Spencer Wright runs “The Prepared” one of the best resources for Manufacturing professionals out there, “a newsletter, podcast and network for people working on real problems in the physical world” (if you haven’t subscribed already, I highly suggest you do!). He is a mechanical designer, product engineer and self-described “guy-who-makes-stuff” with a career that has spanned product development, project management, strategy, and manufacturing/operations. He works on highly specialized CAD software at nTopology, is the founder of The Public Radio and an avid Tulip customer and enthusiast.
The best reason to go digital in manufacturing is to achieve a business goal. Doing it for the sake of going paperless, digital or being innovative are worthy goals, but on their own, will not get your digital transformation very far and could backfire. True - paper savings from going digital can be considerable. But on their own, they will not move the needle. So, what kind of business goals can you accomplish with manufacturing apps? Below we go over some of the business objectives we’ve seen our customers meet.
Lean Manufacturing is a management philosophy mostly derived from the Toyota Production System. The term was first coined by John Krafcik in his 1988 article, “Triumph of the Lean Production System,” based on his master’s thesis at the MIT Sloan School of Management. It can be summarized as a systematic method for waste minimization, without sacrificing productivity.
While the key methodologies of the philosophy have endured the test of time, the way those methods are implemented is undergoing a digital transformation. The following quote from Edith Harmon, New Balance’s VP of Manufacturing Innovation, explains this growing adoption of “Digital Lean”:
“We had implemented lean, but it was still very manual. When we relied on humans to record workmanship on paper, data collection was a chore. You can collect data every hour for ten years, but that doesn’t mean you can use it. The data becomes paralyzing. It is hard to get your head around all that is happening in a factory. A lot of the data gets lost.”
As we will see in the examples below, embracing “Digital Lean” has several benefits over the traditional way of doing Continuous Improvement. The primary value comes from all the actionable data you can collect. In the past, you had to collect this information manually. Thanks to tools such as Tulip, this data can now be collected and integrated automatically from your devices, sensors, machines, and people, in real-time
Below are five examples of Digital Lean apps that our customers have built, on their own, using Tulip’s Self-Serve Manufacturing App platform.
1. Digital Poka Yoke
Poka Yoke was invented by Shigeo Shingo when he was an industrial engineer at Toyota. The term can be translated from Japanese as “error proofing,” “mistake proofing” or “inadvertent error prevention”. The methodology seeks to prevent quality defects by introducing behavior shaping constraints that avert operator mistakes. Initially, the term was Baka-Yoke (which means fool-proofing), but when a worker refused to use Baka-Yoke because it was offensive to her work, the name was changed to Poka Yoke.
One of the most popular ways in which our customers digitally “mistake-proof” their processes is by using the Tulip PTL (pick-to-light) to guide operators pick/place up the correct parts from bins during an assembly process. As you can see on the video above, the bin with the right part lights up to ensure the operator picks up the correct part.
Another popular way in which our customers do Digital Poka Yoke is by using sensors to provide real-time feedback to operators. For example, one Tulip customer made a prep-to-ship Tulip app that connects with a scale and automatically checks the weight of the package to be shipped. Since Tulip connects with their backend systems, the app knows what the expected weight of the box is, allowing it to check if the actual weight falls above or below the expected weight. If the box’s weight is not correct, the app guides operators through a ‘rework’ loop to ensure the right items are shipped to the right customers. This reduced the cost of returns considerably and increased their customer satisfaction levels.
Since Tulip lets you connect all your sensors, tools and machines to the apps you create, in a plug and play manner, the possibilities of mistake-proofing your workflows are only limited by your imagination.
2. Digital 5S audit
5S is a methodology for organizing, cleaning, developing and sustaining a productive work environment. The method derives from the five Japanese words seiri, seiton, seiso, seiketsu, and shitsuke, whose transliteration starts with ‘S’ (hence, the name ‘5S’). These words mean:
- Sort — Remove items that are not used frequently, get rid of clutter.
- Set in order — Organize your workspace by giving a place for everything you need and by putting everything in place.
- Shine — Clean and make the space such that workers can be proud to work there.
- Standardize — Establish standards for order and cleanliness, including reserving time to clean workstations.
- Sustain — Maintain standards through training, empowerment, commitment, and discipline.
Using Tulip, several customers have digitized their 5S inspections. Doing Digital 5S has several benefits. First, it helps standardize the methodology across your operation. Second, it allows your team to collect 5S data directly from the app without needing to transcribe it (they can even include pictures and videos of their findings). Lastly, it gives managers visibility into who is doing 5S and allows them to provide real-time feedback through the app.
3. Root Cause Analysis
Root Cause Analysis is a method for problem-solving used to identify the causes or faults of problems. A factor is considered the root cause of a problem if its removal prevents the problem from occurring. A causal factor, on the other hand, is one whose removal can improve the outcome but doesn’t eliminate the problem. If an issue arises in your manufacturing process, you want to make sure you solve its root cause. Otherwise, the problem will occur again in the future.
There are many techniques for doing Root Cause Analysis, and we’ve seen our customers taking the traditional tools (such as the one pictured on the left) and turning them into digital apps. For example, some of our customers used Tulip to build a “5 Whys” app. “5 Whys” is a technique used to find the root cause of a defect or problem by repeating the question “Why” until the root cause is found. Each answer of the question forms the basis of the next question. The technique was formally developed by Taiichi Ohno and used at Toyota. In other companies, the method appears in different forms (3 whys, etc.). Using Tulip to digitize the process has several advantages. First, it collects data from the process and leaves a record of the reasoning used to find and solve the root cause of the problem. This data can be valuable in the future or for other team members as they look for improvement opportunities (they can prevent the cause from arising in the first place!). Second, it gives managers visibility into who is actively doing this type of Kaizen event and allows them to provide real-time feedback.
Another famous root cause analysis technique are Fishbone Diagrams. Also called cause-and-effect diagrams or Ishikawa Diagrams, they were invented by Kaoru Ishikawa a Japanese quality control expert. They are called Fishbone diagrams for their shape, with the “defect” shown as the fish’s head (facing to the right) and the causes extending to the left as fish bones. The ribs branch out of the backbone for major causes, with sub-branches for root-causes, to as many levels as required.
Using Tulip, several customers have built Digital Fishbone Apps for their teams. Similar to the other cases in this post, the benefits of digitizing the process arise from ease of implementation, reduced training time for people using the app, and the manager visibility into operator work.
4. Visual Management
Visual management relies on the adage “what gets measured and displayed gets improved.” Doing lean the old-fashioned way means you need to have a person counting the events you are trying to measure, such as cycle times. Usually, this is done using a stopwatch, clipboard, pen, and paper. This is obviously a very time-consuming process and implies you will not be able to collect all the data you might need. Furthermore, unless that data is fed to a spreadsheet or similar software, it usually gets lost in paper data silos. This means that managers lack timely and historical data that could be very helpful in making continuous improvement decisions.
Tulip changes this by letting you turn all workflows into instrumented, data collecting, digital processes so that you can have actionable, real-time data of your operations. As part of our Analytics builder, we collect time study data that can be automatically created and grouped by value stream, by an associate, by date or in a more granular way by dividing the cycle time by step times in your process. Here is a sample chart generated by Tulip:
As you can see, the chart displays target cycle times and actual cycle times of all operators. This data gets automatically collected, so you have a continuous, real-time picture of your operations without having to manually count events. Using this information, you can identify high performers and propagate their tribal knowledge to increase the productivity of all operators. Moreover, you can locate under-performers and provide targeted feedback to get them back on track and see their improvements in real-time.
These dashboards are not only valuable for management. Several of our customers have used Tulip to create digital replacements of their shop floor whiteboards so that everyone on the floor has a picture of what is going on with production in real-time. According to one of our customers, this information instills a healthy dose of competitiveness among operators, which increases their engagement and productivity.
5. Digital Standardized Work
Standardized work is the process of documenting and standardizing tasks throughout the value stream by creating work instructions and standard operating procedures (SOPs). There are many benefits to standardized work, such as the increased effectiveness of cross-training, more consistent production, reduced product variability and reduced training costs.
The traditional way of standardizing work relies on paper-based SOPs. The issue with these is that they end up gathering dust somewhere on the shop floor because operators don’t use them on a regular basis. They are not to blame — going back and forth between a paper guide and your assembly work can be time-consuming and counterproductive, especially if the SOP does not add value to the production process.
Using Tulip, our customers have turned their paper-based SOPs into smart, interactive, digital ones that add value to operators by empowering them to do a better job without having to change the way they work. Unlike “dumb” digital work instructions, these smart interactive work instructions connect with the devices the operators need and provide live feedback that reduces their mistakes and increases their productivity.
These are only some examples of how you can digitize your Lean methodologies using Tulip, but there are many more including Digital Andon, Digital SMED and others which we’ll cover in future posts. Doing Digital Lean can help you implement new lean initiatives faster and improve your existing ones. If you want to learn more about how Tulip can help you drive your continuous improvement efforts, get in touch!
The Manufacturing Industry seems to be taken ablaze with Manufacturing Apps — you can’t seem to strike a conversation with manufacturing thought leaders, industry analysts or attend industry events without talking about their potential.
Being pioneers of this technology, at Tulip we’re ecstatic to see this. However, we’re getting to the point were Manufacturing Apps means different things to different people.
So, what ARE manufacturing apps? Here is one way we like to define them:
“Manufacturing Apps turn industrial workflows into instrumented, data collecting, digital processes that integrate operator, machine, and sensor data to achieve business goals.”
Yes, we know, that’s a mouthful. The best way to understand the definition is to compare how you would do things before and after using Manufacturing Apps. Some examples are:
Before — Process Engineers use a clipboard and stopwatch to measure an operator’s performance. An individual’s data isn’t accessible beyond a couple of days, unless the process engineer types it on a spreadsheet that is easily accessible by everyone. The process is time-consuming, and the data is always lagging behind the operations.
After — With Manufacturing Apps, every step on your workflows generates data that is captured as defined by those closest to your operations. Process and Quality engineers can use the data to improve workflows, line supervisors can use the data to provide targeted feedback to operators, and upper management can use the data to have a real-time picture of the shop-floor.
Before — Operators use paper-based work instructions. These instructions are not easy to follow, delay the operator’s work and don’t help them improve their performance. Furthermore, keeping track of different versions and finding the most recent one is usually a challenge. This leads to the low use of work instructions which in turn leads to higher defect rates.
After — Operators use Manufacturing Apps to create interactive work instructions. These instructions are digital and connect with the tools operators use on their assembly process. These guided assembly apps help operators do a better job, be more productive and make fewer mistakes, so they use them constantly and happily. Operators can provide feedback and improvement ideas for the instructions in real time, and the app can be instantly updated to turn tribal knowledge into standard operating procedure.
Before — You have different data silos for data from machines, operators, sensors and other systems. Some of the data lives in paper; other resides in excel, SQL databases or some third party system. Most data isn’t captured or gets lost. Having a clear, real-time picture of what is going on is challenging, if not impossible.
After — You can integrate all your data sources into a single, holistic view of your process, production line or factory in real-time. The data can be easily analyzed and visualized through an analytics engine and ‘dashboarding’ capability. Furthermore, it can easily be shared with all stakeholders as needed.
Before — Training buddies train new hires and hand hold them for a period during which you have no real visibility on their progress. Every time a new product or process is introduced, you have to re-train everyone, which slows things down. Keeping track of which person has done which training or which person has a particular skill is challenging.
After — You can create Training Manufacturing Apps for new hires to train themselves. You can see their progress as they work through the training apps and have visibility on their skills. When you introduce new process, tools or products to the assembly line, you can deploy new training modules and have operators continue learning on the job.
Before — You have legacy machines and perhaps some newer more advanced ones, but they can’t talk with you or each other quickly. Clunky interfaces make them prone to mistakes. Someone has to check the machines regularly to see if they are working. The changeover and startup process is ripe with human errors.
After — You can connect your machines to your Apps and make them interact with each other. You can calculate OEE as best suits your business needs, automatically and in real time. You can build manufacturing apps to act as an interface for legacy machines and create apps to help your team perform changeover and maintenance more efficiently. Furthermore, you can leverage the Industrial IoT by connecting your tools, sensors and machines to your apps.
These are but a few examples of all the ways in which Manufacturing Apps change the way manufacturing is run. Hopefully, you now have a better sense of what Manufacturing Apps are and how they can change the way you run your operations.
Using Tulip’s Manufacturing App Platform, you can build these apps yourself through a drag and drop, visual programming interface. This means you don’t need to know how to code or rely on third parties to develop the apps for you!
On a next post, we’ll dive into specific use cases and their impact on the bottom-line. Stay Tuned.
We all have personal resolutions for the new year. “Get organized,” “Lose weight,” “Spend more time with family and friends” and “Learn a new hobby” are among the most common ones. But as the new year begins, it is equally important to set professional resolutions as well. As you think about your professional goals for this year, below we share some of the ones we at Tulip are committed to helping you achieve in 2018.
Embrace Lean Manufacturing
Academia has documented the benefits of Lean Manufacturing exhaustively. Furthermore, Lean organizations have consistently beat competitors and dominated their markets. However, many companies still don’t practice continuous improvement. This phenomenon might be for a variety of reasons, from cultural backlash to lack of proper lean implementation tools. As you enter 2018, consider how you could make your organization be Lean and don’t forget that, as Jamie Flinchbaugh says, “Lean is both an organizational journey, and a personal one.”
Collect data and use it to improve your operations
According to McKinsey, “In manufacturing, operations managers can use advanced analytics to take a deep dive into historical process data, identify patterns and relationships among discrete process steps and inputs, and then optimize the factors that prove to have the greatest effect on yield.” And yet, some of the most valuable data on the shop floor, such as that generated by legacy machines or human operators, is not being adequately captured by manufacturers. And when it is, it is being collected manually for tracking purposes, not as a basis for improving operations. If your process engineers are still gathering data manually, using excel to analyze it and e-mail to share it, you are likely not getting as much value of your data as you could. What will you do in 2018 so you can extract more value from your data?
Invest in your team’s professional development
Deloitte found out that 69% of Manufacturing Executives believe their workforce lacks problem-solving skills, 67% think they don’t have the necessary technical training and 70% feel they lack technology and computer skills. And according to the same executives, the most effective skill development strategy is internal employee training. Even if your industry is highly automated, people are still the most valuable “computer” on your shop floor. As the demand for skilled workers increases, manufacturers that invest more in their workforce are poised to gain a competitive advantage. How will you invest in your team’s talent development this year?
Increase the Diversity of your Workforce
Diversity should be an end in itself, but it is also a means to an expanded talent pool. It goes beyond race and gender, to include ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, physical abilities, and more. And yet, despite the projected 2Mtalent shortage in manufacturing over the coming decade, diversity remains lacking. Manufacturing is still predominantly dominated by white males and women represent less than a third of the entire workforce. The fact that 80% of manufacturers still approach diversity in an ad hoc manner, without a clear strategy, explains part of the status quo. Therefore, manufacturing leaders that embrace diversity as part of their culture and strategy have an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage. What can you do in 2018 to increase the diversity within your organization?
Adopt Emerging Technologies
Just like steam unleashed the first Industrial Revolution, some emerging technologies are driving forward the so-called Industry 4.0 revolution. Beyond the hype, enabling technologies are driving real value. Manufacturing Apps, leveraging IIoT and real-time Analytics, are an example of this. Using Manufacturing Apps New Balance was able to cut by half the time to market of a new product, Merck reduced 92% the training time of new hires, and Jabil increased production Yield by 10%. Furthermore, these apps are helping companies become Lean and do real-time continuous improvement. Companies that find a way to derive value from Manufacturing Apps in 2018 will undoubtedly gain a competitive advantage. How can you use Manufacturing Apps to achieve operational excellent in 2018?
Setting your goals is easy. Keeping them is the hard part. As you consider your resolutions, bear in mind that starting small, writing them down, making them public and using technology can make it easier to achieve them. If you are interested in learning how Tulip can help, get in touch. Good luck!