How Microsoft & ThroughPut are helping Global Manufacturers increase Output during the COVID-19 Pandemic, and how every Operations Professional can help
The Defense Production Act has been invoked to meet PPE demand in the United States. Automotive manufacturers are remobilizing to produce ventilators. Medical testing companies are scaling to meet unprecedented demand. Medicines in clinical trials are being fast-tracked for limited COVID-19 testing. Nations are enforcing lock-down and curfew protocols that are mainstays in wartime situations, rather than pandemics. These are serious times indeed.
However, despite the majority of sensational, media-fueled experts, and leaders creating hysteria around humanity’s bleak future during the COVID-19 pandemic, I want to take the time to remind humanity that when it comes to Operations, humanity’s capabilities remain infinite, and we are already working towards a greater future.
There are already signs of recovery. China expects to lift the lockdown in Wuhan, which was previously ground zero for the pandemic. South Korea has reported the lowest number of new cases in 4 weeks, leading the way on the containment execution roadmap. Even the canals of Venice are clearing up due to the reduction of pollution and overuse. While the Tokyo Olympics are being postponed, but heroes of a different calling are assembling together daily to achieve medal-worthy feats in keeping the base-line global supply chain operating.
Humanity has survived every threat before this. We are around 100% likely to overcome this as well. Our responsibility is to minimize the impact, manage our healthcare system’s capacity, and make sure the right supplies show up at the right place at the right time.
This is what we already enable every day at ThroughPut for our global industrial customers. We help the “doers” find, manage and leverage bottlenecks to increase output, especially in critical times. In fact, in the last 6 weeks alone, I have personally been to the front lines of Yokohama, Milan, New York, and San Francisco, working alongside some of the world’s most professionally-committed food manufacturing & distribution, plastics manufacturing, and industrial operations personnel. Like yourselves, many people are working the extra hours to keep humanity resilient.
As of today, I am healthy, but like everyone else, vulnerable, yet vigilant. Every day, I am working with the ThroughPut team to help increase output or reduce operational expenses, depending on each customer’s own demand situation.
For over a decade, I have overcome flow problems that few will ever get the chance to tackle. As a chemical engineer with a background in biotechnology, oil & gas, and supply chain, I have had my pick of flow problems to solve. Professionally, I have always been a “flow” guy. This journey started with academic achievements that led to a teaching role for a University-level Process Engineering Design course. It continued with my graduate work involving high-throughput screening, a term every American knows the significance of today. Post college, my shale fracturing teams were responsible for three major hydrocarbon discoveries. Currently, in the advanced analytics space for supply chain, I have the flexibility to help eliminate bottlenecks for some of the world’s largest canals while also ensuring things end up on Mars in one piece. In short, my value to the world is increasing process output at critical junctures, especially where it was previously nonexistent. And until now, I have never shared what I do publicly, because there has never been a need to.
Why? Because I realized that operations professionals are expected to do incredible things daily, wash their hands, and go home to their personal lives. That there are people who serve in the military and in healthcare that do far more honorable and impactful things, that I do not. As an operations professional, my job is to enable them. Especially now, with production teams, supply chains, the National Guard, healthcare workers and first responders rushing to the front line.
The reason I am sharing my accomplishments now is in hope to establish credibility with you, so together we can help humanity at scale and faster while the need is especially dire. It goes without saying that everything I do professionally, I do for the sake of throughput.
Last week, the US government announced a $2 trillion dollar stimulus into the economy in order to maintain critical levels of output. This is in addition to the likes of Dr. Deborah Birx and Alex Azar explicitly mentioning “throughput” many times in each and every White House brief.
While I have had success solving problems that are valued in the billions of dollars many times before, what is developing to be a multi-trillion dollar problem is unchartered territory, and requires a different level of scale, scope and reach.
As every day goes by, I realize what we do at ThroughPut is unique for our customers, and that right now the world severely needs what ThroughPut offers literally yesterday. Even with our Advisory Board of world experts in Lean Manufacturing, Theory of Constraints, Total Quality Management, Theory of Profound Knowledge, Just-In-Time, Total Quality Management, Toyota Production Systems, and other philosophies that can triple profitability, triple-team productivity, double output, and enable zero defect environments, we cannot scale fast enough right now to address COVID-19 on our own.
Our constraint is not our ability to help global manufacturing at scale, but to help global manufacturing in time. We need to get past all the red tape and into the hands of all global manufacturing operations professionals now, especially those looking to ramp up ventilators, medicine, masks, food, and testing production.
We need a larger and more far reaching technology partner that can help us scale and keep operations running smoothly for far more companies at the required output levels, even if we have to do it remotely from our laptops in quarantined cities. More importantly, we need to work with a technology partner with broad reach and whose leadership understands that this is a critical moment in history to serve people, and like us, be willing to forego financial gains in the short-term, for the greater good of humanity’s needs in the long-term.
Five years ago, Bill Gates led a 10-minute TED talk forewarning of a pandemic and calling out to the community to be ready to mobilize production to meet humanity’s demands during the next major disaster. So, it is only fitting for ThroughPut to answer that calling from Microsoft’s founder now.
Additionally, under CEO Satya Nadella’s leadership on the enterprise side, Microsoft has even more reach and influence now than in 2015, with products like Excel, PowerBI & Azure becoming the backbone of enterprise data management. Today, manufacturers can store their data flows in systems like Azure to visualize and enable real-time models of how goods flow through the world, which is mimicked by the data that flows alongside its respective goods in the global supply chain.
To summarize, Microsoft has the three key resources ThroughPut needs to help manufacturers increase output tomorrow: storage systems where manufacturers can host their data across millions of instances of Office and the Azure Cloud suites for bottleneck detection, Azure’s scalable architecture to ramp-up with ThroughPut’s Industrial AI models into multi-facility environments (including tens-of-thousands of factories and facilities globally), and an industrial enterprise salesforce with unparalleled reach in the manufacturing sector.
Customers can store their data at almost every manufacturing facility in the world, and they have Excel, PowerBI and Azure in the hands of many production teams. Those teams just need the right manufacturing enhancement tools, like ThroughPut, to immediately leverage their data and increase output today by identifying constraints faster and identifying what to prioritize. After all, humanity is now depending on the global manufacturing sector not to become the global bottleneck of supply chains. Walmart and FedEx can keep shipping, as long as we can keep producing.
It’s on manufacturers now to not let humanity down on its critical needs. This is where leveraging your data to improve management around Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), Output, and On-Time-In-Full Inventories matter like never before in human history.
Additionally, ThroughPut also understands that the amount of manufacturing data tied to “trillion-dollar output” exceeds our startup’s current infrastructure capabilities. When we started building our ELITE platform on Azure almost a year ago, we didn’t fully realize the benefits it would bring to scale for this cause. In the last 60 days alone, we have seen our Total Operational Processes Optimized (TOPO) for clients grow well over 10x. So even with existing customers, we are now dealing with volumes of data that only partners like Microsoft’s Azure Cloud can support long-term. To help support every manufacturer in the world right now, we might need many data-centers-worth of infrastructure. This is where Microsoft’s Azure capabilities provide us with the technology infrastructure and support in the highly-scalable, cost-effective manner ThroughPut, our customers, and global manufacturers require now to meet humanity’s ballooning needs.
Even with existing data and scalable data architecture to enhance output with our AI-engine ELI and ELITE app, ThroughPut cannot deliver enough value in-time, without being able to reach the surge in customers and data. Realizing the potential to help manufacturers globally at this critical time, Microsoft for Startups and their Silicon Valley office helped ThroughPut recently became both “Co-Sell Ready” and “Transactable” for immediate purchase through Microsoft’s Azure Marketplace and AppSource Marketplace. With an existing vendor relationship with Microsoft, manufacturers & production teams now have immediate online access to ThroughPut’s services, at such a critical time of need.
Though the goal was previously to generate sales, right now, we believe that meeting humanity’s needs matters first and foremost. We are following the news daily, seeing dozens of articles about manufacturers citing how difficult it is already to meet demand, watching the effects play out in the industrial data daily, and what that means in terms of lower output, lost sales, and worse, sick and even dead patients.
Right now, every little bit matters. Every additional ventilator that can be manufactured and shipped to someone sick in the world. Every face mask and rapid test kit that can be provided to healthcare personnel and first responders. Every pasta sauce bottle that can be delivered to a family in Italy. Every additional patient that can be assessed for illness each and every day by a doctor in New Jersey. Every single unit matters. Now more than ever.
So, to help global manufacturing meet additional output needs today, ThroughPut will be giving away our Microsoft Azure-based ELITE platform for free.
ThroughPut’s ELITE is our manufacturing enhancement module that takes existing manufacturing quality data (think good parts vs. bad parts), to generate an instant report on the potential dollar, man-hour, and unit-savings by using our digital cloud app to track quality.
The ELITE Platform automatically:
1) Analyzes output and quality standards across shifts
2) Predicts root causes of lost output and quality
3) Estimates financial bottom line impact from achievable output
4) Generates a report for immediate action plan to rebalance resources to enhance operations
ELITE will be available for free for the first 30 days of subscription, and we will continue to extend the free offering every 30 days, until we determine that global output has stabilized and the COVID-19 pandemic is behind us.
In order to achieve this, ThroughPut is going to not only provide our software for free, but we’re going to train manufacturing professionals at no cost. We will hold as many webinars and training video conferences as necessary until as many people as required, regardless of technical backgrounds, have the help and training they need to operate the already easy-to-use Azure ELITE app themselves. You can email us at any time at firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out to us on our website www.throughput.ai.
ThroughPut realizes humanity’s demands are not being fulfilled at this crucial point. It’s a time to put growth metrics and milestones aside, and double-down on making sure we bounce back faster and stronger than ever.
We look forward to harnessing the power of Microsoft’s enterprise architecture and reach to allow us to amplify what we do best: unlock unprecedented output for humanity.
So, manufacturers, assemble! Let’s tackle the world’s greatest capacity problem together and come out for the better on the other side.