Enhanced connectivity is critical to strengthen the industry’s ability to innovate in manufacturing, and any improvement in this field has always led to increased productivity.
Historically speaking, the Industrial Revolution, the creation of management software, and the internet have increased the efficiency of millions of businesses in recent years.
Today, our lives are intertwined with the digital world. We’re always connected and communicating with each other, including coworkers and our companies. Our phones work as tablets, notepads, call centers, and diaries, making our connection with the digital world almost constant.
Naturally, this shift in behavior transfers to factories. New generations prefer to see everything on a screen and have everything at hand. Management technology isn’t a threat, but a tool to facilitate and streamline tasks, as well as to impact positively on work performance.
An amazing byproduct of digitization is the paperless approach it brings with it, not only unifying all the information into one digital place but also impacting the environment in a positive way.
Let’s take a look at how digitization has helped different factories and processes across the globe.
Productivity metrics in the factory that improve with digitization
Having everything digitized has increased productivity while keeping the business relevant, current, and competitive.
In terms of communication, digitization has managed to create real-time communications to connect everybody in the organization at all times.
When it comes to analytics, all results can be seen quickly, online, and in real-time. Having access to updated key information at a glance is a real-time saver!
Visually, having important information across your organization helps you and your workforce check the status of tasks, see whether work standards are being met, and much more. By connecting all levels of responsibility within your business, you have access to comprehensive insights at all levels, in real-time.
Digitization also speeds up the decision-making process, bringing you a fast and efficient way to solve problems and handle setbacks.
Finally, you can get total digital control of your organization, including managers, their deadlines, and the progress they’re making towards their goals.
What digital tools improve productivity?
There are different tools that improve productivity, and we’ll explore the most relevant in this section.
4 Ms, a key digital tool that comprises four elements, namely:
- Means of production
- Production methods and management
- Materials of all types
- People — Human Resources
The place where digital tools are most effective is the one occupied by people. These tools can help with daily management, making the management team’s jobs easier when it comes to ensuring their have access to the right training to perform their tasks.
Some of the best tools to support management are:
Digital standardization tool, that defines each working standard, and how to train others to follow it properly. This tool also ensures the most competent people are performing the tasks they excel at.
This solution also explains each operation’s key points, the expected time each operation should take, what’s forbidden and why, and how to proceed if any anomaly shows up.
The digital standardization tool includes video training, which helps operators understand how to perform their duties to the right standard.
5s improves processes and ensures standards are held in the workplace. 5s helps everyone understand the baseline states of each job digitally, and it finds opportunities for improvement through tidiness and cleanliness.
This is an easy process to assess through 5s audits, and it’s a methodology that requires continuous improvement actions, making it dynamic and measurable.
There are also digital tools of observation of the workstations, such as Gemba Walks or Audits. These solutions require the manager to be aware of the standards and respect them at all times.
These standards help managers ensure that all operators are following the right procedures and finding opportunities for improvement.
These tools also help us understand why standards might be falling short, some of the reasons being:
- The standards are not well defined
- The worker needs more training on the standards
- There might be issues when it comes to meeting the standards
This means that you can correct the situation quickly and effectively by either defining the standards the way we want them to be, training the person better on how to meet them, or adjusting the expectations surrounding a standard.
There are digital tools dealing with problem-solving, and they follow different methodologies too, so you can rest assured you’ll find one that works perfectly for you.
Some of the methodologies embedded in these tools are Short loop, 5 Whys, 8D, QC Story, and more. These methodologies help you understand the true dimension of the problem you’re facing, use data to find the origin of this problem, and take the most effective solutions to solve your problem quickly.
Digital tools for management, training, and improving workers’ skills are also important factors to boost productivity in your factories.
These tools help tackle issues quickly and efficiently when it comes to managing your workers’ training and overcoming the drawbacks of absenteeism.
The Lean Dashboard is a great digital tool where you can centralize all your action plans such as PDCA. This means whoever is in charge can check the status of all actions in the factory anywhere, anytime, using real-time data and adopting a paperless approach.
The Digital TPM helps identify activities to develop in each process, making it easier to control process parameters such as maintenance activities or first-level control. This helps visualize if we have a fit-to-produce process, or if we have to take action immediately.
Digital Kaizen is great for several reasons. Environmentally, its zero-paper approach helps us do our bit for the environment while keeping all the information stored away in one place. Digital Kaizen helps us work on the improvement of the workstations, continuously finding opportunities for improvement.
Digital Hoshin Kanri unifies all your digital tools and creates a master plan tailored to your company. This helps you boost productivity and align your tools with the company’s strategy.
Advantages of digitization and improved productivity
Digitalization improves productivity by enabling faster and more reliable internal processes.
It facilitates a more efficient relationship between suppliers and customers, as well as between employees and processes.
When digitization is carried out properly, productivity can increase up to 20% thanks to the reduction of a large number of unnecessary processes.
Fast and smooth digitization allows you to focus on making better use of your employees’ time and skills, generating value and innovation through Continuous Improvement.
To succeed in the technological field, it is important to opt for customized, flexible and scalable solutions based on standards. This allows any project to reach all departments and to integrate with other existing platforms in the company.
Raw materials, energy, and human costs are increasing. This is forcing companies to keep better control, seek efficiency, increase productivity, and use digitization tools to achieve their objectives.
Digitization has come to stay, and it helps companies not only work better and more efficiently, but also:
- Improve customer service
- Streamlines routine processes, such as invoicing, filing, transcription and data processing
- Develop employees’ skills and motivation
- Boost user productivity and engagement
- Facilitate sharing information across department
- Standardization and unification of factory systems
- Stop paper waste with its paperless approach
- Optimize manufacturing times (OEE-Overall Equipment Effectiveness)
Computerizing your company’s data and processes allows employees to focus on their tasks, bringing more value to the company. This translates into a productivity and performance increase of around 20%, as verified by many companies.
mlean® Production System as a productivity improvement tool
Everything we mentioned in this blog can be found inside our mlean® applications.
After over 40 years of operational experience in the field, we developed a number of digital tools for different industries — automotive, aerospace, agri-food, and pharmaceutical, to mention a few.
mlean® recognizes the need to improve factory productivity, and as such, we’ve created the most complete set of tools in the market to help you hit and keep your goals year after year.
You can find everything your factory needs —from shop floor management to visual standards and more— within our mPS software.
Over 400 companies are reaping the benefits of our preventive solutions and improvement drivers. Join them and boost your factory’s productivity and your employees’ satisfaction straight away.
Take a look at our demo and see for yourself!