LMAC Insight

Calling all Manufacturers: Switch Production – Save lives

These are unprecedented times that call for urgent and innovative solutions. As I read about the UK government’s plea to manufacturers to switch production to urgently needed ventilators, I wondered what New Zealand manufacturers could do in this chaotic time. 

After 30 years in manufacturing, I know for a fact that the old saying “demand breeds innovation” is true. Take the Christchurch earthquakes, for example, I certainly saw some lateral thinking during that period. But this is a different problem entirely – where our global supply chains will be tested like never before.

It’s pretty safe to say that some, or more likely many established supply chains across a broad range of industries will fail. The impact of the collapse of existing supply chains will range from minor inconveniences for some to major job losses for many.

That doesn’t sound good enough to me so I’m reaching out to the manufacturing community for some ideas.

Could a shampoo manufacturer switch to making hand sanitiser?
Could a filter manufacturer produce face masks?
Is there a company in New Zealand with the potential skills, equipment and expertise to design and build medical respirators?
Can manufacturing companies come together and pool their resources to find solutions to the problems caused by this emergency?

Rather than battening down the hatches, I believe we can all contribute to create something incredible out of this adversity.

Come on New Zealand! Let’s do what we do best – let’s innovate!

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Complete the questions below to test your data maturity.

Over the next two years, which three of the 14 key performance indicators do you most want to improve on as a business?

Make a note of these before you carry on reading.

The key 14 performance indicator categories:


  • Asset & equipment efficiency
  • Inventory efficiency
  • Materials efficiency
  • Utilities efficiency
  • Workforce efficiency


  • Planning & scheduling effectiveness
  • Production flexibility
  • Workforce flexibility


  • Time to market
  • Time to delivery


  • Product quality
  • Process quality
  • Safety
  • Security

Now ask yourself – what is your current performance against these three KPIs? Can you tell me how you performed in the last hour, yesterday or last week?

If you can’t answer this question for all three because you aren’t measuring the data, then the next step is clear. Figure out what data you need to enable you to measure it, and decide how you are going to collect that data.

If you can answer it historically; last week or last month – ask yourself, is this retrospective view sufficient for me to really make improvements?

If you can answer it for all three up to the minute, then it is quite possible that shopfloor intelligence isn’t a number one priority for you. Look out for parts 2 and 3 of this blog series for some more insights into how you can make the data work for you.