As applied to organizational improvement, system thinking is grounded in the following fundamental principles:
System thinking takes a birds-eye view of how the firm is employing the resources it has invested in in delivering value to its customers. System thinking posits that a firm’s resources do not operate independently, but work together in an interconnected and interdependent fashion, not unlike the musicians in a world class symphony. System thinking focuses on aligning and synchronizing the flow of activities among and between each resource as they collaboratively work together to create and deliver ever-increasing customer value.
When should we use a system thinking approach?
Any organization interested in improving its operational and financial performance should employ system thinking. System thinking is a different way of viewing and thinking about how your organization creates value for the customers that buy your products and/or services. In a business environment, system thinking focuses on delighting the customer by significantly improving flow in the value creation stream in your firm.
The focus on customer value creation distinguishes system thinking from conventional cost-driven management approach. Simply stated, cost-driven management breaks down the organization into its individual resources, products and services, then focuses on driving down or optimizing the cost of each resource in isolation. Unfortunately, this approach not only results in sub-optimal system performance but also ignores the only part of the system which generates cash inflows and future growth, the customer.
System thinking as a best practice focuses on aligning and synchronizing the activities of all resources in a system. In the process, waste is eliminated, lead times are shortened, labour is freed up, capacity is released, costs are reduced, operational and financial performance is improved, and the firm becomes increasingly competitive. This approach will also effectively reduce a firm’s carbon footprint by reducing the production of greenhouse gases through the elimination of wasteful non-value adding practices.
Organizations are constantly facing new challenges, and the future is unknowable. The current pandemic adds additional layers of complexity and volatility into an already challenging hypercompetitive marketplace. As a manager or business owner it can be overwhelmingly difficult to determine what the next step should be for your business in this increasingly complex environment. System thinking helps clarify and simplify the way forward.
If your organization is struggling with any of the following issues, system thinking can help.
BKW’s Business Alignment Program
BKW can help you resolve the challenges you are facing, and help you insulate your firm from the myriad of complex challenges you are faced with every day. Our Business Alignment Program based in system thinking is a proven approach. It will help you to identify hidden opportunities, release untapped capacity, and improve your business’ resiliency.
If you are a small to medium sized manufacturing firm and anything you’ve read above resonates with you, we can help and would like to hear from you. Please click the link below to provide us with some preliminary information and BKW team member will contact you to discuss how we can help. Click here to contact the BKW team.
Press Release - Berlin KraftWorks Inc. Selected to Support Manufacturing and Supply Chain Execution for LyteHorse Labs
Kitchener, ON - September 24, 2020 - Berlin KraftWorks Inc. (BKW) is pleased to announce our partnership with LyteHorse Labs. BKW has been selected to support the engineering and supply chain management to take the LyteHorse Labs Electric Performance Vehicle (EPV) to market.
LyteHorse was created by two brothers, Allen Bonk & Brad Bonk. It began its life as a stand-on golf vehicle and has evolved into an all-wheel drive performance vehicle that can not only carry people, but their equipment as well. The efficient design is powerful as well as versatile making it effective in a wide range of industries and terrain.
“We are thrilled to be working with the LyteHorse team,” said Matt Weller, CEO of Berlin KraftWorks Inc. “With this project we have been able to complete design and supply chain work simultaneously making the EPV manufacturable right out of the gate with a supply chain specifically tailored to LyteHorse’s product and volume needs.”
“The BKW team has brought the experience and skill to take our innovative idea and translate it into a product that can be manufactured at scale,” said Allen Bonk, CEO of LyteHorse Labs. “They work as part of our team and deliver the data back in a measurable form, empowering us to stay in control of our design and supply chain decisions.”
BKW has been working with LyteHorse Labs to design the EPV for manufacturing and supply chain. LyteHorse has completed their 7th prototype and are gearing up for a series of trials before completing the final design for manufacturing. “The LyteHorse team is committed to creating a high-quality product for their customers. By aligning supply chain and engineering, not only have they reduced cost, but also the time it will take to get the EPVs out to market. We are excited to see them in action,” said Matt Weller.
About Berlin KraftWorks Inc.
Berlin KraftWorks Inc. makes it quicker and easier for companies to get their products to market. By aligning supply chain and engineering our hands-on solutions integrate into the entire process from design, through supply chain, to the end user. For more information visit www.berlinkw.ca
About LyteHorse Labs
LyteHorse Labs’ mission is to build innovative electric performance vehicles that ensure a sustainably greener earth and create a radical user experience. For more information visit www.lytehorse.com
Electrical Design Specialist, Berlin KraftWorks Inc.
I have been designing electronic hardware for most of my 25 years of professional life. One of the things consistently observed is a lack of detailed circuit analysis, especially when it comes to tolerancing and margining the implemented circuits. Why is this? Here some of the (many) possible reasons:
Does any of this sound familiar? I certainly have seen this happen.
We are living in a fast pace world. It can be dog eat dog out there in the corporate world. Disruptors are more highly celebrated than companies that have been in business for decades. Time and cost pressures force individuals and companies to make choices based on features and cost, not based on loyalty towards a specific supplier / manufacturer, even if quality and reliability has always been good.
In North America we import Engineers from all over the world. While they all have their degrees, what was taught around tolerancing and margining is a big guess. The Universities themselves have fallen under the spell of creating excitement – the next big start-up. Preparing their students for the real world, for taking the responsibility of a product design, often falls to the companies that hire them by either having rigorous standards or by having experienced Engineers check every little bit.
Product quality and reliability suffers when Engineers or the development team take shortcuts (knowingly or unknowingly) and miss checking their product tolerances and margins. The cost and time spent on doing this early in the development cycle is orders of magnitude smaller compared to fixing problems later in the design or even having to recall product from the field.
In my area electronic hardware design we typically design electronic circuits for a variety of applications. These circuits, when designed for a product that is expected to sell may be 100’s, 1000’s or more units a year, need to function reliably under all specified operating conditions. This includes production tolerances and environmental conditions. Unless the company had guidelines, you as the designer decide what you include and exclude when tolerancing the components you implement.
What does Tolerancing Look Like?
Below is an example on what tolerancing might look like and the impact it can have on the product you are designing. The circuit uses a hot swap controller (LM5069) and is based on resistors for overvoltage (OV) and undervoltage (UV) monitoring. The diagram below is taken from the datasheet.
R1 and R2 determine the undervoltage lockout (UVLO), while R3 and R4 are for the overvoltage lockout (OVLO). Both, UVLO and OVLO have a hysteresis, thus they have a high (UVH / OVH) and low value (UVL / OVL). For more detail on these functions, check the datasheet.
Based on the above formulas (datasheet #34-37), the hysteresis is determined by R1 (UV) and R3 (OV) while R2 sets VUVL and R4 sets VOVH. Calculations are relatively simple. However, it is of utmost importance to not only calculate the nominal values, but to include the tolerances of all parameters as shown below. As per datasheet (over the operating temperature range) the UVLO threshold can take values from 2.45V to 2.55V. The OVLO threshold is even wider, 2.4V to 2.6V. The UVLO and OVLO hysteresis current is specified as 12-30µA with a nominal value of 21µA. All resistors values are E96, 1%, excluding temperature drift since it is typically negligible.
The calculations show the deviation from the nominal values. UVL has a margin of roughly 1.5V, UVH of around 2V, OVH 3.4V, and OVL of around 3V. It is very important that these min/max values comply with the intended voltage input specification and do not cause any inadvertent shutdowns. By only verifying the specification against the nominal values some produced devices will work as intended while others may not function properly.
When taking tolerances into account, this example shows how much the actual implementation can vary from product to product. A different design implementation may improve or worsen the results and it may be worth investigating that as part of the design effort. In this example the UV and OV behavior can only be influenced by using resistors with different values and tighter tolerances. It is highly recommended to not alter any of the LM5069 component specifications as presented in the datasheet even if operating temperature is narrower than what the specification describes.
Take the time early in your product development and calculate your circuit tolerances. Ensure your circuits comply with all product specifications. Document your calculations, the reason why you implemented what you did, and how the implementation will perform against the product specifications. Good documentation will help Engineers (including you) to be more efficient in future product maintenance.
This article was originally published on HaraldSiefkan.com and has been reposted here with permission.