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3 Thought Starters to Inspire a New Way of Working

AI and IoT have introduced sweeping changes to modern manufacturing. While it’s tempting to focus on the rise of machine learning, there is no replacement for human intelligence on the shop floor.

Science fiction has become a reality: machines are now “thinking” for themselves. So if they’re thinking, where does that leave the human workforce? No worries – it turns out people are still in charge, and have the opportunity to do better, more meaningful work than ever before.

We invited Alex and Frieda (more on them below) to walk us through this new world on the final webisode of Flip This Factory. If you haven’t watched it, it’s not too late – sign up to get it on demand.

Meet the Experts

Alex Pastor, Analytic Systems Engineer, works for GAF, the largest North American manufacturer of roofing materials. His jam? Bridging the gap between process/manufacturing and data/analytics systems.

As Maintenance Department Manager and a Certified Reliability Leader for PepsiCo, Frieda Venechuk is on a mission to drive continuous improvements in day-to-day plant operations. 

During their conversation with moderator Stephanie Hartsog, Alex and Frieda shared how technologies like AI, IoT, and predictive, prescriptive machine health have created a new way of working. Here they spill the goods on how leaders and their teams can come together and succeed in a digital world.

#1:  Seeing is Believing

According to Frieda, when it comes to buy-in for new technology on the production floor, you’ve got to explain and show your team the “why”. 

“In the maintenance world, we talk a lot about critical analysis and what parts are gonna put you dead in the water if they break down. You’re down for four to eight hours on production and that’s not time you have. So, when you can tie in this kind of monitoring on those critical assets, you show that you’re able to make preventive fixes before they crash and burn. Mechanics are skeptical at the beginning. But as they start to see more wins before a catastrophic failure, it generates buy-in.”

#2: Listen and Learn from Your Peers

Peer-to-peer communication is key in Alex’s mind. Especially when you’re scaling up a solution across multiple sites.

“We have monthly champion meetings across all sites. It’s an opportunity for champions to get together, share their feedback, talk about any challenges that they’re facing, and get input from the other sites too. It’s not only an opportunity for them to showcase the wins at their site, but they can also get help from other people. 

“Odds are, if one site is experiencing an issue, many sites are probably experiencing the issue even if they haven’t voiced it yet. That [champion meeting] can leverage best practices that are being utilized at one site. How do we capture those best practices and make that the new standard? A lot of really good stuff we’ve generated over the last two years has come from those interactions among the site champions.”

#3: Focus on Upskilling/Reskilling

Some people fear the latest wave of tech will eliminate their jobs. But in Alex’s experience, the tech creates new opportunities for workers to learn and master new skills and opens them up for higher-value work.

“If they’re able to and willing to embrace it, they get a taste for success and what technology can do. Then they start asking ‘How do I get more information? What education can I do? How do I get access to certifications?’ It’s been empowering to a lot of our workers that didn’t have that background. Not only because it makes their job easier because they’re not scrambling, but because they want to continue learning both professionally and personally.”

Bonus: Celebrate the Wins at Every Level

Change management is one of those big ideas that needs to be broken down into easy-to-implement steps. So when the team gets a win, Frieda believes you’ve got to recognize it as part of that process to gain buy-in.

“Being able to celebrate those wins, show the saves, and show how the saves translate down to the shop level helps make that final connection. At a management level, we’re seeing it as better performance in our unplanned downtime metric or overall throughput on the line. But tie it down to a mechanic’s perspective of the win: it’s safer to do organized work. It’s more convenient. You’re not diving through the store room for parts that we may or may not have. That’s something they relate to. It’s a snowball effect to the team buy-in.”

But Wait, There’s More!

We’ve only shared a fraction of Alex and Frieda’s insights. But we won’t leave you hanging. Hop over to Flip This Factory: A New Way of Working to hear the whole conversation. And why not invite a coworker to listen in with you?

Ready to Flip Your Factory?

Our five-part series explores defeating downtime, optimizing assets, improving processes, reducing waste, and transforming work. Watch each webisode, download the bonus content, and become a Production Health Pro.

A Better Way of Working Starts Here