A new book by Martin Bailey that explains the secrets to successfully implementing a manufacturing system could be the answer to all your shop floor problems.
First appeared in Manufacturing Management Magazine, 2019
Blank faces stare back at you as you try and explain how the new piece of software is set to revolutionise the shop floor. Try as you might, you just can't find the words to justify why systems that may have been in place for years are actually causing more problems than they solve and how MRP will help each department. If only there was something that could help clarify it all.
Luckily, help is at hand in the shape of 123 Insight. For almost 20 years, the company has been guiding manufacturers of all sizes to implement their own 123insight software and have chronicled their experience in a new book. Entitled simply 'How to implement a manufacturing system', it reveals the tried and tested formula that has helped hundreds of businesses to streamline their processes.
Martin Bailey of 123 Insight and author of the book, explains more. "The premise behind the book is that it's a template on how to evaluate and implement any manufacturing system, not just 123insight," he says. The book is being provided as part of 123 Insight's nationwide series of evaluation workshops, which provide an opportunity for companies to assess their options before embarking on the journey to MRP implementation. "Looking at an MRP system is time consuming and requires in-house resource," says Bailey. "At 123 Insight, we take all the risk: we offer the training under no obligation and the low monthly subscription has no minimum contract period. Our ethos has always been to invite people to our workshop to see if the product is a good fit for their business. I wrote the book so that it could be provided free of charge at the workshops so that attendees could leave with a lot more knowledge and a blueprint to implement any system. Obviously, we hope it's our system, but the book gives you the perspective to look at your own business and assess what your needs are, the problems you're likely to encounter and any speedbumps you might have to negotiate."
The book breaks down each step of the implementation journey, from planning to what 123 Insight calls the 'Implementation Day'. "At 123 Insight, we work with the key managers of the company who'll be driving the project and divide all the roles between them - right down to things as mundane as specific drop-down option content," says Bailey. "This ensures the system is as aligned to the customer's requirements as possible."
"We then move onto the migration, which affects everyone when they're setting up their processes, leading into the 'conference room pilot'. Staff from each department will allocate time to run through the day to day processes they perform - such as raising a quote, converting it to a sales order, making modifications for when customers change their mind, and sending it off to be processed. The aim is to ensure that 90% of all the mundane tasks will be factored in from day one, and people know how to use the software.
"There's also a chapter on measuring success, which has come from the case studies and success stories we've compiled over the years. We have outlined all of the different business areas where you can measure savings. Generally, it's easy to measure things like time, but areas such as physical movement are often overlooked - making some changes to, for instance, the stores in the factory, can make it easier for people to find and pick the parts they need. Making things less paper-based means fewer people have to spend their time passing it around the shop floor, meaning they are freed up to undertake more value-added tasks."
"Training and its importance are covered in the book, too," says Bailey. "Nobody ever complains about being over-trained, but issues can and will arise when people don't have enough understanding. The time investment to the company will happen regardless, but we mitigate the financial risk by offering training on a no-obligation basis - if they choose not to proceed with 123insight after training they walk away with nothing to pay. It's important to mitigate the time spent at an evaluation or training session. If you have to send, say, ten people on a two-week course, that's a significant burden on the company. You can learn our system in six days, and the training is broken down by job role - not everyone needs to be there for the whole six days, and training documentation is provided in electronic format to allow for easy customisation and downstream training."
Gourmet Classic have certainly benefitted from this approach. From registering for 123 Insight in late January, the system went live just five weeks later. In the six months since, they have seen downtime caused by missing stock reduce by 98%, new project lead times reduce by 40% and staff time savings of 25%. John Rix, the company's commercial director, says that this freeing up of time has breathed new life into the organisation. "It's about creating oxygen in everyone's role. 123insight has given people time and space to use their potential instead of occupying their brain power doing the basics."