Changing dimensions of manufacturing

ARC Advisory Group Changing Dimensions

Tim Sowell, VP and Fellow at Invensys, has been writing some thoughtful blogs at his Invensys Evolution blog. The link takes you to this first note. Check out a couple of other recent ones. In these posts, he looks at trends and challenges for manufacturing intelligence software.

In his first post of two where he discusses his customer conversations of last month, he talks about their needs for support for making decisions today–not waiting until more information comes in. They need the information presented clearly and in real time.

“All through this week in Europe I have spoken with customers looking for decisions in the NOW, and more people empowered to make these decisions. This does mean the traditional worker is evolving to knowledge worker, and this is across the different roles in the operational plant. But following on from last week’s blog the drive for realtime decisions is driving up the requirement for more advanced analytics to enable that decision, especially as the experience and time in the role of the decision maker reducers.”

He cites a study by the ARC Advisory Group (see chart) that emphasizes the following points:

  • The shift in time focus from Past to Future: in the industrial world I would put that as truly an expansion from the past and current to now past, current and future.
  • From a performance to a predictive view that enables that decision
  • Move from Batch data to realtime, this is key as we move from reports to dashboards that are dynamic with small trend tails showing now and immediate past easy to understand from a glance.
  • Move from IT intensive creation to Self service: this is even more apparent in the industrial space as operations want to be self empowered without the complexity and delay in engaging either engineering or IT.
  • Users move from a few Gurus to a collective team of people what I referred to as the flexible operational team (many blogs on this) where experience is shared to achieve realtime decisions. Virtual experts in an active community either from within a company across sites, and subcontractors/ suppliers can now be in the realtime decision with the on plant person.
  • Deployment will shift from “on Premise” to a “Managed set of on demand services” this while only just starting in the industrial space makes logical and even more sense in the industrial space. Because the information and these virtual communities will live outside of plants and across the world. Companies are talking of Asset Facebook concepts to where a community of peers and experts across plants working on similar equipment and processes can interact share and make informed decisions together. The concept of a hosted set of services for an Information environment will be foundational for this to work.

Another comment is the automated actions, I see this more in the industrial space as the shift from just supplying information to having embedded operational procedures to guide users through consistent actions.

Key Operational Challengers

While you’re on his site, check out the post on Key Operational Challengers. discussing a conversation with three end users who own strategy, he discovered that their key challenge was the high level operational drivers not the technical hurdles that they are facing as these are just constraints that designs and new practices must absorb.

They identified three key drivers in the course of the discussion:

Agility to adjust to market conditions and change. The clear common requirement was the end to end operational alignment, understanding across the value chain. This holistic operational control, was a significant change in all three industries the sites had run with independence, in all cases the expectation was that site / regional uniqueness will be maintained but now alignment and traceability of action, product across the total value chain, e.g.| multiple assets/sites.

The operational workforce transformation operational role retention / rotation. The impact of the operational culture, approach with gen Y and more holistic operations. [Gary note: I think this holistic operations concept is powerful, and I’ve been looking at ways to cover that more extensively.] Two critical factors are knowledge transfer from the retiring generation and how is the captured, and they are already seeing people in roles for much less time, and this is across the operational roles. So the issue is how to embed and design the experiences to enable to become effective dramatically faster, e.g.| 20% of the time today.

New Product Introduction. The life time of products and services is dramatically reducing, and the companies stated that seem to have ever change and introduction of new products and services. The move is to individual products and services for each consumer. How do we introduce, absorb these new products and services to the operational systems that will deliver them in a timely manner without significant error.

Sowell concludes, “Are these three points new no, but the fact that 3 decidedly different thought leaders from three different industries rapidly agreed on these as operational drivers, combining this with the fact that each point effects the others. The eventual take away was they were being asked to deliver one operational ecosystem to run the end to end product production over multiple assets with operational consistency. While 3 dynamics constantly change, the value assets / plants are added and taken away, new products and services are added at an ever increasing rate, while the operational workforce is becoming dynamic with a culture of evolution of the role and job, and people will not be in a role longer than 2 years.”

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