20 years ago, I was responsible for secondary packing and assembly of a complex anaesthetic product. We had a couple of automated assembly and packing lines and one of these had a very comprehensive plant information system attached to it, which we didn’t use! A global project team had put it in and some people in the ‘business’ were critical of them – they thought they knew better, and probably they did! What this case showed was that clever people can create powerful solutions, but you need to think about and design around what the team running the plant can cope with and what they will adopt and embrace.
One problem with any investment in data visibility improvement is that you need to manage the change carefully. If you suddenly deliver lots of data about a machine, packing line or factory without considering the capability of the users to make sense of it you run the risk of it not being used correctly, or worse, discrediting all your hard won investment time and cash.
A different way to go about this is to put the change in the hands of the users. With modern No-Code app development platforms you can empower, energise and enthuse your staff as well as speed up the introduction of IOT data capture and visibility projects. This can turn your digital transformation programme from a ‘Push’ to a ‘Pull’ and you may be surprised at how quickly the take up and acceptance of the solution is on the factory floor.
Our recommendations for how to implement a Pull approach is to, identify a suitable person to start developing your app, possibly a keen process/production engineer or someone in one of your teams who’s interested and passionate about technology and Lean type improvements. No-Code platforms can be self-learnt in a matter of a few hours and soon people who understand the shop-floor will be able to rapidly build apps that you can get value from. Examples might include downtime monitoring, defect reason capture, simple work instructions with rich contents such as video, pictures and diagrams. You can easily test these apps out off-line and get others involved to see what’s possible and iterate the design, then once when you’re ready, deploy them to a work-station, line or factory.
As your own staff begin to use such apps they will start to see and identify other use cases and either ask your new found app builder SME to build them, or even better, they start to create apps themselves! In this way you start to build up a library of apps which can be used across your company, develop a group of people who can build apps and deliver a change programme from the ground up. Steering groups and networks can then be put in place to help manage the change, and the nature of the Pull approach is that people are building and adopting their own improvements and so governance can focus on suggesting priorities and steering the direction of your change champions.