In this episode, we have our guest Dave Griffith who discusses why manufacturers must look for low-hanging fruits when exploring industry 4.0 initiatives. He also explains what industry 4.0 means to different manufacturing verticals. And how they can take phased approaches to make these transformation projects successful. Finally, he shares several stories of his recent successes using the phased approach.
Most people would call Dave a Manufacturing Consultant. He considers himself a Dreamsmith. His goal is simple: Help you achieve your manufacturing dreams. His goal is to shepherd the next generation of solutions to the plant floor and leverage those solutions to the greatest extent possible.
After spending more than a decade in the Automation and Manufacturing industries, Dave focuses on two client groups: 1) Manufacturing faculties looking to go through transformational processes. 2) Service providers looking to launch and grow next-generation industry 4.0 initiatives. Dave has a very straightforward approach. Dream Big. Start Small. Show ROI.
You’re going to have people dragging their feet; you’re going to have people who refuse to be part of the process. And if you do not have people who are willing and actively engaged in the process, there’s no way that your outcome can be successful.
Growing a business requires a holistic approach that extends beyond sales and marketing. This approach needs alignment among people, processes, and technologies. So if you’re a business owner, operations, or finance leader looking to learn growth strategies from your peers and competitors, you’re tuned into the right podcast. Welcome to the WBS podcast, where scalable growth using business systems is our number one priority.
Now, here is your host, Sam Gupta.
Hey everyone. Welcome back to another episode of The WBS podcast. I’m Sam Gupta, your host, and principal consultant at the digital transformation consulting firm, ElevatIQ. The industry 4.0 initiatives offer significant opportunities and require executing the last transformation projects with success. If not planned well, the changes could cause substantial disruption and become a bottleneck to your growth. Such projects require careful planning and a phased approach to ensure these project success and meet your growth objectives.
In today’s episode, we have our guest Dave Griffith, who discusses why manufacturers must look for low-hanging fruits when exploring the path of industry 4.0. He also explains what industry 4.0 means to different manufacturing verticals and how they can take a phased approach to make these transformation projects successful. Finally, he shares several stories of his recent successes using the phased approach.
Let me introduce Dave to you.
Most people would call Dave a manufacturing consultant. He considers himself a DreamSmith. His goal is simple. He helps you achieve your manufacturing dreams. His goal is to shepherd the next generation of solutions to the plant floor and leverage those solutions to the greatest extent possible after spending more than a decade in the automation and manufacturing industries. He focuses on two client groups, manufacturing facilities, looking to go through transformational processes. And number two service providers looking to launch and grow next-generation solutions. Dave has a very straightforward approach. Dream Big Start small show ROI.
With that, let’s get to the conversation.
Hey, Dave, welcome to the show.
Hey, Sam, thank you so much for having me on. Very excited to be here.
And super excited as well. To kick things off, do you want to start with your personal story and what you are focusing on these days?
Sure, happy to. Hey, everyone. My name is Dave Griffith. I run a company called Caplin Solutions. We work in the manufacturing industry. And we help companies go through transformational processes such as industry 4.0 and digital transformation processes.
We’ve gotten more than a decade of experience all the way from ATM machine equipment builders through the software and automation industry. And at this point, as I said, our goal is to work on the industry 4.0 initiatives in which we are helping companies go through a phased approach and helping them understand what these processes mean to them, as opposed to being overwhelmed with one big thought.
Okay, so before we get into the things that you have described, what we typically do is we ask a standard question with every single guest that we get, Dave. So what is your perspective on growth?
Yeah, so this is actually one of my favorite questions that you guys ask everyone, Sam, and my perspective of growth is growth is the output of doing all things correctly. If you build a good company if you have a good product, if you treat your employees. Well, the outcome that you’re going to have is growth. And so that is one of those, the reason why we should continue to work and strive both internally and externally, to do well as a company and to do well as business leaders.
So a couple of things with respect to your phased approach, the one that you mentioned, you know, during your intro, so what is the phased approach, and why is it important for the industry 4.0 initiatives?
Yeah, so when you look at an industry 4.0 initiative, you know, most people think of it as an extremely expensive five-year-long process that at some point someone is going to come in, and everything is going to work correctly. In the real world. I have not seen that happen. I’ve seen lots of struggles with that.
So we have been working on a phased approach. And the concept is simple right? You come up with your idea of what you want the output. You figure out a way in which you can start small and that you can prove to everyone this is going to work and start and have a good return on investment. And so it’s a phased approach in which we go through, we show return on investment, and then we’re able to continue to use the money that we’ve saved or created, and continue to go down in industry 4.0 initiatives.
Okay, it’s very interesting that you talk about, you know, the output of industry 4.0, when it almost seems like the backward approach, in my opinion, that’s how things should be done, and you are doing it in the right manner.
So give me an example of the work that you have done where you started from the output, and then you placed it backward. So basically, what you are doing, in my opinion, is you are actually defining your KPIs and the ROI that you want to get from your initiative. And then, you are describing or defining the whole plan until the beginning, and then you start doing the plan. Is that accurate?
So what generally happens is we’re going to go through some sort of like roadmap-ing engagement, and that concept is we’re going to go, we’re going to spend time at the facility, we’re going to talk to the champions, the stakeholders, we’re going to go talk to the operations, and the people who are actually working at the manufacturing floor. And then, once we go through, and we’re having these conversations, we’re going to understand not only where they are today but also where they want to be. And then once we understand where they want to be, we’re going to go and roadmap, you know, phase one, or phase two, or phase three, and find ways that we can sustainably get them to that end goal.
Okay. So when you talk about, you know, taking from one step to the next, what are some of the critical success factors that you have seen in terms of defining this roadmap? And where do you think people feel most of the time because one of the comments that you made is, you know, most of the time, these initiatives may not be successful. So what is your opinion in terms of critical success factors?
So I would say that the number one critical success factor is that the organization is actually ready to go through one of these initiatives. I have seen where one person wants to go through an industry 4.0 initiative. And if that one person is not the business owner, and they can then go help leverage the rest of their operations group there, you are not going to have success.
In the end, you have to, as an organization, be ready to go through an organizational change, which the output is going to be one of these industry 4.0 initiatives. If, and I have seen experience with a handful of different facilities, the organization is not ready to go through this change, you’re going to have people dragging their feet, you’re going to have people who refuse to be part of the process. And if you do not have people who are willing and actively engaged in the process, there’s no way that your outcome can be successful.
Yeah, I agree with your assessment there. Stakeholder management and change management are definitely very important. But before we get there, I had a question related to the industry 4.0 initiative. So in my experience, industry 4.0 could mean different things to different people. I mean, it could be all over the place. So can you define what or what the industry 4.0 initiatives are?
I think that that is a fantastic point. Thank you for bringing it up, Sam. And while I could define what industry 4.0 means to me, I said, I know some people who define it as basically the use of the internet while going through things. In my mind, what is more, important than how you and I would define it is how the actual facility would define it.
So when we go through one of these roadmap-ing processes, one is understanding where they are and where they want to go. I asked them what industry 4.0 initiatives mean to them? What does this transformational initiative mean to them? And then where do they want to go? And by helping them kind of close their eyes, think about where they want to go have that, you know, big dream, if you will, we’re then able to go through the process of delivering the industry 4.0 initiatives, that is what that facility is looking for.
Right? Let’s say if I’m a manufacturer, and I’m planning to explore whether I should be utilizing the industry 4.0 initiative or not. So when you talk about the use of the internet, in my opinion, it could mean industry 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, or 4.0, right? It could mean anything. So let’s say find the manufacturer, and you’re trying to advise me. I’m your customer, Dave. So you know, if you want to ask any questions, you can ask me any questions, but let’s do a little bit of role-play here. In terms of you’re advising me on the industry 4.0 initiative. So how would you take me from point A to point B?
Yeah, so it’s one of those, Sam. We would sit down, and my questions to you would be along the lines of Okay, Sam, where are you today? And then where do you want to go? And quite literally, most of the time, I am asking them what the industry 4.0 initiative means to them. Can I walk you through an example of one of these processes in how we started from point A and got to the end goal of one of these industry 4.0 initiatives?
That’s exactly going to put things into perspective. So please do that.
Perfect. So to set the scene a little bit, I was brought in by one of my vendors to a facility that prints the warning labels in the ingredients that go in medicine. It’s one of those folded pieces of paper that they literally joked about, and everyone throws away. No one reads you know what I’m talking about, Sam?
Yep, I think I’m following.
Yeah, perfect. So they did a lot of printing, they did a lot of folding, they had a variety of different pieces of paper. And they had a lot of different legacy systems. So when we came in, we kind of showed them what we could do industry 4.0 wise, we showed them a variety of SCADA and MES and other digital and data analytics systems, what we had done in the future, or what we had done in the past, and how we can help them and we were having the conversation.
There was an intern that turned into a floating operations person that had done some measuring and saw that they were, you know, approximately 17% efficient. We’re like, Okay, wow. So that seems like we need to do a better job collecting the data. And we looked at the old machines, and only a couple of them had controllers, and very few of them had controllers that we could actually pull data off. And so we’re like, wow, this could potentially be an expensive implementation.
But as we continue to talk about the situation, we realized that one of their major issues was in scheduling and how their scheduling is running. Now historically, they had a person that would come in and literally with pencil and paper, go in schedule, all the runs over the course of the day. So, between some of the runs, they had to have changeovers in which they were physically changing, you know, the machines for their setups. And it was not an uncommon thing, where they would come in, they would have a run, there were four hours of changeover, they would have a second run. And then there were another four hours of changeover back to the original setup, just over the course of a couple of shifts, and this was killing their efficiency.
So, as we continue down, we had the conversation of how we can leverage the tools that we have in order to help them with this particular situation. And their budget was, was fairly tight, I think we were looking at approximately that the $10 to $15,000 range. So what we did is we helped them with a scheduler tool. And to go back to the internet, this scheduler tool actually was running in the cloud. The reason why it was running in the cloud is that we could then help them scale it to the other 12 or so locations that they had.
So something like this would require us to go through sit down, understand, you know, the quote-unquote, rules, which is how they go schedule, which is, you know, what, what happens through one of these changeovers, and then that means that we’re going through the process to understand how they’re running, and then determine what those changes look like. And the main benefit of one of these automated scheduler tools is that it’s going to help them put together the schedule that is going to have the least amount of downtime between the run.
So that way, we’re not running something that, for instance, needs to get folded ten times, then changing paper sizes, and then going back to the original setup, which was one of the issues that they were having because they were just scheduling it like package like line, one can run a C and D. And so we’ll just run it a C and then D.
So by automating this, we were able to help the person who normally spent their whole shift go through confirm the schedule and then go through the process of doing higher-level tasks. Then as we were going through this process, we were able to put up some large, inexpensive big-screen televisions, we were able to show everyone on the floor, what’s coming up, if we’re on schedule, if we’re ahead of schedule, etc. And then we had a bunch of we have we have almost always had extreme amounts of success with these projects. You know, normally we see an increase between about 17 and 32%. of boost in productions when instituting something like this.
And then to drawback to the idea of starting small. With this goal, we were able to take the success the money they saved from it, and we were able to double down into the next phase. In this particular example, we were able to add some sensors some data collection on the legacy devices so we can do a better job of calculating the OEE the overall equipment effectiveness, and then help visualize the data on the screen to define some additional productivity spikes.
Unavailability most of the time just by allowing people on the floor to understand where they are in relation to schedule. It’s human nature to want to, you know, be on schedule or to beat the person who was on the other ship. And so, just by going through that process, a very relatively straightforward industry 4.0 initiative, we were able to help them modernize and take advantage of what they were doing.
Yeah, that’s fascinating. I mean, I love the story, to be honest. In fact, I mean, what I have personally seen, because obviously, you know, I visit a lot of different manufacturing facilities as well. And some of these folks would claim that they are fairly automated, they have their earpiece system running, but their scheduling is going to be running on either the spreadsheet or paper. So that’s the story that I really like to hear. So thank you for that.
And since we are talking about the phased approach here, Dave, we are going to be taking a slightly phased approach with this conversation as well. So initially, when you started this story, and you mentioned that the operational or the operations intern was able to measure the efficiency to be 17%. So let’s say if I’m a manufacturer, and I want to measure how efficient I am with my operations, how is that good project going to look like with respect to the cost, budget, and schedule? And the only objective that I have is, I want to measure how efficient I am with my operation.
So that’s a good question, Sam. And in this particular example, I always like to bring it up because he was literally out there on the floor with a stopwatch. I’m sure he was probably one of the most hated people in the facility. And all the hooks are out. As all the books are out there running on the line. He’s out there with a stopwatch and his notebook. And while we were there, nobody likes timekeepers.
No, but nobody likes timekeepers. And so while we were there, he’s like showing us the notebook, we’re walking on the plant floor, I’m pretty sure some guys and ladies have given him some side I but he came up with this number because he was literally out there with a stopwatch measuring how long it takes, kind of in addition to that they had done, you know, the line is going to run they’ve got you to know, three to 10 people on any particular line, depending upon the run. And then they literally had to leave shut down the line.
Someone had to walk into the scheduler’s office to get the next piece of paper. So they knew what the next job was. So they were extremely inefficient. And honestly, we see most people who aren’t looking at efficiency are generally in the high 10s to low 20% efficiency. So if you’re looking to measure how efficient you are, other than you’re probably not very efficient. You know, you could do it as simple as an intern with a stopwatch can go out there and measure it.
In my experience, that is the first realization of, hey, we’re capacity constrained, how can we go through the process of pushing more product through most of the time until you are to the point of having to look to spend a ridiculously large number of dollars on a new line on a new machine, you don’t look to see how efficient you are. Then when we’re looking to go through a process in which we measure the OEE, the overall equipment efficiency or effectiveness, you know, that is highly dependent upon where you want, you know, I’ve seen, you know, low five-digit projects, all the way to work with companies that have spent, you know, $10 million on one phase, in my mind. And with this phased approach, it’s how you can go through the process of getting the most bang for the buck if you will.
So you can help visualize everyone who can understand where they are. And then, once you are starting to recoup some of that money, you can then look to expand the project. Again, it’s all about a phased approach and scalable solutions.
Yeah, and it’s interesting that you know, you mentioned the point about hiring the intern. And typically, when people hire interns, they don’t actually consider the opportunity cost of the intern. But if you look at the opportunity cost, and I don’t know if you’re an intern, maybe making maybe, you know, $30 40,000 a year, maybe $20 per hour, I really don’t know, but the intern is going to take some time. So I don’t know if the project is going to be four to three months, four months.
But there is an opportunity cost associated with that. That is something that most people do not know how to measure or they sort of ignoring. So let’s say if I’m hiring a consultant like you, Dave, are you going to be slightly more efficient in providing the same data that my intern will be able to do while considering the opportunity cost? What is your perspective on that?
So that’s an interesting question. Sam, I should say in this particular example, I believe the intern spent about a week out there. And it’s not something that I would have a person with a stopwatch out there for weeks or months at a time.
Let’s make one thing very clear, Dave, if you are going to hold the stopwatch on my shop floor, I’m not hiring you, Dave.
I agree with that. My other thought, My other point is, I am not the right person to go and hold a stopwatch on the floor, people are going to pay me too much money for them to want me to spend my time holding a stopwatch on the floor.
And if we need to go through a process like that, that is something that we could look at and see if there’s an intern that we could grab for a week in order to do that. And we could help them, you know, put together some basic calculations. Or we could look at bringing an attempt something like that, to bring in some additional manpower, who is local to that facility in order to help us measure the what the occurrent efficiency looks like?
Okay, interesting. So let’s go back to some of the analyses that you will have provided with respect to your story. You mentioned that you had 70% efficiency, to begin with, and then you were able to get roughly 17 to 32%. So when you do these projects, Dave, do you typically look at, let’s say, if I have a machine that may not be performing to its efficiency, so one approach could be that I put a fence up there, and then I tried to get some data from it and see how the machine is performing. Or the second approach could be, I could actually get the modern machine that could actually have the industry 4.0 capabilities in build. So when you do these projects, do you do the cost-benefit analysis as well, in terms of what is going to be the right way to approach a problem?
So yeah, I guess the easy question, or the easy answer to that is, is yes, I should say that there aren’t there are not necessarily industry, 3.0 machines versus industry, 4.0 machines, most of these machines, you’re going to buy from an OEM equipment manufacturer, they’re going to come in potentially guaranteeing you some percentage of efficiency, and they’re going to train your people to the point of being able to run the machine as to what happens after the handover and how efficient you actually run is generally not to the level of is not to the level of where you want to be.
So we have worked with people who have legacy machines. I mentioned before we work with, I once was in a factory. And these guys were running, you know, literally, world war II machines, you know, 1940s machines, high-speed production, that’s run that way for, you know, 60 or 70 years, they’re not going to change it. And I’ve walked into facilities that have brand new CNC machines, and depending upon what their production runs look like. There are always additional ways to look at efficiency. So most of the time, when we look at efficiency, we’re looking at it over the course of a processor over the course of a line, especially if there’s material movement in there.
And then after we’ve looked at that, what we do is we look at, I call them the lowest hanging fruit, right? There are reasons why we’re not performing at various different times. And then we do our best in order to pluck that lowest hanging fruit in order to increase their efficiency. As I mentioned that 17 to 32%, when we institute some scheduling and visualization, in my experience, that is the visualization process of helping everyone understand where they are is some of the lowest hanging fruit and most facilities.
So obviously, the scheduling is always the big problem area, in my experience for most manufacturers, whether they agree with it or not. Okay, sometimes they might be too complex. So I completely agree. But from your experience, other than scheduling, have you seen anything else where you may have the potential to optimize?
Yeah, so beyond the scheduling, we look and have lots of conversations with companies that are capacity constrained, right? They’re looking to increase their capacity, but they don’t want to buy, you know, another $5 million line, or they’ve physically run out of space in the building to go ahead to put another line in there. So that’s when we go, and we look at one of these OEE situations to understand where they are.
And I have seen a wide variety of different issues. You know, it is not uncommon that it could potentially be a supply chain issue. And one of the reasons why you know the company is down is because they literally have run out of their product. And if they’ve run out of their product, they cannot run their product down the line, or they’ve run out of labels. We’ve come across a variety of different issues. The goal is to understand you know where they are. And then potentially the Phase I is to help them understand where they are so that we can see what the problem is. And if the problem is we’re running out of raw materials, it’s Okay. Let’s focus on the supply chain. And let’s see what we can do to get everything connected.
Okay, so you talk a lot about machines, what I have seen, you know, in some of the manufacturing verticals, where they don’t even use a lot of machines, I’m talking about some of the hand assembly shops, and behind the assembly, shops could be let’s say, the configuration of retail shelves or it could be the cables of the telecom equipment, and you will be surprised that I mean, they are done using hand assembly. But I have seen firsthand that they are actually making this with, you know, the hand assembly process. Can you believe this? So let’s say if you are going to hand assembly shop, and you are looking for some of the areas of improvement, what would be your recommendation for these and assembly shops.
So with the hand assembly shop, we’ve done some work with those groups, we’ve done some work with the hand assembly shops, we’ve done a series of work with a company that does uniforms, right, so the uniforms come in, they need to be pressed, the pressing is a manual process. As they go through that, you know, they want to find ways in order to increase efficiency. We went through a process where we basically put a couple of lights, green light, and red light, up, we measured the speed of the conveyor belt, and we were able to measure the output.
And we were able to help them understand where they were in the process as to their quota. Now, most of these people were actually paid by the piece. And so what they wanted to do is they wanted to press as many pieces as they could so that the money they made at the end of the day was the most that they possibly could. So just doing some basic visualization. And visualization is something that I talk about a lot is exceptionally helpful, not only for those manual processes but also especially in instances where the outcome is based on the quantity or the quota.
Okay, amazing. So we are going to shift gears a bit. We have been talking about the micro perspective here. And I like to take the macro perspective as well. So in your experience, do you see the industry 4.0 approach to be applicable for specific manufacturing verticals? When will you go through different manufacturing verticals? Do you see the industry 4.0 opportunities in a specific vertical? Do you have any perspective on that?
So I would say industry 4.0 because it has such of a vast, you know, opportunity. And it means different things for different companies has applications in all verticals, as to if it’s right for that particular group at the time because of the change management. And the organizational change that we’ve talked about is a different question. But across verticals, there are industry 4.0 applications.
Okay, amazing. So with respect to your phased approach, what else do manufacturers need to know before they consider any initiatives?
So again, the big question is, are we ready to go through one of these? And then the next question is understanding where kind of that low-hanging fruit understanding where the biggest opportunities lie and then finding generally trusted partners in order to help lead them through this. And when you’re looking for someone to help lead you through this, it may be inside of the organization. It may be outside of the organization because you’re looking for people who have very specific skills and tasks. And as you’re going through this, make sure that you have conversations, make sure that these are people who know what they’re talking about and have gone through these situations and scenarios and applications.
So did you want to cover anything else that we were not able to touch as part of this conversation?
So, Sam, I think we did a really good job. Do you think that there’s anything in particular that your listeners, you know, your general listener group, would benefit from if we hit a particular topic or particular situation?
So I think, you know, from the phased approach, we got the idea from the philosophical perspective that you know, then we need to make sure that they are ready for the initiative, the mindset is there? That’s all well and good, but I don’t know if he got the real execution plan in terms of how to start on the initiative. Would you like to touch a bit on that?
How to actually start, like how to start phase one? Is that the question?
So basically, you mentioned that you know we need to identify the low-hanging fruit. So I got the picture that, you know, some of the low-hanging fruit could be, you know, just getting the stopwatch, finding the areas with respect to the scheduling. You also mentioned some of the things such as, you know, just putting a sensor in a machine prior to getting the data prior to put the monitor, which is well and good. But let’s say if I’m considering the larger issue that maybe I’m replacing a machine on my shop floor. And if I want to go from point A to point B, how would you define the roadmap?
Yeah. So if we are looking to, you know, go down and actually talk about a physical roadmap, again, we’re going to have a conversation. We’re going to understand where you are. We’re going to understand where you want to be. And we’re going to help you go down this process of catching the low-hanging fruit and actually implementing some of these solutions. So if you’re looking to become more efficient, again, some of the easy low-hanging fruit, as we talked about is scheduling is data visualization.
Again, looking at putting even relatively inexpensive TVs from like Best Buy or Walmart on the floor to help visualize some of this information so that the groups know where they are. It is human nature that if you see where you are, as opposed to where you’re supposed to be versus schedule, or you see where you are compared to your friends on the second shift, you want to work faster, produce more just because of that. And so, if we can help visualize that data and give people the opportunity to see where they are, then we’re going to almost certainly and instantaneously get a significantly more or significantly larger amount of output.
Okay, amazing. Love it. Do you have any last-minute closing thoughts, Dave, before we close this?
No, I appreciate every one. I appreciate Sam for coming on. Everyone is coming out here to take a listen. I have put together a little bit of information on the website. Dave-Griffith.com, the digital transformation quickstart guide in which I talked about five simple steps in order to go through to get you guys started on your digital transformation, or in this case, industry 4.0 initiative.
Okay, amazing. Thank you so much for your time, Dave. I love the story. I love the insight.
Perfect. Thank you, Sam.
I cannot thank our guests enough for coming on the show for sharing their knowledge and journey. I always pick up learnings from our guests, and hopefully, you learned something new today. If you want to learn more about Dave, please visit dave-griffith.com. Links and more information will also be available in the show notes.
If anything in this podcast resonated with you and your business. You might want to check other related episodes, including the interview with Jason Chester from InfinityQS, where we discuss the challenges today’s manufacturers face with changing consumer behavior. Also, the interview with Curt Anderson from B2BTail touches on what customer manufacturers need to know about starting their e-commerce journey.
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