For Smart Manufacturing – Integration Standards are a Must

New demands on manufacturing, such as shorter time to market, shorter lifecycles, increased number of product configurations, high performance, flexible dynamic processes, are driving the need for smarter and more automated machines and production processes. As a result, there is increased complexity in all activities and communications regarding product and plant assets (e.g. plants, machines, sensors, systems, assemblies, software). These requirements spur the enterprise to exchange product data in electronic form and move forward to a digital factory that communicates with generic terminology and standard formats to a comprehensive network of digital models, methods, and tools that are integrated by a comprehensive data management system.

The exchange of data between and within enterprises, between engineering tools, and between departments can only run smoothly when both the information to be exchanged and the use of this information has been clearly defined.

Smart Manufacturing methods will require that manufacturers and vendors of hardware and software embrace these new integration standards that will facilitate these new levels of communication and automation. Methods that are able to describe all information of a product and production system during the planning and development process and make this information understandable, reusable and changeable through the product’s entire lifecycle will give an advantage to all parties involved in different aspects of its lifecycle.

Some of the nomenclature and messaging standards of interest for Smart Manufacturing include:

  • ISO 10303 – Industrial automation systems and integration – Product data representation and exchange (STEP )
  • ISO/AWI 14306 – Industrial automation systems and integration – JT file format specification for 3D visualization
  • ISO/TR 10314 – Industrial automation – Shop floor production
  • IEC 62264/ISA 95 – Enterprise-control system integration Communication (ISA 95)
  • IEC 62832 – Digital Factory
  • IEC 62541 – OPC UA
  • ISO/DIS 22400 – Manufacturing operations management – Key performance indicators
  • OAGIS – Use of OAGIS XML standards for A2A (application to application) or B2B (business to business) integration interfaces

ISO 10303 – Industrial automation systems and integration – Product data representation and exchange (STEP )

ISO 10303 is an ISO standard for the computer-interpretable representation and exchange of product manufacturing information. It is known informally as “STEP,” which stands for “Standard for the Exchange of Product model data”. ISO 10303 can represent 3D objects in Computer-aided Design (CAD) and related information.

The international standard’s objective is to provide a mechanism that is capable of describing product data throughout the life cycle of a product, independent from any particular system. The nature of this description makes it suitable not only for neutral file exchange, but also as a basis for implementing and sharing product databases and archiving.

Typically STEP can be used to exchange data between CAD, computer-aided manufacturing (CAM), computer-aided engineering (CAE), product data management (PDM) systems. STEP is addressing product data from mechanical and electrical design, geometric dimensioning and tolerancing, analysis and manufacturing, with additional information specific to various industries such as automotive, aerospace, building construction, ship, oil and gas, process plants and others.

In December 2014 ISO published the first edition of a new major Application Protocol AP-242 that contains extensions and significant updates for geometric dimensioning and tolerancing.

The Application Protocol AP-238 (aka. STEP-NC) standard defines a CNC part program as a series of operations that remove material defined by features. The features supported include holes, slots, pockets and volumes defined by 3D surfaces. Each operation contributes to the manufacture of a feature by defining the volume of material to be removed, the tolerances, the type of tool required and some basic characteristics such as whether this is a roughing or finishing operation. The operations are then sequenced into a work plan that converts the stock into the final part.

ISO/AWI/DIS 14306 – Industrial automation systems and integration – JT file format specification for 3D visualization

The design and manufacture of today’s products is largely based on 3D electronic models developed on CAD systems.  While these tools provide powerful capabilities for developing product definitions, the objective of 3D visualization is to allow the resulting information to be viewed across a wider population without the need for high-end CAD workstations or CAD software licenses.  This facilitates review and information use, accelerating product development.  Standard information formats for visualization allow such tools to be used to view information generated by different native CAD systems.

ISO 14306 defines the syntax and semantics of the JT Version 9.5 file format from a complete description of its file structure and data segments (assembly, 3D exact, 3D facetted), to a thorough discussion of JT data compression, encoding and best practices.

There is a proposal to extend ISO 14306 to include external references to support semantic PMI for assemblies and other requirements from ISO 10303 AP 242.

Example use scenarios include:

  • Request for quotation
  • Digital mockup work to validate that a product can be assembled together (spatial validation and clash detection)
  • Transmission of product models by manufacturing or subcontractors, for viewing and possible annotations
  • Extraction of images for technical publications
  • Viewing of design data for manufacturing and maintenance

Business benefits include:

  • Use of standard format for communicating design information (approved documents) through the organization for visualization purposes
  • Avoidance of cost of CAD workstations and software for viewing purposes

IEC 62264/ISA 95 – Enterprise-control system integration Communication (ISA 95)

The IEC 62264 (aka. ISA 95) standards define the standard terminology for business to manufacturing integration providing a clear description of exchanged information between the Enterprise systems (Level 4), Manufacturing Operations System (Level 3) and the control systems (Levels 1, 2), information has to be exchanged and move through. The information that should be exchanged can be divided into 4 categories of information; product definition, production capability, production schedule, production performance. Each one contains information about the resources, i.e., about personnel, material, equipment and process segments.


Part 1 and Part 2 of the standard defines the information that should be exchanged, whereas Part 3 of the standard focuses upon the activities needed within the Manufacturing Operations system (Level 3). The manufacturing operations are divided into 4 groups, production operations, maintenance operations, quality operations and inventory operations. Each of the operation is presented with an activity model, detailing the set of activities that are required for manufacturing.

ISO/TR 10314 – Industrial automation – Shop floor production

Twelve manufacturing functions have been identified and described as part of manufacturing from customer order through to delivery of the product. These departmental and functional definitions are building blocks for sharing business process management practices across the organization and the supply chain.

  1. Corporate management
    1. Direction of enterprise
    2. Strategic planning
    3. Feasibility study for investment
    4. Risk management
  2. Finance
    1. Financial planning
    2. Corporate budgeting
    3. Financial accounting
  3. Marketing and Sales
    1. Marketing research
    2. Advertising
    3. Sales forecasting
    4. Sales scheduling
    5. Pricing
    6. Sales (order, delivery, invoice)
    7. Product service
  4. Research and Development
    1. R & D planning
    2. Basic research
    3. Applied research
    4. Product development
    5. Manufacturing development
  5. Product design and Production engineering
    1. Define product specifications
    2. Preliminary design and testing
    3. Detailed design
    4. Design analysis, test, evaluation
    5. Revise design
    6. Release design for production planning
    7. Project management
    8. Process planning
    9. Programming of numerical control and programmable control
    10. Tooling
    11. Plant engineering
    12. Bill of material
    13. Quality assurance planning of production
    14. Production configuration
  6. Production management
    1. Production scheduling
    2. Product and Inventory control
    3. Production monitoring
    4. General maintenance request
    5. Quality control
    6. Cost control and cost management
  7. Procurement
    1. Vendor performance
    2. Purchasing
    3. Receiving
    4. General stores
  8. Shipping
    1. Product storage
    2. Distribution
  9. Waste material treatment
    1. Waste material processing
    2. Waste material storage
  10. Resource management
    1. Facility management
    2. Tool control
    3. Energy management
    4. Time and Attendance
    5. Facility security
    6. Health and Safety
    7. Environment control
  11. Maintenance management
    1. Preventive maintenance
    2. Corrective maintenance
  12. Shop Floor Production
    1. Material store
    2. Transport material
    3. Transform material
    4. Incoming inspection
    5. In-process gauging and testing
    6. In-process audit
    7. Product audit

IEC 62832 – Digital Factory

A standard for digital representation and identification of assets in the factory.

Today each department inside the enterprise describes its products and production systems according to its own data management schemes, often using different terms and structures, with no seamless information exchange can be found between all the actors involved in the product and production system lifecycle due to this lack of interoperability in the information systems. This standard aims to establish guidelines for communicating the descriptions of the objects and the exchange of information among different systems in the organization.


IEC 62541 – OPC UA

OPC Unified Architecture (OPC UA) is a framework defined by the OPC Foundation for the secure, reliable and manufacturer-neutral transport of raw data and pre-processed information from the manufacturing level into the production planning or enterprise system. With OPC UA, all desired information is available to every authorized application and every authorized person at any time and in any place. This function is independent of the manufacturer from which the applications originate, the programming language in which they were developed or the operating system on which they are used. On the basis of a service-orientated architecture (SOA), OPC UA forms the bridge between the company management level and embedded automation components

Parts of the IEC 62541 standard include Address Space Model (-03), Services (-04), Information Model (-05), Mappings (-06), Profiles (-07), Data Access (-08), Alarms & Conditions (-09), Programs (-10), Historical Access (-11), Aggregates (-13) and Device Integration (-100).

These specifications have been developed by more than 30 automation vendors, during a time period of five years. Classic OPC provides standard specifications for data access (DA), historical data access (HDA), and alarms and events (A&E). These OPC specifications are widely accepted by the automation industry. Classic OPC was based on Microsoft-COM/DCOM-technology, but the latest OPC UA (Unified Architecture) also supports Web services methodologies. By using web service technology OPC UA becomes platform-independent. OPC UA can be seamlessly integrated into Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, running not only on Unix/Linux systems using Java, but also on controllers and intelligent devices having specific real-time capable operation systems.

ISO/DIS 22400 – Manufacturing operations management – Key performance indicators

ISO 22400 defines key performance indicators (KPIs) used in manufacturing operations management. ISO 22400-2:2014 specifies a selected number of KPIs in current practice. The KPIs are presented by means of their formula and corresponding elements, their time behavior, their unit/dimension and other characteristics. ISO 22400-2:2014 also indicates the user group where the KPIs are used, and the production methodology to which they correspond.

Some of the measures defined include the following:

  • Raw materials inventory, Consumables inventory), Finished goods inventory, Work in process inventory, Consumed material.
  • Order quantity, Scrap quantity, Good quantity, Rework quantity, Produced quantity
  • Equipment production capacity, Worker efficiency, Throughput Rate, Utilization efficiency, Overall equipment effectiveness, Availability, Effectiveness, Quality Ratio, Technical efficiency, First pass yield, Scrap ratio, Rework ratio
  • Process capability index, Inventory turns, Finished goods ratio
  • Mean Operating time between failures, Time to failure, Corrective maintenance time

OAGIS  – Messaging standards for A2A or B2B  integration interfaces     

OAGIS standards are published by OAGI (Open Applications Group) and are focused on building enterprise ready standards for A2A (application to application), B2B (business to business), Enterprise, Mobile, and Cloud interoperability.

Examples of BODs (Business Object Documents) include: Process Purchase Order, Acknowledge Purchase Order, Get Inventory Balance, Show Inventory Balance, Notify Shipment, Notify Receive Delivery, Process Remittance Advice

Examples of nouns in OAGIS BODs include: ItemMaster, BOM,ConfirmWIP, DispatchList, EmployeeWorkSchedule, EmployeeWorkTime, EngineeringChangeOrder, InspectDelivery, InventoryConsumption, IssueInventory, MoveInventory, Routing, Shipment, ShipmentSchedule, Operation, Personnel, ProductionOrder, ProductionSchedule, PurchaseOrder, ReceiveItem

OAGIS verbs include: Acknowledge, Cancel, Change, Confirm, Get, Load, Notify, Post, Process, Show, Sync

Organizations should get acquainted with these standards, embrace them for future projects, and participate in their evolution. It will be a one more step on the path towards the next generation of Smart Manufacturing and Connected Enterprise.


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Top Ten Reasons To Attend Excelerate 2015: Surfing The Digital Thread   

Excelerate 2015: Surfing The Digital Thread

At iBase-t, we’re passionate about creating the best learning and networking experience ever for our customers.

Excelerate 2015: Surfing The Digital Thread is designed from the start with iBase-t customers in mind, reflecting our strong focus on how to enrich them with the latest insights, information and intelligence from the global Solumina community.

We’ll be providing an in-depth update of our latest Solumina enhancements including many features our customers have asked for. With over 40 hours of learning available, there’s ample opportunity to find out about the latest in operations management. Session topics include best practices in creating your own workflows, improving MES performance, reducing cost of quality and engineering change management.

The top ten reasons to attend Excelerate 2015: Surfing The Digital Thread include the following

  1. Connect with and learn from other Solumina users in my industry who are working to attain the same goals I am.
  2. Learn how manufacturing plants like yours are using Solumina Out-of-The-Box to eliminate 20-50 homegrown systems and manuals processes on the shop floor.
  3. Seeing how your company can virtually eliminate homegrown interfaces between the top 3 major systems relied on for daily operations (PLM, ERP and Solumina).
  4. The many benefits of getting your organization on the path to being a Model-Based-Enterprise.
  5. Learning how to eliminate hundreds of points of failure on the shop floor, streamlining new part introductions and engineering changes in the process.
  6. Hearing first-hand from other Solumina users how they are integrating manufacturing and overhaul processes into one system and data repository.
  7. Discovering how to integrate suppliers with operations and maintenance with source inspections requirements, in addition to source first articles and audits.
  8. Finding out how to integrate customers with operations and maintenance, along with electronic MRB signatures and Corrective Action Requests.
  9. Learning from other users how they are generating test cases and ROI numbers from facilities similar to our company.
  10. Discover and excel at defining a strategy to gradually deploy the 4,500 standard features of Solumina across my Quality, Process Engineering, Operations, MRO and Field Service organizations.

Bottom line

The best learning happens when customers share what is working for them, enriching others in the iBase-t global community. At iBase-t we’re obsessed with making Excelerate 2015: Surfing The Digital Thread the best conference ever for our customers, enriching them to go farther with Solumina than they ever thought possible.


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Key Take-Aways From KPMG’s 2015 Global Manufacturing Outlook

  • Jet engine production made possible by manufacturing execution systems ibaset47% of manufacturers are allocating 20% or more of their total technology spend on engineering, manufacturing and supply chain systems.
  • 32% of manufacturers cite the development of new products and R&D as a top strategic priority this year.
  • 41% of manufacturers are pursuing breakthrough advances as their primary strategy for managing innovation.
  • Just 14% of manufacturers claim to have complete supplier visibility.

These and other insights are from the 2015 KPMG Global Manufacturing Outlook (GMO) which is available for download here (36 pp., free, no opt-in). KPMG has also provided a summary, Global Manufacturing Outlook 2015: Preparing for battle – Manufacturers get ready for transformation.

This is the 6th edition of KPMG International’s Global Manufacturing Outlook, and is based on interviews with 386 senior manufacturing executives globally. Respondents are from Aerospace and Defense, Automotive, Conglomerates, Life Sciences – Medical Devices, Engineering and Industrial Products and Metals industries. 50% are C-level executives, and a third are from organizations with more than $5B in annual revenue. Please see page 29 of the study for a complete description of the methodology.

Key take-aways from the study include the following:

  • Sales growth (55%), reducing cost structure (41%) and development of new products (32%) are top three strategic priorities for manufacturers in 2015. Additional priorities include improving risk controls (23%), increasing cash flow from operations (21%), and gaining greater speed-to-market (18%).  The following graphic compares the top strategic priorities for 2014 to 2015.

top strategic priorities

  • Intense competition and pressure on prices (39%), efficiency in R&D and product development (30%), and keeping their business models competitive (28%) are the top challenges manufacturers face in 2015. Having IT systems keep pace with demands from the business (and customers) (22%) and managing geopolitical risk (21%) are two additional strategic challenges manufacturers are facing today. The following graphic compares challenges from 2014 and 2015:

top five biggest challenges manufacturers face

  • 47% of manufacturers are allocating 20% or more of their total technology spend on engineering, manufacturing and supply chain systems in the next twelve months. Manufacturers are prioritizing IT investments that drive improvements in the pace and quality of innovation. Investments in engineering, Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES), and supply chain management (SCM) systems continue to accelerate. 23% of manufacturers are investing 20% or more of their IT investments in sales force management systems.  The following graphic compares the areas where manufacturers are investing 20% or more of their total technology spend.

top 20 percent spending on tech

  • Adopting new manufacturing technologies (48%), increasing R&D spend (44%), and relying on new partnerships to drive innovation (36%) are the top three strategies manufacturers are using to enable greater innovation.  The nascent nature of emerging technologies including big data analytics, cloud computing, 3D printing and nanotechnology in relevant industries are all areas manufacturers are investing in today.  The following graphic compares the areas manufacturers are concentrating on the most to drive greater growth and innovation.

Focus areas to drive new growth and innovation

  • Improving speed-to-market (25%), lowering cost (25%) and improving access to new technology (21%) are three key factors driving manufacturers to collaborate more on innovation. Manufacturers are challenged with accelerating product lifecycles and the need to continually innovate, while improving production operation efficiency. Managing these diverse challenges requires a strong focus on collaboration. The following graphic provides insights into how manufacturers are collaborating to attain greater innovation.

motivation for collaboration

  • Lowering costs and working capital levels (46%), reconsidering global footprint of operations (32%), and segmenting & tailoring supply chain assets and processes based on product needs & demand profiles (32%) are the top three supply chain priorities in 2015. Manufacturers are concentrating more on improving demand signal alignment, balancing out their efforts aimed at traditional cost cutting in the past.  The following graphic compares strategic supply chain strategic priorities for 2015:

supply chain strategic priorities

  • 42% of manufacturers say that attaining greater flexibility and responsiveness to change in demand or product mix is the top challenge they face with their supply chains today. Additional challenges include managing supplier performance in terms of risk, reliability and quality (38%), ensuring sufficient supplier capacity to meet demand (35%), and more effectively supporting new product introductions (35%). The following graphic compares the top supply chain challenges manufacturers face:

top supply chain challenges

  • Procurement systems (34%), integrated business planning (31%) and global demand planning (24%) lead manufacturers’ investment plans for supply chain technologies. The following graphic compares how manufacturers are planning to allocate 20% or more of their supply chain technology spend:

supply chain technology spend

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Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends For Government: CIOs Must Emerge As Business Strategists To Succeed

  • Currency symbols, binary codes and globe (Digital composite)Spending by national, federal and local governments worldwide on technology products and services is forecast to decline 1.8 percent from $439 billion to $431 billion in 2015, growing to $475.5 billion by 2019.

These and other insights are from the press release Gartner published to a worldwide audience on June 3, 2015 titled Gartner Highlights Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for Government. The forecasts and findings of this study will also revolutionize how governments manage compliance, quality management, manufacturing and long-term services. The integrative aspects of Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) for government contractors and the continual improvement these systems need to make are reflected in these top ten trends as well.

The top 10 strategic technology trends for government include the following:

1)    Digital Workplace – CIOs who can successfully orchestrate social, mobile, cloud and analytics to deliver greater information accessibility, accuracy and insight will revolutionize government IT performance. CIO business strategists will coordinate the use of these technologies to reduce resistance to change and improve change management results in government bureaucracies known for their lack of new process and technology adoption.

2)    Multichannel Citizen Engagement – Government agencies should identify and use customer-centric metrics for single-channel and cross-channel processes in order to monitor channel effectiveness and multichannel dynamics. Agencies attaining best practices will establish additional key performance indicators or data requirements needed for ongoing improvements and optimization.

3)    Open Any Data – Using open data and analytics to discover complex interdependencies among agency programs or government vertical industries including complex manufacturing, to improve government performance, or to gain insight into citizen preferences, is a dominant trend Gartner expects to accelerate within the next three years.  This aligns well with the continual growth of manufacturing intelligence in complex manufacturing, specifically aerospace and defense.

4)    Citizen e-ID – The global proliferation of analytics, mobile apps cloud computing  and social media is speeding up the adoption of citizen e-ID programs and gaining renewed interest from governments to support political mandates. This trend has strong trends for global manufacturing as well, with e-ID programs now being commonplace across many of the world’s leading aerospace and defense companies.

5)    Edge Analytics – Breaking down the traditional silo barriers between transactional and analytics systems is going to enable next-generation applications, including those dedicated to manufacturing, to stream data directly to intelligent business operations systems. Edge analytics will revolutionize manufacturing, compliance and quality management processes and systems within the next five years as well.  The bottom line is that when any government contractor can dynamically execute business processes, anticipating and planning for contingencies using real-time analytics, they will be able to reduce costly mistakes by improving quality.

6)    Scalable Interoperability – When procuring new IT systems or services, include requirements to conform to accredited or “best available” interoperability frameworks, open standards and data formats, such as NIEM (National Information Exchange Model), HL7 FHIR (Health Level Seven Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources) or XBRL (eXtensible Business Reporting Language) is the best approach. This is critically important for managing complex contactor and subcontractor manufacturing projects, where interoperability standards need to be able to scale across global supply and value chains.

7)    Digital Government Platforms – Defining a “one platform provider and multiple software vendors” approach in which one platform-as-a-service vendor provides technical, data and business services, such as a server storage, networking, virtualization, middleware, database management, analytics or workflow provides scalability over the long term.  Having a digital government platform capable of scaling across multiple contractor locations is invaluable in assuring compliance and quality management across large-scale aerospace and defense manufacturing projects.

8)    Internet of Things – The Internet of Things (IoT) needs to be approached strategically, evaluating how a growing base of intelligent objects and equipment can be combined with traditional Internet and IT systems to support breakthrough innovations in operational performance.  There are a myriad of advantages for manufacturers as well by taking this approach. Combining manufacturing and government efforts can deliver significant improvements in delivery times and overall project performance.

9)    Web-Scale IT – Web-scale IT is the result of the demand to create global-class cloud services to address the increasingly complex client environment, using automation and other software-defined and policy-based models to drive speed and agility. For manufacturing strategies to scale globally, specifically the role of supplier quality management, Web –Scale IT must be in place.

10)  Hybrid Cloud (and IT) – Design private cloud services with future public cloud integration and interoperability in mind, including hybrid cloud computing. Establish requirements for vendors to support open, standard northbound APIs in order to maximize flexibility and minimize lock-in. The implications of this trend in complex manufacturing, specifically aerospace and defense projects, is clear.

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Curing 3 Legacy Production Ailments with Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM)

Passenger Airliner in the sky

Bottom line: Manufacturers are picking up the pace of new product introductions to satisfy customer demand for products that incorporate the latest technology innovations.

The need for faster innovation adoption into product lines fuels a need for more efficient change management procedures throughout organizations. Many are asking themselves, “Is it possible to handle higher levels of product and process change with small patches to old practices?” Probably not. Strategic level process improvements are needed to increase the capability, capacity and scale of an organization to handle higher rates of product updates and new product introductions.

Engineers are using the latest CAD technology to make better, more accurate 3D models faster leveraging reusable components. 3D models include more product and manufacturing information (PMI) for use downstream in Model-Based Manufacturing, to simulate and accelerate production process innovation, develop shop floor for work instructions, and create automated inspection and test procedures.

So why are some organizations still working with 2D drawings, spreadsheets, and paper work instructions at the shop floor? We have found three ailments that hold back many organizations from significant improvement in their change management speed and we have one prescription that helps all three.

Significant strategic process re-engineering can only happen when organizations face head-on the following ailments brought upon the organization by a legacy of paper-based practices.

#1. Dependence on Manual Processes Is Holding Manufacturers Back From Higher Quality & Performance

With the technology available today, any manufacturing organization should not be relying on paper-based or spreadsheet-based processes at the shop floor to collect data, track progress, and prepare product or service documents for the customer. Yet many companies still depend on paper today.

Even traditional Lean Manufacturing practitioners like Toyota are embracing information technology to raise the organization’s performance to a new level. Toyota US CIO, Tim Platt, spoke about “Lean’s High Tech Makeover” [1] at the 2014 Industry Week conference. If an organization like Toyota can move beyond the manual Lean processes they promoted for years, other organizations can change too and embrace automated Lean processes supported by information technology.

With a manufacturing operations management (MOM) system the organization moves into a completely paperless system for managing operations. Before MOM, operations would work on piles of paper work orders filled and assembled manually into massive build books. Many labor hours wasted on moving paper, organizing paper, fixing missing information and mistakes. When work orders, instructions and records are digital the paper handling waste is eliminated and processes are hugely streamlined. The mechanic does not have to search through paper or online drawings or books to find the information he needs. The online work instructions will have quick shortcuts and links to documents

#2. Poorly Defined Business Processes Hide Inefficiencies that Slow Down Progress and Responsiveness

It is very difficult to see opportunities for improvement without a good understanding of current business processes. The implementation of a MOM system forces the organization to review and analyze the as-is and to-be business processes. Many times business processes are not well documented and few employees understand the overall value chain across the organization. Value stream mapping exercises across functional departments like engineering, production, and quality can be very eye opening. Departments are usually focused on their daily routines and do not spend much time thinking about how their work is affecting downstream activities.

Even if procedures are defined in a book or quality manual it is often difficult to enforce policies at the shop floor. A MOM system automates a work, documentation and change management discipline on operations. It becomes much easier to implement best practices and prove they are followed during an audit.

#3. Inaccurate Delayed Information Leads To Sub-optimal Decisions 

In order to make good decisions, management needs good data. It is important to know that products are delivered on time and bills are paid, but management also needs to know details about engineering and production to improve those processes. Data is needed beyond delivered product quality, inspection results and defect counts, details are needed about defect and cause classification to tackle the root cause of problems.

Without the proper data, it is difficult to do proper root-cause analysis and easy to always end up finding someone to blame for the problem instead of finding the true system weakness. In order to go beyond the typical blames of: (a) lack of training, (b) personnel carelessness, and (c) human error, organizations need data that will point to any of the potential resource causing problems including personnel, equipment, processes or product design.

With MOM, real-time dashboards provide status of in-process work and access to quality data with the single press of a button. Quality management can be more proactive, focusing on process improvement instead of focusing on manual documentation. There is complete visibility and accountability of who is performing each task, what resources are causing constraints, and the level of engineering changes impacting operations. A MOM system can also provide consistent manufacturing intelligence across the organization and scorecard capabilities to monitor the organization’s achievement of performance goals and help quickly identify areas for improvement.

In Summary

Strategic investments in new information technology, like MOM, and the related new business processes can seem too big of a cultural and budget challenge, but strategic investments can also lead to big contract wins, big margin gains, and the development of new agile, flexible and lean manufacturing operation.

A MOM system helps to eliminate a few legacy ailments in operations by providing (a) a platform for agile paperless business processes, (b) a systematic enforcement mechanism for manufacturing business practices, and (c) an accurate real-time information system for better performance and continuous improvement management.


[1] “Toyota’s Lean High-Tech Makeover”, a presentation by Tim Platt, VP Information Systems, Toyota US, May 2014

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