Complexity generates inefficiency, and inefficiency creates costs.
We know that data is key to making decisions that improve our business and our production chain. Across our factories, we already use web-based systems and monitoring tools to collect data and record information coming from electronics, software and sensors on the machines.
This data is only of value if we can translate it into action, by suggesting improvements and creating new ways of working. This mix of technology and human initiative within the operations field is called ‘Factory 4.0’. It is a part of a digital transformation process that is happening across all kinds of businesses and sectors.
We’re pioneering a new approach to our industry and we’re achieving it by evolving the way we work. A large part of this is happening in our factories. We’re running improvement initiatives– such as Lean Six Sigma, 5S, Manpower Saturation, Maintenance Excellence, Kaizen Events and the Good Practice Network with one purpose in mind: a better service for our customers. We refer to this as ‘Lean 2.0’ and, together with technology, it characterises Industry 4.0 in the Prysmian Group.
Factory 4.0 projects in practice
An interfunctional team is currently running a programme to audit and analyse our plants: different plants use different systems to collect data about production processes, logistics chains and quality issues. In the light of their findings, recommendations will be made regarding the ideal tools, known as Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES), for use across our plants. A pilot project is running in our Calais plant, where a good monitoring system is already in operation. An optimal company-wide MES system, coupled with enhanced work practices, will help us realize our Factory 4.0 and Lean 2.0 goals. But without data we can’t take the right decisions to improve for the best.
Collecting big data
Big data helps us improve the way we serve our customers whilst also increasing the cost-effectiveness of our production chain.
We’re creating a system that collects all the information about a cable solution – from the materials and production chain, to delivery times and quality tests. Such a web-based tool could be used to schedule machine maintenance, making our plants safer and more efficient, and report every possible anomaly to us at an early stage. We are changing our approach to problems and critical issues, preventing them and not reacting to them. Technology will be key in this, including the use of the Internet of Things amongst others.