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Sunday, 14 July 2019 00:00

Leader of the Future Factory

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We have been discussing about preparing for the advent of Industry 4.0 and how Indian Manufacturing Companies can prepare for the inevitable. We discussed how various Functions in a company can get ready for Ind 4.0 situation.

 

A close up of a mans face

Description automatically generatedIn this article, let us discuss about the Leader of the ‘Future Factory’. What are the Capabilities that a Leader of Future Factory needs to display? 

 

A Future Factory will be characterized by the following:

 

-      Definitely a Less Manpower environment.

-      Highly Automated set up.

-      Much higher Manufacturing Technology. 

-      Much higher Capacity in each Factory due to the automated set up. 

 

What are the Competencies required for a Leader of this type of Factory?

 

I would say, he requires the following Six Competencies:

 

 

 

01.  Analytical Capability: The Leader of Future Factory will have to be very comfortable with Data. He should be able to make sense of the Data and should be ready to use Data Analytics to make sense of the happenings around him/her and take actions. The typical situations that require him to show this capability can be as follows:

a.     The Online Quality System in the Factory is throwing up a lot of Data about the Process status. The Analytics Software is showing a number of Patterns of Data. The Software is continuously learning (AI) and showing new meanings from the old Data. The Data analysis of last Six months just showed a Pattern that can be a Solution to the Biggest Customer Complaint that the company is having. The Quality Team has to be supported in understanding this data as it is the first time a new sense is being made from the old data.

b.     A circuit board

Description automatically generatedThe Zero Break down record in the Factory has to be maintained by managing the various Sub-systems in each of the Machines in the Factory. The Data from monitoring the Temperature, Vibration of various parts of the Machine has to be made sense of and Predictive Maintenance has to be improved. 

c.     The Software that the New Product Development team is using is throwing up lot of Analytics that can be used to Learn from the Development and apply learnings to the future products. 

d.     The Problem-Solving Software that is helping the Engineers to solve the Problems is capturing lot of interesting Data. This data has to be used to draw lessons for New Products. 

e.     Finally, SAP is being used more effectively. The Cost Data is getting generated as per each Activity. This data has to be analyzed to identify Wastes and eliminate them.  

 

There can be myriad more ways in which the Data will be generated and will have to be interpreted. 

 

The Factory Leader does not have to do all this job herself. But, She should be able to give Leadership to her Team to adapt this point of view. 

 

02.  System Builder: The Leader of the Future Factory has to be a great System Builder. Wherever he sees a Problem, he has to look at a System solution for it. If he Looks at solving the Problem for today, then the whole System can be short circuited by this problem and the Desired result will not be forthcoming. 

 

Eg. In a Highly Automated Factory, the output from Dust Collector is Designed to be collected by a Pneumatic System and taken to a Dust Storage system. Now, when the Pneumatic System Breaks down due to Dust contaminating all the Seals / O rings in the system, the Factory has to look to alternative System that can withstand the Dust. If temporary solutions are looked at or if the Pneumatic system is kept idle and the factory goes back to manual collection of Dust, then very soon the Manpower will creep in and the inefficiencies will go up. 

 

The Leader has to look at building a System around everything. He should be looking at Killing problems once and for all. 

 

A group of people in costumes

Description automatically generatedEg. An Automated System is giving a problem handling some specific parts of the Company. While it is suitable to 75% of the parts of the Company, it is giving trouble handling 25% of the parts of the Company. The efficiency of the system is pulled down. Immediate Solution is needed for this problem. The Company set up a team to solve this problem while not reducing the efficiency of the whole System. Along with this, the Leader has to ensure that the Company learns from this experience and the next Factory has to take care of this problem from word go. The Design team also has to learn from this Process incident and ensure the future New Products are Designed to take care of this manufacturing aspect. The Leader has to ensure this at a total system level. 

 

While these Qualities are required even in a less automated environment, the costs of not doing it are very high and can be lethal in an Automated / Ind 4.0 environment. 

 

03.  Avid Learner: The Leader of a future Factory has to Learn on her Feet. This can be a great challenge! The Learning is not just for her. She has to ensure the Learning is there at Organization level. 

 

In the Future Factory, there will be a lot of Data just about everything. There will be Data Analytics team in the Factory and they will be throwing up a lot of Data and Interpretations. 

 

The Leader has to encourage the Team to Learn from this Data. Otherwise there is no use of this Data.

 

A close up of a logo

Description automatically generatedOther than this Learning within the Factory, She also has to Learn from the outside world. She has to understand how the Customer is progressing in his Business and keep shaping up the factory to suit the Customer. 

 

Eg. Customer’s Data Analytics may show that Demand for a particular product may be going up 3 months from now. The Factory Leader has to take this information, deal with it and also ensure that the Sales team is continuously picking up these cues from the Customer and help her shape the factory to suit it. 

 

The Learning also has to cover the Ind 4.0 elements. The Factories across the World would be having new learnings from same elements almost on a daily basis. The Leader has to learn from the information available on the Public domain and she has to participate in suitable events like Technical Symposiums to keep learning from the environment. 

 

Paid Factory Tours, Supplier Seminars, Industrial Exhibitions, Industry association events can be some sources for new Learnings.

 

Every Leader has to organize her own combination of events that will give her chance to pick up learnings from the relevant environment around her. 

 

04.  Integrator: This role can be part of ‘System Builder’ Role. But, as it is a very important function of a Future Leader, this is being discussed separately. 

 

A Future Leader should be able to look at a Quality Problem and link it to the Machine, Manufacturing Process, Maintenance Practices, Improvement required in Design of the Product, the improvement required in designing the next Machine and how the factory has to work in future to avoid this Problem. 

 

This is a very critical ability and not easy to master. It is not required that the Leader should be expert across the Board in all Functions. But, he should be able to see the linkages clearly. 

 

The Future Factory would be working as one unit. The differentiation between one Function and the Other will disappear to a large extent. An Engineer would be required to have expertise across Functional areas as they exist today. 

 

A Leader should be able to mold such Engineers!!

 

 

05.  Team Developer: Factory of Future will be such that it will work as a unit or fail as a unit. Working partially will be difficult due to its connected / automated nature. One system depends on the other. So, if one System is not working it will affect the other. 

 

A picture containing toy, sky, LEGO

Description automatically generatedThe Team work and working as a unit are required much more than the non-automated environment. 

 

The information between the various areas of the Factory has to flow seamlessly and the whole team has to deliver the result together. 

 

Eg. The Shop Engineer (Who will handle Production, Quality, Maintenance) at each stage of Manufacturing has to interact with the Engineers at other stages and also interact with the Data Analytics Engineers (Who will be the new breed in every Factory) to make sense of the Factory performance and take actions on a daily basis. 

 

The Leader of the Factory should develop his Team for a smooth daily interaction and ensure they work as a team. 

 

06.  Frugal Engineer: In the environment of highly automated factories, the difference between your Company and a Company in USA/Europe can totally be blurred as both the Companies will be having equally automated factories (may be same supplier of equipment too). 

 

What can be the key differentiator for an Indian Company? If the Leader is a Frugal Engineer, he can help the company not to throw Big money at the Machinery. Spend just as much as is needed. Design the Product with just enough meat and don’t give away more than needed (Russian Designs are clearly out of fashion). If your Company can either make do with 75% of the Automation as in USA and give same output or if you are able to take 25% more output from the same Machinery as in USA, then you can have a leverage over other world Manufacturers. 

 

In Future Factories, your competitor is not just the company in NOIDA. You will have to compete with the one in Detroit too. 

 

India is having a very high number of Engineers. Not many Countries can match us in this. The Leader of Future Factory should be able to use the capabilities of these Engineers to differentiate ourselves from the rest of the world in efficiency and money for each Rupee of investment. 

 

These are some of the Capabilities for the Leader of a Future Factory! There can be more. Some or all of the above look like they are needed today too. 

 

Two differentiations. 

 

01.  Many Leaders of Today Factories do not have these Capabilities. India is very big and we have too few Leaders with these Capabilities. 

02.  There is a subtle difference in the same Capability that is needed for tomorrow. I am sure you will notice in the above discussion. 

 

Are you a Leader for the Future Factory?

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