With a multitude of offerings for the automation and digitalisation of productive operating processes, is there any word about firstly understanding the challenges at hand and the purpose of implementing technology or are we loosing/forgetting the goal of our productive environment?

Are we adding technology without firstly understanding basic principles and focusing efforts on what really matters? Are we all forgetting the goal of a productive process for the sake of using the latest and the greatest technology?

Let me start by stating that I believe in and love technology. We are standing in a great innovating period that allows us to dream in reducing environmental impacts with even traveling to Mars being on the horizon. With technology changing the way we live and work, this is for me, an unprecedented moment in which we all are very lucky to live.

Yet, when talking about production and manufacturing/operating environments, time and time again I have observed an overwhelming use of technology solutions, mostly used in parallel and typically adding little to no-value to the assets and the production environment they get implemented in.

There is no coincidence some of the underlying topics of conversation that come up with many people in the industry are:


  • Technology implementation that in some cases seem to overcomplicate simple processes.
  • No conclusive improvement made with the implementation of new automation or technology.
  • Improvement claims not backed-up or supported with data
  • A disconnect between the goal of the operating environment and the implemented technology
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It is also common to find that in many productive environments, the goal has now shifted towards creating technology rather than making the most out of their existing operations. Put more simply, as an example, some companies are aiming to become “Tech companies with operations”.

This shift in view, has propelled the abundancy in product offerings, both hardware and software promising to solve the problems the operation has. With many of these solutions implemented in parallel and without the right goal in mind, operations often find themselves steering away from throughput, inventory, safety, and costs targets.

And whilst, in my view, technology indeed helps in problem resolution it is not in itself a panacea when basic principles and common sense are not applied to solve the real challenges at hand. Let me be clearer, I think there is a lack of fundamental approach, and it is confusing technology generation as the goal rather than treating technology as supportive element/function that allows us to achieve the real goal: Producing quality raw or processed materials in a safe and sustainable way for both people/communities and the environment in which they operate.

By any means, I am not saying that technology is the source of the issue. It is quite the opposite, I think the use of technology serves a great purpose, when technology is well identified, implemented and sustained and most of all seen as a service to the real purpose of your operations. On the contrary, when technology is used as a sole purpose for the operation is when I see most downfalls.

There are great products and solutions out there that when configured correctly and aimed to solve your process bottlenecks (as identified through a proper constraint identification analysis) is for me the most sensible approach.

    To the point and with the aim to help, I share the methodology that we use when managing any of our technology implementation projects. Notice this does not differ too much from any of the improvement methodologies out there and is what we as a business have adopted.  This is the MAESTRO approach:

    • [M]easure: to Understand what is the goal and the purpose of the current project or project’s portfolio.
    • [A]nalyse: the Data. Data benchmark is required to understand current constraints and operation
    • [E]xecute: the so-often forgotten execution should be there. Ideas are to remain ideas if there are no executable actions in place. Beautifully designed PowerPoints remain just simple presentations when there is no real outcome from them.
    • [S]ustain: all the solutions put forward. Making sure that the end-customer of your solution has the knowledge and the capability to sustain the outcome is always imperative. To achieve sustainability of the solution you should:
      • [T]rain: main stakeholders and operators of the solution provided.
      • [R]eport: the outcome of your implemented solution.
      • [O]ptimise Further: Understand that there is always room for improvement. There are many other ways to build upon what you have implemented so far and keep going.


    This approach, when used correctly will allow you to understand and measure technology implementation based on the goal and purpose of your operating environment and allows you to make sure the implemented technology is sustained over time.

    Dr. Eliyahu Goldratt in his book “The Goal” aims to keep us in check by reminding us that:


    “What I’m telling you is, productivity is meaningless unless you know what your goal is,” he says.”
    ― Eliyahu M. GoldrattThe Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement