With increasing competition in the marketplace and shrinking profit margins in many industries, companies are increasing looking for ways to achieve higher levels of business process optimization throughout their supply chain. This isn’t a new challenge, but it is one that has recently taken on greater importance with the acceleration of the speed of business change.
Many optimization techniques, one common problem
The entire field of Production and Operations Management has developed over the last 50 years applying various techniques to address this problem. Companies have learned a lot about how to eliminate waste, achieve consistency and empower employees to proactively solve issues, but all these efforts have been constrained by the availability of real-time data for decision making.
Lessons from LEAN
LEAN Production is a systematic method for the elimination of waste in a manufacturing system. This may be scrap materials or it could be waste from un-even resource utilization or sub-optimal processes. By eliminating waste, production systems can produce more output at lower per-unit costs, making the company more profitable. A key technique for achieving Lean production is to eliminate queueing within business processes so as soon as one step in the process is complete, the next step starts.
Lessons from Six Sigma
The Six Sigma quality methodology is all about improving the consistency of production by identifying and addressing the root cause of issues. Six Sigma uses statistical monitoring techniques to identify anomalies so they can be addressed quickly before they develop into significant business impacts
Lessons from Kaizen
Kaizen is a continuous improvement methodology – a set of activities that seek to improve all functions of an organization by improving standardized programs and processes and eliminating waste (like Lean Manufacturing). A key aspect of the kaizen approach is the empowerment of employees to act to address issues when they see them – rather than ignoring them until they become problems.
Continuous improvement is happening too slowly
The challenge with each of these approaches is the timeliness of data for making decisions. Most companies rely on periodically refreshed dashboards, nightly reports and monitoring data to identify where inefficiencies exist. It then takes hours, days, even weeks to identify and implement a corrective action. Yes, the company is improving and moving towards optimization, but the pace of improvement is too slow for the modern business environment. The lost productivity, unnecessary costs, and increased waste that the organization endures while waiting to solve problems is undermining company profitability.
Real-time data leads to faster and more accurate optimization efforts
The key to improving manufacturing and production process performance is first fixing the way your operational data is collected, analyzed and consumed. By applying the techniques of Lean to eliminate queuing and delays in capturing meaningful data, then using the statistical methods of six sigma to process the data into meaningful insights, the company can provide employees with the real-time data they need to embrace kaizen and proactively resolve issues.
Actian provides the right tools optimize your business faster
This may all seem simple in concept, but the naysayers in your IT organization will be quick to point out that enabling real-time data for operational decision making can be a difficult challenge. That’s where Actian Vector can help. Actian has developed technology that is designed to take your operational data, break it into small micro-batches and process them in near-real time. This provides you with an operational data warehouse of real-time data that can be used by your employees and suppliers to make on-the-spot decisions to fine-tune your manufacturing and production processes. With Actian’s data management, integration and analytics technology, you will finally be able to achieve those lean, six sigma and kaizen goals faster by operating in the moment. And when you do, the proof will be apparent in the profitability numbers.