieve information from the people who know your operation the best, including management and technical personnel, as well as operators. These exercises can be an engaging and fun, and experimentation and creativity can be encouraged to drive efficiencies and new approaches to manufacturing.

There are a number of ways to simplify your continuous improvement approach and to deploy appropriate technology to support them:

Consider how little intelligence you have today and get more: In some cases, you have good data on production volumes, inventory levels, and other processing activity. Automation and your control systems give you powerful, albeit limited operations intelligence. In a variety of cases, no clear understanding of continuous improvement project based or operations based workflow exists, and good data that can become actionable intelligence is buried in paper forms or stays with technical personnel. To run an improvement project, an understanding of your baseline state is critical, and tracking operations activity and data relative to that baseline is also crucial. Challenge your assumptions and find out what you don’t know first, and consider gathering more data to inform your project before you start.

Keep your technology approach to continuous improvement simple: Initiatives to drive efficiency or cost out of an operation don’t have to be complicated, and can be supported with modern technology that is cost-effective, and simple to deploy. With the right partner and an understanding of your continuous improvement goals, systems supported by mobile devices in a field-based environment can be configured to meet your project based needs. Technical and management personnel can be trained efficiently, and projects can start immediately after. With the right solution, you are only weeks away from the real-time intelligence you need.

Experiment and gather actionable intelligence before taking next steps: Most of your continuous improvement projects are experiments in the most traditional sense, that will either prove out a hypothesis about a potential improvement, or not. Run creative experiments that are time bound and focused on one part of the operation, and then engage your labor force with simple technology to support the project. Collect data, and then decide to implement solutions or invest in more costly experiments based on what you learn from the data.

To learn more about how SiteFlo customers are leveraging our solution to support their continuous improvement initiatives, please contact us at info@xiplinx.com.

Measure. Monitor. Manage.

If you work in manufacturing, you have likely heard the adage that “You can’t manage what you can’t measure”.  This statement, conceived by Charles E. Deeming, continues to resonate today and this thinking is at the core of our product development and belief system at SiteFlo. With our technology, you truly can measure, monitor and manage manufacturing initiatives to continuously improve performance while making informed decisions, reducing overall costs, saving time and money.

Keep reading to find out more about how our solution fits with a measurement and continuous improvement approach to manufacturing.

Measure: Stop wasting time filling out paper checklists only to have to manually enter data into a spreadsheet or other electronic format days, if not weeks, after the data was collected. With a paper-based approach, teams and divisions are disconnected and resources are overloaded trying to track manufacturing processes and ensure operating procedures are being followed correctly, creating inconsistencies and delays. Start measuring the data in real-time and make it actionable. In today’s globally competitive environment, with accessible technologies like SiteFlo, there is no excuse for allowing human error to cause costly shutdowns due to a delay in reviewing or entering information into a database, or because a breakdown in communication.

Monitor: Manually tracked processes can lead to a lack of real-time information throughout your organization therefore affecting the ability to recognize root causes of failures in process. Critical production decisions are routinely based on assumptions instead of accurate information due to the inherent nature of paper based data collection or rarely used information in accessible digital formats. By getting instant alerts when data falls outside of acceptable parameters, data becomes intelligence that is actionable, allowing you to make better decisions that have a positive impact.  Real-time supervisor reviews, following trends and proactively monitoring employee activities are just some of the features of SiteFlo.

Manage: Give your managers all of the information that they need to make better decisions. Connect data from sources such as critical control points or high-risk zones, analyze employee and/or shift performance, and enforce standard operating procedures effectively with real-time information. With improved communication, supervisors can assess and predict efficiency or the probability of downtime at single or multiple sites, comparing that information against broader corporate or supplier expectations. This way, a plant can standardize processes to optimize consistency and employee performance.

Having real-time information readily accessible improves technician performance and behaviors and empowers managers with enhanced insight into their operations.

In today’s complex and fast paced manufacturing environments, actionable, real-time data is needed to help you efficiently measure, monitor, and manage your business.

Ashley Abernethy
Sales Development Manager

Real-time Monitoring of Critical Conditions in Aquaculture Environments

Monitoring and responding to environmental conditions in the highly competitive, global aquaculture industry is critical to creating an optimal growing environment for fish and running a profitable operation. There is little room for error when managing temperature and oxygen levels, and proactive approaches leveraging real-time monitoring of data are required.

With the advent of modern mobile devices, there are now cost effective monitoring solutions to help transform what was once static data collected in the field, into actionable intelligence to monitor conditions. The result of deploying new technology can lead to greater returns, and a complete understanding of how temperature and oxygen levels correlate with feed conversion ratios and fish health.

Consider the early growing cycles of fish, which require a significant level of monitoring, as fish growth can be extremely variable when fish weigh less than 1 kg. During this time, fish are particularly vulnerable to environmental factors and even as fish mature and gain weight, continuous monitoring, adjusting and verifying of environmental factors influence growth and health. Environmental data tracked should be shared immediately, so that management, technical, and scientific employees can adjust operations as necessary.

By proactively managing temperature and oxygen levels with real-time tools, product can get to market faster, early stage feed cost can be reduced, and the right saturation rate for growing fish can be achieved. There is ample evidence to support that temperature increases can greatly increase the metabolic rate of fish1, increasing requirements for oxygen and food and driving up costs.

Studies on both Halibut and Tilapia growth support a requirement for effective, real-time monitoring of conditions. The Southern Region Aquaculture Centre (SRAC) found that growth was optimal for Tilapia in warm water recirculation systems with dissolved oxygen levels above 60% saturation2. In contrast, for colder water systems the optimum oxygen saturation levels for a species such as Atlantic Halibut are between 80 – 120% 3. Levels that fall below these values are tolerated for periods of time, but the overall health of the fish can be affected, leading to potential diseases or other costly consequences at a later stage.

Studies on both Halibut and Tilapia growth support a requirement for effective, real-time monitoring of conditions.  The Southern Region Aquaculture Centre (SRAC) found that growth was optimal for Tilapia in warm water recirculation systems with dissolved oxygen levels above 60% saturation2. In contrast, for colder water systems the optimum oxygen saturation levels for a species such as Atlantic Halibut are between 80 – 120% 3.  Levels that fall below these values are tolerated for periods of time, but the overall health of the fish can be affected, leading to potential diseases or other costly consequences at a later stage.

Adopting and implementing handheld technologies that your employees can use to report on environmental factors and the overall process to manage fish growth and health in real-time are available, and have been proven to drive significant value across aquaculture operations.

Sources:
1) Jonsson, Arnar. Fiskey Ltd. General Manager. “Halibut Farming in Europe.”
2) Masser, Rakocy, Losordo. “Recirculating Aquaculture Tank Production Systems: Management of Recirculating Systems.” Southern Region Aquaculture Center.
3) Mallya, John Yovita. “The Effects of Dissolved Oxygen on Fish Growth in Aquaculture.” Kingolowira National Fish Farming Centre.