I recently had the opportunity of attending Apriso’s European Community Day that was held in Paris, France. My being able to participate offered an excellent chance to learn more about what challenges manufacturers are experiencing today, and what possible solutions now exist. We had a great crowd, including attendees from Volvo CE, Saint-Gobain, L’Oreal, Luxottica, Amcor, BAT and Bombardier. Clearly, there is growing momentum around how to better manage global manufacturing. Today, it appears that improving flexibility and managing change across manufacturing is one of the top concerns of global manufacturers.
Being able to change a process is important, but only part of the story … there are many ramifications to change, from who has the authority to what approvals are needed and how the process is documented and “owned.” In other words, not only is it necessary to be flexible and respond quickly to change, but in addition it is necessary to maintain the right governance of change so business process management can be performed, enforced and optimized while adhering to a company’s corporate policies, especially when in use across multiple locations and geographic regions.
I found it fascinating how widespread this challenge is, and how it is being tackled in a several different ways and timelines. Some of our customers were centralizing control by doing all their process changes centrally … others empowered their plants to design and document their own processes. Regardless of where they were on this spectrum, most sought to manage their processes centrally so the transition from test into production was tightly controlled. The manufacturers that are better at documenting and managing change have set up policies on how to perform change, have automated the process as an embedded component of their operations, and they stick to it. In fact, many argued this was a crucial skill in today’s global economy.
As is the case with the captain of an ocean liner, a change in direction takes time. The steering wheel must first be turned; miles later it becomes apparent that movement has occurred. Changing direction in manufacturing is even harder…it is not one ocean liner but rather a “fleet” of plants each with their own “Captain.”
Fortunately, we see more and more success in finding ways to manage this fleet of plants as a single product supply network. It was great to be at such a gathering of industry leaders. These folks are pioneering a new model of manufacturing with greater visibility into, control over and synchronization across plants. From an “intergalactic” perspective, this new paradigm could literally make the difference between being an industry leader or laggard. Today, the only question seems to be “when” and “with whom” will you decide to partner with as part of your global manufacturing transformation?