June 2021

Manufacturing production line

42 Technology is regularly asked by FMCG brand owners to help develop new manufacturing processes or to improve existing ones. For example, to enable the manufacture of new product variants or to accommodate changes to product recipes or new materials that can introduce unexpected challenges to existing production lines.

But these projects often come with one major restriction: that any new processes proposed should involve minimal changes to the company’s existing high-value manufacturing assets. Although at first glance this might seem to be an almost insurmountable barrier to innovation, in reality it can be transformed into a highly potent catalyst for the innovation process.

In a previously published article Adrian Swinburne, head of consumer at 42T, shared some of his insights on why Gemba walks are an essential first step when starting out on any asset-constrained innovation programme.

In particular, he explains why there is a need to:

  • Properly understand existing asset performance and capabilities.
  • Understand how specific product ingredients influence the design and operation of manufacturing assets.
  • Explore degrees of freedom and options for process changes with associated costs.
  • Understand how assets have evolved over the years, and most importantly why.
  • Establish empathy and shared vision with the engineering teams so they become an integral part of the innovation team, rather than being isolated from it.

One outcome of considering manufacturing assets in this way is that any new concepts or process improvements are much more likely to make it all the way. Because they are supported from the start by the brand owner’s marketing group, the engineering team in the factory and its existing equipment suppliers.

For example: in one recent project, 42 Technology worked closely with the manufacturer of a client’s existing process equipment to create a theoretical model of how it could be improved to reduce processing times. Following successful simulation, the supplier was able to evolve its existing equipment design to deliver a significant increase in production throughput rather than completely re-designing it from the start.

If you’d like a copy of Adrian’s article, or need any specific advice, then please email answers@42technology.com

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