Eliminating Waste with Smart Manufacturing

Sakichi Toyoda invented a loom in 1896 that not only operated automatically but also stopped when any of the threads broke. This idea revolutionized the industry! Instead of needing an operator for each and every machine, one operator could now watch several machines. Sakichi called this autonomation. The impact of his work on productivity, quality and profit was substantial and the industry was dramatically changed forever.

Autonomation is part of Jidoka, Jidoka being a simple set of rules that were inspired by Toyoda’s first loom.

  • Discover an abnormality
  • STOP
  • Fix the immediate problem
  • Investigate and correct root cause

The success of the loom provided the cash that the Toyoda family required to start their new business, the Toyota Motor Corporation! Reducing Waste and Non-Value-Added activity became one of the main pillars of the Toyota Production System (TPS) or what many refer to as Lean.

Fast forward to today and we see that the new smart manufacturing industrial revolution, or what some call Industry 4.0, is once again revolutionizing the industry. But this time it is the computer systems equipped with ERP systems and connected to software with machine learning algorithms that are changing the game.

On the shop floor, the ability to predict potential quality issues or machine downtime are increasing productivity and profit. Data related to quantities produced and actual run time are driving machine optimization and simplifying labor reporting and job costing. These predictive analytic platforms integrated to ERP systems are driving significant productivity improvements for discrete manufacturers.

In the front office, procurement automation and supplier collaboration platforms connected to ERP systems are transforming communication with suppliers and improving supply chain performance. And automating the PO lifecycle is making the job of a buyer easier, faster and less stressful. Companies are quickly finding that these tools are effectively lowering risk to the business, increasing front office efficiency and delivering improved supplier performance results.

As Sakichi Toyoda discovered, the elimination of waste and non-value-added activities significantly increases productivity and profit. Smart Manufacturing is happening around us now. On the shop floor and in the front office, companies are moving quickly to deploy these intelligent programs. Your ability to compete and be successful may depend upon the decisions you make today, so don’t be left behind!

Authored by:
Michael P. Canty, Executive Vice President
Synergy Resources