timSowellPardon my analogy, especially given the bad news from FIFA, the governing body of soccer.

There is a progression in the development of a soccer referee. First you learn the Laws. You go out on the pitch and think you know everything. Until everyone starts yelling at you. You know that tripping is a foul. You just don’t know exactly when the challenge is a foul and just incidental contact.

As you learn how to recognize fouls and perform correct restarts, you realize that players sometimes get out of hand. You realize further that in order to do higher level, more intense games, you must learn player management.

Suppose you become quite proficient at that and progress to even higher levels of even more challenging games. Perhaps these are games with several thousand paying customers in the stands. You soon learn that beyond what you have learned so far, now you must know how to orchestrate the game. From the ceremony of the walk-on, to the ceremony of the kickoff, to the final whistle. You must think about the game as a whole while managing players and calling appropriate fouls.

See the whole picture

I thought about this analogy about seeing the whole while managing the parts as I read Tim Sowell’s latest blog entry regarding the Internet of Things. Sowell you know as a Schneider Electric software VP and Fellow. One of the biggest problems about the Internet of Things is understanding what it is apart from the rush of marketers to claim everything as IoT. Of course, the next step is how we use it to benefit manufacturing and production and the organization.

Sowell relates what a customer said during a conversation:

“The Internet of Things has moved beyond big data and analysis to how will we align the devices and people into an orchestrated operational strategy that achieves a repeatable agile outcomes.”

I like that word orchestrated. When you think of thousands of interconnected thinking objects in your facility, you had better think about orchestrating them.

Sowell sees a progression of data sources –> intelligent data –> information –> control of devices in an orchestrated way –> tuning operational behavior and effectiveness

“This seems simple but things require access to control strategies, and orchestrations that guide these things, now we talking 100s to 1000s of things in this coordinated community. Eventually you end up autonomy or semi autonomy ‘managed by exception’.

Thinking of problems of the past, “I thought back to many industrial sites I have been on in the last few years where there are 10s of PLCs programmed with larger control strategies but programmed at different times and by different people (even if from the same vendor) and how customers were having a significant cost of ownership in evolving these strategies. This why organizations like OMAC and PACKML have come about defining standard control strategies for operations/ devices that could span vendors.”

Now think of 1000s of devices programmed by 100s of people. Now you have great potential for problems.

“What if we enable standards management, the reuse of IP, and rapid rollout while leveraging the revolution to smart devices and lower cost devices that execute these strategies?”

I think that just as ISA95 is meant to help engineers and managers go from the big picture to the details of operations management, so we need tools to help us see the big picture for incorporating the power of the IoT into future operations management.

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