My response to automation and robot dystopian writers is that for the most part these technologies have removed humans from dangerous and monotonous manufacturing work. Humans are freed to do things using their heads as well as their hands. This report from A.T. Kearney and Drishti further contradicts hype about accelerating factory automation; demonstrates the need for greater investment in the human workforce.
According to new data released today by A.T. Kearney and Drishti, humans still perform 72 percent of manufacturing tasks. This data, from a survey of more than 100 manufacturing leaders, suggests that despite headlines about robots and AI replacing humans in factories, people remain central to manufacturing, creating significantly more value on the factory floor than machines.
Respondents also noted that there’s an almost universal lack of data into the activities that people perform in the factory. This analytical gap severely limits manufacturers’ ability to make informed decisions on capacity planning, workforce management, process engineering and many other strategic domains. And it suggests that manufacturers may overprioritize automation due to an inability to quantify investments in the human workforce that would result in greater efficiencies.
“Despite the prominence of people on the factory floor, digital transformation strategies for even the most well-known, progressive manufacturers in the world remain largely focused on machines,” said Michael Hu, partner at A.T. Kearney. “This massive imbalance in the analytics footprint leaves manufacturers around the globe with a human-shaped blind spot, which prevents them from realizing the full potential of Industry 4.0.”
While manufacturing technology has seen increasing innovation for decades, the standard practices for gathering and analyzing tasks done by humans – and the foundation of holistic manufacturing practices like lean and Six Sigma – are time-and-motion study methodologies, which can be directly traced back to the time of Henry Ford and have not been updated for the digital age.
“The principles underlying these 100-year-old measurement techniques are still valid, but they are too manual to scale, return incomplete datasets and are subject to observation biases,” said Prasad Akella, founder and CEO of Drishti. “In the age of Industry 4.0, manufacturers need larger and more complete datasets from human activities to help empower operators to contribute value to their fullest potential. This data will benefit everyone in the assembly ecosystem: plant managers, supervisors, engineers and, most importantly, the operators themselves.”
Additionally, the survey respondents noted the significant overhead needed for traditional data gathering methodologies: on average, 37 percent of skilled engineers’ time is spent gathering analytics data manually.
“Humans are the most valuable asset in the factory, and manufacturers should leverage new technology to extend the capabilities of both direct and indirect labor,” said Akella. “If you could give your senior engineers more than a third of their time back, you’d see immediate gains. Instead of spending so many hours collecting data, their attention and capabilities would remain focused on the most critical decisions and tasks.”
The survey also revealed the flip side of human contributions to manufacturing systems: Survey respondents noted that 73 percent of variability on the factory floor stems from humans, and 68 percent of defects are caused by human activities. Perhaps as a result, 39 percent of engineering time is spent on root cause investigations to trace defects – another manual expenditure of time that could be greatly reduced with better data.
“The bottom line is that better data can help both manufacturers and human operators across the board,” said Hu. “Data illuminates opportunities for productivity and quality improvements; simplifies traceability; mitigates variability; and creates new opportunities for operators to add even greater value. Humans are going to be the backbone of manufacturing for the foreseeable future, and the companies that improve their human factory analytics are the ones that will be best positioned to compete in Industry 4.0.”
To view the full report, click.
A.T. Kearney is a leading global management consulting firm with offices in more than 40 countries.
Automation, Innovation, Funding news from Rockwell Automation, IoT Partners Research, Dell EMC IoT, Schneider Electric Ventures
I started going to Automation Fair in 1997. This is the first year I have missed. I could be in any of four different venues this week. Used to be that Rockwell had the week to itself. No longer. I am not there because I don’t like Rockwell. Business considerations are taking me a different direction. Tomorrow I’ll be speaking on IoT, data, solving business problems at the Industry of Things World-East forum in Orlando. I thought about a huge tour of three cities. Then I thought again.
I posted news from Rockwell Automation yesterday about its recent collaboration with PTC. I haven’t seen anything newer coming out yet from my sources.
In its recent analysis ranking 547 companies on their IoT service capabilities, ABI Research, a market-foresight advisory firm providing strategic guidance on the most compelling transformative technologies, finds that partner programs and their member companies are continuing to mature in their IoT offerings while simultaneously decreasing the average number of members per partner program.
In fact, 65% of listed organizations received a high IoT maturity grade, which is nearly 2½ times the number of organizations that received a high maturity ranking when ABI Research first analyzed these IoT ecosystems back in September 2015. Partner program parents such as Amazon Web Services, Dell, and IBM are aligning themselves with fewer, higher-value partners who can better help end-users navigate the convoluted IoT ecosystem.
Partner program parents need to ensure that their partners can effectively address the current major needs of the market while also addressing high-growth niche vertical markets, with companies like Dell and AWS showing that it’s possible to address these changing market dynamics without being encumbered by hundreds of partners. AWS’ IoT Competency program ensures that its partners have a high-depth of IoT expertise to meet end-user needs, while Dell’s IoT Solutions Partner Ecosystem is focused on having both technology and services partners who can address specific use cases.
The three most targeted verticals within these partner program ecosystems have consistently been healthcare, manufacturing, and energy applications, but over the past three years, there has been a remarkable increase in the number of partners offering solutions targeting the digital signage, wearable, and smart building markets due to end-user demand.
FogHorn Partners With Dell EMC OEM Solutions
Speaking of partnerships, this came in today. FogHorn, a developer of edge intelligence software for industrial and commercial IoT applications, announced a collaboration with Dell EMC OEM Solutions to deliver end-to-end Industrial IoT (IIoT) edge computing solutions. This collaboration allows industrial and commercial customers to leverage the power of the edge quickly with an out-of-the-box solution for their Industrial IoT (IIoT) deployments – providing real-time insights to streamline operations and improve business outcomes.
By integrating FogHorn’s Lightning edge computing technology to solutions from Dell EMC, industrial and commercial customers now have access to preconfigured gateways and other devices that simplify IoT deployments. These “edgified” solutions allow clients to deploy edge computing at various end-point locations quickly, wherever the power of edge computing is needed.
Schneider Electric Ventures
Schneider Electric, who also has an event this week, has announced “Schneider Electric Ventures”, which identifies, nurtures and supports innovations that will make a major contribution to future sustainability and energy efficiency. Several major projects are underway and ready to be deployed.
‘Schneider Electric Ventures’ nurtures tomorrow’s transformational and disruptive technologies according to the press release.
The company spends €1 billion a year on R&D; and EcoStruxure, its IoT-enabled, plug and play, open, interoperable, architecture and platform is at the cutting edge of connected energy management and industrial automation.
A few months ago, the company created “Schneider Electric Ventures”. The mission of this initiative is to identify, support and nurture companies and entrepreneurs whose innovations will transform the way we live and work, how we produce and consume energy, and how we run buildings and factories.
Schneider Electric Ventures supports innovation through:
At its Innovation Summit North America, Schneider Electric announced some projects developed by “Schneider Electric Ventures”. These projects include:
- eIQ Mobility, a start-up and spinoff from Schneider Electric Incubator, which enables and accelerates electric mobility at scale by providing “Electric Fleet as a Service ” to large commercial fleets.
- Clipsal Solar, a business venture for on-grid and off-grid solutions for residential and commercial applications in Australia, where 1.8 million homeowners have installed solar panels to help manage their energy bills. The market is forecasted to grow with additional 134,000 homes by 2021.
- Greentown Labs Bold Ideas Challenge in partnership with Greentown Labs, focused on fast-tracking entrepreneurs with the mentors, team members, grants of $25,000, and business and technical resources they need to launch successful ventures.
Through its different investment vehicles, Schneider Electric also made equity investments in six companies:
- Sense, the leader in load disaggregation technology
- Element Analytics, a leader in industrial big data analytics
- Habiteo, a 3D specialist for new residential housing
- QMerit, the “Uber” for contractors & MRO spend
- KGS, a predictive engine for just-in-time maintenance
- Claroty, the leading Cybersecurity company for industrial OT networks
Schneider Electric has committed to invest between 300 and 500 million euros in the coming years, in incubation projects, partnerships with entrepreneurs, and specialized funds, and welcomes ideas from innovators and entrepreneurs eager to turn their ideas into reality.
Another group validates standards for industrial communication including FDT and OPC UA.
FDT Group, an independent, international, not-for-profit standards association supporting the evolution of FDT technology (IEC 62453), announced that its Board of Directors voted unanimously to empower the emerging FDT IIoT Server (FITS) architecture with full platform independence. This decision strengthens the FITS architecture to support the diverse array of operating systems to meet industry-driven demands.
In addition to platform independence, key features of the FITS solution include native integration of the OPC Unified Architecture (OPC UA), as well as comprehensive Control and Web Services interfaces. With built-in security protecting valuable information and operating data, the FITS platform will enable cloud, enterprise, on-premise, and a single-user desktop deployment method meeting the needs of the process, hybrid and discrete manufacturing sectors.
“The FITS platform is the ‘game changer’ the automation industry has been anticipating,” said Glenn Schulz, managing director of FDT Group. “I’d like to thank our Architecture and Specification Working Group that worked behind the scenes investigating and prototyping the platform independence feature approved by our board.”
Schulz added, “The Architecture and Specification Working Group has been directed to immediately transition FDT Server Common Components to a pure .NET Core implementation, previously built on the Microsoft .NET Framework. This transition will result in a single FDT Server environment deployable on a Microsoft-, Linux-, or macOS-based operating system, which will empower the intelligent enterprise by bridging the current installed base with next-generation solutions supporting the IIoT and I4.0 era.”
The significant decision and direction allows nearly unlimited deployment and application scenarios. For example, cloud-based FDT Servers can enjoy the performance and cost benefits of a Linux operating system. Traditional control system vendors can offer the FDT Server embedded in their hardware, and machine builders can deploy a small Linux-based FDT Server offering a comprehensive preconfigured asset management system for their skid that can be securely accessed remotely or with smart phones or browsers.
MES applications can also incorporate an FDT Server to gain secure, direct access to production data and asset health and availability metrics through OPC UA. In addition, service providers can wrap services around an FDT Server delivered in an industrial hardened Linux box. The opportunities for cost savings and value creation goes on due to the highly flexible deployment options of the FITS standard.
Because of the security, scalability and the ease of deployment of an FDT Server, the solution will simplify entry into the IIoT marketplace as the only open platform standardized integration architecture providing a single interface with cloud-to-plant floor mobile access. The decision to migrate to platform independence will delay the launch of the FITS specification by approximately six months. With the launch planned for the latter half of 2019, alongside Common Components supporting the FITS standard, automation suppliers and service providers will immediately reap the benefits of a quick development and deployment strategy. Common Components create a library of FDT routines and will simplify compliant development of FITS-based solutions such as Servers, Device Type Managers (DTMs) and APPs.
Manufacturing is tough, says FactoryFour, a startup in the MES space. Managing it shouldn’t be, it follows up.
Param Shah, co-founder and CEO of FactoryFour, told me that he and his partner researched build-to-order and configure-to-order manufacturing in the orthopedic device market they discovered that manufacturing planning was done by a combination of paper and spreadsheets.
Further research showed that typical MES platforms required the manufacturer to configure its processes to conform to the workflows and parameters of the software. People really didn’t want to do that. They would simply ignore the cumbersome software and opt for something familiar and flexible.
FactoryFour’s simple value statement goes like this:
Today’s manufacturing software is manual and complicated. Manually managing the 100 little tasks that go into pushing products out the door causes unnecessary production errors and delays.
Managing it shouldn’t be complicated. Simple and automated. The freedom to focus on improving processes, eliminating bottlenecks, and growing revenue. Everything else is automated.
The manufacturing Shah studied was highly manual. In the orthopedic space where custom pieces are manufactured, order process errors are common. Employees find it hard to keep track of where products are in the manufacturing system.
FactoryFour uses native cloud technology. It customizes order intake, using it to inform the manufacturing system. In that system, engineers configure workflows, draw it up then put in software. Therefore the software conforms to the manufacturer’s workflow. The use barcode, RFID, etc., to track the process. FactoryFour connects to other software systems as required.
The Workflows allow rules and an “if this then that” process. It can, for example, integrate with shipping apps and APIs. If shipping stage goes active, it will call up software and generate shipping documents, find UPS tracking number, send to customer automatically. If error is called, it will notify and assign tasks.
Its API connects data to SAP, Epicor, Oracle, and the like. It tracks human labor through scans.
The company’s focus is on custom manufacturing and configure to order with high traceability needs. Channel includes consultants, SIs, and hardware companies.
I asked about usability. “Our first hire was UI UX person,” Shah told me. “We are extremely visual, using colors and designs effectively. Screens are intuitive, geared to technicians with only one or two buttons on a screen not 60.“
This is a young company that just completed its A round of financing looking to shake up the MES market.
This week is another week on the road—five out of the last six—and now I’m in Chicago at Pack Expo. Much like IMTS, Pack Expo fills three halls of McCormick Place with machines. And machine components such as controls, drives, software, instrumentation, and the like.
Two weeks ago was Emerson Global Users Exchange. I wandered into the Emerson Automation Solutions booth not expecting much that was new. OK, got that one wrong.
If you want an indicator that Emerson has seriously expanded beyond oil & gas, keep on reading. It is now a serious player in this space, as well.
I once was an executive with a company that designed and built automated assembly machines. One interesting niche we had was an expert in helium mass spectrometry leak testing. I can give the sales pitch on the value of in-line, 100% testing of products.
Well, not as good as when Emerson explained its new food and beverage leak detection system.
Emerson’s RosemountTM CT4215 uses laser technology to detect leaks, reject defective packages with no production slowdown.
The Rosemount CT4215 is the first quantum cascade laser/tunable diode laser (QCL/TDL) continuous, inline detection system designed to help assure quality and safety, maximize production volume and decrease product waste for food and beverage products. The Rosemount CT4215 tests the seal and integrity of every bottle or package on a production line, detecting leaks at a sensitivity as low as 0.3 mm and automatically rejecting any defective bottle or package without slowing down production. This is in contrast to the traditional practice of testing occasional grab samples, which can leave a manufacturer vulnerable to low quality, unsafe food or beverages, reduced profitability and damaged reputation.
“In an industry being driven by an increasing consumer awareness of freshness and safety, manufacturers need solutions that allow them to assure these qualities while maintaining, or even increasing, efficiency,” said Peter Watmough, global leak detection product manager, Emerson Automation Solutions. “The Rosemount CT4215 provides packagers with an easy-to-install, easy-to-use assurance of freshness and safety. For the first time, food and beverage packagers can measure every package and bottle for leaks without having to compromise their production speed.”
Emerson further unveiled a new line of transmitters designed specifically for hygienic applications in the food and beverage industry with a compact form factor that will enable manufacturers to minimize downtime and lower production costs.
The new line of transmitters—Rosemount 326P Pressure, Rosemount 326T Temperature, Rosemount 327T Temperature and Rosemount 326L Level instruments—are designed to operate in the hygienic environments required by food and beverage manufacturers:
All comply with 3-A and FDA specifications, and are available with nine common industry process connections to ensure the right fit for new tanks and pipe fittings, as well as capability to be retrofitted on legacy systems. The new, small transmitters also can be mounted in tighter locations common on packaging machinery. Conventional 4-20 mA outputs and IO-Link connectivity make the transmitters easy to integrate with automation systems.
To give a sense of the breadth of Emerson Automation Solutions commitment to the space, following are some summaries of products.
Emerson’s ASCO G3 Fieldbus Electronics completely modular system plugs together via mechanical clips that allow easy assembly and field changes without dismantling the entire manifold, and its modules can be used in centralized or distributed applications.
One particular demonstration that will feature G3 Fieldbus Electronics is Emerson’s ASCO Bread Packing Machine. This state-of-the-art system provides full pneumatic automation control to ensure high-speed, repeatable packaging of food products. Its G3 Fieldbus integrates pneumatic control and provides real-time diagnostic data via an integrated webserver. It demonstrates flexible and energy-efficient design through proper sizing of pneumatic systems to fit any food packaging operation.
Emerson’s SolaHD Power Quality solutions remove limitations in the power architecture, allowing machine designers and operators to safely put power where they need it. These power supplies can be mounted directly on a machine, freeing packaging lines from design constraints; eliminating the complexity and cost of unnecessary enclosures and excess wiring; and providing the power for current and future automation capabilities.
Emerson’s Branson Ultrasonic Automated Cutting System provides precise food portioning with an almost frictionless cutting surface resulting in cleaner cuts, faster processing, minimal waste, longer blade life, higher productivity for greater throughput, and reduced downtime for cleaning.
Emerson helps packaging operations reduce process variation and decrease costly losses through technologies that deliver real-time insight into machine and process performance. With the accurate, relevant data in hand, packaging operations can achieve better reliability, reduce losses and contamination as well as ensure long-term performance.
With Emerson’s Micro Motion Filling Mass Transmitter (FMT), high-value packaging lines can accurately fill a wide range of container sizes and products with a single meter, eliminating the cumulative error associated with multiple-device measurement solutions. The Micro Motion FMT reliably measures fluids with entrained solids or gases or with changing viscosities, making it ideal for high-speed filling and dosing applications. Its Coriolis mass-based measurement is immune to variations in process fluid, temperature or pressure, and Automatic Overshoot Compensation (AOC) ensures repeatable fills even under valve performance changes. In addition, the Micro Motion FMT enables operators to track quality control and filling valve-performance data in real time to reduce filler maintenance and cost.
In addition, Emerson’s Micro Motion Multiphase Flow Meter technology can help complex process operations reliably log Gas Void Fraction and liquid density and concentration measurements. Utilizing Micro Motion Advanced Phase Measurement software, these meters also tolerate “real life” conditions of foaming, end-of-batch cavitation or slug flows to enable consistent measurements in challenging multiphase conditions. In addition, Smart Meter Verification delivers detection of coating or fouling within the meter for added clean-in-place efficiency and insight.
An interactive display illustrating pneumatics and IIoT features Emerson’s AVENTICS Smart Pneumatics Monitor, an IIoT hub allowing local data collection and analysis independent of the controller. The pick-and-place display illustrates “predictive maintenance” by showing the health and performance of valves, cylinders and shocks, which can minimize the risk of unplanned machine downtime to increase ROI.
To demonstrate how operators can protect personnel and reduce risk without impacting productivity. the Emerson booth will feature the Emerson ASCO 503 Series Zoned Safety Manifold (with G3 fieldbus electronics). It simplifies the design of a redundant pneumatic safety circuit with a manifold system that can be configured to shut down air and power only to the group of valves that controls the machine’s motion in the operator’s vicinity while the rest of the machine remains in operation. Multiple independent safety circuits can easily and cost-effectively be designed into a single pneumatic valve manifold, reducing the number of safety system components by up to 35 percent, requiring less plumbing, and shrinking the size of a safety system so that valuable real estate within the machine and manifold can be used for other purposes while still providing enhanced operator safety.