4 Most Asked Questions from The Analytics That Matter: A Fresh Perspective on Operational Architecture Webcast

On Thursday, August 23, LNS Research hosted the webcast, “Analytics That Matter: A Fresh Perspective on Operational Architecture.” The presentation explained the results of the 2018 Analytics that Matter survey and helped industrial executives understand a new dimension of Operational Architecture. The discussion also covered the data and analytics architecture that powers Digital Transformation goals.

Analytics Really Do Matter_Perspective of Control-ExtendedQ1: How does a company evaluate if its current architecture can support its analytics needs?

A1: Plant-centric operational architectures are all about control, and the needs of analytics are very different, but that does not mean you can’t run some analytics on your current architecture. There are first two tests I would consider:

  • Does my architecture support the collection of data from a wide variety of sources?
  • Do I have the connectivity and computing power to deliver analytics when and where they are needed?

One of the fundamental things LNS always tries to do when working on a Digital Transformation project is to define the as-is operational architecture state. As my colleague, Dan Miklovic, says “Trying to plan a route to your destination is somewhat tricky if you do not know where you are starting.” Doing an as-is exercise will help you to answer the questions above, and more importantly, give you confidence that the plan to reach the desired state follows the right path from start to finish.

Q2: If a company has plant architecture based on ISA-95, does it need to replace that as it introduces analytics and other IIoT functionalities?

A2: This is a similar conundrum to the previous question but with a slightly different starting point. If you have implemented some of the ISA-95 stacks, defining the starting point will be relatively straightforward (although there are sure to be some surprises on the way). In defining the future state, you can choose a route that will not require wholesale removal of the ISA-95 architecture, but you may find that you want to gradually modularize your manufacturing operations management (MOM) system, often the center of an ISA-95 based system, to allow it to talk with new apps and analytics. Look at our research on the seven lives of MOM to understand where you can go with a modular MOM.

Other than modularization, my advice would be to take small steps into moving away from ISA-95 based solutions. The core of such a system is the control hierarchy, and it is this that may need the most protection in the early stages of Digital Transformation. Anything that is outside direct control is fair game (e.g., scheduling, visualization, but perhaps not work order management). We often talk about IT/operational technology (OT) convergence and the convergence of architectures will undoubtedly inflict change on your ISA-95 system but make sure it is handled in a way that the people involved do not put the brakes on such convergence. Do not bring systems together without bringing the people together first.

Q3: Lean has always been about the people and interpersonal communications. Why do you think improvements continue or accelerate when companies switch to Lean digital tools?

A3: It is all about attitude; having worked with companies that live by their dedication to manual LEAN and Six Sigma processes, I am fully aware of the enormous benefits that these tools have brought across the production world (and all over the enterprise). However, things are changing, especially the makeup of the workforce - motivating young workers to live by manual continuous improvement (CI) processes is a tough call. The young worker of today thinks that constant means “glued to your phone!” They want current and timely access to anything that can help them to do a better job. Digital CI is a lot closer to their needs than daily team meetings on the shop floor. We are not encouraging dropping Lean processes, just supporting them with the appropriate tools and information that meets today’s needs.

If manufacturers move to digital CI tools, they will probably also use digital tools, up-to-date information sharing, and value-generating analytics across the enterprise. When we consider digital CI in that context, it is not surprising that these companies lead in other Digital Transformation fields.

Q4: You said that CI flavors and strategies are alive and well, but that companies don’t want to do those things digitally. Why is that?

A4: Comfort! We have discussed digital CI with both leaders and laggards in CI, and the one thing common is that people like to continue doing what they do. This is a bit strange when you consider the name of this field – continuous improvement. The tools focus on making small improvements to manufacturing processes and, most importantly, making sure that the gains stick. Unfortunately, many practitioners do not apply the same rigor and desire to change to their processes. As I said above, things are changing, and the evidence from our survey is that they must change, else old leaders in Lean and Six will become the forgotten giants of the 20th-century industry because they stuck to their successful old ways.

Analytics Really Do Matter - Driving Digital Transformation and the Smart Manufacturing Enterprise

All entries in this Industrial Transformation blog represent the opinions of the authors based on their industry experience and their view of the information collected using the methods described in our Research Integrity. All product and company names are trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of their respective holders. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by them.

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