Augmented reveals the stories behind the new era of industrial operations, where technology will restore the agility of frontline workers.
In this episode of the podcast, the topic is Innovating Across the Manufacturing Supply Chain. Our guest is Antonio Hill, Head of Manufacturing Digital Solutions, Global Supply Chain at Stanley Black & Decker.
In this conversation, we talk about lean leadership, productivity, the challenge of digital transformation across operations and supply chains, and how augmented lean means every organization has their own transformation approach.
If you like this show, subscribe at augmentedpodcast.co. If you like this episode, you might also like Episode 94 on Digitized Supply Chain with insights from Arun Kumar Bhaskara-Baba, Head of Global Manufacturing IT at Johnson & Johnson.
Stanley Black & Decker is a huge organization where any improvements by tweaking their own operations or by adding insight from what happens along the whole supply chain can mean significant productivity gains. I find it interesting that they have their own version of the augmented lean approach tailored to where they are and, most importantly, building on the insight that the workforce is where the innovation comes from. By giving shop floor workers access to insights on big-picture manager deliberations, they are freed up to operate not only more efficiently but also more autonomously. When all of industry works that way, manufacturing will make tremendous advances more rapidly and sustainably than ever before.
TROND: Welcome to another episode of the Augmented Podcast. Augmented brings industrial conversations that matter, serving up the most relevant conversations on industrial tech. Our vision is a world where technology will restore the agility of frontline workers.
In this episode of the podcast, the topic is Innovating Across the Manufacturing Supply Chain. Our guest is Antonio Hill, Head of Manufacturing Digital Solutions, Global Supply Chain at Stanley Black & Decker.
In this conversation, we talk about lean leadership, productivity, the challenge of digital transformation across operations and supply chains, and how augmented lean means every organization has their own transformation approach.
Augmented is a podcast for industrial leaders, process engineers, and shop floor operators hosted by futurist Trond Arne Undheim and presented by Tulip.
Antonio, welcome to the podcast. How are you?
ANTONIO: I'm good. How are you doing?
TROND: I'm doing great. I'm looking forward to thinking and talking about manufacturing supply chains and the rollout of digital technology. So, Antonio, you are actually a business major by origin from North Texas, and then your master's is in HR. And then you're fashioning yourself as a lean leader and an operational expert working on productivity and now much on digital transformation. And you're heading the rollout of digital solutions for Stanley Black & Decker. I'm curious, what was it that brought a business major into the manufacturing field?
ANTONIO: For me personally, businesses is great. I'm a big advocate of free markets. And so for me, the whole time you think of how widgets are created and wanting to understand that aspect in manufacturing, creating widgets. Like you were saying, with a master's in human resource development, my thoughts there were learning that a lot of the cost from any organization is going to be labor and material. So having that understanding was great.
And then transitioning to making widgets and learning under some ultimate awesome leaders in the space along with great engineers that really, really, hand in hand taught me so many things. And then one of the leaders in lean as well having hands-on conversations, walking the site with this person that is known for lean just really, really strengthened my capabilities. But the thought of the digital side is always going to come into our space, in our world. And so to be able to do that for a large fortune 500 company is obviously amazing. I'm like a kid in the candy store.
ANTONIO: Those concepts really changed the way from an organizational side because business is business no matter how you look at it. We're trying to improve our margins and capture market share just like anyone else. But ultimately, it's just a different way of doing it.
TROND: I wanted to stop a little around lean first because in our pre-conversation you said lean touches everything. I'm just curious, what do you see as the key things in lean that you have learned that you are bringing into this work that we're going to be talking about a little bit?
ANTONIO: I think that it boils down to a way to create continuous improvement by impacting ultimately the lead time. I'm part of the global supply chain so obviously, I'm always looking at a holistic approach. That's why it's all aspects for me from a business standpoint. At the same rate, from a lean perspective, we can find waste in anything. So there are always opportunities to improve in that aspect in every single function.
Every function within the organization can be an aspect of lean. So that's the part for me that I get excited about, and I've touched every single function. So it's really an opportunity for any organization to continuously improve on and removing what they say muda from the origination of the concept in any organization.
TROND: I'm curious; some people would say that lean is or I guess was important early on but that contemporary organizations are somehow different, and digital, which we'll talk about, is one reason, but there are perhaps other things. What are some of the things that you, I mean, I don't know if you agree with this, but what are some of the things that you're incorporating into your thinking here that may be either different or where you have to adjust it to the organization you're actually in at any given moment? I'm just curious.
ANTONIO: You're thinking lean from a digital standpoint or just lean?
TROND: Well, lean was developed in its original form a very long time ago. So I guess the first question I'm asking is how can you be confident that the original insights are still valid? Is that because you're walking around and experiencing it every day, and it resonates with you? I guess, firstly, just curious about what lean generally means today in an organization like yours, and then obviously, we'll talk about the rollout of digital solutions, which you've been doing so much now.
ANTONIO: Right. And that's a great question, and I'm excited to be the person that has to answer that question.
TROND: [laughs] Well, you didn't think I was going to give you easy questions, Antonio. [laughs]
ANTONIO: Lean, the concept, I think, will never go away. And so for those that think that it will, really do not understand engineering from that standpoint because when you think about engineering, an engineer solves problems. And so we know number one, there's always going to be problems. I'm sure that there are a lot of people that say, "Hey, I got something for you to solve. I got a problem for you," so from that perspective, we know.
But then, on top of that, think about innovation from an engineering standpoint, as you see something improved, even if it's making it better, even if it's something like making it better for the customer, ultimately, that transition of change even the slightest or something large, every organization has to do it. They have to embrace it. And so a person that knows those techniques, that are really good and seasoned and experienced, which I would say I do fit in that; I feel mighty confident in that space, and I feel mighty confident in manufacturing, we could see it quickly. You see it immediately.
Like, you see a process, and it just stands out. And I think that you can't wish that away to be able to see the inefficiencies of any system. And if you do not have a system in your approach, then that to me is already folly, you know what I mean? Like, that's an error. If you can't create systems, especially in manufacturing, I think that that's no bueno.
TROND: Got it. I'm then curious, digital. How does digital factor into all of this? So I guess I'm understanding a little bit more of your conception of continuous improvement, lean, whatever you really want to call it, and engineers that are such a crucial part of the kind of organization you represent, Stanley Black & Decker.
So now, clearly, there's been a push in most organizations across fields to go digital and arguably, manufacturing organizations perhaps were resisting it a little bit because there was such an amount of automation in there already, and then now comes digital on top of that. And has it been easy? Has it been difficult? What goes into even the decision to say, "We're going to have a major digital transformation?" Tell me a little bit about the journey that you've gone through with Stanley in that respect.
ANTONIO: So, really great question. And so I'm going to take you down a little bit of a history lesson and introduce how it impacts. So when you think about things of the world, because you always have to relate to what's going on in the real world, you have the introduction of the smartphone. You have to credit that smartphone for that interaction of this interface because it's putting that into a lot of operators' hands to interface with something.
Now, when you think about digital, industry 4.0 touches a lot of things; it's very vast, very broad. But when you think about the insights and paper throughout your organization that's there but being able to in manufacturing...and I'll make this a little bit specific to manufacturers. There are so many points where you actually need data to improve throughout that process, and like I said, it's a system. And so if you can capture it in a digital way, now you can analyze it. Now it's an insight. Now you can take all of this, and you can do predictive analysis. You can add algorithms, AI, whatever you want once it's digital.
And it's transforming your operation to be able to enhance it in this digital way so you can advance and be a little bit more productive and get better, and so it still comes back to lean. [chuckles] Once you've created it digital, now it's like, what am I going to do with the data? Because you can do the wrong things with data. It can give you the wrong insight. And just making those decisions of where you are going to improve, I think that is really huge.
So for me, that transition starts with realizing the digital side, removing some of the paper. I mean, there are so many people that are old school I would say that do everything with paper. And if that paper was digital, then what could be? I'm smiling now because it gets me excited because there are so many processes that are old that people just pull out a paper and they use it even though we're in this digital age.
TROND: So I thought I would then move us a little bit into the aspect of having a digital platform. So digital means a lot of different things to different people. You say having access to digital gives us options basically because then you have data, but you have to do the right thing with it. First off, what kind of a decision and who was involved, I guess, in the decision at Stanley going digital in that sense? Because there are many different echelons of an organization that could potentially use data.
Who was the most excited, I guess, to use new data in your organization? How did that even come about? Was it a leadership decision? Was it mid-level managers that said, "Other organizations, our peers have more data?" Or was it analyzing, you know, Gemba Walks and walking around and saying, "Hey, the operators could be more productive with more data?" Where did the decision point come from?
ANTONIO: To answer your question, short answer would be leadership. We're pushing for the next edge in innovation and pushing forward to create change. And then it's what can be that thought, and I would say the collective. If you were to embrace true employee engagement and start from the shop floor, it's going to be things that they don't know that they're requesting, something digital, so to speak. They're just saying, "Hey, this would be cool. This is what I need in order to do my job effectively."
And then what about the supervisors to the middle managers that are trying to share insight of it's great to say that you hit your numbers or you produced your widget in a successful time or faster than you anticipated, but what about the opposite? What about when you did not meet your numbers? Being able to speak to that with data that's a huge win. Who wouldn't want that? And there are a lot of areas that are little dark areas in a manufacturing facility that you don't have that capability. And that's why you need some type of way to be able to shed light on those areas and capture that in a very effective way.
TROND: Tell us a little bit about the digital rollout process at Stanley. What went into it, and what is the situation? What sort of systems have you opted for, and how are you rolling them out?
ANTONIO: So within our organization, everything comes out with governance so thinking of and a way of controlling exactly what's completed, what's being done, what you are going to put within the facility, and then creating some type of uniformity around that. The interesting thing about our organization is we're a huge conglomerate. We produce many different parts and units. And it's just a lot of complexity and diversity as far as the people are diverse, but I'm just saying end product.
Manufacturing facilities...I'm global, so I'm facing all over the world different processes that we do and so being able to have a very tactic way to roll that out in a uniform way. That's really the strat there, really thinking it out. But then also allowing for those unique scenarios to come about, having what we call citizen developers. It's that employee engagement part, thinking about someone that's really close to the process. They may figure out a way that, hey, we need this type of solution, listening to them.
And then the fact, like I said, I'm global, I'm seeing way more than they are. And I can be like, and our team can look and say, "Hey, this actually could be used at several sites that look just like this one." And so we can get that MVP and create it in a very standard, uniform way so then we can roll it out on an enterprise level. And so all of this together is the way that we go about rolling out digital solutions.
TROND: So, Antonio, I'm curious about this because in classical automation, usually, it's a big sunk cost, and the system is stable, perhaps, but everyone has to learn it and do it one way. Is the current wave of digital transformation that you're talking about here does it allow for both strong governance, which you clearly need in a large organization, but also for those citizen developers to emerge with their more kind of not exactly bottom-up, but they are certainly factory-based, or they are site-based perhaps innovations?
Did you have to choose technologies that allowed for that, or how did that factor in? Because classic solutions of automation is like one size fits all, but you seem to be talking about, yes, the need for governance, but there's also the need for citizen developers. How did you enable those citizen developers?
ANTONIO: So the first thing is that you need to figure out something that's adaptable. And so for us, we use something zero code, so it's really, really easy for them to use. And so the thing is that you don't want to discourage innovation at all. You want to embrace employee engagement all that you can. At the same rate, there's another team that's going to make sure that cybersecurity and all of that that I'm playing within the confines and the rules, and if I do not, then definitely there'll be a discussion about it.
And so understanding that you're really balancing both, and you're controlling that citizen developer as much as you possibly can, being aware of what that individual may do. And at the same rate, watching and being able to take away their permissions if need be if we feel that it goes into...I don't want to say a danger, but it's not good from a governance standpoint of what they're doing due to some federal regulation or law or whatever have you. So it's just the balance of the two of having a platform that can give you that adaptability in order to control.
TROND: Antonio, can you expand a little bit on innovation? Again, in the context of a workplace that is becoming more and more automated, how do you inspire innovation? What does it mean for Stanley, innovation?
ANTONIO: When you think about what can be...let me give you an example of something that we created; I think that it will shed light. Every organization they go through physical inventory. So you have to count all your inventory and make sure that what your books say [laughs] that's what you have. It's just comparing those two from a financial standpoint. So you're going through that process.
And normally, this process is very manual where you're physically going; someone is sending out, making that count, writing on a sheet of paper of what they were able to capture, and then running that sheet of paper to some control room where everyone is conducting...basically calculating where you are now. And so everything's live. So you go, and you audit that area, and they come back.
So basically, someone is running around facilities. And if you look at some of our facilities, they're pretty ginormous, pretty big. So to go to one end to the other it's going to be a hike. And this is all on physical paper for the most part. This is all live, speed. So the thought came up when you say innovation, someone was like, "Is there a way to do this digitally? Why can't we do this digitally?" Just to speed things up, just to figure out, hey, where are we right now? Instead of getting all of these sheets of paper and then typing them again in some system.
And I go back to lean. That's rework. That's overprocessing. Even within this system, rework is someone already wrote it down on a sheet of paper. Now they're going to hand it to someone else to literally type it into another system. That redundancy can be removed. So you see that there is an opportunity there to save time because no one wins when we're doing a physical inventory. The site is shut down, and we're not making widgets. So you don't want that.
So anyway, there was a person that was like, "Hey, can we do this digital? There's an opportunity." So that's the innovation there. It starts with an idea and then sharing that idea saying, "Hey, is this possible? What can be? What is possible?" And then you have a very diverse team look at it along with accepting that idea. And you transform it into an application in order to conduct physical inventory. And we did just that, and it was huge.
And obviously, it's within, like I was saying, you get that MVP. And now we can just copy and paste that across the board to different sites and use it as much as we want from that standpoint with those same winnings, those same gains, and the same objective in order to help the site and use as much waste that is normally committed in a physical inventory.
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TROND: Antonio, you speak of apps. What are those apps that you speak about here, and how do you explain the concept of an app, I guess, to your operators? Because I'm assuming there is a bit of an educational journey there, too, when you're introducing certain new digital processes going, like you said, in a basic sense from paper to digital. And then you said it comes through these apps.
How do you explain the concept of apps, and how do they materialize, I guess, on the shop floor? I mean, they clearly are created. Are they created mostly by the vendors that you contract with, or are they created by your own engineers? Or are they created factory specifically, or how does this app development work? And what is an app?
ANTONIO: So they're created by our engineers. And this is actually pretty funny that you asked me what an app is. And so that thought is really important because this is something that we have to do out there on the floor. And so when approached with someone that you want to use this application, I don't think that I ever even say the word app to an operator as I have physically trained operators on an application. And it's just more so the process of what you would like them to do.
And one of the reasons of perfection, so to speak, is what you strive to do when it comes to the user interface and the user experience. You want to make the least amount of steps. You want to do the least amount to interfere with this individual that has a really, really important job to make widgets. And so the thought here is the explanation of what you're trying to accomplish and then the steps that they need to do to interact.
And like I said, what helps is obviously smartphones, you know, everyone's interacting with it. So, in our times today, I think that it's a little bit easier. If you were to take it maybe 15 years ahead, maybe it'd be a little bit more challenging, but I would say that not everyone is ready for that change. It's still new to them despite smartphones being there saying, "Hey, I have to interface with this iPad or a tablet, or touch screen," whatever have you; however, they're interacting.
So the ideal state is to create it where it's more automated. And so the application is just kind of like, it's a matter of fact. We're capturing all this data, and you're just doing your job. And we're just using triggers to be able to indicate what you're doing. So that's really how I would go about describing an app, never really saying app and just saying, "Hey, this is a process that we would like to use as you do your job really."
TROND: Antonio, would you speak specifically about Tulip as a digital solution? And what is that being used for, and how is that being rolled out? I mean, to the extent you can go into some detail, what is that platform doing for Stanley?
ANTONIO: For us, using Tulip is really, really advantageous because there are a few things that it's really, really great at. You can create pretty much what you want. I don't want to put it too much out there. And the easiest way where you don't...I mean, I have software engineers that work for me. But you don't have to be a software engineer; you could be just anyone. So that part makes it a great deal simple and then what it's capable of connecting to. So it can just easily integrate within your organization in order to achieve some of the things that you want to achieve, so from the standpoint of hey, we just need this very simplistic way of doing this.
And then what's more important? The UI. So it's like, what do you want this interface to look like and do? Because sometimes, I don't want to speak specifically to some organization or tool, but some tools that you can use make it very challenging with the user interface where it's just too much buttons or too difficult to get to what you want to. Versus, you have with Tulip a little bit more autonomy to make it and cater it to what needs to happen, where you've leaned out a lot of it and just say, hey, just come touch this button and do this, and that's it.
Because you want to make it simplistic, but maybe there's something else and another look, another view that you want to use. And so, using the same platform, you can make a view for someone else that will be looking at that data in a different way. And so that's the cool thing is it's all on one platform. So that makes it a little bit more powerful that from an operator standpoint, you've given them what they need, very simplistic, the limited amount of buttons. And then, for a different audience of a managerial role, you've given them the insights that will help to improve productivity within the shop floor.
TROND: What are some of the use cases that you then identified so far and are rolling out in these kinds of apps on that platform? And what are some of the things that one might think of? Or is that more of an iterative process that it's like, can you even map that out a year ahead where it's going to be used? Or is that like it's such an iterative process that it will evolve more organically? But either way, where's the starting point? What kinds of things have you now digitized this way?
ANTONIO: Within every manufacturing facility, they're going to say safety is first, and Stanley Black & Decker is no different. I can tell you what number one is, what 1A and 1B it’s...I can't say the other one is 2. So 1A is going to be safety, 1B will be quality. And so the difference here...and I want to differentiate something really quick because it's very important.
Being able to identify from the factory floor what's going on this is something totally different. From the operator's point of view and the data that they can create, that's different. Looking at other things is interesting, but what actually goes on on the manufacturing facility shop floor that type of data that's where it's important.
And so, to your question, you can, for instance, audit something. You can audit a process. That's something that's very, very easy. And you can do it in both realms. You can audit a process for safety. You can audit a process for quality. Those are two examples there. And obviously, you can advance that even more as you touch the product that you're making. And then once you touch the product that you're making, now you can relate that. That's where my business side comes in. Now I can take this beyond from a holistic approach.
So for me being global supply chain, this one place where it was touch, I can go backwards. So I can go further upstream to the vendor, to the site, to any other buffer in between that, let's say a distribution center, to the customer, back from the customer, and then a thread that goes all the way through. The insights are endless, and the capability and possibilities are endless when you can capture it all at the shop floor.
So that's really what we aim to do, really lighting up those dark spots and getting as much with the operator. And that's why operators, I mean, what's going on in our world and not just Stanley Black & Decker, as automation and digitizing the factory floor, this is going to definitely augment and amplify shop floor workers in a different way. And it's going to be really, really advantageous for you to be alongside that operator and enhance their skills to be able to be within a manufacturing facility to change because it's obviously changing. But you can make it where they're advantageous to the organization of what they do and give them a little bit more skill set.
It's almost like giving them more information, like going to university, so to speak, because they're able to see what they know. But now that cognitive data, we can take it from them digitally, and so now you can do more. You don't have to be thinking about that. It's like, oh yeah, we'll capture all that. Let's put something else on you. Because we'll take that cognitive data and store it for point solutions later on and now if need be. So it's a very interesting time within manufacturing of where we are now and what I foresee in the next 5, 10 years.
TROND: Do you think that manufacturing shop floors have trusted operators enough? Or was it just that the opportunity now of seeing more of the big picture is only now being realized with these digital apps so that this information is there and then you can trust them more? But it was interesting to me. I just want you to talk a little bit more about the new role of shop floor people, basically, that are now perhaps able to take on different things because of this new set of information that's being tracked.
ANTONIO: So when you really think about the frontlines, I would love to say and sit here and talk about how great I am and what I do for the organization. Oh, I think of all of these ideas. But for our organization and probably any organization, it's the people that make the widgets that are the most important people within the organization I would say. They're the workers, and the knowledge that they have of that process is so important.
At the same rate, we would say that the majority of those workers do not have fancy degrees or anything like that. And so we tend to think that possibly...well, I don't want to say that we tend to think that. It talks about the capability of what they're capable of, and so now with this, and if you can do it in a way for a digital transition, you can now look at what those capabilities are, the insight that they have. Okay, you do understand this process, then what's next? How do we improve it from a lean standpoint?
But you also intricately know, let's say, for instance, this machine you work on it every single day. But now we're going to create a way where you don't have to work so much on your, like I was saying, the things that you think about. We'll create something to do that for you. Now we would like for you to do something else. You see how this change comes up. We need you to just do this or that. And I don't want to be specific, but that's really how the change is occurring.
And to be honest with you, it's a huge win because there are many operators that actually enjoy...they want you to know and understand the data of what they do. It changes things because it can be a very technical job within manufacturing where you pull out a drawing. There's a certain specification that you have to hit, and that's going to make a difference if that part is manufacturable or not. And we're talking about sometimes you're pulling out calipers to get it within 2000s where it's got to be exact. It's almost like an exact science. That grace invariant is not that much.
And so, to be able to record that data digitally and view it that way, the operators are all for that because it helps to explain things that maybe they can't put into words, but the data will show it. And it's just like, "You see? You see what I'm saying? Right about this time at 4:00 o'clock, this machine always does this," I'm just giving an example. But you can see that from a data standpoint, and that will help the operator as far as transition into this new manufacturing operator, I believe.
TROND: So, Antonio, I think I'm now understanding a bit more about how this works on a given factory floor. Can you help me understand more about how this works all across the supply chain, which you were talking about earlier? Because now, I'm assuming the use case for you is not just one individual operator or sets of operators and teams doing one product in one location. You're talking about coordinating this across a larger supply chain. Now, how can these apps then come into play? Because now we're talking about different geographies, a lot of different contextual information that would need to be put into place.
How do these apps truly help smooth out the supply chain? It would seem to be a much perhaps more complicated challenge than just simply making an individual worker or team's life easier with safety and quality with precise work instructions. When you're talking supply chain, what do you really mean there? And what are the first, I guess, apps that are coming out that are going to truly impact the full supply chain?
ANTONIO: So know this, [laughs] it's like...I'm going to give an analogy because I want to make sure that you can understand because it can get really advanced when looking at things, so hear this out. So think about those pictures where you have the picture, and everything has a number. And so you go you're number one, and let's say number one is blue. So you fill in all the blue. And then number two is yellow or whatever. At the end, it's going to be a picture that you see, and you can recognize, oh my God, a parrot, when you're at the end.
So the way that the approach here is is that we know that it's a parrot. We understand that. And so the other functions within our organization know that it's a parrot, and maybe they're only focused on the blue, but they know that it's a parrot. And so, having certain datasets will fill in the blanks for them. Something that didn't have color now has more color, so they can make more of an informed decision on what they do because everything is connected. You cannot get away from the other.
So everything really starts where you make the widget, I think. It doesn't necessarily start there because you got to get the supplies to be able to make it. But what I'm saying is is that's the money time. But at the end of the day...and I'm going to go back to what I said earlier of how I summed up lean. Everything is lead time.
So I'll give you another analogy. I love kombuchas. When I go to the store, there's a certain kombucha that I want, and when it's not on the shelf, I'm going to go somewhere and get that kombucha. I'm not going to keep going to that store. And so, at the end of the day, this is the type of data that's needed throughout the whole global supply chain in order to ensure that our customer has that kombucha, so to speak. And all of that data insight is imperative to not only understand it but be able to do magic with it, so to speak, and make changes to continuously improve.
TROND: Interesting. As you're thinking about how these developments are affecting the future outlook in the manufacturing industry, or for your company, or maybe even wider for society, because some of these things, when they're compounded they, could have perhaps larger impact, what are some of the things that you think is going to come out of this in a 3 to 7 or 10-year timeframe? You've talked about shop floor operators becoming something even more special, perhaps. So I'm assuming that's one thing.
And then, if you want to think maybe about the larger workforce, what are some things that this will lead to? And then, finally, we just talked about the supply chain. Thinking ahead, what is likely to change when this has permeated throughout many organizations' supply chains with a lot more information available? What are the potentials here? What are the impacts?
ANTONIO: The main thing I think that will happen, and I think that it's already happening, is there will be a through thread through all the functions. I think that that's imperative. But I think that it will be a little bit easier with data. So the latter of those three that you was talking about from the future standpoint, I think that the through thread with that data as we advance and make even better applications for the shop floor to get even more data, you will be able to take that data to other functions to make changes, to improve, and reduce costs within your organization all across the board. So that's where the future will lead.
The former part of the question, as far as the change of the shop floor worker, I believe that from my perspective, I think that the world is changing. Education is changing. The cost of education is changing. And I think that from the older workforce, not to put an age on it, and what manufacturing was in the past is adapting. And the type of worker that is within a facility is different than it was because the people are different. We think different. We have Twitter, and Instagram, and Snapchat.
And so I'm throwing these things out here just saying, hey, we have a different workforce. They think different. And so I believe that manufacturers are adapting to this different workforce, and with that will come much change and much-needed change. And the capability of what a worker is expected to do, I think, will increase, but it will increase for the better. There are different roles for individuals to have within manufacturing facilities, and I think that we'll see that just come over time because we need data.
Data is going to be very, very important for any organization, and how we obtain that data, how we get that data, it's just better to have that person in the room having a big impact. And I'm saying that person, that operator in the room without having them in the room, so to speak, by getting their data to impact those decisions in their own way, but also using employee engagement with the data that they provide. So I think that's going to be really the change.
I think the number two question I kind of forgot. I apologize. I went from the last to the first.
TROND: No, it's fine. I mean, I was talking about the operators and then the advanced supply chains, which is, I guess, just another layer of complexity, and we have talked about it at length. But I'm just wondering, as these technologies, the digitization really advances and permeates throughout the supply chains, what are some of the cascading changes or not that might occur?
Because I'm assuming, just like you said, shop floor operators will have a different reality. They can do different things because some things are just taken care of or the beans are counted. They can do other things. What are those other things that organizations now can do because their supply chains will become more and more digitized?
ANTONIO: Yeah, those things are really...when you think about the footprint of what a facility needs to be, now that changes. Because one thing that's really, really important in any facility is space, so now this will impact it. Hey, we got this covered; could you go take care of these things? And then also I believe, so this is just going to be my opinion, I think that there's going to be more training. Now we can train up in another skill set to allow someone to have dual if not triple capability within their self to do more.
Let me tell you a little bit more about this machine because what we needed you for we good on that. Let's teach you about this other aspect of this machine in order to make it, you know, the upkeep of it, the PMs and TPMS, you know it. We've automated that and made it digital, but let's advance your knowledge a little bit more so you can understand. And I think that that's what we're about to witness here as we move forward.
To me, it's a really, really beautiful time. And it's going to be really, really interesting here in the next I would say ten would be the keymark, 5, especially with the climate today. And not to speak about the elephant in the room, but it truly is the perfect storm, all of these things happening. Like, going into a supply recession and then possibly having demand to drop, I mean, it's just a perfect storm of all of these things. But you'll see that those that are able to survive this will be better off because of it.
You never wish these things to happen. But you can say that you will improve, and you'll be stronger because it happened. And this also will impact what's needed in the future, especially on an operator level. So it's really interesting where we are today and how digitization will impact our lives and manufacturing from here on out. There won't be a point where it's not there. It will always exist for quite a bit of time unless there's some drastic change or an invention of some sort.
TROND: Antonio, the last question I'm going to just throw at you is, what are the training consequences? And how do you see training going forward in the medium-term future? Because you have pointed out that shop floor operators are going to be asked to do more things, more advanced things. They will get more of a bigger-picture view.
You're going to need a lot of true engineers, and then you might need a lot of engineers, meaning their engineering like they are trained with a mindset of an engineer in the sense that they are trained on improving, and suggesting, and tweaking, and adjusting the way that an engineer did. But surely, all of these people can't go to engineering school.
TROND: How are you going to do this? Because the way I'm seeing you painting the picture of an emerging manufacturing workforce here, I mean, unless you're not talking about the same people, how are those same people going to adjust to this new reality?
ANTONIO: Right, yeah.
TROND: Is the UI going to be the key here, the UI just has to be simple the way you've explained that apps have to be kept simple so that training is limited? Or are you foreseeing that complexity still will increase so that people are going to have to become trained on still sophisticated piece of equipment? Because it could go two ways here, either you're doing advanced things, but you're keeping it simple still, or you're doing advanced things, and it's complicated. [laughs]
ANTONIO: So this is a great question, and I'm really excited to answer it. So the thought here is is, I'm going to take a CNC, a computerized numeric control machine. That is a very sophisticated piece of equipment, and an operator runs it already. No matter what they do, they're already running it, and so they're capable. And yes, they didn't go and get this advanced engineering, and those that receive those advanced engineering degrees they're worth every penny. It's teaching you on a vast scale.
But in a manufacturing facility, on what you're doing, you're removing some of the noise and saying, hey, I just need you to learn this. This is this process. So just this, just eat what's on your plate. Don't worry about any of this other stuff. And we'll guide you through. We will layer on, and layer on, and layer on the knowledge that we want you to have in order to enhance you on this process. And this process is core to manufacturing. See how that sounds a little bit different?
Because when you go and get your degree, I'm just going to pick engineering, you're learning all types of things, and they're all important. And there's a lot of physics and just a lot of things that you need to understand. At the end of the day, if you were to take an engineer off the streets that just got their degree and throw them in, how different would they be if you had a seasoned, experienced operator that knows this process and you compare the two? That would be an interesting comparison. I actually would like to see a study on that.
I think that, not to get deep, I just think that there would be a point where if you were to graph it where they would intersect, and that person with the advanced engineering would supersede this operator. But how long that would be would be interesting if you've created an environment and a very easy way through applications and digital solutions to improve this operator where they have knowledge and a different way of explaining it to them, all of these things where you've advanced and upped one. Like, you've upped this operator to this process. I think that would be interesting.
I think that that's going to be the future. You're going to have core competencies of manufacturing operators where they can feel proud. Despite that, they would be labeled blue-collar; I believe that their skill set and their knowledge would be probably more than what their label of blue-collar will be because they will be strategically very important to that manufacturing facility because of the knowledge that they know about that core competency of the process. And then just think about this, you learn one, you can learn something else. [chuckles] You know what I mean? And so I think that it just continues. So that's the way that I see it playing out.
TROND: Antonio, I think, to me at least, when I listen to this, it feels inspiring. And it certainly should feel inspiring to whether they are younger or older people who are interested in manufacturing because this spells a day and age where perhaps yet again, this kind of insight of knowing how to work machines and knowing how to coordinate with others on a shop floor or producing something tangible is going to be re-appreciated the way it was in other types of industrial upheavals and revolutions.
It's interesting to me that this is perhaps where we are, this inflection point where the kind of skill sets this will take and perhaps the kind of specialization that now seems perhaps within reach for a different cadre of people. Because clearly, MIT and, Carnegie Mellon, and UCL would have to scale up their training or offer everything they have for free online in order to train 10x, 100x, 1,000x more engineers.
Or these skills are just going to have to be taught in a combination of community colleges; I would assume, and on the shop floor directly by yourselves in these organizations themselves or perhaps a mix of the above. But either way, it would seem to me that it's not all that bleak of a future for manufacturing if what you're saying comes to --
TROND: Fruition here.
ANTONIO: I agree. And this is really what I see, and that's why I'm excited. I'm happy to be a part of it. And it's one of those things...someone said this to me the other day "Industry 5.0." [laughs] I'm just like, okay. You can hear that concept, but from a societal standpoint and a person that is an advocate of free markets, I think that this is the moment in time in our world because we have to make widgets where we'll define what that is.
And before we talk about this industry 5.0 talk, the human part has to be addressed. And if you do it in the way that we're discussing, it makes for an interesting future. If you do it and bring other things into the discussion room already, I think that it changes basically what's being spoken about and not really discussing, okay, what is really going to move the needle and move us forward as a manufacturing group together? Because we compete against each other in some realms if we're in the same market, but it's all the same game no matter where you are.
And you're taking this from a guy that they would put in the plane and drop in a facility and now have to go through and just figure things out and could actually make change. But one of the things that I recognized everywhere I went in all the facilities that I've been to, all the facilities that I visited, were the people. The people were the important aspect. And you just definitely want to make sure that they're in the equation and in the dialogue of whatever change may happen. And I believe that platforms that allow that will be key for now and the future.
TROND: Antonio, you've been very generous with me, your time. It's been super interesting. Thank you so much.
ANTONIO: Thank you. I appreciate it.
TROND: You have just listened to another episode of the Augmented Podcast with host Trond Arne Undheim.
The topic was Innovating Across the Manufacturing Supply Chain. Our guest was Antonio Hill, Head of Manufacturing Digital Solutions, Global Supply Chain at Stanley Black & Decker. In this conversation, we talked about Lean leadership, productivity, and the challenge of digital transformation across operations and supply chains.
My takeaway is that Stanley Black & Decker is a huge organization where any improvements by tweaking their own operations or by adding insight from what happens along the whole supply chain can mean significant productivity gains. I find it interesting that they have their own version of the augmented lean approach tailored to where they are and, most importantly, building on the insight that the workforce is where the innovation comes from. By giving shop floor workers access to insights on big-picture manager deliberations, they are freed up to operate not only more efficiently but also more autonomously. When all of industry works that way, manufacturing will make tremendous advances more rapidly and sustainably than ever before. Thanks for listening.
If you liked the show, subscribe at augmentedpodcast.co or in your preferred podcast player, and please rate us with five stars. If you liked this episode, you might also like Episode 94 on Digitized Supply Chain with insights from Arun Kumar Bhaskara-Baba, Head of Global Manufacturing IT at Johnson & Johnson. Hopefully, you'll find something awesome in these or in other episodes, and if so, do let us know by messaging us. We would love to share your thoughts with other listeners.