At Pym and Wildsmith (Metal Finishers) Ltd – we may be an SME, but we have bags of ambition. An ambition that has learning at its core. That learning has been greatly assisted by the Manufacturing Technology Centre and partners, collaborating and sharing ideas, and contemplating the art of the possible. It’s also been through failing fast and moving forward – we’ve encountered more dead ends than James Bond being chased through Siena’s streets.
Metal finishing is a rather unglamorous but essential stage in manufacturing. From shot-blasting to powder-coating and EPD, we make the bits of the jigsaw puzzle look great and durable, whilst the end-customer gets to revel in their fine-looking, fully-assembled jigsaw.
So the thought of ‘digitalising’ a metal finishing business may conjure up, to an industry outsider, a picture of a proprietor of a backstreet powder-coating operation using their smart-phone for sales, operations, and customer management.
Far from it. Throw into the mix that products can follow one of 1000’s of routes through multiple finishing processes, the variables including blast profile (SA measure), pre-treatment specifications, metal thickness, coating thickness, corrosion protection specifications, salt-spray test results, statistical process control for chemistry, even before you add the relatively simple choice of what colour you want to finish the surface in (how many varieties of ‘orange’ can there possibly be?), then you begin to understand the complexity which mounts up to be beyond the capacity for humans to get it right all of the time. The pace of the operation and the variables, coupled with the operational inputs and outputs need to be ‘digitalised’ to the core.
Why? Because our customers expect it.
They expect their supply chain to be intelligently connected, to be notified as soon as a product has passed quality checks or that a delay will impact their flowline in 32 minutes’ time so that workarounds can be put in place. However, across many businesses, when a customer calls for an update, the current status is…’ I’ll just pop down to the shopfloor and phone you back when I know what’s going on…’; simply not good enough.
It’s all about having decision-support information instantly to hand, based on (near) real-time data. Only then will your customers build lasting faith in the promises you make to them. There will be no third-hand information misinterpreted to hide human failings or even lost opportunities for continuous improvement by truly understanding the Root Cause of the failure because the data will be there for all to see.
The customer expects a promise to be kept 100% of the time. This can only be done by telling the truth…
….and by having only one version it.
That’s what customers expect; promises built on truth.
So, the journey has begun. The Digital Future is on the horizon. The crew is able and willing. It’s pointless to sail to a digital island, isolated with no community, so we need to build the digital SME community together. The truth is out there…
See you 4th-5th Nov 19, when we’ll be sharing our journey so far.