World Class Manufacturing and Factory 4.0

2021 is a year in which Italy has excelled in many sports and various other fields.

Only a few people know that there is also a lot of Italy in World Class Manufacturing: in fact, it was born in the FCA environment, that today we would call Stellantis. It is not an invention, nor a discovery, but a modern mix of pre-existing methodologies such as lean and other tools, but it relies on them with the eye and experience of the modern manager and a particular emphasis on the concept of “zero”, declined for each “pillar” of the WCM: zero waste, zero stock, zero accidents, zero failures, zero defects.

The inputs of WCM are simple and clear: increasing efficiency and quality, investing in innovation and research, while reducing waste. Safety, working conditions and respect for the environment are also part of the WCM program.

Zero tolerance for waste: eyes focused, therefore, on all those moments in which no added value is created for the customer: movements, stocks, controls, defects, waits, errors, repairs, maintenance etc.

In this sense, the values of WCM and Factory 4.0 inevitably match:

Factory 4.0 simply provides WCM with the best tools, the heavy artillery we might say, to achieve its goals.

For this reason, a tool like IMPROVE 4.0, born to make industrial production processes more efficient along the entire production flow, has found it natural to join the WCM world, providing advanced tools and, as we will see, unique in the world.


IMPROVE 4.0 for WCM: the Machine Ledger 4.0

We have spoken of unique tools in the world. A bit of a strong expression, but not at all daring. It was simply said by the customers who decided to use our Machine Ledger.

This name, to those who are in the WCM environment, immediately recalls the tool used to manage maintenance planning.

To be more precise, it recalls a very complex calendar in Excel format (!!)… where some symbols inside the cells represent maintenance interventions. In short, not exactly a 4.0 tool.

Machine Ledger 4.0 is a web-based platform, so it is a truly digital tool and above all it does not belong specifically to the World Class Manufacturing world.

We say “platform” and not simply “application” because it can be used by both the end customer and the machine supplier. The latter will be able to upload the machine ledger of the machine in Excel: the platform will convert it into a digital version and make it available to the customer.

A classic win-win situation: the supplier makes the machine also a service; the customer has the tool to manage maintenance at the same time as the machine.

This aspect alone makes Machine Ledger 4.0 a unique tool in the world.

But the aspects that make it appreciated by all our customers are others:

  • First of all, it is possible to bring back in ML 4.0 the whole hierarchical structure starting from the “Corporation” with all the plants, then the departments of each plant, the production lines and finally the machines. Plus value: it is a tool that can be centralized to manage and monitor the maintenance of all the plants of a corporation.
  • Each machine has its own machine ledger and is broken down into all its components. And here we find another plus value of our solution: the images of the components can be inserted with a simple drag & drop!
  • In addition to the Machine Ledger calendar, there is also a calendar for professional maintenance and one for autonomous maintenance. Plus value: the platform coordinates the work of machine operators, planners, professional maintainers, and maintenance manager
  • Acquisition of crucial KPIs such as MTBF (Mean Time Before Failure) and MTTR (Mean Time to Repair). Added value: reporting with annual statistics and calculation of maintenance costs, distinguishing between reactive and preventive.
  • Possibility to configure process variables, crucial for more effective maintenance: Plus value: overcoming TBM (Time Based Maintenance) in favor of HBM (Hit Based Maintenance) and CBM (Conditional Based Maintenance).

Machine Ledger 4.0

Machine Ledger 4.0


Let’s talk about another valuable tool that belongs to the same pillar of the WCM “temple”.

The expression “early equipment” suggests how it represents a “preventive” action. But what does it seek to prevent?

The EEM aims to rationalize the project workflow by highlighting problems that may arise in the preliminary phases of the management of development activities of new lines and equipment. That is, when it is more economical to solve them.

So, here’s what you want to prevent: waste. Of resources, human and material, and of money. A problem solved early costs less money than one that occurs suddenly.

The benefits of using a tool like EEM are enormous:

  • Significant reduction in LCC (Life Cycle Cost)
  • Improvement of plant reliability and maintainability
  • Maximum exploitation of the company’s know-how thanks to the involvement of teams characterized by specific skills, with people coming from the plant, from research & development and from production engineering
  • The punctual monitoring of each step of the project through the “MP Info” and the “checklists” allows to create new standards that aim to avoid problems already faced.
  • Simplification of maintenance activities, with a clear improvement of the mean time to repair (MTTR) and of the time dedicated to scheduled maintenance

Early Equipment Management

Early Equipment Management

IMPROVE 4.0 for WCM: the S-EWO module

We are talking about the pillar dedicated to Safety.

The theme of safety could not be missing in this methodology. In fact, waste can be of various kinds: economic, of material resources or of human resources: the safety theme operates on all three of these categories, because any accident brings into play (sometimes fatal) injuries, destruction of materials, waste of money for repairs or purchase of damaged or destroyed material.

The S-EWO Module has the precise objective of highlighting potentially dangerous situations and initiating useful actions for accident prevention.

For example, through the module S-EWO could be reported a slippery ladder, or a shelf that is not well fixed to the wall and therefore is likely to fall on someone, etc. Contextually, a through which are studied the necessary actions so that the accident does not occur or the injury reported can no longer be repeated will be generated.

The advantages of a solution such as the S-EWO lies in the numerous occasions of waste that it manages to avoid:

  • wasted time for the interruption that obviously involves the need to provide care to an injured person;
  • wasted time and human resources due to the absence of an experienced person who will probably not be able to work for a few days;
  • wasted time and productivity due to downtime caused by an unforeseen event;
  • waste of time and human resources due to long periods of investigation to find the cause of the problem and clarify responsibilities.


The effectiveness of the S-EWO module lies in the fact that it follows a precise workflow that puts different entities into action: the compiler, an approval team and the central management.

The added value of the S-EWO module also lies in the fact that if the solution, once verified and validated, were to be considered useful in other areas, with respect to the one in which it was born, it could be extended and therefore improve the safety of the worker at a wider level.

Like all Next solutions, reporting is a strong point:

  • Green cross: to view the trend of accidents, day by day, month by month
  • Accident table: summarizing the accident trend for a given month
  • Bulletins: table relating to the current month
  • Safety book (also for causes): monthly data of injuries with an indication of trends, for each macro area
  • Accident Charts
  • Unsafe graphs


Reports moduli S-EWO

S-EWO reports


IMPROVE 4.0 for WCM: the Visual SOP

In a previous article, we said that World Class Manufacturing consists of 10 “technical” pillars and 10 “managerial” pillars.

Among the managerial ones, the second one is called “SOP” (Standard Operation Procedure). This pillar aims to instruct and guide the operator in performing specific operations.

To support this pillar, we have developed the Visual SOP, which is a tool that makes its own the objectives of the traditional WCM tool, but with an emphasis on multimedia information. As Rudolph Arnheim (German art historian and psychologist) says, through images we give meaning to information and are able to process it. Therefore, Visual SOP improves knowledge transfer, optimizes processes, and ultimately saves money.

The benefits of Visual SOP are therefore substantial:

  • It improves training and knowledge transfer.
  • Compliance audits are more manageable because the documentation is already in place. Documenting SOP thus becomes a key project ahead of an audit.
  • Increased transparency: visually documented processes will more easily answer the most common business question, “why is it taking so long?”
  • Cost savings: routine tasks can be delegated to junior staff, freeing up more experienced personnel who can then take on higher priority tasks


Visual SOP

Visual SOP


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