The Agile methodology is a process that allows a work team to be able to offer quick and unforeseen solutions to the evaluations received about the project in which they are involved. It is a method that allows opportunities to arise to evaluate the direction of a project while it is being carried out. Project evaluations take place in frequent meetings in which project members participate and are known as sprints.
It was in 2001, with the arrival of the new century, when the Agile method emerged with what was called the Agile Manifesto. It was written by a group of software developers who were looking for new ways to carry out these projects. What is meant by Agile are general principles for adapting to complex customer-centric markets.
The Agile methodology was originally designed to improve the software development process and deliver added value to customers through functional software. However, Agile is an approach that can be applied to processes other than software development. And the fact is that the Agile methodology also has an important relationship with the industrial sector. It has been known to find a way to manufacturing processes where Agile can offer greater efficiency, reliability and an additional focus on customer value, among other aspects.
When referring to the Agile methodology, it is necessary to speak of an iterative approach to satisfy the needs of the client by not committing to the final product until each demand or requirement is known in advance. Thus, while Lean methodology seeks to eliminate ineffective ways of working, Agile seeks to find better ways to develop products through iterative delivery.
Scrum and Kanban
Over time, dozens of methodologies have emerged from the Agile method umbrella of 2001. And among all of them, there are surely two that are better adapted to industrial environments: Scrum and Kanban.
Scrum is a methodology that has a lot of adaptation to uncertain environments. Those in which the evolution of the projects is changing in all aspects. It is used by product development teams in which the structure, characteristics and magnitudes of the projects are truly different from case to case.
In the case of Scrum, the roles that must be in the teams are defined, the way to organize the work, a sequence of each development period and how to monitor and improve the result.
For its part, Kanban is the other highly valued methodology in the industry. It is well suited to defined value streams in which the irregularity is produced by the characteristics and magnitude of the projects. Kanban is a complex environment to prescribe, which means that it requires few obligations in terms of its implementation. A fact that causes a versatile methodology to be treated and very well received when applied.
How Agile Manufacturing Works
Agile manufacturing works best when it comes to small teams. That way, manufacturers can rely on the efficiency, collaboration, and speed of their teams to get their assigned work done. Simply put, Agile manufacturing is a combination of strategies and technologies that enable manufacturers to gain a competitive advantage and ensure customer satisfaction.
In addition, it allows developers to have a clear vision of what they have to create, which shortens development cycles and allows processes to change based on feedback. In addition, Agile enables manufacturing teams to adapt quickly to market changes, as well as enabling organizations to have flexible project management strategies that help them keep up with market changes.
On the other hand, Agile manufacturing encompasses all parts of an organization, such as factories, equipment and even processes that are divided into smaller modular components that can be adjusted and reorganized based on current needs. This enables a reliable supply chain to be established, where competitive costs and flexible hours are possible.
Work production is considered a batch with proper fit and improvement between each batch, which will ensure a strong competitive advantage in the market. The fact is, the global economy can easily lose customers if timelines or product design aren’t flexible enough to change.
Agile manufacturing in the company
As with any Agile principle, adopting an Agile manufacturing methodology in a company requires a complete change of collective mindset. The problem, however, arises when an organization embraces Agile manufacturing only in theory while maintaining the same underlying structure and processes.
Adapting only a partially Agile approach can result in an organization inadvertently undermining the development of its products, especially those that used to rely on Lean Manufacturing methodology. Therefore, it is a good idea to assess the needs of your organization to determine if it is ready to take on Agile manufacturing. Agile is best suited for environments where there is low predictability and low volume, but the need for variability is extremely high.