Rupert Grint, Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe in a Harry Potter promo poster. Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

The Harry Potter Problem: There is Magic, After All!

Forget your wand and book of spells? No problem. You can bring magic (of a sort) to your floor without any supernatural assistance.

By this point in The Harry Potter Problem series, you may have decided you have no time for magic. After all, in the first two articles, I covered the reasons why the magic mindset doesn’t work and listed the many ways data-driven projects can fail.

Alakazam! I’m about to turn the tables on you.

What follows are a few examples of what results when you do follow the B-M-T model — actively seeking the input of Business, Manufacturing and Technology players, in your data-driven / analytics / MES / machine-learning project.Because when you do … those results can be magic.

What’s the Value of 1 Second?

Let’s start with something small: the value of 1 second in a car assembly plant. Let’s say you operate a critical asset like the chassis-welding station, where welding robots bring the top, bottom and sides together.

Say it takes 60 seconds to weld a chassis. That’s one car per minute. And say it takes between 60 and 62 seconds at project start, and the total of seconds lost is 600 per day, or 10 minutes. That works out to about 10 cars per day and about 3500 per year. If you could solve this 1-second question, would that be magic?

We did, and it was. Focus on the small things and magical results can ensue!

6 Grams of Spaghetti

Continuing with small things, what is the value of 6 grams of spaghetti in a 100-gram bag if you give it away gratis each time?

Why are you doing that? Because fines and regulations are incurred if you put less than 100 grams in the bag. So, you put an average of 108g per bag to be sure that you are never below the 100-gram level.

Now let’s say you identify, through analytics, 20% of the parameters that impact 80% of the weight control. And you can deliver bags with 102g on average and save 6 grams per bag. You’ve turned spaghetti into dollars! Magic? Magic.

Defect Magic

A defect is a small thing that has a big impact on customer satisfaction. How do you quantify the impact of each defect in a roll of paper — nonwovens or plastic fill — in terms of customer complaints and callbacks?

If you could use analytics to identify a certain defect early and position it in your trim patterns — reducing shipped defects and cutting customer complaints in half – would that feel good?

Magical Coffee Beans

Finally, let’s talk about magical coffee beans (no beanstalk though).

For an ambitious coffee roaster and distributor, the magic was not in the beans themselves, but in how their Smart Manufacturing solution enabled them to create the perfect blend the first time, every time. In a complex, multi-vendor project, the new Smart Manufacturing solution became the central brain that told all the new equipment how to operate with directions and information for operators and management.

In Summary

Yes, magic can happen through the power of new analytical tools. The only real disappointment is that wands are not part of the solution. Instead, we need to rely on the more down-to-earth B-M-T model to make dollars fall out of the sky and waste magically disappear.

Doesn’t have quite the same swish as ‘Abracadabra!’ … but it sure feels magical when the go-live reels in the promised rewards.

Charles A. Horth is the CEO of Factora, a company of manufacturing consultants who use software to help factories achieve their full potential by raising the visibility of key information on the shop floor so that plant management, employees and company leadership can run more efficient manufacturing systems.

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