It’s no secret that technology is a heavy focus for today’s manufacturers. Unfortunately, many manufacturers often focus on technology as an end, when in reality, technology is a means to achieving better business outcomes.
The promise of the benefits that can be reaped from big data and predictive analytics through access to machine and operator data is compelling enough for most manufacturers to seriously direct their IT and OT departments to look into ways to enable such machine and operator data acquisition. Indeed, being able to optimize overall equipment effectiveness or OEE in terms of equipment availability, performance and quality of produced items by the equipment directly affects manufacturers’ bottom lines.
People have begun describing their cloud systems as "the fog." I get the feeling the joke is based on actual events. Are we" venting" gases into the atmosphere with our data during this digital era just like we did during the industrial age? Is it possible to simply throw our data in the cloud and expect a software application to analyze and organize it when we need it? But first, we must begin with an understanding of what the cloud can and cannot do, as well as knowing what is required to make the cloud an effective strategy for storing data that is easily accessed.
The catalyst for the now long-awaited Industry 4.0 revolution is the introduction of the IPC CFX (Connected Factory Exchange) standard for IIoT. This standard now enables everyone in the industry to get involved, examine their processes or products and to fully benefit from the new IPC CFX-fueled Industrial IoT environment.
The Cyber Physical System (CPS), Internet of Things (IoT) and Digital Twin are all central concepts in Industry 4.0, often used interchangeably in discussions about Industry 4.0 and smart manufacturing. Each refers to a representation of a piece of equipment in cyber space. Such representations are of central importance in Industry 4.0 and for smart manufacturing, since they provide access to real-time operational data of the represented equipment. Use of this data ranges from machine operational status and compiling important KPIs, like OEE, MTBF, MTBA, etc., to big data analytics and machine learning applications, such as predictive maintenance. It is therefore worthwhile to examine what each means and how they relate to each other.
More advanced technology equals higher workforce productivity—this is the simple equation that drives enterprise strategy for many manufacturing leaders. But technology and productivity do not always increase in direct correlation with one another. Instead, it is only by strategically investing in the right technology solutions that manufacturers can ensure effective productivity gains for their workforce.
For anyone currently considering investment in a modern digital manufacturing solution, inclusive of any form of discrete assembly manufacturing, it is imperative that expectations and requirements are redefined in the light of this new IIoT platform based digital MES technology, that is set to genuinely drive the Industry 4.0 Smart factory revolution.
In the first part of this three-part series, we learned how the top level of Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) work in the factory to provide results against business goals and requirements, managing the flow of production for final products and sub-assemblies. In the second part, we took take a more detailed look into the deeper levels of MES, discussing other areas within the factory that MES manages, that enable the final production flow to work smoothly and effectively. In this last segment of the series, we finish by looking further into the levels of MES functionality that enables final production to work effectively. We then explore different types of MES and review the important aspects of MES to keep in mind when first implementing or when upgrading a basic MES that is already in place to a system with the latest IIoT digitalized technology.
In the first part of this three-part series, we learned how the top level of Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) work in the factory to provide results against business goals and requirements, managing the flow of production for final products and sub-assemblies. We will now take a more detailed look into the deeper levels of MES, discussing other areas within the factory that MES manages, that enable the final production flow to work smoothly and effectively.
When done wrongly, it is one of the most expensive, confusing, distracting, valueless wastes of time that manufacturing is ever required to do, but when done properly, it can be the one thing that saves the life of a manufacturing business, which can happen in several different ways. Traceability, in this new age of digital manufacturing, has never been so inexpensive, and with the recently increasing ingress of counterfeit materials, never more important.