When Does Software Become “Ransomware"?
Many software systems in use in manufacturing today are holding the business to ransom. Well-meaning, mainly internally developed software utilities, have established a critical dependency on themselves. It appears that manufacturing could not work without these systems, yet on the flip-side, the operation also cannot easily progress to the next level of digital manufacturing. What does it take to acknowledge the past value and contribution of these systems, but now be able to break-free and move on to the next generation of digital manufacturing tools?
For three decades, software engineers in manufacturing have been there to offer support, developing in-house utilities, and in some cases, some quite decent systems, that address manufacturing issues and needs. Many in manufacturing say that they cannot do without these utilities and systems, as live operational practices have been built up around the tools. Looking at the majority of internal or commercial options, there always seems to be something that is missing, or carries too much perceived risk and cost, that holds companies back from looking properly into taking digital manufacturing a step forward.
There are options available, of course, to consider. The easiest of all is to do nothing. Legacy manufacturing practices are mainly made up of great people and great machines, what more could you need? Computer software, after a long thirty year growing period as far as manufacturing is concerned, has now “come of age”. Industry 4.0, Smart Factories, Digital Factories, or whatever you want to call them, are pulling the focus of attention from C-level engineering, management and quality executives towards software, so it is time for anyone who has to use or manage software as part of their daily role to get involved, so that decisions made will be inclusive of all aspects of the business.
The new generation of digital manufacturing software is quite different from the legacy systems that have been in place or on the market for many years. Generic MES software, designed to fill the void between ERP and actual production is really feeling its age, as live machine connectivity and visibility, with potentially gigabytes of data per product produced makes it impossible to move forward. In-house developed systems have become lost islands of automation, specific solutions with a narrow focus, and very limited connection, unchangeable as developers have long moved on. New generation technologies that are available, such as the “MES Digitally Remastered” solution that FactoryLogix from Aegis represents, provides compelling values and benefits, which need to be understood and set into context with other choices.
Going “digital” therefore seems like quite a daunting step to take. Such steps however cannot be ignored, as the industry continues to evolve digitally, creating increasing distance to be caught up. Nowadays, it does not give a good impression to customers to be the factory left behind.
The Aegis whitepaper “DIY Digital MES” is an essential reference for any company that is currently evaluating their position on internal MES and other manufacturing systems. This invaluable guide goes into great detail to help understand the areas of value and risk associated with the decision-making that relates to the various directions one can go with manufacturing software. Please register and get your free download here.