Mastering the industrialisation of an innovative production process: a structured collaborative approach to ensure quality and flexibility
Industrial companies continuously invest in research and development to maintain their technological edge in a highly competitive global market. Historically focused on cost reduction and technological innovation, these investment efforts now include other dimensions such as sustainable development. In addition, the desire to expedite the placing of new products or processes on the market encourages firms to parallelize or even merge some development and industrialization stages.
If referred savings in time and cost are perceptible, management of such projects may be difficult in practice or even encounter obstacles. New technologies introduction, obstacles inherent in any industrialisation process, many technical, organisational or environmental challenges are all specific to these “fast cycle” innovative projects.
A structured approach to anticipate hard points of the industrialisation process
An innovative project generally follows a cycle close to Gartner’s Hype. This behaviour is similar to many projects where industrialisation was a problem: after a period of craze appears a stage ofdisillusionment related to first malfunctions.
Nesting and complexity of steps that make up an industrial process often prevent from clearly identifying the source of these problems. In this context, a structured approach from the beginning of development is useful.
The preliminary risk analysis: a mandatory step not to be overlooked
The success of innovative projects is often a result of a good risk management. Thanks to the experience gained from previous projects and a balanced control between technical maturity and expected level of innovation, risk management can improve the industrialisation process robustness.
In quasi-systematic use today, risk analysis is really relevant as long as you have the skills and risk knowledge at the right time. The resources mobilized for risk analysis should therefore be consistent with innovation levels.
Mapping process to identify major differences between successive changes
One difficulty in the development V-cycle lies in the fact that it makes it difficult to challenge an already validated earlier stage. However, on an innovative project, technical choices or changes are decided while their impacts on industrial process are only partially known, particularly because of the interfaces. Edge effects can then be disastrous in terms of quality, process reliability, etc.
One solution is to map all parameters affected by a change. Many tools exist: Ishikawa trees, fault trees…
In these situations, the project team may also express a feeling of demotivation and failure. It may then be useful to mobilize an expert task force to work on project. Involvement of recognized competent profiles overcomes communication difficulties between departments, between competence centers or subcontractors.
Experimental design to better control the process and know its sensitivity to identified parameters
Previous steps have identified a list of critical elements. Based on experimental design, it is possible to know the impact on production process. For this, it is imperative to qualify the used performance function to explain and quantify the different parameters impact.
This approach significantly increases the state of knowledge and can calmly continue industrialisation having identified, qualified and quantified sensitive system components. This gives a measure of the process maturity: results give an indication of the level of knowledge and confidence in the production process.
Maturity in the heart of the industrialisation process
To overcome industrialisation difficulties and a fortiori in an innovative projects case, “system” and “subsystem” maturity levels shall be managed separately. The “System” maturity represents the level of knowledge as a whole and the “subsystem” maturity represents the level of knowledge of its components. To reach a new maturity level, we begin by validating “sub-assemblies” and then integrate them into the system and validate the whole.
Clearly define the interfaces to better communicate and manage skills
Industrialisation is a focal point in the product life cycle because it is collaboration of many stakeholders: initial project team, industry partners, integrators…
To ensure quality and overall flexibility in industrialisation, it is necessary to identify at the outset communication interfaces and information sharing levels between stakeholders. In innovative projects, it is often difficult to decide on level of sharing as knowledge on the topic is weak.
In many cases, communication level changes with the balance of power and knowledge between stakeholders, which is particularly the case for global corporations. We shall therefore anticipate problems in establishing sharing rules that do not block the project for reasons related to industrial or commercial property.
Complexity, inherent in innovative industrialisation process, shall be managed throughout the project cycle. This approach is vital if the project deviates from nominal scenario and if situation requires an assessment of the project technical knowledge level.
Capitalization, anticipating obstacles and deployed countermeasures are at the heart of the management of innovative projects industrialisation phases. In order to rule on the potential industrialisation difficulties, many companies today include innovation degree in their preliminary risk analysis. Tomorrow, it will be necessary to maintain adequate “system” and “subsystem” maturity levels to ensure the overall project viability for each of their elements.
Pagamon, consulting firm in Strategy & Organization founded in March 2013, assists industry players to structure their strategic vision, improve the operational performance of their business and sustain change in organizations.
We help clients within the automotive industry, agri-food, life sciences and several other industries . Our areas of expertise are:
- Strategy & Organization
- Marketing & Customer Experience
- Innovation & Development
- Digital transformation & Big Data