You may already know legendary management thinker and author Eliyahu M. Goldratt for his Theory of Constraints, or factory bottleneck.
“What you have learned is that the capacity of the plant is equal to the capacity of its bottlenecks,” says Jonah.”– Eliyahu M. Goldratt, The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement
In a digital factory, information flows, like physical flows, can experience bottlenecks, and this is not much different:
- A lightning-fast machine with great CAM programming software is just as valuable as the speed of order entry.
- A modern ERP system is as valuable as being able to handle quotes and prepare CAD files.
- A supply chain integration solution is as valuable as getting this data from receipt to production.
The weakest link in the process determines the maximum output, which is constantly shifting in today’s rapidly changing world – this is normal.
Therefore, it is essential to continuously improve and work modularly, using the best solutions that can quickly solve a bottleneck.
When I work with clients, the first thing I look for is the weakest link; what should the chain do and for whom? Then I look for components that fit in there modularly. This wisdom is not limited to industry, see:
“In an era of rapid change, modular design is an important tool for coping with complexity and providing a flexible foundation for continuous innovation.”– Dieter Rams, German industrial designer
“Modular design is the key to adaptability and growth in an ever-changing world; it allows us to evolve without limitations.”– Yves Béhar, Swiss industrial designer
“Good design is intelligent design; it recognizes and embraces the changing needs of the user and adapts effortlessly.”– Jonathan Ive, British industrial designer, former Chief Design Officer at Apple
The point is:
If you want to solve bottlenecks, not just in production, it’s best to start with a modular structure, because the best-of-breed approach is often the best option.
Not a monolithic all-in-one ERP package with piles of customization, but a cleverly built digital factory stack, based on APIs and modern open standards.