Smart Operations: The Perfect Partner for Lean & lean Six Sigma

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Examples of organizations using big data collection and analysis, the Internet of Things, investment in technology and pervasive partner collaboration to maximize value streams for the future of manufacturing and other industries

Smart Operations

The 2016 IDC Research and UPS study returned a data set result showing that roughly 62% of manufacturers surveyed have optimized Lean and Lean Six Sigma (LSS) throughout their organizations and an additional 26% use Lean/LSS organization-wide with varying degrees of success. Both practices have improved the companies’ ability to compete and overall productivity. UPS considers Smart Operations to be the add-on that will further increase faster delivery to customers without increasing staff.

Mega industries like oil and gas and branches of military also consider Smart Operations to be the next key to continuous improvement.

  • The U.S. Air Force calls Smart Operations “a deliberate recipe for solving today’s challenges or enhancing current operations.”
  • In the high-end, big-project construction industry, internet technologies are being developed and used–often focusing on apps for smart phones–to improve quality by delivering site-specific, real-time operational information and, in turn, monitoring work underway, allowing for accuracy and agility in project management and quick, effective adjustments to build parameters.
  • At the UAE Maritime Leaders Seminar in Dubai, one speaker pointed out that improved connectivity and communications, on par with the airline industry, are the key components of Smart Operations in commercial shipping that will “remove the drudgery from the bridge and engine room, passing this to the shore and allowing the human to focus on the key critical issues.”
  • Coca-Cola Enterprises’ manufacturing sustainability plan integrates the Internet of Things to improve efficiency across its entire supply chain, and to partner with its vendors and customers worldwide. “Technology and analytics will facilitate greater real-time visibility, with innovations such as pervasive sensors giving rise to smart operations from ‘farm to fork’ supporting the balance between supply and demand.”
  •’s entire retail strategy is based on using the Internet of Things to connect buyers and sellers while protecting both from problems with payment and shipping. It has elegantly linked its customer and retailer network with its supply chain, all in the cloud.

Circling back now to the three core elements of Smart Operations– the Internet of Things, investment in technology and pervasive partner collaboration–clearly there are applications of Smart Operations that augment the OpEx practices of these giant industries to greatly improve the way they do business. However, just because the industries cited above have pretty deep pockets, that doesn’t mean Smart Operations are available only to them. Regardless of the size of an organization, there are elements of Smart Operations, and ways to implement them, that align with its goals and capabilities, and phasing them in is the best methodology regardless of budget and other capability limitations. As UPS says: “Reaching operational excellence requires a sustained and deliberate effort over several years. However, a manufacturing company can take action now to get started.”

If you’re ready to get started, please contact Ron Crabtree at MetaOps, Inc. He can readily connect you with tools and people to take the pain out of the process and scale an implementation that is doable and affordable. Call Ron direct at248-568-6484 or email him at [email protected]


Additional Reading

High Performing Teams = Driving Success in Lean

Rocking Your Lean Six Sigma Start-Up


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