4 Top Questions from Yesterday's Smart Manufacturing Webcast

MES ebook thumbnail-1.pngOn Wednesday, November 2, LNS Research hosted the webcast, “Smart Manufacturing: How Manufacturing is Becoming the Center of the Enterprise.” This presentation helped companies understand what they need to drive Smart Manufacturing in an IIoT world and the new role of manufacturing operations in the enterprise. It also discussed what Smart Manufacturing means and why companies should start the journey now, actions executives should take to address the convergence of IT and OT, and key criteria for selecting a MOM partner to support next-generation business solutions.

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Q1. What do customers want to hear about MOM systems? What’s a big mistake lots of MOM vendors make when selling systems to clients?

A1. Customers want to hear that it is easy and an out of the box functionality will do everything for them, but if they do hear that they should run a mile. In reality, they want to hear an honest answer to the 80-20 rule – 80% is standard, and 20% is custom for the client. Similarly, when you implement one plant after another, you can reuse 80%, but 20% will be different. I think a big mistake the Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM) vendors make is to promise instant integration to level 4; the out of the box mentality again. This is a typical pain point for manufacturers as it involves both IT and OT people and is as much a cultural issue as a technical one.

Q2. By gathering OEE at the local machine level, boil it up to get this high level aggravated number as a plan level, what does that tell you at the plant level? What is it going to give me, as an aggregate?

A2. Boiling up to aggregate will give you nothing. However, taking many OEE results and analyzing them for patterns that might point to potential improvements will be of great value. This is a classic case of “New Answers to Old Questions,” and you can continually improve the analytics by addressing larger data sets and applying ever more sophisticated analytical techniques.

Q3. What kind of project methodology should we use for implementing IOT project?

A3. Sticking to the short answer, I think the most important thing is to use a project methodology with which the team is comfortable. Building an Operational Architecture into which the various components will fit is critical, but since an Internet of Things (IoT) project has so many components and applications to implement, one project method may not be enough. In the end, good teamwork and a solid organization supported by top management and including people from all parts of the enterprise is probably the single most important factor for success.

Q4. In Smart Manufacturing, we talk a lot of intelligent information that moves out of the different levels more for analytics and decision-making. What about control from the top down based on information without human interference?

A4. Absolutely! Control from top level down without human interference is what prescriptive analytics can offer. Moving to a sophisticated unmanned control strategy based on advanced analytics answering “New Answers to New Questions” will take some time. Not only are the analytics immature, but the confidence of process engineers is not yet anywhere near high enough for this to become the norm in a manufacturing environment. You can imagine technology from other spheres such as self-driving cars coming to industrial manufacturing: huge amounts of real-time information will be collected, analyzed, and used to make control decisions without any human intervention. When that becomes the norm, the IoT will have arrived.

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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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