What if the time has come to rethink all these specific silos and strategies that we build software solutions around?
Folk/rock group The Byrds popularized a Pete Seeger tune in the 1960s, “To everything (turn, turn, turn) there is a season (turn, turn, turn) and a time for every purpose under heaven.”
The time has come to rethink all the departmental silos manufacturing executives constructed over the years with vendors targeting their applications to fit. This era of the Internet of Things (IoT), sensor-driven real-time data, innovative unstructured databases, powerful analytics engines, and visualization provide us with new ways of thinking about organizing manufacturing.
HMI/SCADA can become IoT enabling software expanding beyond the normal visualization role. Types of MES software break the bounds of traditional silos. Not just quality metrics, OEE calculators, or maintenance schedulers, what if we thought of MES as operational intelligence bringing disparate parts together? These can provide managers of all levels the kind of information needed for better, faster decision making.
I have worked with a number of maintenance and reliability media companies. They have all been embroiled in discussions of the comparative value of maintenance strategies: Reactive (run-to-failure), Preventive, Predictive, Reliability-centered. These are presented as a continuum progressing from the Stone Age to StarTrek. With them are always discussion about which is best.
The IT companies I have worked with fixated on predictive. They had powerful predictive analytics to combine with their database and compute capabilities and saw that as the Next Big Thing. They were wrong.
I was taught early in my career that Preventive was also known as scheduled maintenance. Management sends technicians out on rounds on a regular basis with lube equipment and meters to check out and lubricate and adjust. As often as not, these adjustments would disturb the Force and something would break down.
What if? What if we use all the sensor data from equipment sent to the cloud to a powerful database? What if we use that data to intelligently dispatch technicians to the necessary equipment with the appropriate tools to fix before breaking and at an appropriate collaborative time?
A company called Matics recently was introduced to me via a long-time marketing contact. They wanted to talk about the second definition of preventive maintenance. Not just unscheduled rounds but using sensor-driven data, or IoT, to feed its Central Data Repository with the goal of providing Real-time Operational Intelligence (RtOI) to its customers.
According to Matics, its RtOI system has provided customers with:
- 25% increased machine availability
- 30% decrease in rejects
- 10% reduction in energy consumption
Smarter preventive maintenance leverages continuous condition monitoring targeting as-needed maintenance resulting in fewer unnecessary checks and less machine stoppage for repair.
I am not trying to write a marketing piece for Matics, although the company does compensate me for some content development. But their software provides me a way to riff into a new way of thinking.
Usually product engineers and marketing people will show me a new product. I’ll become enthused. “Wow, this is cool. Now if you could just do this and this…” I drive product people crazy in those meetings. I think the same here. I like the approach. Now, if customers can take the ball and run with it thinking about manufacturing in a a new way, that would be cool—and beneficial and profitable. I think innovative managers and engineers could find new ways to bring engineering, production, and maintenance together in a more collaborative way around real-time information.