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How to effectively make ADMA transformation plans come to life

Having focused the last 1,5 year on providing European manufacturing SME’s a holistic, consolidated view on their Advanced Manufacturing maturity and where they can go to, now the time has come to take the ADMA-approach one step further. Let us inspire you on how to start making things real, ie how to implement those transformations relevant for the manufacturing SME’s journey towards becoming a Factory of the Future.

Change of roles

Now is the time to start involving the ADMA coaches. These experts, equipped with deep knowledge as well as a proven track record on specific Factory of the Future related topics, will assist the manufacturing SME in identifying and choosing the right solutions to make transformations happen at company level. The coach will always customize the approach to the specific needs of the company. However, although the 7 ADMA transformation areas are quite diverse and therefore cannot be tackled in one single pre-scribed format, following implementation plan phases are applicable for any kind of business and for any kind of manufacturing breakthrough area.

Phase 1. ANALYSIS, vision and objectives

On the basis of the ADMA scan analysis described in the transformation plan, the company will now start further refining the ‘AS IS’-situation as well as more precisely try to develop the challenge description(s).

Next, the company’s vision of a Factory of the Future will be further finetuned and specific, measurable objectives for each of the desired or necessary transformations will be defined. A company for example could target in two years’ time a lead time reduction of (production) throughput times from 8 to 2 days.

In this stage, the ADMA coach acts as a “sparring partner”, thereby

  • asking questions and input for a correct analysis and exploration;
  • managing expectations;
  • ensuring objectives are measurable, realistic and attainable.

Phase 2. SYNTHESIS of potential solutions to meet objectives

The second phase is about closely working together with the team at the SME’s premises, thereby applying idea-harvesting techniques in efficiently organized brainstorm sessions. The aim of these joint workshops always will be to make sure that the search for potential solutions is well-structured and as complete as possible.

The ADMA coach will provide SME-support in the search for relevant solution options, including a provision of the needed resources, input from tech or solution suppliers and if relevant a listing of organizations that can help the company develop its objectives. Ideally, for every identified solution also a realistic timeline for implementation is being created during this phase…

During this phase the ADMA coach will act as an organizer, ‘a spider connecting all the dots’. He will actively share own expertise, point towards interesting trainings or seminars, bring in some ‘game changing’ ideas, etc. Experience shows that using appropriate visualisation techniques (drawings, pictures, short videos, etc)  as well as bringing in benchmark examples can make things a lot more tangible for the company.

Phase 3. EVALUATION of identified solutions

This 3rd phase is all about applying a scoring mechanism to the list of identified solutions. Although this can be either done through a quick screening or through a detailed calculation, the mechanism should always be tuned to the specific needs of the company.

A non-limitative list of possible evaluation criteria for the different solutions identified  can include :

Investment-related

  • Budget needed to implement
  • Time to implement
  • Specific training needed
  • Amount of external support needed

Return/Impact-related (= contribution to the objectives stated)

  • Quality
  • Cost reduction
  • Process stability

In order not to lose the big picture, the ADMA coach acts as a facilitator that listens carefully, brings in an objective evaluation of the options, starts to define specific steps ahead and focuses on supporting the decision making.

Phase 4. CONSOLIDATION of the ADMA implementation plan

Together with the company, the ADMA coach will write down what exactly is going to be executed at what timeframe by the employees, tech suppliers and other potential partners involved. Part of this implementation plan should always clearly state on the basis of which criteria the follow up to the plan will be measured. (When do we adjust, when is a re-evaluation needed, etc?)

Some important pointers
– It’s always a team effort ! The company’s employees and relevant experts have an important role to play, the ADMA coach is there to support
– Rule of thumb : the ADMA coach will spend a total of 10 to 20 days on Phase 1 till Phase 4, the company has to spend at least the same amount of days (can be different people of course)
– Think of all stakeholders inside the SME; everybody’s point of view and expertise (eg on consequences of certain choices) should be valued

Practical experiences of the first ADMA coaching work done

In Spain, an SME-implementation plan has recently been constructed by two Eurecat coaches for the ADMA transformation T2 – the Digital Factory. After interviewing the management team (5 different interviews) on their digital strategy, a specific analysis of the degree of digitization was made by the ADMA coach, enabling the team to identify the areas for improvement and put them into a canvas. Next a categorization of the possible actions/projects was constructed, incl. the identification of quick wins (being the combination of mature technology and low implementation cost). Finally, a consolidated short and long term roadmap was constructed together with the ADMA coach, enabling the company to choose and plan appropriate actions for themselves.

Thierry Gautreau, one of the ADMA-approved CETIM coaches, has been actively working together with Vernet-Behringer, a mid-sized SME designing and producing metal tool making machinery. After finishing the ADMA transformation plan late last year, the CEO’s goal was to get the whole company into a transformation mode, thereby involving as many of the 150 employees as possible in what he started calling ‘our Factory of the Future (FoF) journey’.

During phase 1, the CEO was asked to produce a FoF-vision together with his management team. This vision  includes specific statements like ‘ information should only be entered once, to be available real time for everybody in the company’ and ‘actively involve the majority of the employees in the implementation of new technologies’. People involvement was chosen as the key ‘carrier’ topic for further elaboration.

The next phase was mainly dedicated to presenting relevant examples and ideas to the company. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19, Thierry could no longer invite Vernet people to CETIM’s technology centres, or link them physically to other companies. However, the ADMA-team managed to provide the company ‘virtually’ with this kind of important (benchmark) information.

Engaging some French talent & people experts turned out to be a key step in the evaluation of the different solutions and start writing a multi-step & roadmap-based implementation plan.

Kulapro, producing wooden doors for hospitals, schools, etc. was chosen as a Belgian pioneer to implement the identified transformation opportunities. The company makes fully customized doors in a high mix, low volume setting. A total of about 10 experienced employees work on multiple large projects at the same time.

Given a highly fluctuating customer planning schedule and at the same time enabling the service people of the company to be as responsive as possible in the installation of finished doors, creating a Digital Factory was identified as potentially becoming a huge competitive force for the company. Sirris stepped in as a coach, and started drawing a canvas of how a transparent view of what is happening on the shop floor could be created. Focus was put on following questions:

  • Where are individual doors exactly located in the factory?
  • What is the status of every single door?
  • Are we in line with the planning?
  • Are all doors registered?
  • Exactly which door fits where at the customer’s instalment location?

The team started from the idea that “we want to check some basis parameters”. However, quickly afterwards, the full team started digging deeper, rapidly making things more complex. Therefore, after listening for 3 hours, the Sirris coaches suggested to go for a brainstorm ‘going back to the basics’ through a simple file highlighting all the machines on the floor and clearly making a distinction between ‘need to have’ and ‘nice to have’. Different people where involved during the sessions to elaborate on the different machines and find answers to the typical questions that arose: in every phase, thereby focusing on each individual machine :

  • what do we want to log
  • is that data available
  • is the machine connected
  • is it easy to log the necessary info and what do we want to do with it

Concerning the correct logging of data, the team of KULAPRO and Sirris came to a more structured scheme displaying the different moments in time that data is to be collected, for each individual machine, manually and /or automatically, resulting in a clear overview of the ‘TO BE’-situation.

A first technology screening was done to identify the best-fit technological solutions and a first estimate on the cost and benefits was done to get a better view on the potential ROI. Attention was given on  how to integrate the proposed solutions with the current ERP-system.

In total, about 8 days were spent by Sirris involving on-site sessions, desk research and some first testing. The company itself spent at least as much time on rolling-out the actions from the implementation plan. The company decided for example to join forces with a third-party integrator for the roll-out in their production.

Some important pointers for actually starting the implementation at the factory
One of the key take-aways of this first project was that the coach’s added value towards the manufacturing SME is the industrialization support of the chosen ideas. The exact specification of chosen solutions turned out to be a very important topic for any SME we recently supported, for which they tend to rely heavily on technology partners” says Thierry Gautreau (CETIM)

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