Few people have influenced manufacturing as much as W. Edwards Deming and his approach to the manufacturing process. W. Edwards Deming brought manufacturing to a new level of excellence by showing that quality was the result of not only manufacturing but the total cost of the goods. This made it so the production line was not only measured by the time to make the goods, but by the ecosystem that included the suppliers and distributors that impacted the process.
Suppliers are held to just in time delivery as a result of his analysis as to simple rule that focus on quality and you get quality, focus on costs that you get more costs.
The expansion of Demings’ strategies come from the ability to provide just in time services to the manufacturing floor through the Internet of Things technologies. For example, ABB provides parts and tools to repair their manufacturing machines with IoT inventory systems, enabling techs and customers to have supplies on hand that get replenished as needed.
Similarly, distribution systems and fleet management track quality control and inventory management beyond the warehouse and directly to the customer.
GE’s analysis that 1% gains in manufacturing quality equate to billions in savings is hard to dispute when considering the size and scope of the systems typically associated with Fortune 500 companies. However, these gains are being seen in the disintermediation of simpler systems from smaller companies as well. For example, New England Biolabs, winner of the M2M Business Impact Award in 2014, delivers supplies with a system that reports back on use and frequency and optimizes the fulfillment in real time.
Much work still needs to be done as the efforts to deliver quality are driving new analytics today. Deming himself would probably be impressed, and also amused, as much of the work on analytics provides a layer of transparency where the manufacturers, suppliers manufacturing, is being revealed in the analytics tools being discussed. So while his vision is little changed, the ability to deliver quality has a great opportunity to be improved.
As for the ROI, Deming said quality is free, so the focus on the Industrial Internet cost savings would be a concern for him. In the end though, if quality improves the ROI will be apparent.
About the Author As a partner at Crossfire Media, Carl is developing programs that bring to light an understanding of the issues required for delivering broadband wireless Internet services with existing technologies and facilitated by a variety of smart end user devices. As a board member of the VON Coalition, Carl runs weekly phone calls to communicate the latest regulatory issues affecting the entire industry.