Analysis and Commentary

Leadership in factory automation – by Glen Casey

Analysis and Commentary

Today in our editorial series, Leadership in factory automation, Glen Casey reveals the bottom line of learnings in his work for more than 60 major companies. Before you automate – get the basics right, analyse and plan.

The Global pandemic has had a dramatic effect on the way consumers and companies now do business which will require manufacturers to reset and reinvent their own operations.

Significant productivity improvements will be required along with flexibility, rapid response and stable supply chains being the key ingredients for success.

Industry 4.0 has been presented as a major part of the solution and it can be. There is no doubt there are significant benefits for manufacturers from advanced technologies such as:

  • Industrial Internet of Things
  • Big Data
  • Cloud Computing
  • Additive Manufacturing
  • Advanced Robotics
  • And Augmented & Virtual Reality

Those not using Industry 4.0 principles will be left behind.

But manufacturers must first be very clear where Industry 4.0 can provide a benefit in their business.

Most Australian manufacturers are SME’s and the “take up’ here has been relatively low because the particular benefits and return on investment for Industry 4.0 for “their” business has not been clearly defined.

There is no point digitising bad systems and bad processes or systems that do not add value to the customer.

It all comes down to Efficiency and Effectiveness- Efficiency is doing things “Right” and Effectiveness is doing the “Right” things. Efficiency is derived from internal factors and Effectiveness is determined externally by the customer.

Manufacturers need to plot the total value chain from identifying the market opportunity, analysing the ABC customer and Product profile, receiving orders, forecasting, scheduling, manufacturing, all the way to receipt of the product by the customer.

Where are you losing value in the process and where can you create value for the customer?

In the manufacturing process itself you can create capacity and efficiency from ERP systems, predictive maintenance, quality inspection, prototyping, robotics, inventory management, ordering processes that link customers and suppliers, field service and training using AI and many more applications but you need to be very clear where the greatest benefit is for you in the value chain.

Glen Casey is an experienced manufacturing and innovative company leader working for companies ranging from Nylex, Thorn-EMI and Philips to Titomic and Tritium. He is principal adviser to business consultants the Transition Group, and a former director of the member organisation, the Australian Transformation and Turnaround Association.

Pictures: Glen Casey

@AuManufacturing’s editorial series – Leadership in factory automation – is brought to you with the support of Bosch Australia Manufacturing Solutions, and the Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre.

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