Years ago I had heard a statistic that I have never been able to truly validate: The construction industry is the most wasteful industry sector with the biggest footprint. While construction industry is a broad term and you may wonder how many industry segments were included in that sweeping statement, there are many people who would not disagree with this statement. The truth is measuring waste is not an exact science and while we know all sectors produce waste, its not really about the numbers as it is more about the fact it’s happening and at alarming rates.
More than 99 per cent of the world’s data is wasted
Ottawa is home to an innovative company focused on products that help manufacturers interpret production data coming off their shop floors. The CEO of Raven.ai, Martin Cloake spoke at a CKCA National Forum on this issue of data waste a couple of years ago. Cloake shared his story of humble beginnings working for blinds manufacturer Blinds To Go. Cloake’s on the shop floor experience in manufacturing, combined with a degree in mechanical engineering and business helped him see gaps where companies were not optimizing their processes and productivity. In other words, Cloake saw waste so created his own company in 2013 to help manufacturers improve their performance with data science. When he presented to a CKCA audience he shared a sobering statistic: Less than 1 per cent of the world’s data is analyzed.
In kitchen cabinet manufacturing, the push to Industry 4.0 and the expenses of getting there means significant capital investment and, to some, they feel their shops are either not big enough, or the cost is just too daunting. Advanced manufacturing promises many things including its ability to provide valuable data that can help a company make strategic adjustments. Many decisions around what equipment and technology to buy are based on the promise of potential outputs. But if you are not using all the outputs including the data, you’re really wasting money and time. Why not get the most out of your investment?
I recently connected with Cloake again, because he posted more interesting commentary about 5G technology and how advancements in 5G will help avoid millions of dollars of waste. He got my attention.
Because CKCA talks about Lean and as an organization, we certainly see the merits and have toured plenty of lean kitchen cabinet shops. We know many of our members have taken lean training and continue to do so. Lean speaks to continual improvement and minimizing waste is a key principal, which draws strong alignment of lean to advanced manufacturing. But is this only part of the equation? We asked Cloake to fill us in on the important developments happening in manufacturing and what kitchen cabinet manufacturers, whether big or small, should know if they want to consider advancing their own company by better leveraging technology advancements.
CKCA: Tell us a little bit more about what Raven does for the manufacturing sector?
Cloake: Raven supports smart manufacturing by offering the tools to help plants see what is actually happening on the shop floor and by providing clean data that allows decisions to be made that help improve overall production.
CKCA: What types of waste have you seen in the wood sector; can you give us some examples?
Cloake: Raw material waste is the biggest as manufacturers in the wood industry face the challenge of transforming imperfect raw material to a very high-quality end product. From the initial harvesting to the drying process, it is rare that more than 50% of a tree will be yielded through the transformation process. The challenging nature of classifying wood products by quality also brings its share of challenges as manufacturers face potential loss of margins from classification mistakes.
CKCA: What do you think about Industry 4.0 and where does 5G fit into this?
Cloake: The foundations of wood manufacturing have relied on the skills of machine operators for a long time, but the arrival of 5G and IoT technologies has the potential to be a game changer. From our experience at Raven, the most useful technology to implement is one that will help operators improve the value of their decisions rather than replace them.
CKCA: Where does Lean fit into the equation?
Cloake: Using 5G and IoT solutions to provide information and insights on the process is the first step in an Industry 4.0 transformation. The implementation of a culture of Lean Manufacturing at all levels of the shop floor comes next as it will enable the information provided by the 5G technology to be turned into real value for the manufacturing.
CKCA: If you’re a small manufacturer of just 10 people or a large one with hundreds, is 5G applicable and how can companies take advantage of this?
Cloake: In 2020, IoT technologies have become affordable for all size of companies. We have experienced some terrific industry 4.0 transformation at small companies as well as multinationals. The value of transforming data to information in real time can be applied to any type of scale!
CKCA: What should any manufacturer expect to gain by having the capacity to truly interpret the data they get from their machinery?
Cloake: There are always quick initial gains of yield and throughput in the first few weeks following the implementation, but the biggest wins for companies that embark on the industry 4.0 journey is the change of culture enabled by providing real-time performance measure and constructive feedback to the operators. This is what we call “Augmented Management” at Raven.
CKCA: Your final message when you spoke at the CKCA National Forum was: Become a data centric organization. Use AI to spend more time doing what you are good at. Experiment with augmented management. Given today’s work, especially with us facing unprecedented times due to COVID-19, how do you see the above statements applying in this new normal?
Cloake: In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, manufacturers from all industries have had to adapt their shop floor management practices. IoT and 5G technologies enable those adjustments by changing the way process data is used to communicate and provide feedback to the operators. Furthermore, understanding the financial pressure that the pandemic has been applying to all of us, we believe at Raven that now is the best time to jump in and unleash the potential of data insights to optimize cost and margins.