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  Manufacturing Insights   |   January, 2013
Actionable Manufacturing Intelligence
by Thomas R. Cutler
 

Customer demands continue to escalate and competitors become more aggressive. As expressed in Darwinian Theory, manufacturing operational management has adapted to meet the competition, lay the foundations for continued performance improvement, and accomplished these simultaneous efforts to prevent extinction.

Indeed engineers with clipboards manually capturing data, analyzing quality, and operational metrics have gone the way of the dinosaurs. Limited amounts of information went up to the C-level suite to provide management decision support.

Process awareness is not acceptable and as competition continues to become more rigorous at a global level, modern Manufacturing Operations Management supported by Manufacturing Intelligence, more developed operational culture and infrastructure is mandated. Ad-hoc manufacturing operations contain lean, Six Sigma, and Theory of Constraints methodologies to ensure continuous improvement. Information derived from process data is elemental in the decision-making process.

Widmer Brothers has been a long term user of NWA software to monitor their laboratory results and production operations for its premium microbrew beer. Since its small batch started in 1984, Widmer, a key part of Craft Brewers Alliance has grown to produce 600,000 barrels of beer each year and became the seventh-largest brewer in the United States. Managing growth in production taxed paper-based quality management and five years ago made a shift to use a different, more effective solution.

"Our business has been growing in complexity. We have had to handle a lot more data and have to make sense of it all to manage our operations," noted quality assurance manager, Mike Domenighini. The Portland lab is a leader in capability among craft brewers. Widmer is monitoring all the important in-process and finished wort/beer parameters that make a great beer. All critical beer-brewing and packaging information is captured in the Quality Information System and is immediately available for analysis and reporting. "Now we have timely access to all of our data?and with the analytics, we know exactly where we are and can take actions to make the best beer," commented Domenighini

Northwest Analytics (NWA) delivers industry-leading manufacturing-intelligence and statistical process control (SPC) analytics software solutions. From Fortune 100 manufacturers to specialty producers, customers effectively manage and improve plant processes and supply chain performance. NWA has focused exclusively on manufacturing for more than 25 years, providing a powerful, easy-to-use suite of MI and SPC solutions that emphasize enterprise-wide integration, analysis and visibility. These competitive advantages increase operating efficiencies and throughput, while delivering a fast and effective return-on-investment (ROI).

Leading provider of manufacturing intelligence solutions for process industries must contain off-line SPC Analysis and Reporting, Test Station Data Collection, Complete Quality Information Systems, and Real-time Quality Analytics.

Quality Analysts worldwide attest to the value in SPC charting and analysis recognizing that process and quality improvement requires a Quality Information System. Complete data collection and management must include quality analytics, alarming and reporting, real-time quality optimization, and process visibility across lines and across plants.

Increasing efficiencies and improving sustainability accelerate realization and benefits of implementing enterprise manufacturing intelligence (EMI).

MI is manufacturing equivalent of BI

EMI and manufacturing-management systems require a total system approach which combines the technology with the development of the organization's people skills. It is common in successful implementations for the effort to be divided between one part technical and system issues and two parts organization and people issues.

The unique NWA holistic approach develops a system for management that seamlessly aligns technology, people, and processes. Manufacturers are then able to use EMI to transform themselves into high-performance, knowledge-driven organizations.

EMI is a significant part of the infrastructure. Therefore, the winning strategy to EMI and manufacturing management systems actively combines easy to use and implement technology with people skill development. From chemical manufacturers to Oil & Gas, from Packaging to Food & Beverage and Pharmaceuticals, the cumulative impact of adapting requires a fresh and unique approach to survival of the fittest manufacturers.


Thomas R. Cutler is the President & CEO of Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based, TR Cutler, Inc., (www.trcutlerinc.com). Cutler is the founder of the Manufacturing Media Consortium including more than 4000 journalists, editors, and economists writing about trends in manufacturing, industry, material handling, and process improvement. Cutler is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, Online News Association, American Society of Business Publication Editors, and Committee of Concerned Journalists, as well as author of more than 500 feature articles annually regarding the manufacturing sector. Cutler can be contacted at trcutler@trcutlerinc.com. See More Details.

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