About 350 manufacturing professionals gathered in Boston June 24-25 for the annual Forum, sponsored by Dedham, Mass.-based ARC Advisory Group, on how to optimize manufacturing performance. ARC President Andy Chatha has developed what he calls the "Real Time Performance Management" model. Key elements of this model include updating the financial models to incorporate real-time information and improving knowledge assets.
Performance measurement typically resides with the finance team. Unfortunately, too often these measurements are ancient history, based on reports generated after month’s end, comparing monthly results with the static budget. In Chatha's view, effective manufacturing management requires financial feedback in real time so that corrections are made before too many losses occur.
Many success stories were shared over the day-and-a-half forum, with the theme being training employees and managing the knowledge database. It became clear that throwing technology-based solutions at a problem without working with human assets is a definite recipe for failure.
Radio-frequency identification (RFID) has become a hot buzz topic in the industry, spurred on by Wal-Mart's edict to consumer packaged goods suppliers to add tags to pallets shipped to it by next year. ARC had a discussion track on RFID and logistics this year. Speakers seemed to agree that the technology may not be advanced enough yet, especially for data standards, for every supplier to Wal-Mart to comply. No one detailed viable applications for manufacturing, and applications shared revolved around shipping and receiving. Although one company touted an "out-of-the-box" solution for RFID, all speakers who had actually begun implementing the technology recommended careful study and engineering before rolling out a complete RFID implementation across the board.
The most important take away from the Forum is that humans and their knowledge must be viewed as an asset to be nurtured and managed. Key recommendations: Find a way to capture a knowledge database, along with a method of sharing it across the enterprise. Provide continual training for employees, give them the information necessary to do their jobs, give them the power to do their jobs and then step out of the way.