10 opportunities to cut costs in Custom and On Demand manufacturing – Cost Saving 9: Culture

10 opportunities to cut costs in Custom and On Demand manufacturing – Cost Saving 9: Culture

Singing from the same hymn book

Culture as a cost saving – sounds a little nebulous doesn’t it? Far from it. Culture drives behaviour and workflow automation has a powerful part to play in supporting the culture that management is seeking to implement. We note a wide disparity in the focus on culture between low and high performing factories.

The big difference I note is the level to which people are informed and empowered and what type of information is shared to support a change in attitude and performance.

In some factories I see staff simply doing the work in front of them. They are trained and skilled in a task but they have no context for their performance, no understanding of the cadence of the work that is coming to them, or the wider performance of the business.

In some factories (unfortunately only a small number) rich dashboards play on big LCD TV screens, refreshing every minute. They provide information about volume, work outstanding, throughput and quality rates. In the best of the factories these are distributed down to the individual cell level providing fine grain influence on performance of small teams that each have their own cultures.

The really interesting thing about this approach is that it doesn’t just change the behaviour of staff, it also changes management behaviour. The reason is that done well, these dashboards replicate a large part of the data that is available in the back office. This means that the old management adage of ‘management by walking around’ becomes possible and a new level of relationship between management and staff created. With live data available to both staff and management conversations move from being episodic (and often too late) to spontaneous and real time.

The potential for this to engender a big shift in cost through creating continuous improvement cannot be underestimated. The only word of caution is that the technique is only as good as your data and this rests on having implemented Cost Savings 4 and 5 to give maximum cost impact.

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© ZenSmart.ai

Andrew Smith

Andrew Smith is the CEO of ZenSmart, a leading workflow automation platform that streamlines manufacturing in On Demand plants across the world.

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