Do… test again and again
“Iterate Faster” is one of the core principles of Agile Manufacturing. Constantly revisit, asses and adjust your processes. Try to learn with each test and to make improvements to the next version.
Don’t… be afraid of failing
Most manufacturers are process-driven and solution-oriented. Whenever there is a problem, they like to solve it right away. Whenever there is an opportunity to optimize a process, they want to seize it. In general, failure is not a word manufacturers like to use.
However, in an iterative process, it is impossible for every iteration to be successful. And you should not even want them to all be successful. Because in an open environment where mistakes are not considered a crime, people learn more from failures than successes.
Do… change company culture
An Agile transformation is more than an upgrade to more expensive and complex systems. It’s a new approach to work that puts people at the center.
The company culture should be strongly grounded in the organization’s purpose. If their work has meaning to them, employees feel personally involved and they innovate more.
Don’t… think you can ignore the technical because you adopted the non-technical
The cultural components of Agile methodology can have a far-reaching impact on your organization. However, to get the most out of Agile, enabling technologies that augment people are crucial. The iterative process and flexibility of Agile manufacturers require tools and equipment that collect real-time data.
Do… prioritize simplicity
Simplicity – the art of minimizing the amount of work not done – is crucial. When faced with a problem, try to approach it with Occam’s razor in mind. In other words, attempt to reduce the problem to the simplest terms and assumptions possible.
Don’t… be afraid of the complex aspects
To become a truly successful agile manufacturer, you will need to adopt technologies that are — to say the least — complex. But complex systems do not have to be difficult to use. Look for systems that have a convenient and friendly interface. Don’t let complicated concepts or products hold you back. Any technologies you select should simplify your operations and give you greater control over process improvements.
It is a good idea to first demonstrate the value of an Agile transformation in a smaller context. Pick a specific, quantifiable use case or application that will yield good numbers for the KPIs it targets. A proof of concept is often essential to get stakeholders on board.
Don’t… get stuck in pilot purgatory
A pitfall to look out for is getting stuck in the proof of concept stage. To fully benefit from an Agile approach, you need to scale to the entire organization. The goal of the PoC is to demonstrate the feasibility of a larger project.
Also note that if your PoC is not successful, that does not mean you should call off your whole digital transformation. It might simply mean that the tool you tested is not a good fit for your operations.
Do… make a plan
Agile is not a rigid approach. However, Agile is not anti-plan. Do pull inspiration from the projects and experiences that have been successful for others.
Don’t… stick too closely to your plan
Plans should be flexible. When changes arise, you should not hesitate to modify your plan. Your plan is there to guide you, not to dictate each and every one of your moves. Assess early and often how each step is going, and make adjustments. Remember, you want to iterate fast.
Do… empower your workers to innovate and make decisions
An important principle of Agile is bottom-up innovation. Give your engineers, operators and shop floor workers a voice. Trust your workers to find solutions. Those closest to the problems on the shop floor understand them best.
Don’t… intervene too much
A core feature of Agile teams is that they are self-organizing. Teams choose the concrete goals they work on over short periods of time. They plan their work, decide on their approach, evaluate their performance, and keep each other accountable. All goals fit into the greater company purpose, thus uniting teams into a cohesive whole.
Do… promote communication
Communication within teams is just as important as communication between teams. Company-wide communication allows collaboration between all layers of your company. The best solutions and improvements are found when business people, engineers and workers are all in touch.
Don’t… forget about digital communication
When data and information are stored on separate systems across the company, information silos arise. Agile manufacturers need to have visibility on the entirety of their operations. Use a single platform to collect all data rather than separate, dedicated servers.
Tulip’s flexible and intuitive manufacturing app platform is designed to help manufacturers become agile. Using Tulip, engineers can create applications that guide operators and collect data from the people, machines, and processes involved in production. Start applying the do’s and don’ts of agile manufacturing to your factory floor with a 30-day free trial!