Paulina Kondratowicz

Data.Depicted Episode 4: Visualize processes. Introduce changes faster.

You’re a manager that searches for savings in your enterprise, which are a real bane. No wonder, these are, among others, the elements necessary to maintain production lines. Consequently, the savings make the sales bars appropriately high. Not even mentioning the daily work improvement. However, all of these activities aren’t resistant to introducing further changes within processes. The question is, then, how to manage them to optimize processes as much as possible, and at the same time, generate savings? Can interactive data visualization and process modeling tools support making changes?

How to change the process

Looking at manufacturing companies, it’s not difficult to conclude that most automation systems work in cooperation with people. In their daily routines, operators influence many production parameters, including those that are designed to rearm machines according to the customer’s documentation guidelines. However, the problem begins when we want to change the process completely.

It turns out that mere machine control and making changes to the IT system that supervises the technological process (e.g. SCADA) does not satisfy all needs. Let’s imagine a situation when the company CEO decides to change the production profile or look for appropriate Lean solutions designed to minimize the operations’ time and costs. So, using the appropriate tool to visualize the provided or modified data and interactive process modeling, we can be sure that any changes will be introduced correctly, and thus clearly visible. By providing a data visualization tool to employees (mainly foremen and managers), we set a new standard of work by:

  • Assigning roles and responsibilities towards changes
  • We receive the expertise of people directly related to the process
  • We respond quickly to critical or demanding situations
  • We are planning further changes to transform the entire process, not just a specific part of it

Using the appropriate tool to visualize all processes, results in reducing the time required to make changes. As a consequence, planning changes is smoother. It is also worth noting that all introduced modifications are visible ad hoc, so our reaction takes place immediately in case we need to rearrange the changes quickly.

Visualization meets lean

The Company and production managers often face problems related to rearming lines. In many cases, procedures related to this process should be undertaken here and now. Often, however, they do not have an adequate time buffer to perform the necessary changes associated with a given production cycle. Besides, the knowledge of the entire process is also required so that rearming can take place without delays or complications in finalizing the order. It is also a daily routine to change the personnel base, e.g. when rearming takes more than one business day.

It turns out that the time spent on conversions and rearming is crucial in the savings’ search. Thanks to the use of appropriate procedures related to LEAN management, production companies can manage the production of goods as a project. To fully control this process, data visualization tools are increasingly coming into play. To meet the principles of ‘Lean management’, applications for visual work with data and process modeling help in the efficient processes management in the company. Thanks to them managers

  • have full insight into what happens to specific products,
  • how their production takes place (e.g. by using sensors testing the operation and condition of the production line), and consequently,
  • whether the product will meet the quality, functional, or price requirements.

Data visualization applications also help to familiarize with the process globally – not just a part of it. This, in turn, affects the understanding and enables the capturing and reduction of emerging complications. Going further, such tools improve the binding and streamlining of the operation chain. Acting in real-time, all data resulting from changes in processes are immediately visible. This significantly improves your work and allows you to find elements that need to be fixed. Another thing is that data visualization tools support the principles of flow, pull, and perfection in terms of the developing smooth deliveries of selected products or services by improving the flow of information and their exchange. Thus, it all supports the supervision of the customer’s demand and continuous improvement of the processes.

Each change, improvement or modernization of the technological and production process, and thus the supply chain, involves the processing of an enormous amount of data. Their poor management can also cause huge losses that no company can afford. The application of the LEAN, SIX SIGMA, and 5S concepts are the standards that guide companies all around the world. Being supported with appropriate tools for data visualization in the context of searching for savings seems, therefore, a natural step forward to develop production and sales results even better.