Bardin’s no stranger to seeking out faster, more efficient ways to effect positive change in the organization, having helped steer the company’s efforts to bring the pharmaceutical industry’s “high throughput” research methodologies to the commercialization of new catalysts and materials. Advances that in the years since have yielded significant results not only in profitability but in energy savings and sustainable operations, too.
Looking forward, Dow promises to build an increasingly Digital Dow, with a digital thread across the company’s entire value chain. “The fun part of my job is setting us up for successful value delivery in the near-term, while establishing a path for the next 20-30 years that optimizes our manufacturing assets, data, and connectivity,” says Bardin.
From a production perspective, increasingly data-driven decision-making, together with plant optimization in real-time, top his future predictions list. His crystal ball also indicates the increased use of smarter, low-cost sensors and robotics—both of which promise to increase productivity and worker safety. Think sensors that can not only eliminate or reduce operator rounds but serve as an effective and reliable means for assessing potential equipment failures, and robots that can eliminate the need for hazardous and time-consuming confined-space-entry practices. “If they can use robotics for exploration of Mars,” Bardin says, “we can do it here, too.”
DIGITAL BLACK BELT
A master black belt in the Lean Six Sigma methodology, Carlos Ruiz learned early on in his career that new systems and process will only deliver results when people are at the center of the plan.
Over his career, Ruiz has successfully applied these principles in a series of increasingly responsible
positions in industries ranging from automotive to packaging to consumer packaged goods. Today, he’s responsible for manufacturing engineering and operational excellence in North America for L’Oreal, the global cosmetics powerhouse.
It’s hard to imagine a manufacturing industry more impacted by society’s digital transformation, or the extremes of “batch size one” mass customization. In the US, the company already manages over 1,200 new product launches annually, and Ruiz foresees a future in which the company must become ever more agile—able to pivot quickly to capitalize on a celebrity social-media mention of a nail polish shade, or to match an individual consumer’s skin tone (perhaps conveyed through a smartphone app) with custom foundation delivered in time for tonight’s cocktail party.
“Our mission is to accelerate transformation of manufacturing to be more consumer-centric,” Ruiz says. “We need the technology, systems and the mindset to respond more quickly to customer demand.”
Guided by the vision of Industry 4.0, the company’s digitalization effort started in earnest some 18 months ago, and North America has taken the lead across all global operations, Ruiz says. “We needed to augment our suppliers and vendors to keep the pace with the change, so our engineering team started co-developing the agile lines that will deliver the results needed by our business. At same time, we’re focusing on upskilling and training as a key objective. Our employees will be equipped with new capabilities and mindsets to embrace the new world of manufacturing.”
Speak even briefly to Jolene Baker about her work, and two things come clear quickly. First, she lives and breathes data; she’s passionate about rooting out patterns and the insights they reveal.
Success, however, comes for her when those insights can be used to effect positive change in the world—for example, by helping front-line workers to eliminate redundant, non-productive tasks, or using quality data as an early indicator of environmental issues for an oil & gas producer. She’s particularly invested in a project she’s working on now called WaterSMART with the Bureau of Reclamation and OSIsoft to build a community of water data stakeholders in the Western U.S. The goal of the project is a better understanding of water usage patterns and, ultimately, the coordination of more effective conservation efforts.