As a leading supplier to the automotive manufacturing market, Virginia-based Somic America manufactures suspension steering components for major auto manufacturers such as Toyota, GM, Honda, and Subaru. Like many other manufacturers, Somic America wanted to find a more accessible way to utilize and pull the data existing in their ERP system. For them, manual entries were already taken out of the equation with data being directly fed from electronic customer orders and inventory scanned right on the production floor. However, the need to more efficiently assess changes in orders and inventory remained a critical component of their overall productivity; ultimately leading them to the world of dashboards.
Making every piece of manufacturing measurable
Since their implementation of iDashboards, one of the more significant projects that Somic America has proven they are a team that leads with data involves the creation of a full plant layout map dashboard. Specifically, 3 main metric focus areas have made measurable impacts:
Availability and Productivity:
For the first time, Somic America was able to separate these two metrics visually for the sake of measuring performance efficiency, allowing specific team members to see what mattered to them. For example, their engineering group was now able to ask the question, “How often are we having machine failures?” that would mitigate downtime events through their ability to now organize rebuild efforts, preventative maintenance efforts, and improve work ahead of major failures.
With the high quantity of scrap data, the team sought out to track quality rating on lines as a % of good and bad parts for further analysis. Using the plant map dashboard, they were able to get a high level view of the lines producing scrap as well as look down into the machine level to gauge the accumulation of scrap in certain areas of the plant. By taking this viewpoint a step outside just the specific part level, it became possible to handle 3 part numbers as opposed to 1, which meant 3x the return towards fixing processes that caused the scrap.
By creating a focus area on their dashboard for maintenance, the team at Somic America found they no longer had to look back into their other systems or paperwork to assess what was happening with equipment repairs in real time and for the last 24 hours. Prior to, they would have to spend time each morning doing what they call “Gemba Walks” to gather information across all their resources to assess the condition of different plant areas. Now they can respond quicker to reoccurring problems, kickstart technical support to a line in need of repair, and ultimately prevent further downtime within equipment.
“The end goal is that if a question gets asked that nobody is 100% sure on the answer for, we can say there is a dashboard for that. Our meetings have become data driven and utilize information from our dashboards. Instead of doing time-consuming manual analysis, we have all of this information at our fingertips. What we say matches what we can see within our data – and the way we see it is through iDashboards.”
Business Analyst, Somic America
Automating reports, tracking metrics, and drilling down
For the Virgina-based manufacturer, their dashboards are driven by all the initiatives that define both 12-month timelines as well as ad hoc analyses. Whether they are planning the year ahead or conducting a “5 Why” report, they look at their action items through the lens of their data and ask how they can leverage dashboards to better automate reports, track metrics, and drill down into the right data for preventative measures.
Dashboards have also opened up unexpected initiatives for the team since implementing. For example, without original intent in doing so, they came forward with the idea to create a dashboard that measured their inventory in both their plant and off-site location. By setting thresholds and target inventories for in-plant, they used a picklist to show the items that needed to be brought from the offsite warehouse; making the management of an offsite warehouse much more efficient for all involved.
“We have used iDashboards to help curb inventory problems, track orders, understand where we have gaps, as well as try to show people a predictive way of thinking and seeing our business rather than always being on the reactive side.”
Transforming how to proactively use data for years to come
As they progress through their current data capabilities using dashboards, Somic America has also evaluated emerging needs throughout the next year – leveraging iDashboards to understand lifecycles. They’ll be looking at not only past information about their products (cost, material, production, etc.), but also be utilizing parameters to proactively assess changes (e.g. new supplier and the result on profit margin, new equipment and capacity handling, etc.). Doing so they will be able to assess future investments and work towards making decisions now that go into effect years from now.
For the entire team, data points are no longer looked at with a single “focused in” view, but rather as part of a whole for uncovering solutions; and trends are now visualized so individuals can go in and identify abnormalities more quickly. Manual work and data dumping has become a part of the past as Somic America looks towards an insightful and intuitive future through their data visualizations.