On March 23rd we took part in the conference “Industry 4.0: New challenges and productivity improvement in SMEs”. The initiative, organised by the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce as part of the Industry 4.0 Diagnosis and Support programme, was a great success thanks to the virtual attendance of businessmen and entrepreneurs from Catalonia.
David Calvo, CEO of Itemsa, spoke for about 40 minutes on Industry 4.0 and industrial productivity. His presentation was marked by a series of insights, ideas and inspiration on how Industry 4.0 offers us a set of tools, so far unimaginable, to deepen the improvement of productivity.
In this article, we will review the main points of this virtual presentation to understand why continuous productivity improvement is an unavoidable objective for companies that want to stay in the market.
How to improve productivity in 2021?
The starting point of the presentation exposed a situation that affects many companies nowadays: they have information -KPIs usually more or less well defined-; and they also have a data collection and analysis system; but, unfortunately, the standards are usually neither well defined, nor well measured, nor optimised.
In Itemsa, we believe that the improvement of productivity in the current context consists, on the one hand, in the constant improvement of the processes and, therefore, of the standards to obtain the maximum performance of the current resources of the company. And, on the other hand, in achieving that these standards are met with the daily routine.
Obviously, things happen in the day-to-day running of an organisation: machines that break down, materials that do not arrive on time, people who for whatever reason reduce their performance. Our job is to reduce the gap between the standards -once optimised- and reality.
Therefore, standards are the basis of processes improvement, but they are also the great forgotten ones of Industry 4.0.
Focusing on standards
When we start a new project, the first thing we do is to register the current situation.
We then implement the Improvement of Work Methods tool, which consists of making a critical analysis of each of the tasks being carried out, questioning what, why, when, who, how, etc. is being developed: is it necessary? is it mandatory to do it that way or not? could it be performed differently, or at another moment? …
The next step is to make a simulation of how the work cycle could be reorganised: how to increase the production capacity?
From this point, it is essential to eliminate or reduce all non-value adding activities.
Flexibility is key to growth
Companies must be prepared to take on any scenario of production demand, batch sizes, availability of people and components, …
In our experience, it is possible to design a tailor-made flexibilization, depending on the characteristics of each manufacturing process:
- Integral assembly processes.
- Single-product lines (batches).
- Multi-product lines (mix).
- Manufacturing or assembly cells.
- Assembly lines based on multi-operator stations.
Bridging the gap between standard and reality
These are the key factors that connect the improvement of competitiveness with Industry 4.0:
- Optimisation of processes, methods, times and of the utilization of available resources.
- Simulation of different possible scenarios (optimised in each case).
- Setting standards for each possible scenario: Key to achieve efficient flexibilization.
- Data capture: data capture and transmission systems and devices.
- Management of this data (what data to analyse, where, when and how): Definition, calculation and monitoring of indicators (KPIs) as a basic tool for management and continuous improvement, and possible incentives for improving efficiency (OEE).
- Detection and monitoring of possible deviations between what should be happening (standards) and what is actually happening (Reality vs. Standard).
- How to act to prevent deviations from having a negative impact on costs.
- Systems integration (and going paperless!).
In this webinar we have shared what we do every day: helping companies to become more efficient, profitable and to get rid of all the activities that do not add value.