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MBE Insights for Manufacturers: Stay Sharp Episode 33

By May 24, 2024No Comments

Episode 33 of Razorleaf’s Stay Sharp podcast, Model Based Challenges in Manufacturing, features our co-hosts Jen Ferello and Jonathan Scott interviewing aerospace manufacturing veteran Jeff Gleeson, who possesses more than three decades of experience using and innovating production business practices at Lockheed Martin. The trio dig deep into what the transformation from traditional approaches to model-based enterprise (MBE) can involve, the change of culture or mindset required, and the biggest challenges to the transformation.

What MBE Is and Isn’t

Jonathan starts off by suggesting that MBE concerns organizations that use models across the company, in different parts of the organization. And by “models,” he means much more than 3D geometry, but any data-rich description of whatever the organization is producing. Jeff agrees that organizations need to have a broad definition of models, noting that doing so requires a change in mindset. “What it is not is simply your 3D CAD solid that defines the shape of the product,” he says. “That is absolutely part of the model. We’ve been doing that for 30 years or more and didn’t consider it to be a model-based definition. So, what do you have to add to the 3D CAD solid to have a model-based definition? To a large extent, the answer is metadata. It’s all the additional data that may be invisible to the user, but it’s baked in.”

Jeff goes on to explain that MBE is more than simply digitizing information—though viewing it that way may be tempting to enterprises taking the initial steps to go from traditional to model-based operations. Part of the change in mindset that’s required is thinking beyond the metaphorical drawing when you transform your process from paper to digital, automating wherever practical and possible, and embracing how digitized processes can streamline and shorten cycle times. But he recognizes that doing so isn’t easy for any organization. Jeff says, “It turns out to be pretty difficult, apparently, for humans to step outside of their traditional silo and collaborate deeply and with great effect with folks either upstream or downstream of them.”

Overcoming Resistance to the Change MBE Represents

Jen, Jonathan, and Jeff spend considerable time talking about the challenges inherent in making a big organizational change like the MBE move. Primary among them is, unsurprisingly, the human element. As Jeff summarizes, “It’s people. It’s always people. People are always the hard part.” But he’s also quick to point out that he’s not suggesting there’s any malice involved. “I think everybody wants to do a good job,” he says, “they all just have a different view of what doing a good job looks like.” Or an understanding of the objective, Jonathan adds.

To smooth the way for big transformations like the move to MBE, Jeff says, “strong, visionary leadership at the top is critical. Then then constant communication, a lot of repetition, laying out the vision for the whole organization so that everybody shares in that common vision and understands what their place in it is. I think if you can do that, then all those well-meaning people who really want to do a good job have a more harmonized view of what a good job looks like.”

To smooth the way for big transformations like the move to MBE, Jeff says, “strong, visionary leadership at the top is critical. Then then constant communication, a lot of repetition, laying out the vision for the whole organization so that everybody shares in that common vision and understands what their place in it is. I think if you can do that, then all those well-meaning people who really want to do a good job have a more harmonized view of what a good job looks like.”

Learn More About MBSE

The full podcast episode offers additional details including the kind of cultural change that MBE inevitably requires, understanding the need for data and process transformation with the help of a SIPOC (suppliers, inputs, processes, outputs, customers) diagram, how the move to MBE can help standardize manufacturing processes and communications with suppliers, and much more.

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