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Production Management: Industry's Equivalent of Jumbo Shrimp

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    When you think of the term 'Oxymoron', there is a list of somewhat funny and somewhat frightful thoughts that come to mind, terms like:

    • Military intelligence;
    • Act naturally;
    • Genuine imitation; and
    •  The ever present...jumbo shrimp.

    In manufacturing and business, we also posses a few lesser known terms that fit into this fold — one of those being our topic for today, Production Management. For those of you in the know, you understand that in most production environments, the only thing that is really being managed is the chaos that comes with trying to meet schedules, ensure the correct product is being produced, keeping a close eye on quality and compliance, while all at the same time ensuring that it is done without getting anyone injured. Production Management...oxymoron indeed!

    But as the great 1960's poet, lyricist and songwriter Bob Dylan sang, "for the times, they are a changin". Technology — and particularly cloud-technology — has so greatly expanded the capabilities in systems within the last 10 years that we can now  say that Production Management Software is truly changing the dynamics (and the stress levels) of the shop floor.

    Production Management in the Modern Plant 

    Production Management Software like L2L's Digital Production module, along with a host of other tools, has brought calm from chaos for its subscribers on the plant floor, with feature sets sent directly from software development heaven.

    Starting with the basic concept that metrics and KPIs are the driving force of improvement, it is well established that practically all production performance measurements are derived from five main inputs:

    1. Customer Demand for a given timeframe (Pitch/Takt Time)
    2. Actual throughput in relation to that demand (Performance)
    3. Scrap and Rework count produced during the actual run (Quality)
    4. The labor used during that demand run (Labor Minutes)
    5. Time due to flow interrupters (Downtime)

    With these five numbers captured in a Production Management Software, we can calculate numerous metrics and KPIs such as OEE, Labor Minutes Per Unit,  and Production Efficiency to only name a few. With current technology on PLCs and wireless devices, most of this data can be directly input into a Production Management Software platform like L2L to calculate and display these metrics and scoreboards in real-time.

    With Great Production Management Comes Great Power

    But what is really incredible about the new software is that what we see on the display end (metrics) is really only the front facing outcome of even greater management tools used by shop floor personnel.

    Now, hear me out on this, because I am not talking about your facility: But believe it or not, in some facilities Production and Maintenance don't exactly see eye-to-eye. Shocking, I know, but it does happen! What new Production Management Software has allowed us to do is create a platform that is both a CMMS system and the Production tracking system.

    When production demand is entered into digital, hour-by-hour boards and the actual production numbers are tracked through an API's calls from the PLC, then downtime, materials shortage, quality stops or even safety stops are recorded in the system.  And the CMMS tools, metrics, performance, and real-time data all come from the exact same system, then everyone is playing off the same sheet of music. 

    So let's take this debunked oxymoron one level deeper. Managing the production floor is more than just parts and downtime. There are literally hundreds of processes that need managing. Processes like:

    • Dunnage Orders
    • Lot Acceptance Testing
    • Quality Failure Analysis
    • SPC Data Collection
    • Safety Near Misses
    • Kaizen Management
    • Operator/Resource Skills Management
    • etc., etc., etc...

    All tracked in the same system under the same hierarchical framework as the Production and Maintenance side of the house. True Production System Management at your fingertips, in the cloud and on mobile devices throughout the plant. 

    So, as for Jumbo Shrimp? I will let the cooking blogs argue that. But as far as Production Management is concerned, this one is the real deal!