Podcast 231 Are You Being Served?

I’ve unleashed another podcast into the wild. Find it on Overcast or your podcast player of choice.

While thinking about the proliferation of as-a-service models of business, thoughts of that 70s and 80s British comedy TV show came to mind. Are you being served? Proved feasible by Salesforce and then adopted by many including recently HPE as the strategy for the entire company, we are witnessing automation companies exploring the as-a-service business model. I wonder how far it will go.

Taking the Edge of Edge Compute Into Outer Space

We talk about the Edge here. Usually that means taking compute out to the factory or process with connections back to the cloud for more intensive compute. Michael Bird does some informative and entertaining podcasts called Technology Untangled. The latest one discussing taking Edge Compute into space isn’t on the Website, yet, but I’ve linked to my favorite podcast app Overcast for your listening pleasure.

Podcast 228 Clear Your Mind

Sometimes we clutter our minds with what we think we know and leave no room for learning new things. In the process, we fixate on an idea and miss the simple and most elegant explanation.

I had received a news release from a manufacturing software company so full of jargon that I could barely decipher it. In the midst of the stuff was the claim that there are 40,000 IIoT professionals. Huh? I figured that they renamed engineers and technicians who wire all the field devices into a new profession. Why? Why make things more complicated than they are?

The best bet is to apply Occam’s Razor wherever it fits–the simplest explanation is often the best.

This podcast is sponsored by Inductive Automation. Check out this year’s Ignition Community Conference at https://www.inductiveautomation.com.

Podcast 227 Open and Interoperable

Podcast 227 Open and Interoperable

Imagine laying railroad tracks west from the US east coast and meeting up with a crew laying railroad tracks from the west coast only to discover that the width between the rails was different. Standards make a huge difference.

Open standards, open APIs, and open source all enable interoperability and all make life better for users. My discussions over the past couple of years indicates that US engineers are falling behind in the encouragement and use of these technologies. I hope I’m wrong, and I hope the new generation of engineers pick up these ways of working and move American manufacturing forward. And the rest of the world, too.

Podcast 226 Respect for People

Show notes: Get outside. Get outside into nature, a park or something, to refresh your mind and body. Get outside your preconceived ideas and prejudices for better thinking. Mary Donelan came to KMC Systems to use Lean to improve productivity. She had to overcome existing prejudices that improvements meant reducing workforce. She exemplified the basic Lean principle of Respect for People leading personal growth along with improving productivity allowing the company to take on more work. Then I wondered about adding software and knowledge workers and any impact on productivity. This leads to considering Cal Newport’s new book A World Without Email and a look at improving knowledge worker workflow. Finally, a challenge to Americans about adopting standards and productivity-enhancing methods. Thanks to long-time sponsor Inductive Automation.

Guest on Manufacturing Make It Right Podcast

I made a guest appearance on a manufacturing podcast I just learned about last month–the Make It Right podcast with Kevin Snook and Janet Eastman. Very smart people. I hope I added something.

The episode title is Digitalization–Shaping the Future of Manufacturing. Digitalization – Industry 4.0, IiOT, Smart Factories – or whatever you choose to call it is changing the manufacturing landscape. Sensors littered throughout factories collect and share data to monitor and enhance operations, and data collection can start as far back as the source of a product’s raw materials. This mountain of data will have a huge impact on four primary areas; 1) operational efficiency; 2) predictive and preventative maintenance; 3) supply chain management; and 4) inventories and logistics. This week on Make It Right we talk digitalization with Gary Mintchell, an independent podcaster and blogger for the manufacturing sector.

Sometimes I think those terms are simply marketing phrases. On the other hand, there is substance underneath each. We touch on each of the four areas. One pet peeve though is the emphasis that people have on “predictive” maintenance. When I work with the IT developers, they know about predictive analytics. Running with that thought, they extrapolate to predictive maintenance as a sort of panacea. I tried to steer the conversation toward predictive as just one of the tools for good maintenance practice–along with preventive and condition-based and even routine rounds.

The real breakthrough I see happening begins with the quality and quantity of data now available from the IoT, digital twin, and digital thread technologies. Step two is bringing people from all the relevant disciplines into the same room. Each has a screen with information relevant to them displayed at their station. When an event or situation or question occurs, they can chat, check their relevant screens, and determine appropriate courses of action. They can also plan for future shutdowns or turnarounds.

A much better way to run a plant than the “blame game” of blaming the innocent.

And put this podcast right next to mine on your favorite podcast app. (I use Overcast.) You might review each of us, too, to help others find us.