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Worker buy-in is key to successful digital transformation

At Schneider Electric we strive to continually innovate when it comes to our own digital transformation, smart factories, and integrated supply chains. A key part of our success is in bringing our workers along for the ride, creating a shop-floor-to-top-floor collaboration environment, and generating real results to boot!

The ‘Global Supply Chain’ or ‘GSC’ organization of Schneider Electric is our manufacturing arm. Over the course of 18 months we’ve accelerated the digital transformation of operations across 200 manufacturing and distribution facilities to better serve our global customers. This comprehensive effort to optimize performance not only integrates sensors, IT and OT data sources with an open, scalable IIoT platform, but also empowers and engages workers to achieve next-level production capabilities.

Lean Meeting SIM: A digital transformation success story

Of all the initiatives launched across Schneider Electric’s GSC operations, there was one that especially empowered plant workers. It was the deployment of EcoStruxure Plant Advisor- Lean Meeting– a digital solution that collects all relevant data for the key performance indicators (KPIs) used in Lean Manufacturing Short Interval Management (SIM). This solution is based on EcoStruxure Plant Advisor, an open, cyber-secure, scalable IIoT platform. It works with EcoStruxure Plant Data Expert at the edge control level to collect data from any existing system − and EcoStruxure Plant Advisor – Core Foundation, to aggregate data for later use by analytics software apps.

We wanted to address multiple business challenges with our Schneider Electric GSC digital transformation initiatives and this fact helped drive the decision to implement EcoStruxure Plant Advisor- Lean Meeting. These factors played a key role in the selection process:

  1. Worker acceptance – Management required a robust, user-friendly, shop-floor-to-top-floor collaboration environment to accommodate thousands of users at 200 plants globally.
  2. Streamlined issue escalation and resolution – As teams were using SIM approaches to boost productivity and enhance SIM cycles digitally, the next logical step was to increase efficiency. The goal was to speed up generation of ideas and streamline issue escalation and resolution.
  3. Open system implementation – The ability to integrate all legacy and existing IT and OT data sources to into a single, more open architecture was a technical prerequisite in facilitating collaboration among teams.
  4. KPI integration – It was essential to simplify and automate assessment of efficiency, safety, and sustainability indicators to align ideas and corrective actions more directly to pre-defined KPIs.

Higher worker engagement leads the way to higher performance

As the EcoStruxure Plant Advisor – Lean Meeting solution began rolling out, plant floor workers realized they could now suggest ways to improve production systems far more rapidly. Operators could now raise issues with supervisors, who must commit to take action by a specific date. If a problem is not effectively addressed at the supervisory level, the connected worker platform will automatically escalate it to the next level in the plant organization.

The EcoStruxure Plant Advisor – Lean Meeting software pre-packages and prepares data in the individual way each plant team can best understand and use it. When it’s apparent that progress against a particular KPI will miss targets, workers can create suggested actions or ideas to improve progress or remove any bottlenecks to achieve better performance.

Tens of thousands of front-line workers are now using the tool worldwide. It has empowered them to engage in fact based continuous improvement activities. It has also eliminated many non-value-added tasks so staff can focus more on their core activities.

Tangible benefits include 4-5% average increases in productivity

Implementing the EcoStruxure Plant Advisor- Lean Meeting software has resulted in multiple productivity benefits for Schneider Electric GSC. Over 70,000 workers and managers across our global factory sites now use the tool, resulting in a 4-5% average increase in overall site performance. In addition, data collection activities have been reduced by 25%, while time dedicated to shift handover activities has been reduced by 33%.

Today, installation and configuration of the required software in new plants takes an average of only 4 hours. Maintenance and support interventions have also decreased by 10%. Digitizing SIM workflow has enabled rapid execution of new ideas, and changes and adjustments to work processes now spread quickly from the shop floor to the top floor.

For more information

Schneider Electric’s GSC smart factory success has resulted as much from the infusion of digital technologies as from plant workers increasing their digital competencies. Digital transformation is not only about technology adoption. It involves factory workers from the beginning of the digital journey to instill culture change, upskill people, and rescale processes. By demonstrating that ‘’digital makes your life easier,” leadership has achieved total buy-in at all levels and enabled great improvements in production output.

To learn more about how we successfully leveraged digital transformation across Schneider Electric’s global plants, watch the full  EcoStruxure Plant Advisor – Lean Meeting  video story

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