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Making Metrics Matter

Posted By Jeff Moad, February 24, 2012 at 2:28 PM, in Category: Factories of the Future

There's little doubt that many manufacturers are struggling to get the right operational data to plant operators in the form and time frame necessary for them to act on it. For one thing, the amount of data being generated by proliferating sensors, smart machines, and other sources is growing rapidly. Deciding which metrics are the most important to present to which operators and getting it to them in a timely way that they can understand and act on quickly can be a significant challenge. That is particularly true for smaller manufacturers who may lack the IT expertise to sort through that sea of data.

At the same time, the need for accurate, actionable real time metrics is greater than ever as manufacturers try to cope with increased operational complexity driven by things like more SKUs, smaller batches, and more frequent machine change-overs.

So what seperates those manufacturers that are able to productively harness all of that data from those that aren't? And who in the organization is typically to blame when a manufacturer is unable to properly harness real time metrics?

A recent survey of 300 manufacturers by the Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association (MESA) International and Cambashi asked the later question manufacturing executives and operational staff. Perhaps not surprisingly, the two groups had very different perspectives. According to Cambashi President and frequent ME contributor Julie Fraser, most top executives blame the IT department for failures to make productive use of real time operational metrics. But the plant floor folks, Fraser said, blame the executives. Specifically, said consultant and MESA member Ted Bobkowski, many operational staff believe executives aren't sufficiently committed to investing in the technologies and people needed to get useful real time metrics to the plant floor. The perception is that executives only really care about the higher-level, aggregate metrics that they use, not the real time, operational metrics needed by plant operators

What do you think? Can problems with real time operational metrics most often to traced to IT or lack of executive support? What can manufacturers do to overcome these challenges?

Written by Jeff Moad

Jeff Moad is Research Director and Executive Editor with the Manufacturing Leadership Community. He also directs the Manufacturing Leadership Awards Program. Follow our LinkedIn Groups: Manufacturing Leadership Council and Manufacturing Leadership Summit


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