Survey results: Manufacturers tell how they implement change

Let's face it, changing manufacturing processes causes disruption and headaches, and few people like change. If you asked engineers and plant staff in a factory about it they might say, "Change is hard" or "The only constant around here is change" or even, "Everything would be so much better around here if things would just stand still for a little while.”

But agility is critical to competing in a competitive marketplace, so manufacturer must master change management so they can adapt their factories quickly, efficiently, and with confidence.

How do leading manufacturers do it?  Independent research firm Tech-Clarity surveyed more manufacturers (from more than 250 identified) that excel at implementing factory change — manufacturers that meet project due dates, meet budgets, and meet target production volumes. These top performers also get changes implemented faster, even if the changes are more involved.

According to the survey, top performers:

• Better understand the full scope and impact of change in advance to avoid late surprises

• Communicate, collaborate, and share information to work as a team more effectively

• Adhere to more formal change management processes

The report — Tech-Clarity Perspective: Best Practices for Factory Adaptability — details the the challenges faced in implementing change and the business impacts of change. The research also shares the processes and software that some top performers say they use to be more agile.

What I find interesting about the results is that improving quality is the biggest driver of change — not boosting throughput (which would've been my guess). Perhaps even more surprising is that top-performing manufacturers said they implemented six to 11 small changes a year, and one to two major changes — those involving "significant change to equipment, procedures, or production lines." That's far more change than I would've guessed.

So tell us how your organization compares.  Do you see a lot of change in your workplace?  How is it managed?   Who takes responsibility for making sure new procedures get executed? Drop me a line below.

Discuss this Blog Entry 2

on Sep 6, 2013

Changes are also hard for us.
we are also doing a lot of changes, we are working in subcontracting - so it is a lot diferent customers and a lot diferent changes. but the most important solutions are mentioned in the article:
comunication, as early as possible to get changes and scope understanding are the key things.
we are trying to manage changes via ERP system, but often it is handled in "manual handling". orders/forecasts are changing too fast, so to manage in ERP not always possible.
in our company changes are handled by sales engineers together with processes engineers.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Sep 11, 2013

its good

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Elisabeth Eitel

Elisabeth is Senior Editor of Machine Design magazine. She has a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Fenn College at Cleveland State University. Over the last decade, Elisabeth has worked as a...
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