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2019 MLC Summit: Harnessing M4.0 to Make People Smarter at 3M

“Our purpose is to use M4.0 to achieve more customer-focused innovation, not simply to change all our plants to be digital. We believe that if it’s doesn’t add value to our customers, we shouldn’t be doing it at all,” explained Dr. Rebecca Teeters, Corporate Manufacturing Operations Director, Film and Materials Resource Division at 3M during her insightful speech on the first morning of the 2019 Manufacturing Leadership Summit in Huntington Beach CA, today.
At 3M, she stressed, the ultimate goal of M4.0 is to create smart value streams that better serve its customers. To do that, it needs to make its people better and smarter, and empower them as part of a continuously improving performance culture. And to do that, it aims to use new digital tools in such a way that they will help make the work of those people easier and give them the opportunity and power to make change, improvement, and innovation happen.
And, added Teeters, that requires a different kind of company culture. “We truly believe in the collaborative democratized environment, which doesn’t work with a traditional command and control structure,” she said,
So when 3M looks at M4.0 opportunities, she continued, “we realized that we should really be leveraging new technologies to make our people smarter, not simply to create digital factories.”
One of the challenges, she noted, is to move out what 3M calls ‘pilot purgatory’, where the focus is often only on proving the technology itself. So 3M not longer uses the word ‘pilot’ in any of its M4.0 deployments. Instead, it uses phrases like ‘first applications’ and ‘first use cases’, which doesn’t raise the question about “whether we are going to do it,” she explained, “it’s about how we are going to scale it.”
This approach, she suggests, is essential to increasing the velocity of change and helping to empower and engage people, all supported by a highly customer-focused, end-to-end digital ecosystem.
It is also the way that the almost 120-year old 3M organization, where a substantial 54,000 of its 90,000 employees work directly in manufacturing, can truly harness the power of new digital M4.0 tools to continue to enhance its century-old reputation as a hothouse of innovation in the future.

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