Volume 1 / Issue 16 / October 24, 2016
“The internet of things”
Another step on the journey to world class?
Beginning at the beginning – Introducing MPI
After the 1981-82 recession, manufacturing excellence measures showed Toyota’s approach to be far ahead of GM’s. Recovering manufacturers earnestly wanted to know, ‘What does world class look like’? To find out, and to speed the recovery, the Ontario Centre for Advanced Manufacturing (OCAM) sent people to Japan to benchmark the best manufacturing practices. As it happened, Jim Womack’s team (author of Lean Thinking) was there also, to find answers to that same question. While they didn’t meet, the two groups visited many of the same Japanese companies to find clues that would help North American Manufacturers close the competitiveness gap. One approach sought the top six performance characteristics exhibited by the best companies.
Making these the ‘Target on the Barn’ for SMEs gave them six performance characteristics to include in their visioning considerations. To be effective, each characteristic had to be broad and measurable, had to be actual keys to success and had to be understood so everyone could contribute improvements. Without such thinking, many SMEs just returned to where they were using only their own company as a benchmark.
Here are the 6 characteristics that OCAM extracted in 1983 as well as the characteristics to which they evolved by 2013, thirty years later. The HPM Lean Consortium in Ontario adopted the 1983 thinking circa 1990 and continues to build upon them to this day.
Involvement of Industry Week and the MPI Group
John Brandt is now President & CEO of the MPI Group and well-known to those in early Lean Consortia. He was publisher of Industry Week Magazine back in the early days of their pursuit of manufacturing benchmark data needed to define North America’s best companies. From that initiative has evolved IW’s 16th Annual America’s Best Plants competition which is open to Mexican, Canadian, and US manufacturing companies. For early consortia and the US Manufacturing Extension Partnerships his team crystallized a simple common-sense model through extensive surveys to track the top six behavioral/operational characteristics found in world-class companies.
Introduction to the Internet of Things
The “Internet of Things” or IoT is captivating early adopters right now because the majority of manufacturers are eager to compete globally and have plans to embed smart devices within their products. The concept is simple and solidly rooted in systems thinking. In lean, we think of processes as consisting of interconnected steps and components that yield a specific process output. One can also look at systems as consisting of interconnected processes and components.
Systems get interesting when one thinks about adding intelligence (communication and control elements) to each component essentially making them ‘smart’. Imagine the flexibility one could achieve if every component or process were to have its own URL orIP address that could be controlled remotely. All components in a system would be flying in formation and all would be controllable. This is where discussions break out about artificial intelligence replacing humansand where Stephen Hawking has concerns.
The purpose of an IoT survey is to evaluate the readiness of US manufacturers to incorporate smart devices and embedded intelligence within their plants and processes. The MPI Group’s Survey is a study of 350 manufacturers (84% in business for more than 20 years) and was sponsored by Rockwell Automation, QAD, and BDO in August and September 2015. It consists of four parts:
ATJ thanks John for making available the executive summary of MPI’s Internet of Things Study entitled: The Internet of Things Has Finally Arrived.