Pulling the Andon Cord on Old Technology at the Big M

The President of Magna International Closures, Frank Seguin, captured a common frustration while at the Big M Event in Detroit in last week.  “My 11 year old can edit his Minecraft world with his friends from anywhere but I walk into one of my factories and it’s a different world.”

Atari-2600-Wood-4Sw-SetThere is a dichotomy between the technology we use at home – simple, intuitive, and highly functional – and that which is found in many manufacturing environments: old, clunky, and slow.  Frank and his peers must feel like they are playing on an Atari 2600 (circa 1977) in an Xbox One world.

Dell spoke at the Big M Event to share how modern technology on the shop floor is more attainable than ever.  Jay Monahan, Dell’s Director of SAP Shop Floor, spoke on a panel on the ‘Future of Manufacturing intelligence.”  His key message is that technology is no longer a barrier to new ideas.   When working with customers, he encourages them to not worry about the technology at all, and instead focus on what problem they’d like to solve.  A key trend in connecting the shop floor to the top floor is to empower the operator with information.  When the operator has good data at her fingertips, she can make decisions that lead to better quality, higher productivity, or any other KPI for which she is held accountable.  Once the teams of engineers, production leaders and operators identify which parameters are helpful for the operator, and how to display them in a safe and helpful manner, the technology decisions become straightforward. 

As an example, Sulzer Metco was suffering from shop-floor inefficiencies because it lacked sufficient systems and processes for real-time sharing of actionable information from the shop floor.  They worked with Dell to roll out an SAP MII solution that consolidates shop-floor schedules, reporting and document management.  With the MII solution integrated with common business processes and methods, shop-floor workers now use an intuitive operator dashboard to take action on scheduled orders, view additional information and perform production reporting. Each work center screen is easy to navigate and tailored to workers’ essential job functions/data setup and processes on the shop floor.

This solution has improved data accuracy, minimized manual back-office data entry and reporting, and provided seamless access to information on production quantities, scrap and reason codes, setup, run and production manufacturing times.

A very similar discussion came up when Dell Fellow Liam Quinn gave an overview on the Internet of Things.  One member of the audience asked about sensor technology – specifically, how long it would be before we had smart enough sensors to use to capture data that could be analyzed for insights.  Liam said, “They’re ready now.”  Again, technology is not the barrier. 

It is time to pull the Andon cord on complicated, unhelpful, or non-existent systems on your shop floor.  The level of technology that your kids enjoy is absolutely available to your organization’s mission critical business.  Contact your Dell rep, click here or reach out to me to learn more.

Follow me at @kirstenatdell.

About the Author: Kirsten Billhardt