Most of you are aware that I have left active participation with Automation World magazine. After 10 years and a small ownership shuffle, I just felt like there wasn’t anything left for me to create there. Hopefully, you are all still following my column there. I also do some small projects from time to time.

I have been more intrigued by digital technologies than print for a long time. Combining that with a passion for what’s next in manufacturing (and add in an area that is significantly undercovered by media right now), I’m focusing on the connected manufacturing enterprise.

This connected enterprise begins with all the connected devices in the plant or factory. This could be called Internet of Things or Industrial Internet or Connected World or M2M. This connection feeds into Manufacturing Operations Software–previously called MES–that is enabling a smarter and more effective manufacturing and production. And it all leads to better decision-making at all levels of the enterprise.

I find it interesting that, after a long and successful career at Invensys (and Foxboro and Wonderware), Mark Davidson has popped up as an analyst for Matt Littlefield–who in turn has left corporate life to start up a new analyst company, LNS Research.

Mark has a recent blog post about Manufacturing Operations that captures my ideas perfectly.

IBM taught me during my first “MRP” class in 1977 that you should first know what your manufacturing systems are, then optimize the system you have, then, and only then, should you apply computer technology.

We have new phrases, but it’s the same idea. Mark writes about seven steps toward “Aligning Manufacturing Goals with the Organization.”

  • Understand and Articulate Strategy: have a clear and universally understood manufacturing strategy that is in support of the corporate business strategy
  • Translate Strategy into Specific Goals: turn that strategy into specific goals for business groups and associated supply chains, as well as plants, units, and production lines
  • Map Goals and Specific Measures for Success: use a cross-functional team to map each detailed translation across the enterprise
  • Determine Key Performance Indicators: develop a set of manufacturing KPIs to measure progress toward your goals
  • Establish Communication Procedures for KPIs: make sure the right information is getting to the right people in a timely manner
  • Set Processes for How to Act on KPI Information: determine best practices for individuals from the shop to top floor to interact with KPI data
  • Match Performance Incentives to Aligned Goals: reinforce the effectiveness of measuring KPIs by incentivizing progress

So you do that. What are the common MOM and Enterprise IT applications that companies can use to support monitoring, analysis of, enforcement, and visibility of progress toward these goals? Mark lists nine:

1. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP): software that captures cost performance, order and materials performance information.
2. Supply Chain Management (SCM) and Supplier Relationship Management (SRM): software that captures supplier performance information.
3. Enterprise Quality Management Systems (EQMS): that can correlate quality and cost of quality performance information.
4. Asset Management / CMMS software: to provide asset and maintenance performance information.
5. Collaboration website and Mobile software: to organize and distribute appropriate performance information across a manufacturing organization.
6. Advanced Process Control & Optimization software: to model and predict complex manufacturing interactions and suggest optimum manufacturing set points within safe and profitable limits.
7. Historians, Batch Management and Manufacturing Execution Software: that captures the real-time manufacturing activity and performance from manual and automation / machine generated information sources.
8. Enterprise Manufacturing Information / Operations Intelligence software: that can correlate information from all of the above sources and present summary reports and live dashboards to guide manufacturing workers.
9. Human Machine Interface (HMI) software: that can display real-time graphical representations and trends of performance information from MOM software and automation / machine generated information sources.

This captures the core of what I want to cover at The Manufacturing Connection. You can go there now and sign up to be notified when we go live.

Right now, you can just stay here until we switch over. And if you’re a supplier in that space, contact me to get in on the ground floor as an advertiser or sponsor (yes, I’ll need to make some money on this hobby).

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