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Much has been done to improve manufacturing efficiency. Supply chains have been optimized; warehouse inventory tracking has reached new levels of precision; production lines can operate with virtually no downtime. But, what about overall workforce productivity? As the common linchpin that brings together all manufacturing activities, has this metric improved along with all the investment in new technologies? If not, what can be done to address this shortcoming?
One of the themes I have observed with typical technology investments or systems upgrades has been a focus on ROI. This is usually measured by improved output (for the same cost), less downtime, or as a lower cost of quality. Most of the people you talk with will agree that there is an overall productivity improvement expectation when implementing a new solution, but it is often difficult to quantify. These benefits are often referred to as “soft,” given the somewhat subjective nature of measurement. As a result, this metric is often downplayed or not referenced in the discussion.
Digital Manufacturing as an Enabler of Workforce Productivity
As manufacturers continue to invest in automation and software simulation solutions, the need to integrate each of these disparate systems together increases. This is the power of the Industry 4.0 transformation now underway. If you can invest in a new warehouse tracking system that also helps to reduce quality issues without impacting output, then the benefits of such an investment will be far higher, driving greater profit to the bottom line. These benefits often go unrecognized.
Here is where digital manufacturing has really shown the power of taking a more holistic approach to operations management. By simulating how various systems, engagement occurs, such as how robots move across a factory or how to track and to trace intelligence could be better collected during the entire product life cycle, it is possible to break down the traditional silos of how performance improvement is measured. Digital manufacturing methodologies can not only drive performance improvement – but they can also usher in a new level of how performance is measured and assessed.
A critical component of how operations are managed – and how they must also be simulated – is the role workers play while performing the various tasks associated with maintaining operational excellence across the production environment. Today’s digital manufacturing and simulation programs now offer a whole new level of granularity than what was previously possible. Now it is much easier to map out workforce activities and movements, to then perform ergonomic and other efficiency reviews to ensure every employee is operating with the greatest efficiency while being subject to the least amount of strain or wasted activities.
Artificial Intelligence will soon play a greater role during this exercise. By offering the ability to predict future actions or engagement, we will be able to avoid future issues before they happen. The better manufacturers get at avoiding unplanned, wasteful activities and unnecessary friction across each of their systems, the greater output will improve. This compounding of performance improvement will allow workers to continue to improve efficiency and productivity – well after a new system or application has been implemented.
Delmia Digital Manufacturing value
Offering manufacturing innovation and value to our customers to drive success in digital manufacturing
DELMIA® Digital Manufacturing drives manufacturing innovation and efficiency by planning, simulating, and modeling global production processes. This computer-based modeling technique leverages 3D visualization and powerful solutions to build products virtually, simulate and optimize new manufacturing system designs, as well as validate production schedules before setting foot in the actual production facility.
DELMIA allows manufacturers to virtually experience their entire factory production from the impact of design to determining how to meet global demand. These simulation activities better address and shift processes so as to quickly respond to the competition, or to take advantage of new market opportunities. DELMIA Digital Manufacturing capabilities extend visualization beyond the product into manufacturing—providing the ability to simulate manufacturing processes before the physical plant or production line even exists. By proving out plant level considerations such as manufacturing approaches and material flow in the early stages of product development, the product concept can be analyzed to determine the best approach to make the product resulting in faster, better responses to new market opportunities and competition.
Manufacturing Engineering in the Digital Age
Operational excellence begins with manufacturing engineering—and engineering is best done in the digital realm. Digital technology has transformed engineering processes such as designing new factories and launching new products, enabling manufacturing engineers to design operational excellence into the projects from the very beginning.
DELMIA Digital Manufacturing solutions are the critical step in creating a Digital Thread of intelligence – a connected, integrated view extending from the virtual world of design and innovation to the real world of production. Both real and virtual activities can be linked to your extended value chain, and your customers, while ensuring that all product specifications are available to view and manage.
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Eric Ibarra, Global Service Delivery