Collaboration and Communication Can Optimize Your Operations

OpX work products, such as Request for Proposal, Acceptance Testing, Remote Equipment Access, and Total Cost of Ownership, can help improve manufacturer/supplier relationships.

PMMI’s OpX Leadership Network brings together industry experts and provides networking and tools to facilitate communications between suppliers and end users. Those who participate in OpX forums experience an open dialogue between manufacturers and OEMs that share a dedication to operational excellence.

Process improvement documents have been published to aid manufacturers in areas such as request for proposal (RFP), acceptance testing, total cost of ownership (TCO), and remote equipment access. These documents help both manufacturers and suppliers get on the same page and maintain strong, lasting relationships that are mutually beneficial. 

Request for Proposal 

Op X Rfp GuidelinesOpX’s RFP Guidelines for CPG Industry and its accompanying RFP Process Template give CPGs a consistent preparation process that enhances the clarity of customer expectations while minimizing important information omissions.

Historically well-intended, RFPs convey a CPG’s vital requirements. Too often, however, the process has lacked consistency, clarity, and a thorough explanation of required critical expectations. Sometimes, OEMs were making assumptions in response to RFPs. As a result, CPGs were not getting what they wanted, when they wanted it, or at the price they wanted.

The RFP Guidelines provide a common, systematic thought process that enables greater clarity and understanding of capital project requirements, resulting in better outcomes for all stakeholders involved in the process.

As a companion document to the RFP Guidelines, the RFP Template is a working document in an Excel format that allows users to record key information to convey to internal team members, as well as external bidders, on capital equipment project requirements.

Recently, the Total Cost of Ownership Working Group updated the original playbook and checklist with the addition of user guide features that make it easier to navigate this document and gain the maximum value from it. 

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Acceptance Tests

Op X V FatThe OpX Leadership Network’s Capital Projects Solutions Group, which works to enhance communication among all stakeholders during the process of commercial transactions involving capital equipment, has developed the One Voice Factory Acceptance Tests: Protocols for Capital Equipment in the CPG Industry. When used appropriately, these protocols help resolve criteria for factory acceptance test (FAT), virtual factory acceptance test (vFAT), and site acceptance test (SAT) expectations and reduce the miscommunication that can often result in confusion for both parties, unbudgeted travel and material costs, and increased timelines.

Criteria must be solidly defined in the RFP so that FAT or SAT costs and schedules are included in the projects. The process needs to be flexible enough for any company to use, but also standardized enough to be repeatable and recognizable. 

This updated document includes new leadership guidance and an additional review of responsibilities for both OEMs and end users, as well as the integration of the Virtual FAT work product, now an appendix vs. a standalone product.

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Total Cost of Ownership

Op X Tco User GuideOne of the most significant challenges facing CPGs and OEMs is determining not only the initial equipment purchase price but also the long-term cost of owning the equipment. There has been a lack of clarity in TCO, resulting in unmet expectations for too many stakeholders engaging in the commercial transactions for capital equipment. 

The OpX Leadership Network’s Total Cost of Ownership: Packaging and Processing Machine Guidelines for CPGs and OEMs document provides guidelines and checklists developed by industry subject matter experts for broad adoption throughout the industry, and it encourages dialogue and collaboration among all stakeholders during commercial transactions so that expectations are met by both parties. 

The document breaks down the ongoing costs that factor into the true cost of running machinery—from design and application through maintenance and environmental concerns—to allow CPGs and OEMs to move the discussion beyond the price tag to focus on the total cost of ownership. 

This work product includes four components that comprise the fundamental tools required for a successful TCO analysis: TCO scope, acquisition costs, operating costs, and TCO workbook. 

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Remote Equipment Access

Op X Remote AccessRemote Equipment Access: Options Analysis provides a common understanding of the pros and cons of common industry methodologies for remotely accessing equipment installed in manufacturing plants. The goal is to enable safe and secure remote equipment diagnostics and assistance. 

This work product is not intended as a how-to guide; it is designed as a discussion tool for considering the approaches available to enable remote access to equipment.

Though technologies enabling remote equipment access have been on the market for quite some time, adoption has been slow. This is particularly attributable to the disparate needs and goals of CPGs’ IT and OT functions. Much progress has been made in remote equipment monitoring for predictive maintenance and improved overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), but for security reasons, less has been made on inbound troubleshooting. 

This work product provides descriptions of the most important industry methodologies for enabling remote equipment access as alternatives to on-site technician access: 

  • Direct VPN
  • Converged network
  • Cell modem access
  • Black box
  • External managed secure network 
  • On-site technician access

Each of these is evaluated on seven key attributes regarding skills required, cost, reliability, and security.

The descriptions, pros and cons, attributes, and leadership guidance provide the primary tools for analyzing and determining the best value option for a company investigating remote equipment access. A major revision to this document is expected later this year to reflect significant changes in the world of connectivity. 

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