By Joe Feeley, Editor in Chief
When I attend an event sponsored by one of our machine builder or system integrator audience members, it's usually worth it.
I sat in on a worthwhile presentation by DMC, a Chicago-based SI, at the headquarters of the Tooling & Manufacturing Assn. DMC President Frank Riordan and some of his engineers have contributed to Control Design over the years in activities ranging from authoring the OEM Insight column to participating in webinars and speaking at our AutomationXchange event.
The session gave the audience a look at Microsoft's Sharepoint Collaboration Portal and how DMC believes it can help companies more easily handle their critical key performance indicators (KPIs), as well as benefit from Sharepoint's collaborative document creation and management, search functions and dashboard features.
While DMC is delighted to quote its Sharepoint consulting services to needful companies, they made it clear that the free entry-level versions of Sharepoint are powerful tools, even if you do need a bit of third-party startup help.
DMC's Rick Rietz discussed creating, monitoring and making the "actionable most" out of KPIs. He had a nice reminder about the value of the 1% improvement. Do the math with a customer on what a measly 1% yield improvement or 1% machine-utilization improvement could mean to its bottom line.
This reminded me of the avoidable pitfalls in constructing KPIs. The companies that offered up examples at the session seemed to have a good handle on KPIs, but a lot of companies don't.
Many of us have known the purchasing department with a crucial KPI to reduce purchased component cost at some meaningful percentage over some fixed period.
Next door sits the assembly team pursuing a KPI that can reduce assembly time by 30% by changing to a couple of slightly more expensive components with superior tolerances that all but eliminate chronic, vexing assembly problems. You can almost hear the collision, can't you?
Another favorite is the production team that has to raise machine utilization by x% and, as a consequence, limits the time the engineering and maintenance crew can spend keeping the machines in optimal operating shape—although those guys have a KPI to improve machine availability and require some non-productive time.
Conflicting KPIs mean the thrill of long production runs, followed by long, costly breakdowns due to the lack of available time for maintenance.
So it's no secret that the underlying basis to all successful manufacturing companies is a culture that eliminates company department information silos and that develops cross-discipline operating objectives that make sense to everyone involved for the overall improvement of the bottom line.
Those are KPIs that DMC and Sharepoint probably can help your customers improve.