Is your organization paralyzed? Have you lost connection with vital senses? Are you being surprised at the end of month by higher costs and lower margins? Perhaps your operation’s neural network is missing or not populated with the appropriate information.
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How Does a Neural Network Operate?
A neural network is based on deep, experiential learning, capturing information, and feeding it forward into a basic computing system deployed to accelerate dynamic responses to external inputs.
Each time we encounter a problem and solve it, we learn from it. If we experience a similar problem in the future, a solution will occur to us sooner as a result of our past experiences. Consider a small child who touches a hot stove for the first time. It hurts, and the child’s senses now send a strong message not to touch the hot stove. Our senses help us build our own neural network, and as we get older, our instincts get better.
Here is another example. A common problem that we frequently have to solve is driving to a new destination. We get instructions, either from an old-fashioned roadmap or atlas, a friend or colleague, or our smartphone. We search for and recognize the many visual indicators along the way and execute the drive. The first time we make the journey, we’re likely to miss one or more of the visual signals, but our brains store that information for future reference. So, when we make a return trip to this destination, we may still use a map or GPS device, but our awareness of certain visual references will be heightened based on our previous experience. We may still make a wrong turn, but it is likely we will recover more quickly and arrive at our destination sooner than the first time. If we make the journey a third time, we will almost assuredly get there even faster. This how a neural network operates.
The Cornerstone Way
While a physiological neural network exists in our brains, this concept is also useful as applied to a manufacturing operation. This describes our innovative operational excellence system known as “The Cornerstone Way.” Our system is designed to function as the central nervous system of your business (see figure 1 below). Data is generated and information is stored at a rapid cadence throughout the day. Capturing and collating the resulting knowledge is fundamental to the success of the enterprise. This enables the deep learning of a neural network.
The Cornerstone Way focuses on the overall communication of and accountability for plant performance. Key performance indicators (KPI) are vital sources of information and represent the intelligence-gathering mechanism necessary to feed the neural network and drive rapid response and improvements. Remembering our example of driving to a new destination, however, we need to ensure we are trying to reach the proper destination and that there are sufficient indicators along the route to ensure we arrive successfully. The same is true for KPIs in a manufacturing operation. First, we must identify the most critical performance measures that align to and support the company’s mission. From there, in-process indicators must be identified, modeled, and tracked to maintain stability, consistency, and predictability of outcomes. The knowledge gleaned from these indicators are critical inputs to an operation’s neural network.
Are you refining your organizational instincts by monitoring the proper performance measures? Are your data and information management systems providing the feedback necessary to improve your performance? Or does organizational paralysis and fatigue still exist, preventing optimal results?