How to 10X the Output of Mike and Jerry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s the secret.

Make Jerry and Mike feel like their contributions are valued by your organization and that they have a voice. This is especially true when you’re focused on continuous improvement, where many of the solutions to your problems are available if you lend an ear and provide employees with the right tools.

Consider what Greg Flickinger has to say about employee engagement, the VP Manufacturing at Charlotte, NC based snack food manufacturer Snyder’s-Lance. He’s a member of the Alliance for Innovation and Operational Excellence (AIOE), under PMMI, and a leading thinker on employee engagement and cultural transformation.

When he speaks about engaged workforces, he often draws from a rich set of real-world examples, where engaged employees have implemented the most impactful continuous improvement projects, not consultants or software companies.

In an interview with Pat Reynolds, Editor of Pack World, Greg walks readers through an experience he had with an employee named Mike, who traditionally “punched a clock” while he worked eight hour shifts. After being invited into a broad-based project to improve performance in their receiving area, Mike drove substantive, measurable improvements and got employees engaged in the effort. He brought new ideas to the leadership team, and focused day-to-day on increasing efficiency. All that Greg’s employers had to do was listen, and provide support for his efforts.

And don’t forget about Jerry Wynn, an oven operator who recognized an issue downstream of the area of the line he owned. He subsequently helped fabricate a small part that bolted onto a conveyor frame, that perfectly aligned food products so that there were no downstream issues.

As Greg notes, this is an example of an action that was “above and beyond” what was required of Jerry, and it leads to measurable results in a high throughput operation.

Examples like these are in stark contrast to Gallup reports referenced in the Pack World article with Mr. Flickinger, where it is noted that in their 2012 State of the American Workplace Report, only 30% of American workers are presumed engaged, and 52% are not engaged.

In the face of this, Jerry and Mike have likely more than 10X their output with their ideas, and continue to be actively engaged in the organization to drive continuous improvement.

Head over to Pack World to read more about Greg Flickinger, and to read more about “The Engagement Framework.” This framework was published by the AIOE group Greg belongs to under PMMI, and is a playbook to help organizations create engagement cultures, and to help bring out the Jerry and Mike in your own organization.

How to find the Pack World article: http://www.packworld.com/trends-and-issues/trainingeducation/how-develop-engaged-workforce

To find out more about how SITEFLO develops tools to support Jerry and Mike, please feel free to email us at info@xiplinx.com.

How to Prove a Successful Equipment Trial

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re selling equipment or consumables in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) sector, you’re likely intimately familiar with requirements to pilot or trial to prove out the value proposition of your equipment.

It’s an expensive part of your sales process and if it’s not executed appropriately, can lead to substantive cost overruns and unsuccessful sales efforts, considering the expense of deploying field based personnel to sell and hardware at customer sites.

With mobile based technology, it’s becoming easier than ever to collect and share pilot and trail data when you deploy your equipment or consumables at a customer site. Quantifying it can lead to dramatically reduced sales cycles and increased probability of a win.

Consider the power of collecting data related to reduced downtime, rework, and other issues that affect performance and throughput, and linking that value creation back to the purchase of your equipment. With the right technology, you can transform your salesforce into true solution sellers.

We’ve done this to a high degree of success with both consumables and equipment suppliers, and have aggregated large volumes of data across multiple sites while trials were being completed by channel partners.

Very few original equipment manufacturers (OEM’s) have real-time access to trial related data, much less a quantified output from the trial on the value created to present to decision makers who ultimately decided whether or not to make a purchase.

Tracking data and sharing it in real-time when you run your trials is possible with a limited amount of effort and training, particularly in cases where you have channel partners selling your equipment and making a commission.

Set the Goalposts

It’s important to define success criteria before you begin a pilot and build this into your tracking efforts on site. This includes defining how long a pilot will run, what objectives define a successful pilot, and what parameters will be measured throughout the pilot to gauge movement towards meeting those objectives. Establish communication protocols and the way in which knowledge gained throughout the pilot will be disseminated amongst various parties.

Configure and Train

Mobile devices have to be configured so that it’s clear what information field based partners or on-site employees at a plant need to collect throughout the trial period. It’s important to consider the variables that indicate that your product is performing, and to consider other factory variables that need to be tracked to show a correlation between your equipment or consumable and overall improvement (downstream of your equipment). Equally as important is ensuring that the customer, and any other personnel monitoring the trial from your organization has access to a real-time view of the trial on a dashboard.

Deploy and Roll with the Punches

When partners or field based employees show up on site, the communication protocols should be reestablished in person and the data collection should begin with mobile devices. There will inevitably be events that occur, such as unplanned downtime, that affect your trial. These events can be recorded as well. In some cases, when they occur downstream of your deployment, you can potentially link to an opportunity to address the problem.

Enjoy the Remote Diagnostics

During acceptance testing by the customer or your partner, you could be receiving real-time diagnotics from the field. This is possible when you deploy a discrete, semi-automated solution with your field based personnel.

Run Consistent Pilots and Win

With an appropriately configured system and a powerful reporting engine, you’ll have all the intelligence you need to share successful pilot or trial results with plant management, procurement, and other buyers of your products. You also get the advantage of running your pilots in a consistent manner from plant to plant, at scale.

To find out more about how our customers are using SITEFLO to identify their problems and to procure solutions that live up to the promise of their value proposition, please email us at info@xiplinx.com.

Are you getting these alerts in real-time?

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Thankfully, our customers are, and it helps mitigate million dollar losses as a result of downtime, rework, diminished throughput, and more maintenance. The quicker they respond to it, the better.

Responding to the root causes of issues in near real-time in a manufacturing facility requires a perpetual finger on the pulse of an operation. While manufacturing execution software (MES) and other machine based applications can help, every organization has knowledge gaps and it’s rare that response times are quick enough to the root causes of issues on the floor.

It’s even more rare that all of the root causes of issues are known. Those precious minutes every day slip away, in many cases without the appropriate personnel knowing.

Consider for a moment, how we’ve helped one of the largest food manufacturers in the world respond to critical issues, and shave millions annually while doing it:

1. We picked a line that we knew was causing them trouble and dug in: Collaboratively, we picked one line we knew they were having problems with, and we freed up a resource to collect some data on that line. In this case, we freed up a vendor who they had a relationship with to collect the data, alongside their technicians (an approach that works well for our customers).

2. We enabled our partners and their employees with a tool: We deployed a locked down, safe tablet on the floor with key employees and one of our channel partners. The tablet was configured so that the appropriate data was collected throughout a defined period of time, with clearly defined goals over that period of time. All of the data was date and time stamped by the user, so we all had substantive insight into the project.

3. We gave managers and decision makers access to the data in real-time: Our web-enabled dashboard was the quickest route to socialize everything being collected on the floor in real-time. Managers and vendors were getting real-time data that required their attention right away. They went from not knowing about root causes of issues and learning about problems within weeks, to knowing and being able to proactively respond to issues in minutes.

4. We scaled it everywhere: Our customer had all the proof they needed about one week into the pilot. Responding to the root causes of downtime and rework leads to huge savings on one line. When we mapped out the potential value of that throughout their international operation, the numbers were staggering.

Make no mistake. This didn’t take months or years to implement and didn’t require capital budget. It took two weeks, a great partner, powerful software, and a tablet. You deserve to be getting these alerts today, and you can respond to critical issues faster than you ever thought possible.

To find out more about how SITEFLO helped this customer, please reach out at info@xiplinx.com.

Enabling Single-Shift Continuous-Improvement in 2015

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You’ve likely noticed, but wearable, mobile, and sensor-based technology is advancing at a rapid pace in the consumer products sector. You’re being bombarded with “SMART” everything, from your watch to your household electronics. In 2015, you can expect to see substantive convergence of these technologies in the consumer packaged goods sector in a more significant way than ever before.

What were traditional barriers when it came to marketing and selling technologies prevalent in the consumer space to industry are being lowered as the considerable potential that these products can bring is clearly articulated through case studies.

This means that what were once costly performance improvement projects have become doable with discrete systems that can be implemented in a matter of hours to prove out their value.

We’ve befriended, partnered with, and rubbed elbows with a number of the companies building these products throughout the course of 2014. Although in some cases we’re compromised, given that our SITEFLO product has also been adopted to help prove out the value of some of these products during trials, we think you would do well to experience them for yourselves.

Products like these make single-shift improvement projects entirely possible. Literally, all you’ve got to do is take the time to consider them and accept a product demonstration. The demo alone will be powerful enough to convince you to take another step and if that isn’t enough, we’ll get on the demonstrations with you and walk you through why we think the solution could be a benefit.

Here’s a shortlist of some really interesting technologies. We’ll keep sharing them as we experience them:

  • Smart Skin Technologies Quantifeel: Smart Skin Technologies released a product called the Quantifeel, which is taking the food and beverage sector by storm. It’s a sensor-based, packaging pressure monitoring technology embedded in a sensitive can that can help food and beverage organizations regulate production line flow and reduce bottlenecks. This is a single-shift continuous-improvement product all the way through. (www.smartskintech.com)
  • Shurtape ShurSEAL Tape Applicators: If you were at Pack Expo in Chicago this year, you read about Shurtape and their tape applicators and if you were lucky, you got a demonstration of some of the most advanced engineering and sensor based technology to ever see a tape head. Do yourself a favour and demo their applicators next to your existing technology. You won’t let them take the tape head back. (www.shursealsecure.com)
  • Thalamic Lab’s Myo Armband: Thalmic Labs released a gesture-based armband called the Myo. Think about what it could mean in the consumer packaged goods sector to control devices, equipment, and/or collect data with a gesture of your arm left or right, and you’ll get the flavor. The armband is well sized, light, sanitary, and is a complete game changer. It’s worth dreaming about the potential of this one.
(https://www.thalmic.com/en/myo/)
  • BlueWater Automation’s F16 Case Former: You can’t wear their technology (yet), but the mobile-based analytics available, the design of the unit, and the Beckhoff controls and Festo components justify the coopted F16 name. If you haven’t toured Tri-Mach Group Inc., where one of their demonstration units sits, you should probably get on a plane tomorrow. Simply put, this is the only true fully wash down, compact, user-friendly case former on the market today. A tour of the unit will be enough for you to place an order. (http://www.bluewaterautomation.com/equipment/)

As we continue to experience and partner with organizations, we’ll keep sharing our insights. With new approaches like these, we have no doubt that 2015 will be the year for Single-Shift Continuous-Improvement in the consumer packaged goods sector.

To talk to us more about improving your operation, or SITEFLO, contact us at info@xiplinx.com.

Demystifying Purchasing and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)

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Four years in, and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is really taking hold in the consumer packaged good sector (CPG), leveraging sensor based technology, the internet, and control systems to provide truly actionable intelligence for conscious factories.

Automation World recently released a supplement called “Industrial Internet of Things: Can the IIoT Produce Concrete Benefits for Industry?” In it, they shared case studies and best practices, clearly indicating that in fact, the benefits are substantive. Even still, this came with an admission from the editors that there are still few examples to point to. This is most definitely about to change.

Editor, David Greenfield, did remind readers of the measurably low-risk nature of the IIoT, and that although the terminology is new, there are “no new, unproven products to buy.” In fact, the main barrier to realizing the benefits of the IIoT is wrapping your organizations head around the potential benefits it could bring, because it seems so new and different.

This doesn’t have to be tough stuff to wrap your head around, and buying IIoT technologies is similar to how you purchase other technology. Understanding the potential benefits shouldn’t be challenging, and in fact, the odds are stacked in a technical buyers favour as you consider purchasing technology associated with the IIoT.

As you consider what the IIoT could mean to your operation, remember that IIoT products can often present themselves as continuous or process improvement projects. As you look for IIoT opportunities, the ball is in your court and you have most of the leverage.

Don’t forget:

  • This is Just Like Buying Other Products and Services: Understanding how the IIoT can benefit you is like any other equipment or service purchase. There should be a clearly articulated value proposition up front, and a way to prove that out through a pilot or test period.
  • You’re the Expert: There are a variety of great technologies being sold that co-opt the IIoT terminology, but the sellers don’t typically run factories like you do. You usually have the leverage.
  • The IIoT Can Cost Less: Traditional cost and pricing structures don’t necessarily apply with IIoT technologies. You can expect new pricing models like subscriptions fees, and new product architectures that support cloud based technology, dramatically driving down the potential cost to purchase, lease, and implement technology.
  • Your Installed Base Can be Leveraged: You’ve got an installed base you’ve invested a significant amount of money into, and in many cases, IIoT products and services can compliment your installed base without unreasonably high integration or professional services costs
  • This Stuff Might Scare Traditional Providers of Technology: The progressive technology providers are investing in the IIoT, but, the CPG sector is comprised of a variety of solution providers, many of whom may not understand the IIoT. Work with partners who can walk you through what the IIoT could mean for you, not the ones rallying against it.

Although it was unintentional at first, we’ve become partners in our customers journeys towards understanding and realizing the benefits of the IIoT. We’ve been fortunate to have a customer and partner base of continuous and process improvement leads teaching us the value of our SITEFLO product, and how it can be leveraged to evaluate IIoT opportunities.

Today, our customers are using SITEFLO to compare packaging equipment technology and performance in operations, as well as the effectiveness of smart, and not-so-smart tape heads.

The results of these IIoT evaluations are compelling, and if you would like to hear more about SITEFLO and how we’re associated with the IIoT, please email us at info@xiplinx.com.

Broken Promises: Data Historians, Control Systems, and Manufacturing Software

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Few in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) world would dispute the significant value that Distributed Control Systems (DCS), Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA), Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC), and Data Historians can bring to a CPG in their manufacturing operation.

For the uninitiated, understanding how sensors and the aforementioned systems feed other software systems to bring value is challenging.  But, generally speaking, data historians are developed to pull data from various systems, often with the promise of forming the “complete context” of a manufacturing environment for a user. The data pulled can be processed and displayed in a variety of ways.

Even with this purported “complete context”, our partners continue to uncover frustrated users of data historians, and the manufacturing software that draws from these systems.

The root causes of their frustration are:

  • extremely long lead times to develop and implement the systems
  • never fully realizing the promised value of the system
  • large professional service charges and a cumbersome development process when making changes to the system
  • significant switching costs if things don’t go as planned
  • user experience issues that make system adoption difficult

Continuous improvement leads are the unfortunate lot, usually left to sort through a patchwork of technology and scrambled big-data, as they attempt to make sense of a machine and human based environment, with spreadsheets.

But, they’re finding a better way to build that “complete context”. Discrete, semi-automated systems can be dropped into operations for a period of time to gain a pointed understanding of an issue or process, or longer term to compliment existing systems.

In fact, discrete systems can be deployed alongside the aforementioned systems to inform future investments about integrated technology.

The cost of answering challenging questions about whether or not you should invest in new machinery, software and technology to leverage the data in your existing systems, can be dramatically decreased and informed with real data.

Those broken promises can be realized, within weeks, and you don’t have to break the bank to do it.

For more information on how SITEFLO is helping our customers realize the promise of some of their other software packages, contact us at info@xiplinx.com.

The Conscious Factory and Continuous Improvement

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This week, Nest CEO Tony Fadell referred to his organizations technology, a home-based connected thermostat and smoke alarm, as a core part of what he calls the Conscious Home. This is in stark contrast to the Smart Home he mused, as “Smart” is overused, and his technology is certainly not smarter than his users. Instead, Nest products create a two-way relationship with users, to improve a home environment for users.

It’s a goal we share with our SITEFLO product, which is a discrete, semi-automated tool to lift up continuous improvement projects. We’re fortunate to have capable and highly technical users, and our product exists to enable excellence and efficiency in their operations.

The idea of the Conscious Home has relevance in industrial environments, as continuous improvement leaders seek to develop the Conscious Factory.

Just as Nest products are invited into the home, continuous improvement leaders are invited into industrial environments, and they’re required to both earn the trust of an operation, understand it’s heartbeat, and implement changes to improve it.

But in the case of the continuous improvement leader, this invitation often occurs in the absence of tools to support the effort, to truly track and understand that heartbeat, and to build trust through shared and collaborative success.

Often, the continuous improvement leader is faced with what appears to be an automated, Conscious Factory, but in reality is actually a plant with disparate, disconnected systems that don’t aggregate specific data in forms that are truly useful for continuous improvement.

Discrete, connected systems like SITEFLO can be deployed in days to support improvements, and when paired with a capable user, can bring rapid time to value and ultimately earn the trust of an organization committed to improvement and efficiency long-term.

To find out how our customers have worked with our team and our tools to identify $1M continuous improvement projects using our discrete connected platform, please reach out to us at info@xiplinx.com.

Questions Plant Management Could be Asking

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At SITEFLO, we employ a proprietary value mapping process before we take on a project. It’s an important part of the work we do with our customers, and helps SITEFLO and our partners define success criteria, as well as uncover opportunities where our products and services can create the most value.

We see this approach as an investment in the success of our customers, and we almost always uncover opportunities for significant value creation, waste reduction, and continuous improvement. We’re selective about who we partner with, and proud that our regionally based sales partners possess an ability to effectively audit your plant, ask challenging questions, and ultimately uncover opportunities that you didn’t know existed.

Through our work with our partners, we’ve developed a compendium of question based opportunities for investigation in your environment, that you can likely leverage in your operation.

In the sprit of transparency, unlocking the power of what we’re uncovering, and ultimately improving the way we manufacture, we’ll continue to share what we learn without too much industry specific nomenclature and jargon. Below is a sample of some of the questions our field based sales representatives are asking. We’ve got more than this to share, but consider some of your answers to these questions, and the intelligence you could possess with the answers:

  • What are your human-machine-interfaces (HMI’s), manufacturing execution (MES), and ERP systems not telling you? Could you deploy a simple product to collect more data to learn more?
  • How is your labour force performing? Is one shift operating more effectively than another? Could you compare their performance if you had a product to measure the activities they do day-to-day, or on specific projects?
  • What additional value can you draw from the data you have to collect day to day to meet compliance and other regulatory requirements? If your start to collect it digitally, could you uncover anything interesting?
  • How often are your systems (like conveyors) operating without product consistently flowing through? Where are the bottlenecks? Where could more data help you identify efficiencies?
  • Are you a form-based operation, burying intelligence in stacks of paper filled out by technical personnel, only to have to enter this into an electronic database? Could you streamline the data collection process, and reduce your investment in data entry? How powerful could this data be?
  • Do you have well trained technical personnel, and are you providing appropriate job aides so that employees can do their work efficiently and effectively?
  • What alerts and alarms are you not receiving today that you wish you could receive? What control limits matter, and how much do you understand about whether or not you’re within them when you think about your installed base today?

Most of all, we like to talk to our customers about what keeps them up at night, and this question usually solicits the most interesting responses. If you would like to talk to SITEFLO about what keeps you up at night and how our software may help, feel free to reach out to us at info@xiplinx.com.

Using Semi-Automated Solutions to Baseline and Compare Process and Equipment Changes

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Manufacturing intelligence is often characterized in “big-data” terms, where seemingly endless production and process data is aggregated, analyzed, organized into data streams, and then socialized with management using Manufacturing Execution Software (MES).

Where such intelligence is powerful, especially in completely automated facilities, this approach can be costly, and often challenging for a large portion of the manufacturing market where semi-automated, mobile solutions are a better fit.

Consider the installed base of equipment in most manufacturing operations, which is in many cases disconnected, with data collection, tracking, and software systems that don’t relate. Although transforming an aging installed base into a fully automated system that delivers on the promise of real-time manufacturing intelligence isn’t a fit for all operations, it is possible to deliver unparalleled insight into an operation with a semi-automated, mobile approach.

Consider the immediate benefits of semi-automated, mobile solutions in manufacturing to drive real-time intelligence, like:

1. Labour Productivity: Jumping from no automation to full automation can be challenging, and often not possible given cost and other resourcing concerns. Semi-automation can bring tools to your labour force that make them productive, and bring an immediate lift to your business with actionable intelligence that you don’t have to wait months for.

2. Labour Engagement: With appropriately designed hardware and software that mimics consumer applications that your workforce uses, as well as a clearly visible workflow, labour engagement with work processes can increase significantly, and free up time to work on the most critical activities.

3. Flexible Processes: When processes or operating procedures change, semi-automated solutions can be changed at will by users with the appropriate permissions, and changes can be pushed out to personnel immediately.

4. Continuous Improvement is Possible: When you’re not tied down by a cumbersome, inflexible intelligence package that is difficult to apply, you can use your semi-automated solution in a variety of environments to continuously improve your operation.

To find out how SITEFLO customers deploy our semi-automated solution to deliver on the promise of manufacturing intelligence, contact us at info@xiplinx.com.

Semi-Automated Intelligence and Your Installed Base

Manufacturing intelligence is often characterized in “big-data” terms, where seemingly endless production and process data is aggregated, analyzed, organized into data streams, and then socialized with management using Manufacturing Execution Software (MES).

Where such intelligence is powerful, especially in completely automated facilities, this approach can be costly, and often challenging for a large portion of the manufacturing market where semi-automated, mobile solutions are a better fit.

Consider the installed base of equipment in most manufacturing operations, which is in many cases disconnected, with data collection, tracking, and software systems that don’t relate. Although transforming an aging installed base into a fully automated system that delivers on the promise of real-time manufacturing intelligence isn’t a fit for all operations, it is possible to deliver unparalleled insight into an operation with a semi-automated, mobile approach.

Consider the immediate benefits of semi-automated, mobile solutions in manufacturing to drive real-time intelligence, like:

1. Labour Productivity: Jumping from no automation to full automation can be challenging, and often not possible given cost and other resourcing concerns. Semi-automation can bring tools to your labour force that make them productive, and bring an immediate lift to your business with actionable intelligence that you don’t have to wait months for.

2. Labour Engagement: With appropriately designed hardware and software that mimics consumer applications that your workforce uses, as well as a clearly visible workflow, labour engagement with work processes can increase significantly, and free up time to work on the most critical activities.

3. Flexible Processes: When processes or operating procedures change, semi-automated solutions can be changed at will by users with the appropriate permissions, and changes can be pushed out to personnel immediately.

4. Continuous Improvement is Possible: When you’re not tied down by a cumbersome, inflexible intelligence package that is difficult to apply, you can use your semi-automated solution in a variety of environments to continuously improve your operation.

To find out how SITEFLO customers deploy our semi-automated solution to deliver on the promise of manufacturing intelligence, contact us at info@xiplinx.com.