On a recent factory tour, the guide said to our small group, "Oracle eliminated my job, …and it was the best thing that ever happened to me". Of course that statement turned a few heads. With eyes and ears focused on the next words, he went on to describe the 15 years he spent on the factory floor, his role as shop-floor hero, becoming a key equipment operator and racking up significant overtime. He talked about the special codes that were needed for machine settings to make the proper parts. Over a period of time, he was able to memorize these complex conversion codes based on various materials, tools and instructions. His role was indispensible. That was then.
He explained that once Oracle Manufacturing R12 modules (MES) were installed however, the machine settings were all pre-programmed into the console and that any junior operator can now run the machine. The machine settings were set now within Oracle, with the part and associated barcode that tied the specific piece to the specific machine tools, dimensions and orientation.
The guide went on to describe how he now trains new machine operators and works on functional lean improvement teams. He heads up a series of shopfloor and quality teams reviewing root-cause failures to identify additional steps that could be taken to make the process fool-proof. He said that removing the human components or judgments from the process was the best way to drive consistency. His new position involves learning the Oracle Manufacturing applications and to find ways that added functionality could be engaged to drive process improvement. He said it was the best thing that happened to him since he still has a great paying job, shares his experiences to a wider audience of production people, and has a balanced family life. He is now studying the next release of Oracle Manufacturing to see what greater capability can be invoked to the benefit of the plant. He said he is still a hero but in a different sense.