Lean manufacturing is constructed on the premise that decreasing waste, eliminating redundancies, and working with precision are key to succeeding within the market.
On this mannequin, additional stock equals wasted assets. It assumes a provide chain that’s all the time on, all the time obtainable, and all the time responsive.
However as we’re seeing, that assumption doesn’t all the time work. For producers that create issues like components for vehicles, planes, equipment, and different main tools, a “just-in-time” stock mannequin—during which you retain solely the naked minimal of extra stock you must meet buyer demand—can’t function if crops are shut down for 3 weeks, say, attributable to a world pandemic.
This new actuality is a problem to lean manufacturing, but it surely doesn’t imply the mannequin itself is not related. What it does imply is that transparency and real-time visibility are essential if corporations are to proceed working on lean rules.
One firm, iBASEt, has been working within the provide chain visibility tech area for a while, and over the previous 12 months, the necessity for his or her providers has skyrocketed. I lately spoke with iBASEt’s CEO, Naveen Poonian, on how lean manufacturing is altering within the wake of the pandemic. Right here’s what he needed to say.
The problem for lean corporations
The largest problem for producers in industries like aerospace and automotive, as we emerge from the pandemic, will probably be this: Discovering methods to maintain their lean practices from negatively impacting their restoration.
“What we all know is that when demand comes again, it’s going to return again shortly,” Poonian says. “There’s a lot pent-up demand for journey, for brand spanking new vehicles, for instance. If producers wait to get their provide ranges up till it’s very apparent that the comeback has occurred, you’re in hassle. Different corporations can have moved in first.”
In different phrases, if you happen to’re working on the precept that you really want as little idle stock as potential, you gained’t be ready to ramp up as shortly as you must.
Actual-time data is vital
One solution to steadiness lean processes with the “subsequent to regular” that we’ll emerge into because the pandemic wanes is to spend money on applied sciences that provide real-time visibility into all the pieces out of your provide chain to your orders.
This not solely means that you can put together for the long run with extra and higher data. It additionally means that you can react extra shortly once you do see demand pace up or decelerate, which can give your organization an actual aggressive benefit. “Corporations want to enhance their real-time visibility to allow them to see the metrics that matter,” says Poonian. “Seeing all of your leads to real-time may be very completely different from seeing it in a report on the finish of the week.”
Cloud-based tech permits for higher interoperability and techniques integration
G Suite, Microsoft Workplace, and different cloud-based applications that we’re all conversant in have made quick, straightforward software program updates the norm. Since all the pieces relies within the cloud, updating the software program can occur often, mechanically, and with out disrupting customers’ workflow.
This isn’t, nonetheless, the norm in manufacturing, which in lots of circumstances is tied to monolithic, server-based techniques which can be extraordinarily pricey to take care of, by way of each money and time. What’s extra, these applications usually are troublesome to combine with different techniques that come on-line because the plant’s wants change or mature.
The issue right here—along with the pressure on assets—is that real-time visibility and efficiency can solely be achieved when you’ve got interoperable, built-in techniques.
iBASEt is the primary within the manufacturing tech world to undertake this cloud-based, microservices structure mannequin, following within the path of Amazon, Netflix, and Spotify amongst others. “With this mannequin, you don’t have to tear out the outdated and put within the new—you simply maintain enhancing it. You’re persevering with to replace and modify with none impression on the consumer expertise,” says Poonian. “It’s completely primed to fulfill the necessity for real-time knowledge. And there’s no downside connecting one cloud app to a different, because it’s carried out via APIs.”
Lean manufacturing must alter with the intention to meet this “subsequent to regular,” and shortly. Corporations that wait till they are often sure the demand is there’ll discover themselves out of the operating—whereas people who spend money on tech that creates extra transparency and real-time visibility will come out forward.