If you had the pleasure of going home for the holidays over Thanksgiving and planned to get on an airplane with or without the impending weather stories, you know the importance of connected data. The Sunday after Thanksgiving more than 4,200 flights were delayed and 109 were cancelled on what is usually the busiest travel day of the year. With a little less than 200 people on an average continental flight, this affected almost 1 in every 5 people flying.

Translate this into your shop and that’s the equivalent of 20% of your jobs being delayed. I don’t have to tell you that, in today’s global economy, if you’re operating at that level, you are at the risk of being overtaken by another business or a robot doing your work. It’s just not sustainable.

The thing is, the airlines had all the tools they needed to perform at a high level, although that may not align with the passengers’ experience. Without connected systems, the performance would have been much, much worse. Here’s why.

connected DATA

We noted last time that data is just a collection of facts; information connects those facts and places relevance on them. The airlines have connected timetables that allow you to enter your departure and arrival airports for the best routes, airlines, and timetables. They present you with the fastest (least in-between time often) and cheapest (least full flights) within moments of asking for the information. They offer direct and multi-stop options to allow you to make the trades you want or are willing to for the associated price.

Without this tool, I’m at a loss as to how I’m flying from Cincinnati to Madison, Wisconsin (on my mind as that team just nabbed our home-town football coach). I know I need to take at least 2 flights to get there. I know I don’t want to take 3 and I also know that Milwaukee is the closest big city. I can start to build a plan just like you may be laying out a production schedule with the jobs or work you know you need to do and an Excel sheet.

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building your schedule

What I don’t know is that there are no direct flights for me to Milwaukee – I would need to make Chicago my hub of choice. I would spend hours making and re-making my trip plans to account for flight availability and cost trade-offs where the software does it all for me at the push of a button. On your shop floor, Tier 1 hub airports are your “consolidated work centers” – a prep area, labeling, shipping, painting, ovens, curing, coating, assembly. Everything goes through these work centers, just like I’m going through some other airport to get almost anywhere I want to go.

You build the schedule at the beginning of the day or week to account for the work you have currently. You factor in preventative maintenance (you do that, right?) and worker availability based on your expected work schedule.

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Every get stranded at one of those hub airports? It’s difficult to get out if you’re not on your original flight. Planes are full. Options are limited, and you’re bound to be late. At your consolidated work centers, work that stops is also in quite a bit of trouble. Orders will get lost, be late and likely more expensive than you had planned. If the work is late enough, you may even have an issue with customers cancelling the work mid-stream.

holes in the schedule

You may build holes in your schedule to accommodate these pop-up issues. Or, perhaps, you just rework it. That’s a full-time job. Nothing can help without the information to make critical and ever-changing decisions. You need the schedule to do the work of the airlines’ hub center for you – determining the most cost-effective way for your work to get through the process and you need it to track it for you through every step like air traffic control. Holes in the schedule are productivity loss leaders for you. They’re not truly helpful – they’re a band-aid on a different problem.

If I asked you to find the 5th job on your shop schedule right now and find where it is in process, what is going right / wrong with it and how it’s doing on performance according to expectation, how many of the data points could you give me? If the answer was less than all, you might want to explore how a system can help you connect. With your shop. With your orders. With the work you’re doing and what you’re expected to do. Once you have a connection point to that, you can really start to fly.


Interested in further engaging your team with your production and what that means in relation to efficiency and capacity? Ask us at info@cimx.com. Or better yet, schedule a demo or move even faster towards Complete Production Control with a Process Gap Analysis of your shop. You decide, and we look forward to meeting you.

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