Identifying opportunities for improvement

As another year approaches, tradition suggests we take time to reflect on what we've accomplished and identify opportunities for improvement. There's a lot to be said for taking inventory of where you are and where you want to be. There are pragmatic applications to self awareness that can translate into work and business environments.
By Jack Smith, Editor November 1, 2009

As another year approaches, tradition suggests we take time to reflect on what we’ve accomplished and identify opportunities for improvement. There’s a lot to be said for taking inventory of where you are and where you want to be.

There are pragmatic applications to self awareness that can translate into work and business environments. Plant Engineering editor Bob Vavra recently wrote in his “Five Fast Things” blog: “If you don’t have a baseline for everything going on in your plant, you cannot manage your operation. A big part of that is understanding your infrastructure. What works and what doesn’t, and how much is what doesn’t work costing you?”

Measuring KPIs and collecting data are important steps, but they are just the beginning of understanding what’s going on in your plant. Translating collected data into useful information requires analysis; proper analysis requires context.

Now that you have useful information within the proper context, what should you do with what you know? If the information is truly useful, it will have identified opportunities for improving your operations such as equipment that is not operating as efficiently as it could, processes that could be designed to move workflow more efficiently or operators that could be working more productively.

Armed with the knowledge of where improvement opportunities are, plants can then apply solutions such as repairing, adjusting or optimizing equipment; designing processes to minimize waste and maximize productivity; and training employees to identify waste, work more efficiently and strive for a culture of continuous improvement.

Managing data, information and knowledge enables plants to understand where they are, where they are going and how to get there.