Implementing High Impact System Improvements

In this, The Faces of Business, Dave Griffith, Dreamsmith, Capelin Solutions, talks about identifying and implementing high-impact system improvements.

In this, The Faces of Business, Dave Griffith, Dreamsmith, Capelin Solutions, talks about identifying and implementing high-impact system improvements.

Dave’s expertise is in project conception, design, system architecture, and implementation.

The guest specializes in helping industrial clients implement cost-saving processes that quickly pay for themselves, emphasizing IoT, Industry 4.0, Digital Transformation, and other Data-Driven Solutions.

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The Dreamsmith helps clients uncover the problem’s root cause and take quick action to implement and solve these issues while finding the highest ROI possible.

Dave is also the co-host of “The Manufacturing Hub Network” for manufacturing & industrial professionals seeking the best education and inspiration to improve their business and career.

Damon begins the show with matchless energy, setting the stage for an informative and engaging discussion with Dave.

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The host talks about his love for manufacturing and industrial companies. He requests Dave to talk about his background and how the latter got into this line of work.

The implementation wizard reveals that he comes from a family with a background in engineering and manufacturing. He originally wanted to work on airplanes and became a certified airframe and powerplant mechanic, but later finished a business degree.

Similarly, he worked for German OEM building machines that assemble airplane fuselages.

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The guest also spent time selling and leveraging hardware before moving into building data solutions, particularly in manufacturing execution systems.

Damon asks Dave for the best professional advice he received when starting Capelin. To him, the best one was “to give it a shot.” He started Capelin in 2019 and had to be agile when the pandemic hit in 2020, changing the company’s direction.

Encouraging the guest to continue, Damon inquires Dave about whether they offer profit by design. At Capelin, Dave aims to provide high-impact solutions to organizations by identifying their pain points and delivering quick solutions with a high return on investment. He believes that internal employees often have valuable insights into the organization’s needs and aims to address those needs to help companies succeed.

Damon wants to know whether or not refining the changes over time can also achieve further improvement.

Dave brings to note the impact of making high-impact improvements to an organization’s systems and processes, using an example from a brewery co-manufacturer. After identifying downtime issues, they implemented an automated tracking system and created an MVP tool that saved the organization 30 to 40 hours of downtime, equating to a potential savings of $4-5 million.

Damon highlights the importance of a fresh set of eyes in uncovering issues and discusses the situations where such improvements can be made.

The tech-guru discusses his experience working with groups and organizations with a throughput problem and needing to increase production. Moreover, the guest notes that there is always room for improvement in reducing downtime and increasing efficiency.

Damon remarks that even simple changes in highly organized, experienced workforces can lead to significant improvements.

Dave is not a process expert but is good at asking questions. He worked with a company that lost half of its production due to imperfect information and helped solve the problem by asking questions.

The guest reveals that he also worked with a larger organization with a core group who had been there for 20-30 years. He helped them solve their pain point by deploying a connected workforce tool that allows employees to report problems and storage solutions in a knowledge base.

Dave believes in winning over the people who have been there the longest, and he turns them into internal project champions, which leads to a tremendous impact on the business.

The host agrees with Dave’s point about getting the right champions on board with a project to ensure its success. He highlights the importance of proper execution and implementation of ideas to be effective, as good ideas that are not executed correctly are useless.

The Dreamsmith shares a story about a project that started with a $200,000 budget and was supposed to be completed in three to six months but turned into a $2.5 million project that lasted three years. The project failed because the team did not communicate effectively with the scheduler, and the scheduler refused to schedule the system. This led to the project manager getting fired and three years of lost opportunity.

Damon agrees that poorly planned system implementations can be costly, even for smaller companies, and can lead to confusion about why the system was implemented in the first place.

Dave discusses the importance of having success metrics in place at the beginning of a project or program. He mentions that many requirements lack business cases or functional requirements, which leads to implementation issues. However, in some cases, companies “have to bandaid together” a solution before fixing the underlying issues.

Damon mentions that many companies get caught up in customizing systems to the point where upgrades become problematic, and it’s better to strip away unnecessary features. Agreeing with the host, Dave discloses that many problems can be solved with standard operating procedures rather than customizing software.

He also frequently encounters clients who want to upgrade to new systems, but it would cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars, and he convinces them to build something new instead that is more cost-effective and tailored to their needs.

Dave thinks that low-code and no-code solutions are exciting and can be helpful in the future. However, he has seen mixed results when end users try to implement these solutions without outside help. He believes hiring an outside expert to build a bespoke solution can lead to significant improvements, typically between 30-200%.

The host and the guest discuss the benefits of outsourcing specialized tasks rather than relying on internal teams, as outside companies have the expertise and experience to complete projects faster and with higher quality. They note that relying solely on internal development can lead to tech debt, as outdated tools and methods are used. Dave mentions his experience helping large legacy companies transition to using external services for their software needs. Likewise, Damon provides an example of an outside consultant successfully improving a company’s manufacturing process.

Damon agrees about finding “gold in identifying bottlenecks in industrial processes.” He thinks people should know that increasing throughput doesn’t always require a multimillion-dollar investment.

He wonders if the fear of high costs and the belief that nothing can be done may prevent some people from taking action to improve processes.

The implementation wizard says that historically, people have not considered optimizing their production lines because capital and labor have been cheap.

The Dreamsmith believes that companies need to take a step back and look at their processes, or they risk ceasing to exist due to rising costs and pressures on all sides. By optimizing production lines, companies can increase throughput and profits and improve their employees’ lives.

Dave reveals that he is a co-host of a show called Manufacturing Hub, which streams every Wednesday at 4 pm Eastern Time on LinkedIn, YouTube, and other platforms.

The discussion closes with Damon thanking Dave for his time. The guest expresses gratitude to the guest and the listeners and is absolutely willing to connect with anyone with questions.

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50:53

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

people, problems, throughput, company, system, solutions, tool, dave, damon, years, downtime, improvements, absolutely, organization, internal, continue, business, manufacturing, pain points, questions

SPEAKERS

Damon Pistulka, Dave Griffith

 

Damon Pistulka  00:00

Welcome once again to the faces of business. I am your host Daymond pista Alka and I am so excited for our guests today, because I have Dave Griffith with us here today. And we’re gonna be talking about implementing high impact system improvements. Day, Dave, welcome.

 

Dave Griffith  00:22

Thank you, Damon, thank you for having me. Hello, everyone.

 

Damon Pistulka  00:25

All right, this is awesome man. Because this is near and dear to my heart to my first love, after my family, and my friends, and the Seahawks, but nonetheless, I do love manufacturing and industrial companies, and just some of the cool stuff we get to work on in them.

So Dave, we you’ve got Kaplan solutions, you’re out there helping people implement these these libraries say these high impact system improvements. But this start back aways. Let’s start back to Dave getting out of college and thinking about what he’s going to do. Let’s talk about your background and how you got here and working on the things you’re working on today.

 

Dave Griffith  01:12

Absolutely, absolutely. So I guess maybe if we go even before college, I come from a family. And if I look back, you know, there are lots of there are lots of engineers. There are lots of people who work in in manufacturing and industry. As I like to joke with everyone, I did the thing that every young boy attempts to do, and I tried to do something completely different than everyone in my family does, right. So I tried that. And I like to joke that manufacturing has pulled me back in a couple of important times in my career.

So on the technical side, I thought I guess I love aviation. I love aerospace, I thought that I wanted to go work on airplanes. And so my technical background is I got certified as an airframe and powerplant mechanic. So the FAA gave me a little card about the size of a credit card. And we don’t want to talk about how expensive it was.

But they basically said that I can assumably work on anything that flies. And so I thought that I was gonna go do that. And I thought I was gonna go find a group that would pay me to go finish college. And shortly after finishing, finishing that at a great school, I basically decided that I didn’t want to go bed sheet metal for the rest of my life. And like that, there were opportunities in that in the kind of mid 2000s, there were very few opportunities kind of beyond that.

So that wasn’t what I wanted to do. So I ended up going back and finishing up a business degree, not really 100% sure what I was going to what I was going to do. And as I was doing that I had a couple of opportunities. I worked for a German OEM, right, so I worked for this, this company that they built machines that basically large gantry machines to drill and rivet airplane fuselage together.

And yes, and so that was both a lot of fun. And that was an attempt to go find something that wasn’t in manufacturing, but was in aviation and aerospace. And yeah, and shortly into that, it became a Hey, Dave, we’d love for you to help us be a salesperson. But we wrote, what we really need is we need a manufacturing engineer, because our only manufacturing engineer is getting ready to go on maternity leave, right.

And so I spent a lot of time going and working on that side with the Germans, I also spent a bunch of time going in attempting and building a supply chain in the US because I think I was in US employee for us employee or something along those lines. And so was one of those opportunities that I got to, to leverage both of my loves, and I got to do some really interesting and amazing things. While doing that got to you got to leverage a bunch of skills.

And that was, that was a lot of fun. I learned a bunch of things, while doing that a lot of things that were good and a lot of things that were maybe less than good. But the the opportunities of working with a small company, a small organization are fantastic. I got to go and design what amounted to about $100 million aircraft facility. And very few people, while finishing their degree are able to go go ahead and say, Hey, I was given this opportunity.

I can still close my eyes sometimes. And picture as everything moves through moves to the plant floor. We did it all on engineering graph paper. Yeah, I like to say Damn. And if I were to do it again, today, I would do it completely differently. But I don’t know 15 years ago, 10 years ago, you don’t particularly know better. So technology has certainly improved, has certainly improved since then. And then kind of from that point, I continue to drive back into into manufacturing.

I spent some time working for a distributor and manufacturer’s rep, selling and leveraging hardware. And at that point in my career, I was like, hey, what I would really like to do is I’d really like to to go kind of build the use larger solutions build these data solutions. And so I spent about two and a half years running a systems integration company. And that was our main focus mostly on mes. So manufacturing execution systems.

And men, as we were talking about before we went live, I’ve got some really good stories of things that went well. And I’ve got some really good stories of things that didn’t go well. And if I may just transition into what I’m doing now, a lot of those things that I saw that didn’t go well over and over again have led me to start Kaplan solutions. And that is what I’ve been doing for the last three and a half years. And, and Damon some days it feels like, it feels a little bit longer. Some days, it feels like it was just yesterday. Yeah. The company.

 

Damon Pistulka  05:42

Yeah. Yeah. So so as you so one of the things I always like to ask people is, is, when you look back on it, what’s the one bit of professional advice somebody got you? Or gave you when you were getting ready to go out there with Kaplan? What’s the best piece of advice someone gave you when you said, I’m gonna go do this?

 

Dave Griffith  06:08

So I guess, I guess it’s the best piece of advice, but also potentially the worst piece of device depending upon how it goes. But I guess I had a lot of people saying, Hey, Dave, you should go do it, right, like, you should go ahead and take the leap. i At that point, had been planning to go make that transition, my wife and I had been planning to go make that transition for the better part of a year, like we knew what it was going to do. But But it’s always scary going and starting your own company.

Right. And, and so the best piece of advice that I have heard kind of over and over again, is is basically go give it a shot, right? Like go give it a shot, see what you can do. Now, I started Kaplan in 2019.

And we all know what happened in 2020. And everything that I had planned and thought I was going to do for those first six months and then had built some of a client base up on was not what we are doing today. Right? A lot of what we are doing today is delivering these high impact solutions. So being being nimble and agile has been exceptionally important. Amen. It is almost funny how everything continues to come full circle,

 

Damon Pistulka  07:12

that that for sure. And like you said, give it a go. Because you can always go over the other way if you wanted to. That’s That’s great advice. And then the other thing that you said, I think that a lot of people a lot of people get hung up on is they’re not nimble enough in their businesses. And that’s all the way through I don’t I don’t even think you can be in business for 50 years.

And I think it’s actually a worse problem than if you’re in business for five months, just because of the fact that the being nimble and listening to what the market really wants or how your skills really play into your customer’s needs. And where you can provide the most value is critical. So you you started doing with Kaplan you do profit by design? Is that?

 

Dave Griffith  08:01

Absolutely, yes. So for me profit by design is kind of an Damon, I think I’ve told you the story, right profit by design is, is kind of the, at this point, everything that I have learned, right, so I learned lots of things over the years, again, some of which went exceptionally well, some of which went exceptionally poorly.

And my goal with profit by design is to deliver these these high impact solutions. With that, what I’ve learned is that, you know, some people can come in and say, Hey, you can do X, Y, and Z things. And many times those from an outside party are valuable. But what I found some of the biggest value creations that I’ve seen over my career, are people internal to the company, right, like what are the pain points that the organization has?

And then understand how expensive those pain points are? And then can I deliver a solution that still provides breakthrough, high impact return to that organization. And that is the goal with profit by design is to go through a bunch a number of different problems that an organization has and see what is possible to deliver and what is possible to deliver quickly?

 

Damon Pistulka  09:15

Yeah, yeah. Well, the high impact improvements like that, I mean, you can come in and get the first major piece of the changes made to get a lion’s share of the improvement benefit. And then people can refine over time or just isn’t it? Yes, that’s true,

 

Dave Griffith  09:34

if I may say so a really good example of this is last year, I was working with a with a brewery co manufacturer right there in the 40 to $80 million a year range. And they had we had just implemented some some automated tracking, right. And so after one particularly bad week, I was on site, I realized that we had spent about 50 hours of the previous week. down. And I’m like, This is really bad, because 50 hours is about half of what they in theory should have been running.

So we were down about half of the time after going and just kind of asking some questions. I’m like, Guys, why were we down. And a good portion of that is because the beer and the seltzer kind of the things ready to go into the can line weren’t ready. So kind of going and stepping back to understand why that happened. It’s because the schedule changed a lot. It’s because things weren’t signed off. It’s because quality wasn’t done.

And if it’s not done, during the early stages of like, first shift, or beginning a second shift, we take all of this downtime and third shift, and especially on weekends. So we spent about six hours I walked in on a an immeasurable number of miles over the six hours trying to get everyone together, we grabbed one of the internal developers and kind of threw up an MVP of can what what would this look like to get some automated sign offs?

And what would this look like to get some automated sign offs? On Google Docs, what they had currently been using, and basically over the course of six hours, we rolled out this tool, and we save 30 to 40 hours of downtime the following week from the same problem because we remove the imperfect information that they were having.

And we did some rough calculations, because this was before profit by design became a thing became named as it was, and like rough back of the napkin calculations, it was like four and a half or $5 million of downtime problem that the organization had. And we should roughly save about 4,000,004 to four and a half million, depending upon how we calculate that right? We’ll capture the top 80 or 90% of those problems. Yeah. And I mean, damn.

And I can tell people that it costs approximately nothing, because we put an iPad up on a wall, used a TV that was already there and captured some internal resources. But but it almost sounds insane. But there are many organizations that I see that have huge internal problems that just a small MVP, couldn’t go prove out, Hey, we can go solve a problem this way.

 

Damon Pistulka  12:03

Yeah, there’s no doubt in that. And that’s it’s Yeah, I did. That’s such a great example, though. Because you’re like 50 hours of downtime in a week, and about half the production time that they actually were scheduled to be up. I mean, you doubled their production almost with what with that change? And that’s, that’s what is so amazing about some of these things that happen over time, it can be building up over time, it can be built into the systems and the processes already.

Well, that’s, that’s the way it is. Yep. And with a fresh set of eyes, we can we can uncover things that that really make a huge difference. So as we’re, as we’re looking at these kinds of things, what are the typical situation that you find yourself in so on? I mean, this is a great example, in bottling beer. I mean, it’s a that’s, and people haven’t seen it. It’s quite a process when you see it happening and see it happening in volume. But what are some of these situations? And what are some of the one of the most interesting situations you found yourself in?

 

Dave Griffith  13:18

Absolutely, absolutely. So I guess a lot of the situations that I talked to, to groups and organizations with are kind of, hey, we have a throughput problem, right?

Like we need to go make more of, we need to go make more of whatever we have, be it beer, be it cheese bit sausage via kind of juice, anything that you anything that you can make, typically, and especially I see a lot of this in food and beverage, right? Because if we can get it to the shelves, most of the time people are going to people are going to go purchase what this looks like.

So lots of times it’s a throughput or downtime conversation that leads me into that, that leads me into these. And and I have seen kind of the entirety of the gambit, right. So I sometimes work with with groups, um, I’ve got, I’ve got a great client down in Florida, and they have this really good core team.

And every time I go around, like to introduce people, they’re like, Hi, I am Dave, I have worked at x company for like 34 years, or I’ve worked. I’ve worked here so long that I have stopped counting my years of service. And they’re a great group, very strong union, right, that they pay very well and the longtime people that they’re able to give, but then on the flip side, like this brewery, for example, they had been in existence for six years.

They had just kind of in the middle of a co packing they had found this niche, and they had like two and a half times the orders that they were physically able to throughput every month. Yeah. So basically The longest person of service that wasn’t an executive that had a piece of the company was like, two years. Right? Yeah.

And in many of these places two years, doesn’t get you to to the filler. Right. And in many places two years is I’m still carting you know, cardboard from the back. So I feel like we certainly run and see the gambit of of different groups and of different people. And the amazing part to me, is that almost regardless of how good the group is, there is almost always room for improvement. If we look at if we look at downtime, if we like kind of any of these measures that are important.

 

Damon Pistulka  15:40

Well, yeah, I think I think you hit both ends of this spectrum there really nicely, because in the inexperience time, situation where people are fairly new, you’re gonna bring a level of experience to the situation that they don’t have, and a various flavors of the, of the experience that helps them come up with better solutions.

And that’s one of the things that that I had, somebody else was telling me about that years ago, it’s like, that’s one of the things that an outside resource can really bring to your company, is the flavor of many places, and many things that they’ve had to solve outside of your specific situation, which is really nice. And then with the next inexperienced workforce, you can level them up fairly quickly. If if, if you got good people that want to learn, you know, and want to do the things.

And then on the flip side of that, with the experience, people, sometimes we get a little bit, and I say we because I’m getting a little long in the tooth there too, you know, and sometimes you get a this is how we’ve done it. And I know that’s not the case of everything, but even even just like, hey, what do you what do you do when you come into work? What’s the first thing you do? And simple changes in some of these things, even in a highly organized experience workforce can make huge improvements.

 

Dave Griffith  17:06

Absolutely. A good example of that is, when I come in, I very rarely am the process expert, right? And that’s what I tell groups like, I am not the process expert, what I’m really good at doing is asking questions, right? So we found that downtime instance, at the company, where they lost half of production because of imperfect information, right? And I was just there, I was asking the question, I’m like, guys, how are we down this much? This doesn’t possibly make any sense.

But then on the flip side, I worked with some some larger organizations, as I mentioned, that the groups have been there for, you know, 2030 years, that was the literal core. And so I was down there working with one of with one of those beverage manufacturers, end of end of q4 last year, and I’m just we’re going through and we’re looking at different opportunities, we’re actually deploying what I call a connected workforce tool.

And so what that is, is if you guys are familiar with like Facebook, of like the early 2010s, you can go use your phone, use a tablet, go say, Hey, I have a problem here, it gives us the ability to go filter those problems so that we can then solve the problems and store it in a knowledge base. Right.

And so, so we’re we’re going through rolling out that and they’ve got this really interesting tool that allows us to take documents and videos and pictures and put them into QR codes and put those QR codes where people need them on the machines. So we saw David, it’s one of my most fun stories from the end of last year. So so we’re I’m going out to lunch with all of these guys. Like all of the maintenance managers and things like that. And I’m like, Hey, guys, like, what are your problems? Like, you guys seem to have a really good core group?

How can I help you do your job. And we had this offhanded comment of, hey, what would be really nice is to take our electrical drawings, because our electrical drawings are either printed in a stack somewhere on the floor, or they’re in a, or they’re in a document control version. That was the last time I looked in, and four people knew how to use it. And two, and a half of them have retired or left at this point. So basically, one person knows how to use it. And so the pain point is it takes 20 to 60 minutes every time we have to go find one of these drawings.

And I’m like, Wait, so if we were to take these drawings to key machines, put them on the machines, and we get you guys to scan them and immediately pop it up. It would save us, I don’t know, hours every week and the answer turned into Yes. And that it’s a $10 million opportunity, right? We’re going to conservatively save two to 5% of the downtime by just giving them the tools at the place that they need it. And it’s a huge opportunity. And this is just leveraging technology.

And what I’ve found is if I can get those people who have been there for 20 or 30 years to want to use the tools, I’m going to be able to capture the knowledge and we’re going to be able to help the younger force the young have a workforce that is coming behind them. So when I go in, I look to win over the people who have been there the longest, right? Like, we were like, Hey, we really need these three people like if Damon is the old guy, and Damon’s like, No, I don’t want to change. It becomes a daemon, what is your pain point?

How can we help you? How can we leverage whatever these tools that we’re looking to use into going to to help what you’re doing, and not 100% of the time, but a very high percentage of the time, 90 95% of the time, we’re able to turn some of those people around into our internal project champions, we can in turn those people into internal project champions, literally the sky’s the limit, they are not going to let the project fail.

And if they’re not going to let the project fail, they’re not going to let anyone screw up the project and the thing that they want to do, and more often than not, if we can relate the pain points that the elder statesman that people that have been there the longest or having and solve those problems, we’re going to do tremendous impact to the business at large.

 

Damon Pistulka  21:04

Yeah, that’s pretty crazy. Because you’re right, if you can get the get the right champions for getting things done. On board with you, you’re going to, it’s just your projects are going to get done. And they’re going to help make sure that everyone else understands and is just say, if you set up some kind of procedure that or way to do something, they’re going to make sure that it’s followed. It’s going to because otherwise, that’s, you know, one of the things that I’ve seen many times as you can have great ideas, but if they’re not executed the way they’re supposed to it’s, it’s sitting on a shelf as a great idea.

 

Dave Griffith  21:38

Absolutely. I think I promised you a horror story, or horror stories, Damon?

 

Damon Pistulka  21:41

Yeah, we got in there, because that’s

 

Dave Griffith  21:45

absolutely. So one of the one of the core reasons that I started Kaplan that is turned into what we’re doing with profit by design, I think I said I did a lot of mes manufacturing execution system work. And, and I would like to be very clear to say that I wasn’t part of this in the beginning, if I was I wouldn’t have allowed this to happen. But but it’s the story kind of as all this time, right.

So someone at the end user goes and builds this list of requirements in a vacuum on a whiteboard. And then they say, Hey, this is what we have to do. So that it goes out to bed and a company that I worked with, for a while went and bid it. And originally, the project was supposed to be I don’t know, $200,000. And it was supposed to be done in I don’t know, like three to six months. And it turned into two and a half million dollars in three years. And then they go try to launch this behemoth at this end user.

And, and Damon, this is one of my like, gets the most poetic thing. For whatever reason, the entire system was leveraged on the fact that we’re going to schedule in this system. Now, mind you, we apparently had never talked to the scheduler to understand how they schedule things. So go day by day, one of when we’re supposed to launch this thing, go to the scheduler say, Hey, we’re gonna go schedule in this for now.

And to my understanding, they basically said no, right? They’re like, No, we’re not going to schedule in this. And in the most poetic of things, that’s where the project died, right? Like the plant manager was it no one was willing to tell the scheduler they had to schedule in this system. And literally two and a half million dollars in three years of project poof, gone, the internal project manager got fired. And as I’ve said before, very much deserved to get fired for a bunch of reasons.

But it is one of those like, we could have just asked a couple of questions, we could have solved people’s problems. And instead of getting in a fight as to the things that need to be done or not done, we could have turned this into a hugely impactful solution. And honestly, we should have rolled it out in phases for a variety of reasons, including there were three years of lost opportunity over the course of this project that just continued to balloon up and up and up.

 

Damon Pistulka  24:04

Yes, yes. Wow. That’s, that’s a great, great example of a system implementation gone bad from the beginning. Because that, you know, over the years, I’ve been involved in a number of them, not huge ones, but even the ones that I’ve been involved in, you can be in a 15 $20 million company and end up spending a million dollars on a on a system type and implementation if you’re not careful. And absolutely, and then, and then like you said, you get to the end, and you go, Who the heck decided that we needed this?

 

Dave Griffith  24:43

Yep, absolutely. I see lots of I was gonna say I see lots of projects and programs that what like you consider going in piloting something right. And there’s no success metrics at the end of it. So we get to the end of this thing. And people are like, well, it didn’t do what we expected it to do. But you don’t have requirements or specifications at the beginning to determine what is six at what will be what would make a success versus what would make a failure.

And I see it time and time again. And, and looking at it from the business side. Like it doesn’t make any sense. But having lived on the implementation side, most requirements that you see don’t have business cases, right? Maybe at best, you get some functional requirements. And I’ve seen it everything from small, single million dollar companies to multibillion dollar companies that I go in. And I’m like, how did you guys get yourself in this position?

This is like, literally, we should scrap every, like, if we didn’t have $200 million of equipment and integration done, we should have literally scrapped everything and started over from scratch. But But here you are. So before startup, we have to kind of bandaid it together so that hopefully we can run production so that hopefully five years from now we can actually go fix things that should have been solved to begin with.

 

Damon Pistulka  26:06

Yeah, yeah. Huh. That’s awesome. That’s awesome that there are problems like that to solve because it, it pushes us and drives us to really think about things differently. Yeah, just in when, when we get in, you know, thinking about the perfect or the theoretical where we want to go, it often outpaces where we really should be going.

And I think it gets a lot of people hung up, especially when you’re putting systems in and you’re thinking about I don’t know, I just saw us again the other day, that’s why it’s relevant to me. Is that a, you talked about MES system? Are you talking ERP, or there’s any of these systems that are underlying across the business like they are? And you go, well, it’s really cool that you handle scheduling this way. But can you make it do this? Yep. Or, you know, we don’t really invoice like that our process is different, can you follow our process, and people don’t understand what that does.

And you and ERP or MES system, people that have done it before, people that have lived through it, after the fact and tried to go back and upgrade to another version of software or something like that. I think a lot of people get caught in, up in the fact that if we are going to use one of these systems, we need to see how our processes fit within the framework of the systems, and then use what the system has first and foremost. And only if we come to an impasse that we can’t work around easily.

Do we ask for custom programming, that’s going to be something that in a later version is going to be a problem? Or, you know, because, I mean, in small companies, I’ve seen where you go, okay, that’s gonna be we’d like to upgrade to the next version of our ERP system that well, yeah, it’s gonna be this the upgrades cool, but it’s gonna be 100k to get the the all the custom programming done that you did, you know, five years ago, when you put this thing in to make it keep working like it is.

And not to mention that it’s like, then you lose all of the, there’s just there’s so many of these systems that everyone is glad, especially the bigger systems, you talk to some of them that are that are owned by some of the companies that that probably on some of the platforms we’re on right now.

They’ve got some system that they’ve got a bazillion people that will customize it to no end. And and you get to deal with that for the rest of time. That’s my my long winded answer of a poignant problem, I think in these systems. So how many times do you run into that? Where do you just go? One of our biggest things we could do to is just strip junk away?

 

Dave Griffith  29:04

Absolutely, I guess I guess a lot of the time, right. And I don’t think it’s necessarily ever intentional that we stand on a whole bunch of software’s on there. But so much of the time, I get I guess I have a client who loves the football analogies, right? Like he loves blocking and tackling. And I feel like when you get to conversations like this, I have to use Mark’s phrase of hey, we just need to go back to blocking and tackling. Because so many of the problems that I see are the basic problems, right? It’s not, hey, we need to go customize this in our ERP or mes. It’s a hey, we really need some standard operating procedures.

If we did operating procedures, then we could judge people against do they do the things that we tell them to do? And then we could go and force these things and continue to move on. But no, very often. We go through this process and I would say maybe two or three times a month. I have Conversations with either clients or potential clients. And it’s like, Hey, we’ve got this old system, we think that we’re gonna go to this new system, or we’ve got this old system.

And for whatever reason, the company is saying it’s gonna cost three, four or $500,000, just to upgrade to the new version, like, does it make sense. And I’m like, guys, for three to $500,000, we can build you something brand new, that is one going to cost less two will never cost half a million dollars in support or upgrade fees. And three, we can go reimagine what you’re doing to either fit your processes or fit what you want to do in the future.

And I think that that is the big thing. When you go to look at impactful solutions, are you going to look at the strip away and redo some systems? We really like don’t take, don’t take the half step back and say, Okay, I want this exact same thing to look exactly like it does. I like to ask clients, you know, where do you see yourself in five years? Where do you guys want to be in 10 years? Let us build the structure so that we can help get you there.

So that two years from now you don’t call me up and say, Hey, Dave, I decided to go add a couple more lines, or hey, Dave, we decided to go add this tool. can we leverage a tool like this into what we’re doing? And I’m like, Well, no, guys, because three years ago, we made the decision that we were never going to go down this path or three years ago, we never talked about it, because we didn’t talk about it. It wasn’t designed in. And so we’ve got to redo 50% of what we did in order to get there.

So a lot of the times it’s it’s not just pain points. It’s like where do you guys want to go into the future? And let me help you build that vision, be it a roadmap, or whatever it is, so that you can get to that point? That is some of my favorite style of work that I do with end users, right is what not only how can it be impactful, but to how can we do the best job to to future proof ourselves for the next five to 10 years to make sure that we don’t have to go spend two or three times the money to rebuild things that we have done in the past?

 

Damon Pistulka  32:09

Yeah, you make some really good points. And we have Martin doctor on here is talking about low code. And when I saw that, I was like, yeah, there’s there’s a lot of things that are happening now when you talk about systems.

And you talk about the fact that people might want to just upgrade but there are come so many different solutions, that technology is, as provided for us now really, that that are alternatives to just, hey, this continue on our upgrade path, we’re on version 10, it’s time to go to 11 or 12, or 15. It might be to go. Now we need to go to this because it’s a whole new way of imagining how we’re doing this, and it’s going to be able to take us forward.

 

Dave Griffith  32:50

Absolutely. I would say that I’ve seen a bunch of low code and no code solutions. I think that they’re really exciting into into the future. I guess I would say that if you guys are an end user, considering, hey, could I just go buy this low code platform and already give it to the folks that already exist?

And they can go imagine this thing. I have seen it work in varying degrees have absolutely no success to some success, but you only got 20 or 30% of the way there. So I and as I told them, names will be changed to protect the not innocent, right? Yeah, but I have I’ve got a friend who works for a large medical device company. And they were looking at systems, right, I think they were looking at OEE overall equipment effectiveness. So basically just kind of uptime versus downtime versus quality tracking. And with that they considered going a bespoke or custom solution to what they’re doing.

But they opted for a low code platform. And they found three people from different areas have three different factories, and gave them this tool. And it took them like six months. And each of them put up a little kind of production thing. Like they they built a solution. And Damon these guys are telling me, Dave, you know, we found 2% or 5%, or something like that improvement. And I’m like, Guys, if you had paid someone to come in and do this, and then help you execute on it, you’re probably at 30 or 40%. Right? Typically 3040 50 200% are are what I am seeing. But and you do that quickly, right?

You do that by three months, you should be 200 plus 200%. As opposed to going and leveraging internal talent because you’re that’s always a constraint, right? Yeah, no one at companies nowadays has a free year 20 to 60 hours a week in order to go build things. So I love low code solutions. I think that they’re really good. I think that they’re going to help professionals leverage what you’re trying Trying to do both quicker and less expensive than going to bespoke path?

 

Damon Pistulka  35:06

Yes, I agree. I think some of its pretty neat stuff that’s happening. And I think in the right hands with the right on, this is something that you know me with enough, as much gray hair as I have there used to be a day when, when people said while we you know, we’re going to do that we’re going to do it internally like that, because we always did.

But realistically, you hit one point here that we should really think about, and I hope people listening, think about this, there aren’t people in your company that have the time to pick it up, learn it, and effectively implement it, and then support it long term, like you can by having an outside place that does it every day, come in and do it faster, you get what you want, you know, more more than likely a little bit better because of the experience they bring to it.

So quicker time to solution, because time to solution is so key in these things. And then the long term support is much easier to get because you can have them come in, it’s not Oh, Dave’s busy. So he can’t work on it for the next week, or Dave’s on vacation for the next two weeks. What are we going to do?

You know, those are the kinds of things that you deal with when you’re trying to use internal people on some of these things that are that are more specialized. And I think that’s really where we have to step back. And like you’re talking about when we’re implementing these high, high impact system improvements. In in the day, it was it was lean, lean manufacturing, you know, we everybody used to hate to pay for the consultants to come in to teach to do the Lean events, right?

Yeah. And, but what you realize is, because they have the outside perspective, they’re not trying to do this and getting the calls from the executives or them being an executive trying to do it and all the distractions that that come forward, they’re focusing the people together and getting these improvements done. And then we we execute, and move on everyone moves on until the next time we’re doing it. And it’s just one of these things that we have to use the I think the outside resources allow us to be more profitable, faster, and more and better.

 

Dave Griffith  37:21

Absolutely. And then I would add to that, I guess, two things. One, whenever I talk to large companies, and it’s typically the company, I guess, I see internal development done two ways, right? New companies who are leveraging low code, no code, who are leveraging Google Docs, or teams or things like that. And I think that those are great kind of beginning tools. But then I also see kind of large legacy, fortune 500, fortune 1000 companies, who 2030 years ago started building these things, because they didn’t exist, and they that they needed them.

I have helped and worked with a number of those kinds of transition away, because what basically amounts to tech debt damage. And I think that’s a lot of what you said, right? At some point, we have to decide, are we a software development company that is going to continue to be in this this terrible tech debt and development? Or do we want to pay like 10 or $15 per user per month in order to leverage the newest, greatest latest, and if something is an issue, we just go back to our service level agreement and say, You guys promise 99.999% uptime?

Yes, we’re down. You guys owe us something back because we’re down. Right. So I think that I see lots of transition that way, because we have lost a lot of that internal talent. And many of the times what we are developing today is two decades behind. Because we started developing it 20 years ago, it’s just behind the tools that we should be using today. So I absolutely agree with that. And kind of from from the outside perspective, I think that that’s very important. Right? Yeah. And doing things the way we do them is, is one of the most frustrating things that we say, especially in manufacturing, and industry.

So a really good example of kind of that, that outside perspective is a couple of years ago, right? So I was working with a tool and dye manufacturer I guess a tool manufacturer, right? And so they had a problem. Then the problem was well they had a lot of problems, which is why they call me that’s typically when people call me Damon right yeah, but but but kind of at the core is they had this machine that was a constraint.

And so you go look at the machine and it had three different sections, right, it had a heat treat section on a belt furnace that dumped into a quench that got picked up and robot robotic arms, slowest robots I’ve ever seen picked it up and kind of did the and hardened the teeth of the tool. And so you go kind of at the beginning and you’re walking through and this this is the constraint for the entire organization.

Yeah, we put more tools. They would sell more tools. So you go you look and they’re only putting like They’re only filling like 60% of the belts. And we’re like, Guys, why are you only filling 60% of the belt? And it’s like, oh, it’s because it’s how we’ve always done it. You know, when I came in five years ago, they said, We could only fill it this much. And we’re like, well, let’s try to fill it 100% of the way and Damon fill it 100% of the way, and we find 40% plus 40% throughput for the facility. But it gets better, right?

Because for some of the tools, they’re double stacking these things, and we’re like, why aren’t we double stacking all of these in heat treat if this is the issue, and they’re like, Oh, well, we would have to replace this fairly insignificant motor, in order to be able to pull more weight of these tools through so changed out the motor is like $5,000 worth of upgrade and motor and drive. And so suddenly, we are quite literally through putting 140% on goodness tility of what we came in.

And one of the most painful things is I think we were only about halfway done because it’s still such a slow machine. I think we could have I think we could have found another guy, I don’t know 4050 120% of improvement with there. But but it’s one of those things that you have to have that outside perspective and and my job that I find is is to ask questions, right? And I ask lots of stupid questions.

And that’s what I tell people. I’m like, Guys, this might be a stupid question. But I feel compelled to ask this question, because I don’t understand and your process. And Damon internally, I’m thinking, I generally know the answer to these. But like, your process might be so different, that you guys have to do something specific, very infrequently is the process so specific that we have to do something different.

Another another example of that is, I do a lot of heat treated work, right? I don’t think about it until I come up with these stories. But I was doing a small system upgrade at a at a fairly decent sized facility. Go going standing there the operator of this box furnish press the same 17 Buttons every time 10 times a day. And it’s like, why are you pressing all these buttons every time because they’re exactly the same.

And it turns out, because that’s how the that’s how the HMI was built, he had to press the same 17 Buttons every time. And what amounts to I don’t know, half a day, we go make sure that they’re always the same button, make sure that there’s no reason that he’s got to go press these buttons, take 17 buttons, put it in one button that he just presses that is scans in the lot presses the button, and we find in extra, an extra heat treat load every single day.

So we went from 10 loads a day to 11 loads a day, in less than an hour of development work and half a day of running around trying to make sure we could do it right to that organization. It was worth a million dollars or more. Yeah. And so there are lots of things that we’ve done this way, because we’ve always done it that way. And there are lots of huge improvements and many times huge improvements for relatively low dollar values.

Yes, for organizations, you just have to someone has to be there to ask the question. And it is easier to have to pay the day if they pay the facilitator to go in and ask these questions. And and I’m happy to go jump on the sort of if there’s if they are silly questions than it is to have the people kind of internally speak up like, why do we do it that way? I couldn’t possibly ask because that’s how I was trained. I look like a fool if I ask someone why we do it this way. Yeah,

 

Damon Pistulka  43:25

that’s a good point. It’s a good point. Because the questions there’s where the gold is where you find the gold and, and it’s a great example. And I think you said one thing in this that is really incredible. And I think people need to really take this to heart in these industrial situations or situations where you’re processing a lot, and they’re their bottleneck kinds of situations or, or those that these are not necessarily multimillion dollar changes to get these kinds of throughput change, the throughput increases.

And and that was one of the questions. So when you’re in there working on this, do people have a fear that there’s just really not anything you can do? And it’s going to cost a ton of money from the onset. And that’s what prevents them from doing doing more of this, you think or what do you really think is the apprehension.

 

Dave Griffith  44:24

So I think it’s that people don’t consider it right. So historically, if capital has been cheap and and human labor has been cheap, and we’ve got the space, like historically, people just go buy more lines as opposed to trying to optimize the line that they have.

It’s not until capital is expensive and we’ve run out of space and we can’t get more hands that we go to look at these and and honestly Damon I think it’s just that there are very few people who look at things the way that I look at it, you know, the business is a system and there are important levers that one needs to pull to increase the throughput right Like, one has to find the constraint the thing slowing down the entire line, or the entire facility, before you pull the correct lever, like like I could go, may I could go optimize 95% of the systems in an organization.

But if none of them are that constraint, then we’re still going to throughput the exact same thing. So I think there’s just very few people who have that system thinking, and there are very few people that just go ask those questions. I don’t particularly have a good answer why? So there are very few people that ask those questions. And many times when people come in are like, Hey, we’ve got to optimize this, again, we’ve got a scope of work or something else, that just doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t hit the business needs.

So if we take half the step back, say, Hey, let’s go see if there’s a better way to do this, or let’s go get some of the outside perspective, because everyone has been here for 20 or 30 years, we only know the things that we know, let’s go bring someone else in for a relatively inexpensive number of dollars. Let’s see if we can do stuff with the people we have. And and many times when I come in, and I ask these questions, we’re helping to increase throughput or increase profit.

And when we’re doing that, we’re making the jump the lives of the people who are doing the jobs better, because we’re solving pain points they have so so we’re removing some of the worst tasks that people have, and allowing them to upskill and up train into less repetitive manual tasks. And I think that’s where we see and will continue to see big wins. And if I may, there are many organizations that have managed to get by just by kind of sheer momentum.

I think that if organizations and it doesn’t have to be with me, but if organizations don’t take a step back and look at their process, you know, with the cost of capital continuing to rise, with inflation continuing to rise, and we’ve got pressures on all sides, and we’re there. Yup. And the workforce, we’ve got all of these issues, like if we don’t take a hard look at what we’re doing, there will be companies that just cease to either exist or cease to have any idea of how they actually make things, because everyone will have retired.

 

Damon Pistulka  47:15

Yeah, no doubt. Well, and you make so many good cases throughout the conversation here today, company and a lot of companies are in the situation, if we could make more, we could sell more. That was when he said make more, sell more, I’m like, oh my goodness, there will be a all out focus if I was in there, if you make more and sell more, because that’s usually the harder thing to do is to sell it all.

And and then you talk about future proofing and really looking at these simple things that can that can take us a long ways forward. And, and continuously working on that as you get going with it. So awesome stuff. Dave, what do you got coming up? That’s going to be where people can talk to you? What’s the best? Well, first of all, yes, what do you got coming up in the near future where people can talk to you or listen to you?

 

Dave Griffith  48:07

Absolutely. So So I have a fairly busy next couple of months. First and foremost, I host a show where I co host a show called manufacturing hub, where we talk every Wednesday at four o’clock East Coast time on LinkedIn, and YouTube and most other platforms, where we talk kind of all about manufacturing, we’re slightly different, we absolutely get into some technical conversations.

And we have, we have every month we pick a different theme. So we pick a different topic. And we have four conversations around that. And so sometimes we get super technical, sometimes we get more into business cases. But it’s our goal to kind of put good information out there. This month, we’re talking all about data driven sustainability. So how to leverage data to save energy to save money to do all of those things.

So every Wednesday at four o’clock, you guys can check that out. If you’re looking for more information, check out manufacturing hub dot live is the website that we have and go ahead and follow me on LinkedIn. We stream on my LinkedIn profile. Beyond that, I’m going to be at a couple of trade shows. So if anyone is at Hanover, messy in the middle of April, April 17, through the 22nd, over in Hannover, Germany. It’s my first time going, I’m super excited to be there. I will be there all five days.

I’m doing shows I’m doing some interviews, I’m doing some live builds, that should be exciting. And then beyond that, I will be at automate, which is the week of May 22. Up in Detroit so I would imagine most people are in are in North America here. So Detroit is generally much easier to get to than Hannover, Germany, which fun fact diamond is exceptionally hard to get to from basically anywhere.

 

Damon Pistulka  49:49

Yes, well, that’s awesome man. So people can see you on the manufacturing hub at 4pm Eastern time on your LinkedIn profile and watch that live or they can go to magnify At train hub dot live and catch you there. And if you haven’t already connect with Dave Griffith on LinkedIn, and you can follow him there and find this information. Dave, thanks so much for talking with us today.

 

Dave Griffith  50:16

Absolutely. Daymond thank you so much. Thank you everyone for listening, if anyone has any questions, more than happy to connect and have conversations with you guys.

 

Damon Pistulka  50:25

All right, awesome. Well, thanks everyone for being here. We are going to take a little break with the faces of business I’ve actually got some time with family for the next couple three weeks that we’re gonna be having some fun, and or No, maybe, no, I think he’s just like one week and then a big back but but the schedule will be out there. But thanks so much for joining with us and we’ll be back again with more interesting guests. Have a great day everyone. hang out for a minute Dave. You

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