7 steps to manufacturers reaping the benefits of standard and glocalised processes
Major efficiencies, economies of scale and cost-savings can be delivered for global manufacturers that introduce standardised processes across multiple markets and locations, but the stumbling block comes when you need to adapt processes for different product lines, regulations or other regional nuances.
The sheer degree of business complexity of operating both globally and locally represents a huge challenge when it comes to successfully managing and standardising manufacturing business processes. Why? Because in reality the demands of localisation and customisation mean there will always be exceptions to the rule, resulting in the need for process variations. The dichotomy that this presents was nicely summed up by sociologist Roland Robertson when defining ‘glocalisation’ as “the simultaneity – the co-presence – of both universalising and particularising tendencies”.
With the growing impact of Industry 4.0 coupled with the adoption of servitisation, robotics and IoT, there is likely to be even greater onus on manufacturers to introduce process variants to universal standards so they can add value for their customers and stay competitive. However, if not properly managed, introducing process variations can lead to increased costs, process inconsistencies and bottlenecks every time a new variation is introduced. This can be particularly frustrating when only slight tweaks to standard processes are necessary to meet the requirements of a specific location, product or customer.
So what steps can be taken to reap the benefits of slicker processes both on a broader and at a specific level. According to Steve Stanton, an analyst with FCB Partners and a pioneer of business model innovation, “ninety percent of the organisations I know have failed at standardisation.” However there are ways of achieving the nirvana of process standardisation with the ability to control process variations as appropriate. Here are seven ways you can make this happen.
1. Standardise core processes
Manufacturers who operate across multiple countries with multiple sites, products and varying customer requirements must first agree on a set of core or standard processes. These should then be assigned to ‘global process owners’ who are responsible for their ultimate governance and control. This master platform will act as a blueprint against which all local variations are then considered.
2. All process variations must be authorised
Local process variants should then only be established from this standard process base. Any changes applied by ‘variant experts’ should be highlighted and be visible against the core processes. There should be no modifications to process variations, unless authorised by the global process owners, enabling them to retain omniscience and control.
3. Track changes
Manufacturers must have the facility to oversee, compare and report on all the process variations that exist, for each standard process, so an organisation can see and track exactly what activities have been added, removed or changed, and how they diverge from the original process.
This enables global process owners to be completely aware of what is happening at a macro-level, yet still empower local teams with the flexibility to act according to regional or customer-specific demands.
4. Intuitive access to new process variants
Once a process variant has been introduced, naturally it must be simple for teams to find and access those process variations applicable to them. Ideally, they should be able to select the process variant they seek electronically from a list, or even better, be routed automatically to the exact variant relevant to them, dependent on a default location, product team or department. This will not only save huge amounts of time in sifting through documentation or manuals but will also help to support process adherence.
5. On-going changes through collaboration
If the global process owners wish to make an alteration to the standard process they should alert local variant owners for their approval to merge this into each of the established variant processes, or for feedback and/or amendment by teams or individuals. By introducing this layer of consultation and dialogue, variation owners have the opportunity to apply their on-the-ground expertise to ensure the particular needs of the process variation are still met.
6. Shared global Intelligence
There should be a global reporting function so that process champions can always view the entire inventory of process variations, and see how these compare against the standard core process.
7. Accounting for costs and time
Process variant costing and timeframe tracking is required to compare the costs and time between variations and the standard process. This is crucial as it allows manufacturers to decide whether it is worth retaining or removing specific process variations. Overall, it also highlights cost savings opportunities and the impact of process changes.
Tracking and measuring the impact of process variations is critical for manufacturers to have a clear understanding of not only the volume and effects of process variations but also their benefits or drawbacks. Armed with this information global process owners together with local teams can if necessary challenge them and improve transparency, compliance and control. In turn employees have the power to be more agile, because they have sufficient ownership to customise (or eliminate) activities as they see fit.
Introducing a more simplified process management and improvement culture that encourages participation at both a global and local level allows manufacturing organisations to achieve all the benefits of scale from standardisation yet simultaneously gives them the freedom to customise processes and remain competitive.
By Ivan Seselj, CEO at Promapp Solutions
Follow @ManufacturingGL and @NellWalkerMG
Ultium Cells LLC/Li-Cycle: Sustainable Battery Manufacturing
Ultium Cells LLC - a joint venture between General Motors and LG Energy Solutions - has announced its latest collaboration with Li-Cycle. Joining forces the two have set ambitions to expand recycling in North America, recycling up to 100% of the scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing
What is Ultium Cells LLC?
Announcing their partnership in December 2019, General Motors (GM) and LG Energy Solutions established Ultium Cells LLC with a mission to “ensure excellence of Battery Cell Manufacturing through implementation of best practices from each company to contribute [to the] expansion of a Zero Emission propulsion on a global scale.”
Who is Li-Cycle?
Founded in 2016, Li-Cycle leverages innovative solutions to address emerging and urgent challenges around the world.
As the use of Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries in automotive, industrial energy storage, and consumer electronic applications rises, Li-Cycle believes that “the world needs improved technology and supply chain innovations to better recycle these batteries, while also meeting the rapidly growing demand for critical and scarce battery-grade materials.”
Why are Ultium Cells LLC and Li-Cycle join forces?
By joining forces to expand the recycling of scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing in North America, the new recycling process will allow Ultium Cells LLC to recycle cobalt, nickel, lithium, graphite, copper, manganese and aluminum.
“95% of these materials can be used in the production of new batteries or for adjacent industries,” says GM, who explains that the new hydrometallurgical process emits 30% less greenhouse gases (GHGs) than traditional processes, minimising the environmental impact. Use of this process will begin later in the year (2021).
"Our combined efforts with Ultium Cells will be instrumental in redirecting battery manufacturing scrap from landfills and returning a substantial amount of valuable battery-grade materials back into the battery supply chain. This partnership is a critical step forward in advancing our proven lithium-ion resource recovery technology as a more sustainable alternative to mining, " said Ajay Kochhar, President, CEO and co-founder of Li-Cycle.
"GM's zero-waste initiative aims to divert more than 90% of its manufacturing waste from landfills and incineration globally by 2025. Now, we're going to work closely with Ultium Cells and Li-Cycle to help the industry get even better use out of the materials,” added Ken Morris, Vice President of Electric and Autonomous Vehicles, GM.
Since 2013, GM has recycled or reused 100% of the battery packs it has received from customers, with most current GM EVs repaired with refurbished packs.
"We strive to make more with less waste and energy expended. This is a crucial step in improving the sustainability of our components and manufacturing processes,” concluded Thomas Gallagher, Chief Operating Officer, Ultium Cells LLC.