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Are you always putting out fires? Not in the literal sense, of course. We’re talking about operational problems that pop up at the most inconvenient times. Once you take care of one issue, two more seem to appear in its place. Issues such as:
- Machines break down
- Workers calling in sick
- Human errors
- Backups and bottlenecks
- Inventory uncertainty
If you’re busy troubleshooting today, it’s hard to focus on improving tomorrow. Opportunities for growth can be missed.
Get ahead of problems before they catch fire by watching this video:
At USC Consulting Group, we’ve been helping clients for over 50 years to implement strong Management Operating Systems that assist them with breaking that firefighter mentality.
The best management operating systems center around four main components:
A well-designed MOS will have your company operating like a well-oiled machine, making your bottom line stronger and your operations more efficient.
So put down the fire extinguisher and enhance your management operating system today by contacting USC Consulting Group.
Learn more about the benefits of an effective MOS in our article How Can A Management Operating System Help Your Organization?
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Does it seem like you’re always putting out fires? Not in the literal sense, of course. We’re talking about operations problems and snafus that seem to pop up at the most inconvenient times. Machines break down. Workers call in sick. Human errors can result in costly fixes. Unforeseen backups or bottlenecks slowing things down. Too much inventory. Not enough inventory. Some days, it can seem like you’re in a constant state of troubleshooting. The problem with that is, it’s hard to move forward into tomorrow when you’re consumed with putting out the fires of today.
Sound familiar? You’re not alone. At USC Consulting Group, we hear it a lot from the clients we partner with to increase efficiency and streamline operations at their facilities. Over the years, we’ve learned that the best course of action to break the cycle of constantly putting out fires is to get ahead of those problems before they become “fires.” Easier said than done, right? Actually, no. The way to do it is to implement an effective Management Operating System (MOS).
What is a Management Operating System, or MOS? Without using industry jargon, a MOS is simply a structured approach to operations. It’s intentional, forward-looking and at times anticipatory, in that it can help spot trouble before it spots you.
A good MOS is a set of tools, processes and frameworks that guide the operations of your business, namely the way employees work. It fosters continuous improvement to address issues as they occur. Or, ideally, before they occur.
Because many of the “fires” you’re stamping out every day can range from production shortfalls to problems related to worker safety, companies that use production lines or have other types of hazardous workplace environments commonly employ management operating systems.
Your MOS should be able to spot inefficiencies in an operating system before they become major problems. This ensures that adjustments can be made so operations are not adversely affected. An MOS should also use real-time feedback so an organization can safely direct operations, funding and other resources to maximize return on investment.
The best management operating systems center around four main components:
In other words, it maps out how the job gets done, in what way and by whom.
Let’s look at that in a little more detail.
When designing processes, businesses must be sure that they’re safe, secure and clear for employees to understand and tools are used to support operations — and never in ways that are not dictated by the overall structure. This means users should not use tools in inappropriate ways, especially those that could simply automate their inefficient methods. One process change we always recommend is preventative maintenance. Taking a little downtime today to service your machines can save major work stoppages tomorrow.
An effective MOS uses well-designed systems that help employees and the company as a whole achieve goals, which means they should run smoothly and enhance and even boost established efficiency.
Roles within an MOS should adhere to clearly defined job descriptions that require certain skill sets, and when combined with a business’ processes and systems can best utilize talents. The skills gap has only complicated the matter, but that’s fodder for another blog.
The best-run management operating systems always establish a business-wide structure upon which the different roles within the company interact. This is usually done last because it ensures that the processes do not dictate the entire established structure and cause further issues.
Read more about it in our blog, “How Can a Management Operating System Help Your Organization?”
Benefits of using a good MOS
Putting a carefully planned management operating system in place, one that is unique to your organization and its challenges and strengths, can result in a boatload of positive benefits. According to CEO Magazine, an MOS allows for an organization to “better control the flow of work and production, driving higher outcomes in customer service, quality and cost.”
At a minimum, these systems make use of tools that allow organizations to create plans for future work in certain operations, carry out that work, and then measure the work performance data to suggest future improvements that could be needed.
At maximum? Your company will perform with operational excellence, humming along at capacity, anticipating hiccups before they become problems, planning for growth or even downturns so you won’t be taken by surprise and generally making your life easier and your bottom line stronger.
Other ways an MOS can benefit you and your company:
- Cost savings
- Waste reduction
- Increased product quality
- Identification of workflow gaps
- Find ways to improve efficiency
- Get a handle on any compliance issues or regulations
- Elimination of impediments to your workflow
- Inventory wrangling (so you don’t have too much or too little despite supply chain bottlenecks)
A word about technology. Sure, you can automate your management operating system. Many companies do. But in our opinion, it can’t match good, old-fashioned brainpower, experience garnered through years on the line, common sense of longtime employees and forward-thinking ideas.
Ready to stop the firefighting mentality and talk about it? Give us a call or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll listen first and then collaborate with you on a path toward operational excellence. It’s what we do.
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Are you having trouble hiring or retaining talent? Not surprising. Our economy, no matter the industry you’re in, is experiencing a hiring crunch the likes of which we haven’t seen in a long time. Even decades. This, in the midst of a surge in demand brought about by the lifting of COVID restrictions and the fact that consumers are spending money again after a long spending drought.
It has been a wild ride. First, demand dropped through the floor, if not dried up completely, as a result of the lockdown. Companies in many industries laid off or furloughed workers. Now, demand is skyrocketing, and companies are scrambling to staff up and fill those positions. In all segments of the economy, people are simply not answering the call.
But the fact that you’re getting few responses to your job postings isn’t the only problem. It’s deeper than that. It’s retention, too. Not only are those laid-off workers not rushing back to their old jobs, but people who kept their positions during the pandemic are now quitting en masse.
It has been termed “The Great Resignation,” and the numbers are staggering. According to the Department of Labor, 4 million people left the workforce in April 2021. Voluntarily. In May, another 3.6 million joined them. In June: 3.9 million.
It adds up to staff shortages nationwide coming at a time when demand is through the roof. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce called it a “national economic emergency.”
Strategies to combat the hiring and retention crunch
At USC Consulting Group, we’ve been helping companies find efficiencies in their operations to do more with less for 50-plus years, and this year, because of what everyone is going through, that effort has kicked into high gear. Here are five strategies we’ve been recommending to our customers to combat the hiring and retention crunch.
1. Put a greater focus on onboarding and training
A couple of staggering statistics about onboarding and training: Glassdoor tells us that companies with a strong onboarding process improve employee retention by 82%. And, according to Gallup, 88% of companies aren’t doing it well at all. If your onboarding is focused on paperwork, informal or inconsistent, you’re in danger of losing your talent. One key to onboarding: automate what you can. Great onboarding is not about paperwork. It’s about acclimating your new hire to your company, and to the job. Automating the paperwork will allow you to focus on more important things: namely, getting your new hire onto the floor and doing the job faster. Also, onboarding and training need to go hand in hand from Day 1, but training doesn’t and shouldn’t stop when onboarding ends. Develop training programs that will keep talent up-to-date with the latest and greatest techniques and skills.
2. Preserve your institutional knowledge
Companies that are experiencing the hiring and retention crunch are having more problems than simply being short-staffed. It’s also a matter of losing their institutional knowledge. What is that, exactly? It’s generally defined as “what an organization knows.” Expanding on that, it’s the experiences, processes, deep understanding and “this comes naturally” abilities of your people to get the job done in an intuitive way. The hard-won, trial-and-error-gleaned instincts that your senior people have absorbed from years on your front lines. That’s your company’s institutional knowledge. But what happens when those people leave? It’s critical to find ways to retain or pass along institutional knowledge when talented, experienced workers retire or leave the company. Read more about this important topic in “How to Preserve Institutional Knowledge for Future Operational Success.”
3. Identify gaps and weaknesses in your operations
At USC, finding holes in the operation is one of our specialties. Are those gaps or weaknesses due to people or processes? Is your line as efficient as possible? What’s the ideal throughput, and how can you get there? Hidden efficiencies can be lurking in your operations. They could help you do more with less.
4. Enhance your management operating system
This is about assessing how you plan the work, assign it to employees, and follow up on their progress. Define the roles and responsibilities of each employee so your process drives your success. We help companies do this by meeting with everyone, from the bottom up, from blue to white collar. Getting different perspectives from different angles lets us see the whole picture. It also ties in with EIP, because it gets people on board and involved in the process.
5. Realize that hiring may not be the solution
If you’re used to working with a certain number of boots on the ground, naturally that’s the number you were going to gravitate to when it was time to staff up after the pandemic. But do you really need all of those people? Focusing on efficiencies and streamlining operations may well mean you can get the job done with fewer people.
If you’d like to learn more about how we work, or talk with us about strategies you can use to harness your existing assets to meet your growing customer demand in the midst of this hiring and retention crunch, please get in touch today.
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What do you do when your demand is greater than your ability to meet it? This is one of the big issues some of our clients in the metals industry are facing these days as increased demand is matching or exceeding what is believed to be their capacity. Facing that situation, what can be done other than turning down sales?
Our customers who are dealing with demand management problems tend to come to us when they’re mired in what they believe is a lesser-of-two-evils choice. An option can be to increase capacity by investing in new capital assets but this involves investing millions of dollars and will demand be there given the long lead time for those assets. A possible second option is to increase capacity by expanding the hours of operation either by hiring additional staff or through overtime. Again, this leads to an increase in costs, especially if hiring additional staff also has a lead time as employees are hired and trained. So they come to us looking for a third option: Doing more with the assets they already have.
At USC Consulting Group, that’s our wheelhouse. It’s what we’ve been doing for companies for over 50 years.
We’re not about telling our clients to throw out machinery that’s working pretty well, open their wallets, and upgrade to state-of-the-art technology. Most of the time, that’s a huge expense that’s just not necessary. Instead, we do the hard work of rolling up our sleeves and finding hidden opportunities for improvements with your current assets. It’s about doing more with what you have and overcoming demand management problems.
What are hidden opportunities, exactly? They are efficiencies in your operation that you’re not aware of. We find them by first listening to you describe your issues, bottlenecks and stumbling blocks. Then, we look at your existing management operating system and standard work procedures like a detective, looking for ways to kick your efficiency up a notch. We find the opportunities that you may not see. Nine times out of ten, we find them by looking at issues that are generally accepted as “just the way things are.” A few examples:
- Excessive cycle time. Cycle time to produce a part could be reduced by redistributing the work between cycles so that more of the activities take place in parallel vs. in series.
- Excessive time for changeovers on a machine. There are activities that could be started and even completed before the changeover starts.
We start the process of finding hidden opportunities by finding the answers to a few questions.
- Where is the problem?
- Is it technical or tactical?
- Is it feasible?
If it’s technical, maybe it’s time to bring in the engineers to improve on your machines’ functions. If it’s tactical, we look at your processes, the way you’re using those machines, to find those hidden efficiencies.
We also take a hard look at the feasibility of your goal. If you’re producing 900 tons per day and the demand is 1,100, can we reasonably get you there? Sometimes the answer is no. Sometimes we can split the difference and get you close to the goal. Sometimes we can hit that goal and then some.
Why frontline buy-in is essential
At times, our recommendations for new efficiencies in your time-tested processes might ruffle some feathers, especially those of your crews on the frontlines, men and women who are doing those jobs for a living. That’s why we involve them from the beginning. We don’t swoop in at the end of our process and hand them a playbook on how to do their jobs better. Instead, they help us write that playbook. Your frontline employees’ buy-in is crucial to the success of any changes you want to make.
Frankly, working with your frontline employees makes our job easier, too. They give us the lowdown on what’s happening in your operation. We hear what’s going right, and at times, what’s going wrong. They often can see what the problems are, but not know how to fix them. We can get the single source of truth from your frontlines and implement plans to fix the issues and improve productivity. It’s crucial to finding where efficiencies can happen.
To read more about how crucial frontline buy-in is to the process, read our blog, Why Getting Buy-in from Frontline Employees is Key.
At USCCG, we pride ourselves in finding hidden opportunities for efficiencies that will help smooth out bottlenecks and allow our customers to meet growing demand with their current assets. Please get in touch if you’d like to find out more.
For a deeper look at demand management problems and other challenges and how we find hidden opportunities in Metals manufacturing operations, download our free eBook: “Challenges For The Metals Industry: How USC Consulting Group Can Help”
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As organizations today have become ever more reliant on networks and other systems that run using 21st century data-driven technology, one way in which they can maximize their potential is through the implementation of a management operating system.
What is a management operating system (MOS), and what can one do for my business?
According to CEO Magazine, an MOS allows for an organization to “better control the flow of work and production, driving higher outcomes in customer service, quality and cost.” At a minimum, these systems make use of tools that allow organizations to create plans for future work in certain operations, carry out that work, and then measure the work performance data to suggest future improvements that could be needed.
In short, an MOS is a set of tools, processes, and frameworks by which an organization’s employees operate. It is responsible for gathering data and then using the garnered information to inform decision making that fosters continuous improvement to address issues as they occur. These issues can range from production shortfalls to those related to worker safety; as such, companies that use production lines or have other types of hazardous workplace environments commonly employ management operating systems.
A MOS is a set of processes and resources by which businesses operate that drive the decision making of important organizational figures.
One way that an MOS can be described is that it is a set of processes and resources by which businesses operate each day that in turn drive the decision making of important organizational figures.
An effective MOS should be able to identify and quantify inefficiencies in an operating system and shift any reactive data-gathering methods towards those based in data analysis. This ensures that any adjustments can be made so operations are not adversely affected. An MOS should also use real-time feedback so an organization can safely direct operations, funding and other resources to maximize return on investment.
Organizations can observe some notable benefits after they implement an MOS, including cost savings, waste reduction, and increased product quality. Among other benefits, an MOS can help organizations identify and close workflow gaps, find ways to improve efficiency, or monitor operations to see if they are in compliance with company or government regulations and policies.
After an organization has implemented a management operating system, it may see the following benefits:
- Increases production cycle efficiency through the elimination of any bane to an organization’s workflows, such as unnecessary overtime or any operational and/or financial surprises.
- Ensures that key products such as raw materials are readily available at all times to meet any production requirements or needs
- Maximizes the potential of available workspace, equipment, inventory, and human resources
- Reduces excessive inventory and can help avoid any defective or outdated products from getting to customers
Human-run MOS still important in the impending age of automation
Some have argued that the MOS has become obsolete with the rise of automated data-driven decision making and the ongoing replacement of human beings in certain occupations with robots and artificial intelligence, according to CEO Magazine. That being said, the article’s author David Hand also argues that this view does not consider reasons that management operating systems were required in the first place, citing a few major points. In particular, Hand predicts that management operating systems will continue to be used wherever there are human beings employed instead of robots. Sectors reliant on human resources that have grown the fastest are the healthcare and professional services such as information technology and engineering, notably among others.
While organizations are able to reduce costs by making use of technology rather than humans, the article notes that cost is only one of two aspects that a customer requires to make a purchase, the other two being service delivery and quality. As a result, organizations that place too much of an emphasis on cost reduction amid a “new wave of innovation” related to technology use have been found to get away with poor customer service and product delivery. To avoid this dilemma, MOS principals such as short interval control and management of variance are important for any enterprise, no matter how big or small.
“Organizations must not be complacent. The struggle to remain competitive and to improve service delivery is unrelenting and a willingness to confront process shortfalls that drive customers away is vital,” Hand writes.
Adherence to an MOS and related principals can also have a positive impact on employees such as knowledge workers with regard to delivering better outcomes. Deadline commitment is the single most effective MOS principal that a knowledge worker can follow, Hand argues, and despite the stress of meeting deadlines, the practice can often result in large dividends.
How can my business best use an MOS, and what are the benefits?
In particular, owners of business operations can employ business management systems not only to bolster their bottom lines, but also to prepare themselves for planned growth or unexpected downturn. Forest Admin’s Thomas Didier concludes that while most businesses it has observed use different methods in their management operating systems, they center around four main components: processes, systems, roles, and structures.
When designing processes, businesses must be sure that they are safe, secure and clear for employees to understand and tools are used to support operations — never are they to be used in ways not dictated by the overall structure. This means that users should not use tools in inappropriate ways, especially those that could simply automate their inefficient methods. An effective MOS uses well-designed systems upon which their employees and processes are reliant to achieve goals, which means they should run smoothly and do not reduce established efficiency. Roles within a MOS should adhere to clearly defined job descriptions that require certain skill sets, and when combined with a business’s processes and systems can best utilize talents. Finally, the best-run management operating systems always establish a business-wide structure upon which the different roles within the company interact. This is usually done last because it ensures that the processes do not dictate the entire established structure and cause further issues.
“Many factors…can have an impact on the definition of your structure. As a result, it is unlikely that two companies with the same processes, systems, and roles will end up with the same structure,” Didier explains.
How to realize benefits when after implementing or improving an existing MOS
Businesses that do not make full use of a management operating system can undoubtedly improve the efficiency and overall profitability of their operations if they are able to create ones that effectively suit their needs. Regardless of whether an organization has an insufficient MOS already in place or does not use one at all, the development of a new one is a process that requires a great deal of investment and commitment from different organizational figures and departments. For example, some older production plants may have become reliant on relatively outdated production line methods and need to reduce observed downtime and inefficient processes in order to cut costs.
Regardless of whether an organization has a poorly planned MOS already in place or doesn’t use one at all, the development of a new one requires a great deal of investment and commitment from different key figures and departments.
Without an MOS in place, those responsible for the plant’s operations should first find a way in which to quantify key performance indicators related to products, assets and even everyday routines; there are different tools and methods that can be used to find out which information needs to be quantified, including those used by consulting services. As a result, conclusions drawn from the former can allow employees to operate more efficiently. This translates into a better understanding of the causes of production downtime, which can drive proactive and accurate decision making. Departmental training should be required with any future changes to a MOS to ensure that it still remains effective.
Rather than come up with the most basic of KPIs as a solution, organizations that use an MOS and aren’t seeing desired results need to reevaluate their methods of quantifying the information upon which they rely. For instance, one scenario might be that a major operation has become reliant on data collection methods that overlook key information explaining the causes of operational delays or unrealistic production deadlines and expectations. With the ability to see how workload expectations relate to overall productivity, a well-run management operating system can help an organization hit its numbers without worry each quarter.
When it comes to important areas in business operations such as the success and cost of a project or the safety and productivity of employees, knowing how to garner the right information and put it to good use is essential.
USC Consulting Group can help enhance your existing MOS or implement an entirely new one using its Client Technology Solutions like LINCS Lean Information Control System. Contact USC Consulting Group today to see how we can help your organization achieve desired outcomes.
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USC Consulting Group is a world-class operations management firm that for the past 50 years has helped mining companies around the globe improve their business performance by increasing throughput, reducing costs, eliminating waste, increasing productivity, improving quality and leveraging existing assets.
Your process improvement experience starts with USC digging in to begin to learn what truly makes your mining operations tick. We conduct detailed diagnostics, at the point of execution, whether underground, in the pit, surface, processing plants and support services to gain an understanding of impediments to increased performance. We’ll handpick a team uniquely qualified to address your specific challenges. We’ll observe how you do things around the clock, shift to shift, engaging directly with the people on the front lines – production, maintenance, engineering, and all support departments. Then we’ll collaborate with you to turn our findings into a detailed, workable plan, complete with tools from our well-rounded toolkit.
This is the point when most consultants leave you with a binder and walk out the door. Instead, we’re developing a project plan, organizing work breakdown structure, developing performance goals, determining measurement metrics and making sure our jointly developed strategies get the desired results. Managing data and information in the mining environment is vital for continuous improvement efforts. As part of our implementation process, we will help you enhance how your organization makes use of key data and information. Knowing where the right data and information lives and putting it to value added purposes is essential to managing a successful business. Leveraging enabling technology such as Microsoft Power BI helps to achieve, and then sustain the desired outcomes. Our LINCS® Lean Information Control System will enhance your existing Management Operating System (MOS) by smoothing the change process, providing timely feedback on KPI’s to process owners and actionable business intelligence to key decision makers. We openly share the results of our collaboration to increase and maintain operating excellence, and provide the extra horsepower needed to put ideas (both yours and ours) into action. We help deliver on your goals by empowering your performance. In fact, we’ll help you audit, verify, and sustain results for years to come.
USCCG’s Mining team uses the best of tried-and-proven, and emerging, methodologies to bring about enterprise-wide Lean Transformation, resulting in significant operating and financial gains, all at a very attractive ROI.
Discover more about our work in the Mining industry and contact us today to start your process improvement experience.
In recent years, businesses have scaled back capital expenditures. In 2015, American nonfarm businesses invested more than $1.6 trillion in new infrastructure, according to research from the U.S. Census Bureau. That figure dropped 4 percent in 2016, the latest year for which data is available, to approximately $1.5 trillion. This decrease ended a decade of consistent CAPEX growth.
Analysts attribute this dip to collective belt-tightening and streamlining measures. Instead of spending to scale their operations, organizations are, according to a survey from Arcadis, focusing on catalyzing better returns, reducing speed to market, facilitating agility and flexibility, and cultivating sustainable capital investment programs.
Sustainable capital investment is especially important for businesses that intend to find success in today’s fast-moving economy, where effective budgeting, not volumetric spending, lays the foundation for long-term success. Through our CAPEX Control program, USC Consulting Group assists companies that wish to embrace this methodology of strategic investment. Our goal is to help executives and shop floor leaders take control of their spending and establish concrete workflows that lead to budgetary and operational success.
Supporting systematic success
Companies that embrace our CAPEX Control program collaborate with our consultants to develop workable CAPEX management operating systems (CMOS). These frameworks give our clients the power to maximize the impact of their expenditures by equipping key decision-makers with the tools that enable them to align expenses with overarching business goals.
This simple capability ensures that budgeted upgrades will have a demonstrative impact on the shop floor and meaningfully bolster the bottom line. A CMOS also includes a number of ancillary components that further promote CAPEX maximization, including resources for reducing the number of unbudgeted projects. Unplanned initiatives are especially problematic, sapping funds from more worthy projects while wreaking havoc on the books. A CMOS also targets unproductive spend as well, ensuring that all investments are linked directly to overarching business objectives and will therefore contribute to the operation.
The processes, procedures and tools included in a well-crafted CMOS can empower organizations of all sizes to maximize their CAPEX and do more with less.
Implementing on the shop floor
Following the opening CMOS design phase, businesses move on to training and implementation. As mentioned above, the average CMOS contains a several modules, with which executives, back-of-house administrators, and operations specialists must become familiar. USCCG takes time to prepare and train these parties for the inevitable operational sea change that comes with CMOS implementation.
Normally, CMOS effectiveness increases with time as users learn how to efficiently deploy mission-critical processes and tools in the real world. Within months, most companies ramp up fully and begin CAPEX maximization practices that match the modern marketplace, building a foundation for success.
Here at USCCG, we’ve been working with businesses across many industries for five decades, helping them adapt to marketplace transformations of all kinds. Connect with us today to learn more about our work and how the CAPEX Control program can benefit your company.
USC Consulting Group, a global operations management consulting firm, achieves 50 years of empowering performance. But, what exactly does that mean? View our latest infographic to find out…
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Achieving operational efficiency is essential in the pulp and paper industry. Variances in production can raise overhead costs and, in turn, make it more difficult to stay competitive in a global market. Fortunately, there are practical solutions that are often the result of smart planning and execution.
Cost and quality management in process industries
A recent whitepaper on operational efficiency in process industries, mentioned several challenges that manufacturers face when trying to improve operations. The pulp and paper industry, in particular, is under pressure to manage costs, quality and customer demands because of the nature of the market. As global demand for pulp and paper decreases over time, mills are required to grow more efficient and limit production variances as much as possible. Cost reduction and quality improvement are essential for industry players to remain competitive.
“Mills are required to grow more efficient and limit production variances as much as possible.”
Pulp and paper mills require smart planning and execution
One of the biggest obstacles in the efficiency of pulp and paper mills is the inability to achieve a high level of visibility and control of operations. If managers cannot measure, monitor and amend existing processes, efficiency in production is negatively affected. Cognizant points out that for an operation to be successful, it is essential to understand how equipment, technology and automation can improve existing operations. When considering two areas in need of constant attention – lowering operating costs and reducing process operations variability – planning and execution are paramount.
Cognizant noted that operational excellence and efficiency in production planning and manufacturing execution requires a solid link between the two. In production planning, schedules are required to be in sync with the demands of the entire supply chain. Accordingly, assets need to operate and be utilized at optimal levels. A big component in effective production planning is managing deviations between forecasts and planned deliveries. Successful manufacturing execution is dependent on the ability to adapt to schedule changes and manage unexpected issues as they arise. Any deviations in quality need to be addressed by analyzing and fundamentally understanding root underlying causes.
Identifying variability sources and applying solutions
In a blog post, Magnetrol International Incorporated indicated that level measurement is a critical part of improving efficiency in pulp and paper manufacturing operations. Pulp and paper mills have specific processes, such as chipping, pulping, washing and bleaching, which require specific knowledge, instrumentation and practical approaches. By looking at each process, determining sources of variability or deficiency, and applying solutions, facility-wide efficiency can be ascertained.
Magnetrol explained that pulp and paper mills are some of the largest industrial users of process water. As such, they are often located next to natural water sources and water levels of intake channels require constant monitoring. Outdoor conditions can sometimes cause complications for level controls, especially if accumulation of debris occurs. A solution for this problem is to install bar screens to remove debris that will damage mill equipment. Bar screens are routinely cleaned and raked, often through automatic level controls mounted in an upstream channel.
Equipment and Technology can Improve Efficiency in Mill Operations
Another possible issue that pulp and paper mills may need to address is the damage done to sensor equipment in the pulp digestion process. Heat and chemicals are used in combination to digest and transform wood chips into pulp by dissolving the base material. Due to high temperatures and harsh chemicals, sensors sometimes cannot withstand the conditions. Accordingly, it is helpful to instate continuous monitoring of overflow in order to avoid potential problems in pulp digesters.
Staying competitive in a global market
As the pulp and paper industry continues to strive for increased operational efficiency, planning and execution will continue play a fundamental role in cost and quality management. By limiting the amount of operational problems that occur throughout production, facilities have a chance to increase efficiency. In the case of source water and pulp digesters, understanding the cause of problems often leads to a quick and practical solution. While other areas of production may require more in-depth analysis, the planning and execution aspect will remain the same.