Given today’s extraordinary economic and market situations, nearly every manufacturer is wisely asking “what’s next?” At Dploy Solutions, we liken the current challenge to getting out of manufacturing Oz. We’ve all suddenly landed in a very strange place where the landscape and assumptions are different, and we have to move forward accordingly. That begs the question, what will it take to get back on the yellow brick road to short- and long-term success?
We believe mindset and timely access to actionable insights will be critical. In other words, you will need to have a strong and agile manufacturing “brain” to get out of Oz. That’s why it’s time to ask if your operations, like the Scarecrow Dorothy meets on her way to Emerald City, has the data analytics ‘brains’ needed to plan for and achieve success amidst disruptions in your path.
Waking up to new manufacturing realities in a different world
Suddenly, all of the previous assumptions you used in your business model and modeling activities are no longer valid. Forecasting demand, sales and operations planning, capacity plans… you name it and you likely have to reconsider it. The fact is that the business environment is now more fluid that it’s been in decades. Just consider that as companies are eagerly starting to ramp up, they are also struggling to get materials because suppliers are in the same boat. Material ordered in January may not arrive until July. And materials ordered now will also take several months to arrive. Since so much depends on what’s happening with suppliers, we’re in a highly dynamic environment. Just consider how fast the term “hot spots” in relation to Coronavirus flareups in a region or city has become an everyday term.
Hot spots, like the Wicked Witch of the West are an unpredictable phenomenon that can seemingly come out of nowhere to wreak havoc on the supply chain, sales and more. In this environment, when hot spots impact some part of your value chain you won’t have a lot of time to step back and take some time to think about what you should do next. Rather, you need data at your fingertips so you can quickly see what’s going on and make smart decisions that will drive the business forward.
Seeing the full picture—what readiness requires today
The challenge with all of this, of course, is that you have so many variables to keep track of in this new fluid environment, including the following.
To manage all of these variables effectively going forward, you will need timely data about what’s happening across all of them. For things like production, quality, equipment up-time and OEE, hourly information is ideal. For other things like demand levels and trends, supply levels and trends and absenteeism, weekly is ideal. But in most cases monthly or quarterly information won’t cut it anymore. And that brings us back to your operations brain. As you can imagine, tracking this stuff in spread sheets or standalone systems is now virtually impossible, given the urgent need for timeliness.
Do you have what it takes to respond quickly and wisely?
Moving forward, the ability of your leadership team to quickly understand what’s going on within the organization—and pinpoint the critical areas they need to focus on to keep the business going—will be critical. For example, by regularly analyzing the talent pool to understand how fluid the organization is becoming. Or understanding how well lines are running or how well you’re running from a scrap rate perspective. Insights into how quickly or slowly you will be able to respond to fluctuations in demand are essential to understanding the near- and long-term business outlook.
Equally important is the ability to quickly and easily identify risks ahead of time. For example, do you really understand where the risks are in your supply chain? If a supplier of a critical component goes out of business or has to shut down for a while, what are the risks to your organization? Or if a supplier resides in a location that is high risk for some sort of natural disaster, what are the risks to your business and what is your business continuity plan?
Zeroing in on these types of details requires having the right data at the right time and the ability to understand the root cause of issues so you can pursue the best countermeasures. That’s why one of the most important things you can do right now is to assess your current platform capabilities and technologies.
The road back to profitability starts with analytics
If you currently don’t have capabilities in place that enable you to quickly do the types of things described above, the technology you’re missing is analytics. Like the scarecrow, you already have a lot of what you need (i.e., existing systems and data) within your organization. You just need a way to pull all of your data together, analyze it and view it in intuitive dashboards. Analytics give you that ability to quickly evaluate what’s happening with your customers, people and supply base and other factors so you can plan ahead and pivot faster based on shifting market realities, including emerging hot spots.
And rest assured that analytics aren’t only important for the near term. At this point, no one knows how the rest of the COVID-19 pandemic will play out. Sure, it’s possible that we could have a vaccine in record time. But it’s equally likely that we are on a long road to full “normalcy” that will include some big bumps. And either way, this has been a wakeup call for future pandemics or other types of disasters or business disruptions.
Beyond analytics for manufacturing, it’s also important to consider developing a playbook for different likely scenarios. That way when your analytics start to indicate potential issues in demand or supply, you will be ready to react quickly.
Learn more about analytics for manufacturing from our experts. Watch a recording of our The Scarecrow – The Brains in Manufacturing: The Essential Need for Analytics webinar.
Chart the best path forward with Dploy Solutions
Moving forward, your management team will be asked to make decisions faster than ever before. If you don’t have an analytics for manufacturing solution yet, Dploy Solutions can help. Dploy Solutions Analytics software is purpose-built to support manufacturing and supply chain operations from front office operations down to the factory floor. It provides data integration service and intuitive, role-specific dashboards for real-time decision making. And it doesn’t require a huge investment or disruptive installation process to get started. If you’re interested in learning more about how Dploy Solutions analytics or data analytics services can help, please contact us.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Ken Koenemann, VP of Supply Chain and Technology at TBM Consulting Group (parent company of Dploy Solutions), is a 25+ year veteran of manufacturing, operational excellence and supply chain optimization. At TBM, Ken is actively leading the effort to our suite of services to include emerging technologies that improve productivity and convert complex data into information for improved decision making.
Brian Cromer, Managing Director of TBM’s Global Supply Chain practice, helps clients make operational improvements, reduce working capital and improve service levels while lowering the overall cost to serve. Brian is instrumental in helping operations and supply chain clients to navigate the emerging technology landscape by working with them to leverage enabling technologies to improve operational performance and profitability.