Digital transformation in the manufacturing industry is about leveraging data and technology to improve operational efficiency, competitiveness, and sustainability. Breaking down data silos and promoting data integration and sharing is essential to achieving these objectives.
However, many companies lock away vital data, creating accessibility challenges. This can impede collaboration, hinder decision-making, and slow down innovation within the chemical industry, often going unnoticed by companies.
Our blog explores how to identify and dismantle these silos within your organisation using digitalisation. By following our step-by-step guide, you will be able to move from silos to synergy, an essential condition for building a culture of continuous improvement.
Why is it crucial to eliminate these silos in the chemical manufacturing industry? To answer this question, we will look at some numbers. Firstly, approximately 7% of global energy-related CO2 emissions originate from the chemical industry. This substantial carbon footprint demands immediate attention and action. Secondly, this figure has increased by 12% in the last decade, indicating an alarming trend.
The connection between silos and sustainability might not be immediately apparent, but it’s crucial. In manufacturing, a staggering 72% of value creation still relies on human workers, according to Kearney Consulting. Engaging the workforce effectively is critical to improving operational efficiency and addressing sustainability challenges. Silos make this process exceedingly difficult by impeding data flow and creating friction in information exchange. And digitalisation makes a huge difference in it.
Data silos refer to isolated and separated storage or management systems for data and information within an organisation. These silos can exist for various reasons, such as different departments or teams using their own data systems, incompatible software, or lack of communication and data sharing between other parts of the organisation.
Silos can result in data fragmentation and segregation, making it challenging for various shifts, teams and departments to access, share, or collaborate effectively on critical information. These barriers ultimately hinder communication and knowledge sharing, impacting operational efficiency and sustainability efforts.
In a traditional manufacturing setting, silos manifest in various forms:
The consequences of these Silos are profound. They limit collaboration, create multiple sources of truth, increase the effort required to manage information and people and elevate the risk of errors. In an industry where sustainability relates to efficiency and is a pressing concern, Silos impede innovation and progress.
The most efficient way to identify Silos is by building a process map to visualise the work processes and data flows.
It is crucial to draw the “as is” process and not the “how it should be” process. So, start with selecting one area or function to map, going where the work happens and observing and talking to the people working in the processes. Focus on understanding the process, not judging or fixing it.
Being aware of the different forms of Silos and knowing how the organisation works can help. On the other hand, impressions and assumptions can be dangerous when identifying Silos since it carries some pre-judgment, so keep that in mind.
To illustrate the concept, we show a process map in the picture below. The image describes the data flows and the activities on the manufacturing shop floor of a chemical industry: the blue dotted lines show all the manual data processing, while the red lines show the only automated data flow.
As is evident, there is limited automation of data flows, discorded activity management and a burdensome reliance on manual processing, creating different Silos within the production team. By any measure, efficiencies were highly limited in this scenario.
Once you have identified the Silos, the next step is to eliminate them. For this step, empowering users in the chemical manufacturing industry through digitalisation is the key. To help you in this challenge, we prepared a step-by-step guide on how to break these Silos:
To make the above steps successful, it is crucial to ensure user understanding and engagement. And this is possible if you include people in the dismantling team, making them understand and contribute to each step.
Now that we have understood the steps, let’s go back to our process map example.
To implement the steps in an efficient, agile, and sustainable way, applying a user-centric tool is essential. The Cyzag platform is a cloud-based no-code application that bridges the gaps, dissolve Silos, and fuel manufacturing operational efficiency focused on the user experience. Users can build use cases within our application to store, structure, and manage data.
The Cyzag platform was used to break the Silos and data restrictions identified in our example. After applying the dismantlement steps, a new process map was built, and the changes were delivered in two phases.
Following the initial change, incremental updates were made based on operator use and feedback. Implementing the Cyzag platform was critical to creating a single source of truth, simplifying data flows and improving work efficiency.
Adopting the dismantling strategy gradually dissolved the Silos hindering collaboration and decision-making. The result was a more agile, efficient, and sustainable operation that empowers users at every level to contribute to a brighter, greener future.
The chemical industry’s journey towards sustainability and innovation relies on identifying and eliminating data and communication Silos. Equipping and training users with the tools and knowledge to break down these barriers are crucial to achieving a more interconnected and data-driven future. Through a unified digital approach and a commitment to collaboration, the chemical industry can overcome the challenge of increasing operational efficiency, reducing its environmental impact, and fostering a culture of continuous improvement.