Preparing for Future Growth Amidst an Economic Contraction

While many manufacturers are experiencing demand slowdowns, leaders expect growth later in the year. So, now is the time to get ready for a business upswing by increasing operational discipline. 

In Manufacturing Growth Strategy Planning: 5 Things to Get Right, an article recently published in IndustryWeek, contributor Chad Champine states that:

“When properly identified and diligently managed, capability and utilization are the North Star for navigating a strategic growth plan. 

“Without attention to and understanding of these two elements, operations and supply chain planning efforts will falter. Likewise, the potential for growth through expansion, renovation, or new facility builds can also be compromised.

“Companies that adhere to best practices for standardization and improved production processes will avoid costly mistakes and better support their organization’s strategic growth objectives.”

We couldn’t agree more. Many manufacturers achieve initial gains from continuous improvement programs but stall or regress as consultants depart and staff resist further changes. What’s essential is to enlist frontline workforces from day one in initiating and driving process improvements across key areas, such as productivity, reliability, compliance and learning. 

QAD Redzone sets up teams and companies for success by using process, technology, and other techniques to empower frontline workers to manage change and overcome obstacles to continuous improvement. QAD Redzone is a next-generation platform that uses mobile, social collaboration technology; automated data capture; IIoT devices; coaching; and team motivational techniques to unlock the creativity and drive of the frontline workforce.  

Leveraging a Five-Part Strategy to Drive Continuous Improvement 

Mr. Champine recommends that manufacturers embrace a DMAIC (define, measure, analyze, and control) data-driven approach to creating strategic insight they can use to standardize or improve processes. We agree. We built our Connected Workforce Solution to empower frontline workforces and managers with real-time data on production conditions, digital processes that streamline key areas of the business, and the tools to create a culture of continuous improvement. 

Mr. Champine further recommends companies take five strategic actions:

  1. Defining the current state: Manufacturers should baseline their current state and ensure that they have the appropriate resources to fuel growth, the author says.

    When manufacturers deploy QAD Redzone, supervisors and production teams work with coaches to connect equipment with sensors and baseline overall equipment effectiveness (OEE). With this data in hand, leaders can set goals and work with coaches and teams to achieve them.
  2. Measuring the facility’s performance: Mr. Champine recommends a full operational assessment, involving motion time styles, capacity planning, production scheduling, and more, to evaluate current performance.

    This type of approach may indeed be valuable, but requires a significant investment of capital and time to determine the current state. In this current economic environment, many manufacturers want to reduce Capex and Opex expenses and ensure more rapid ROI on new solutions they deploy.
    Manufacturers that deploy QAD Redzone work with coaches to evolve processes in a 90-day sprint. QAD Redzone surfaces real-time production data via technology to improve frontline teams’ situational awareness about current conditions. They can review data on overhead TV screens, on tablets by equipment, and on their own smartphones. With pervasive insights and processes at the ready, every worker can identify production issues and propose changes for teams to consider and implement.

    By the end of 90 days, production teams using QAD Redzone drive OEE on average by 14 points and productivity by 29%. Companies also set the stage for reaping an average of annual labor savings of $728K to $1.4M by digitizing processes and reducing overtime. Thus, prospective customers know upfront what’s possible before they commit to a continuous improvement journey with QAD Redzone.
  3. Analyzing core processes: Mr. Champine then advocates doing a deeper dive on all opportunities for continuous improvement, including cycle times, inventory management, product traceability and more.

    We respectfully disagree. We believe it is better to improve the business one area at a time. By doing so, manufacturers achieve near-term ROI on their investment, create collective will to drive and sustain change, and set the stage for continuously adding value to processes.
  • Improving performance: Mr. Champine then recommends that organizations evaluate best units for achieving growth and implement them.

    We agree and have created a structured path for manufacturers to follow that addresses the issues their leaders care most about. After deploying the QAD Redzone Productivity module, teams typically tackle Compliance and then Reliability, before concluding with Learning

    During the Reliability module, operators take over some maintenance duties, helping improve equipment uptime, while during Compliance, factories transition from paper-based to digital processes for quality checks. Finally, during Learning, managers create real-time digital skill matrices aligned to business requirements, so that teams can own and progress their own skills development. Managers can see who’s most engaged and skilled, tapping these workers for supervisory positions. 
  • Controlling the manufacturing process: Mr. Champine states that processes can only be controlled with the right key performance indicators (KPIs). We agree. That’s why QAD Redzone uses widely understood and accepted metrics, such as OEE and productivity, to baseline and measure performance across all factories, no matter what their industry, process type, or starting point.

    With high-quality, real-time data, it’s easier to make everyday fixes that boost performance while creating data that bolsters business units for longer-term investments, like the ones Mr. Champine proposes.

Prepare for Growth, While Achieving Near-Term ROI

Manufacturing leaders know that they have to balance cost-cutting initiatives and strategic investments in improving processes. Cut too deeply, and factories won’t be ready to boost production when demand picks up. However, making focused improvements in boosting factory OEE, productivity, and product quality yield near-term ROI and help teams create standardized processes that scale with demand growth.

QAD Redzone gives leaders and teams the data and tools they need to continuously improve processes, creating and sustaining new business gains over time. That’s a capability any factory can benefit from. 

Learn more about QAD Redzone

2023 Productivity Benchmark Report

1,000 Factories’ Productivity Data: The Largest Dataset of Its Kind ...

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