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Chicken, or the Egg?

Manufacturing Excellence Starts With Reliable Equipment

Becoming a leading competitor in the manufacturing world requires the ability to produce without fail. Manufacturing excellence can be difficult to achieve as companies often focus in the wrong areas.

A company could have the most brilliant minds working together, but if the equipment does not perform reliably the customer is left unsatisfied, time is wasted, and the benefits of the other manufacturing aspects such as process changes or system updates are unseen. No matter how much effort is put into updating technology, a satisfactory product will not be produced if the equipment fails during the program cycle. The software system could be revolutionary, but with unreliable equipment, its true value will not be realized and the company will not be able to consistently perform against its competitors. 

5 Foundational Elements of Manufacturing Excellence

  1. People– a team built with people who are motivated, educated and accountable for results.
  2. Processes – incorporating processes that are well defined, updated continuously and well understood by the workforce.
  3. Systems– systems that support the business processes and are designed to meet business objectives.
  4. Technology– state-of-the-art technology that supports the business processes and systems, preventing and solving problems in a timely manner.
  5. Equipment– reliable equipment that successfully incorporates all foundational elements of manufacturing excellence.

If the equipment is not as advanced as the program, each element quickly begins to work against each other. Having the newest equipment and aligning it perfectly with the program is obviously the ideal goal, but can only be achieved if you know where to focus first.

For example, the “people” element plays a vital role in developing a sound strategy, but is not the main aspect to focus on to achieve manufacturing excellence. The team does however does play an important role in ensuring that the proper equipment is being used. They must analyze the current state of the program and define the requirements for competing in the current marketplace.

 What Comes First

Before you start production, you must first evaluate the equipment. The ideal equipment will allow a company to start production on demand, complete its run in a timely manner without error and produce a quality product in a safe way.

Not only will the appropriate equipment ensure reliability, it will also reduce operation costs and shut-down time. The right equipment will allow for environmentally friendly and energy efficient production as well. Being environmentally conscious when making an equipment decision demonstrates compliance with modern regulations. More updated equipment results in better safety guidelines and offers the chance to re-evaluate operational procedures as a whole. With new equipment, the opportunity to implement new technology or software is presented with a lower risk for financial loss.

It is not “one and done” – maintenance is a must

  • Having proper maintenance management techniques in place will ensure the equipment is running smoothly and is updated correctly with any new technology. If the equipment is older, chances of failure tend to be higher due to the lack of compatibility seen between old equipment and new technology.
  • Companies are demanding quicker results with better quality and more quantity. Older equipment was not designed to operate at the pace required to remain a leading competitor in today’s market.
  • The likelihood of failure is higher as a result of the need for the equipment to operate above its designed capabilities in order to keep up with the demand of the growing market. Increased failure means more maintenance, loss of production and time wasted.
  • Equipment designed specifically to function with the newer technology decreases the opportunity for failure, reducing manufacturing cost and production down-time.

New strategies for new equipment

  • Strategies for equipment need to shift away from a typical fixed-interval approach and implement a predictive or more condition-based approach to successfully step forward with the market.
  • Being able to predict when maintenance may be required will allow a company to plan for potential equipment failure and help determine the equipment’s longevity. Knowing when the equipment will fail creates a window of opportunity for the company. It allows time to schedule any equipment replacement, or to correct a possible error without disturbing the system in a significant way avoiding production loss and customer dissatisfaction.
  • Organizations are challenged on a daily basis to improve efficiency, lower costs, speed up production and develop cutting edge, reliable results. Generating a high-level of manufacturing excellence requires a team dedicated to advancing and always learning new strategies to maintain reliable equipment.

A company-wide focus on manufacturing excellence will result in you being an efficient, cost-effective, quality-focused and consistent competitor every time. Manufacturing excellence begins with reliable and excellent equipment. How do you, your equipment and your company measure up?


Dan Hilker joins Zinata after more than 30 years as an Asset Management Professional who is extremely technically sophisticated and business-savvy. He has cultivated programs and strategies that have enabled businesses to improve return on capital investments, maximize revenue, optimize operating costs, generate growth and develop a sustainable competitive edge. Dan specializes in transforming companies from a culture of poor performance that is highly reactive, to a high performing and proactive team operation. He is a long-time international professional that brings reliability and outstanding performance to every task that lies ahead of him.