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The Year of Living Digitally

By SME Media Staff
Kimberley Hagerty talks with another attendee of the smart manufacturing seminar SME held Nov. 9 in Chicago. Photo by Daniel Tomei, Tomei Films

HUNTSVILLE, ALA — When Kimberley Hagerty became lean transformation manager at Pratt & Whitney’s Hot Section Module Center, she quickly realized that the company, while flush with the most advanced technology needed to make “the world’s most advanced jet propulsion system in the world,” lacked the “most advanced processes and systems that supported the manufacturing of that technology,” she told people attending The Digital Transformation, a smart manufacturing seminar SME held here recently.

She brings to her current position experience providing the US Air Force “global visibility,” as its chief of strategic planning and analysis. To give Pratt the same, Hagerty about a year ago attended her first SME conference to begin “to learn about the digital twin and big data and smart manufacturing and industry 4.0,” she said at the seminar. “I took that back and I started applying a lot of those tools that I learned … at this conference.”

By June, Hagerty had mapped out her requirements and was reaching out to service providers and scheduling benchmarking visits to firms using products and services that might well work for Pratt & Whitney, she said in an interview at the time with Smart Manufacturing magazine.

The only tech move she had made at that point for her division at Pratt & Whitney was to enroll in the Forcam Academy, for shop-floor management.

Hagerty commonly uses over 1000 machines in four different states to build one customer order for turbine blades and vanes, she said.

From a virtual factory standpoint, that meant she faced “very significant challenges” for her ability to get enterprise visibility to the data which she needs access to, in real time and in several different states, she added.

Importantly, East Hartford, CT-based P&W is ramping up monthly production of engines for military and commercial aerospace engines. This year, the company will be delivering nearly double the number of engines a month as it did in 2010. And in 2024, that number is expected to climb as much again, she said.

That’s wouldn’t be possible with what she inherited about a year ago: “20-year-old technology and 20-year-old manufacturing processes” that adds significant complexity to the digital manufacturing transformation of the factory, Hagerty said at an industry conference in Chicago.

Over the last year, Hagerty worked to help Pratt, a unit of United Technologies Corp., clearly define its digital transformation objectives and goals. In the process, she gave more than 20 presentations on the benefits of digital manufacturing and business transformation.

In the three months starting March of last year, Pratt & Whitney Operations “realigned ourselves to a complete value stream approach” that recognizes logistics, engineering, operations, supply chain, production, delivery, and quality must be integrated, she said in June.

Defining strategy

Hagerty helped define the strategy to consolidate all four key tenants of planning (Strategic, Enterprise, Operational, Execution) planning including connecting the supply base with engineering, manufacturing, quality and even aftermarket. “Only by connecting all of them can you really have an effective plan on what it is you’re going to produce, and optimize it based on customer demand,” she said.

It is of course important to monitor the resulting “optimized plan to production,” she added.

“You want to be able to see, ‘Am I producing to plan? Are there indicators that I’m not going to meet my delivery time or my customer demand or my customer schedule?’ I don’t want to find out after I’m late that I’m late.”

After defining enterprise value stream requirements and creating an optimized production plan, it’s time to release that optimized plan to the production floor. And what do you do when a snag comes along in production, she asked. “That’s when everybody goes crazy, right?”

That is unnecessary, she quickly added. “I want to know that my machine is going to break down before it breaks down. I want to know that my machine is going to make a bad part before it makes a bad part.”

Predictive analytics is necessary. “Do I need to get my offshore supplier to increase raw material coming into me, so it doesn’t impact my customer deliveries? Getting that information ahead of time allows you to better manage your business and make smarter enterprise decisions.”

‘One voice’

To get to “one voice of the truth,” a manufacturer’s entire supply chain needs to be connected, she said. “You need to see what’s happening in real time. Everybody needs to see real time, and everybody needs to read from the same sheet of music.”

Siloed departments, whether engineering, manufacturing, operations, planning or logistics, are “on their own and independent track,” she added. “They have a different voice. They have a different view of the truth.”

Hagerty applied the “mission failure is not an option” attitude to which she adhered to in her military career and developed strategies that closed the gaps Pratt had in getting global visibility into its supply chain and connecting it all into an enterprise view. “I needed to link planning and scheduling. And I needed to have real-time interactive tools that allowed me to optimize. So I can release an optimized production schedule to the production floor.”

She asked people attending the seminar in Huntsville how many of them manage their production floor with spreadsheets—to make the point that spreadsheets are not an effective production management tool. “How many of you have multiple production managers running around the production floor with spreadsheets, trying to figure out priorities? I bet you every one of those spreadsheets is different. I bet you every one of their priorities is different”.

“Those of you who are manufacturing and you’re managing your business with Excel, congratulations: You’re operating with 1980’s technology.”

Hagerty knows her “value stream”—it employs about 2,000 people and encompasses multiple business units in multiple different states. She needs “real-time interactive tools—not spreadsheets” to manage them.

Real-time data needed

“One miss on one machine in one state upsets the entire value stream,” she said. “So I need real-time, what-if scenarios for what happens if something doesn’t arrive or something doesn’t move within my value stream, regardless of the state the machine is in. My entire value stream needs to adjust in real-time.”

The big challenge, now that the firm has been realigned operationally to a value stream, is how to get visibility into that value stream.

The “college kids” about to enter the workforce will help with digitalization, she said, because they “expect real-time information since that’s all they know.” Companies that hand these people a stack of paperwork and say, “Go figure it out” will not be able to retain them. “They don’t want to work with spreadsheets, they want to work with state of the art technology.”

Having a digital factory is also important, she emphasized:

“I want to be able to see if my process is set up properly from an enterprise value stream standpoint. I not only want to model the design of my part; I want to model my manufacturing process. I want to model my material flow. Because if I can model all of those, I can test the produceability of my design before I release it to production. And then I want to see if my process and material is flowing … optimally.”

Predictive analytics will reveal when a process or part or machine is about to go south.

The next thing to worry about? Value stream pull replenishment.

“If you don’t have a connected enterprise, there’s no way you can do true lean value stream pull,” Hagerty warned. “You can push but you can’t pull, because you have to connect your value stream in order to pull.”

Hagerty acknowledges that sometimes you will meet resistance. Human capital investments to address culture are necessary as you embark on your digital transformation journey.

“The clock is ticking,” she told the crowd in Huntsville. “The time is now to start your digital transformation.”

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