Manufacturing executives are usually surprised to discover they don’t have the global trace and genealogy capability they thought they had. This shortcoming is typically revealed at the worst possible moment – when a product failure leads to a massive recall or the FDA shows up. Detailed reports are needed, but are nowhere to be found.
How does this happen? For some manufacturers, it is because they rely too much on their ERP system and the manufacturing information data that is rolled up into it. Unfortunately, by the time this information is aggregated, it is not nearly granular enough for a typical manufacturer that operates across multiple plants located in different global regions. ERP was never designed for manufacturing detail. It was designed for corporate oversight. But manufacturing intelligence detail, and huge amounts of it, is exactly what is needed for global tracking and genealogy.
To take a simple example, if you discover an out-of-spec supplier material that must now be recalled, you might have to perform a recall on all of your production for the past few cycles – throwing the “baby out with the bathwater,” so to speak. On the other hand, if you have a complete, detailed genealogy for your entire manufacturing value chain that is readily available, ideally in real-time, then you can drastically reduce the size and impact from such a recall. Information that is tracked down to the shop floor worker, by shift, could be even more powerful to help spot trends, to learn if a process fix is also needed as part of this quality issue.
Unfortunately, the devil is in the details, and those details are getting very hard to track in the modern manufacturing world. Different plants in different regions likely have their own repositories of information. Even for a given plant, there may be multiple data sources – one for production, another for warehouse and another for suppliers. By the time all this is aggregated at the corporate level, there is little visibility or accuracy left. And, this data will most certainly not be available quickly, when you are in a panic trying to put a lid on the fire drill you are dealing with.
Next post I’ll give you a few criterion to help determine how your current system and processes compares to best in class solutions.