Our latest White Paper, on the role of technology in supply chain operations, explores how technology and automation can improve business resilience, efficiency and safety in a relatively short space of time with minimal capital outlay. But how do you confidently assess the potential benefit of adopting technology to improve a business process?
You may recall that we’ve previously highlighted the importance of process mapping when preparing for change and, as you might expect, this also applies to assessing the potential for automation. A Lean Management tool ideally suited to capture the current state process in these circumstances is Flow Process Analysis. This method is used to analyse the current process and identify quantifiable opportunities for improvement.
Flow Process Analysis
Flow process analysis is employed to record, classify, and measure the current process through observation and time study.
The analysis is documented in an easily understandable, visual chart which exposes unseen activity and time elements within the total process.
Capturing this detailed process data enables identification of value-add and non-value add activity and, in doing so, highlights opportunities for process redesign in quantifiable terms.
The aims of any process redesign are to:
- Eliminate non-value add activity
- Reduce essential non-value add activity
- Simplify value-add activity
In the case of adopting technologies we may also be looking to:
- Automate (fully or partially) value-add or essential non-value add activity
- Incorporate essential non-value add activity within the value-add process time
As with any change process, the redesign is typically proposed in a minimum of two stages. The first to apply ‘quick wins’ which can be implemented with minimal investment or effort. And the ultimate redesign, the full improvement potential including appropriate technology or automation.
Alongside the process redesign it is essential to also consider and document any dependencies, such as layout changes or interfaces with warehouse management systems.
Future State Synthetics
To assess the quantifiable benefit of process redesign and automation, a future state flow process is drafted (in the same format as the current state analysis) combining the learning from the flow process analysis with synthetic data – either industry standard or specific to a preferred technology.
By taking this approach you can avoid over-reliance on assumption and be confident that the process redesign is feasible with quantifiable improvement potential.
The Davies & Robson team can also incorporate the future state process into our ‘Day in the Life of’ Model to further simulate the overall affect of the proposed change on the whole operation.