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Industry 4.0: The Roadmap to a Digital Manufacturing Operation (part 1/3)

December 21, 2016

Industry 4.0: The Roadmap to a Digital Manufacturing Operation (part 1/3)

Alexander Pope once said: “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, so is a lot.” In the context of Industry 4.0 this statement is extremely relevant, since business leaders at times tend to get carried away with their decisions, without fully understanding the actual needs of their organizations and supply chains.

In an Industry 4.0 scenario, it is well understood that technological breakthroughs like IOT, augmented reality and Big Data analytics will play a major role, however attaining access to these technologies alone does not make an organization and its manufacturing facility Industry 4.0 enabled. IOT provides a lot of data, which without proper integration between relevant IT applications, will just remain that, a lot of data, which is difficult to make sense of.

Similarly, when data analytics is applied only to lower level applications and only process equipment related data, without relevant feedback and information from the rest of the value chain, all the figures and so called knowledge created will have nothing close to the desired results from the company’s strategic perspective. So basically, a little knowledge about how to implement the digitization of shop-floor and other areas of operation and a lot of knowledge generated just at the lower level of the operation are extremely dangerous and will never bear fruition. Top executives of organizations should restrain themselves from the impulse to go ahead and implement a standalone piece of the I 4.0 puzzle, instead they should try and understand what needs to be done and seek help from experts in the field.

Is your MES Industry 4.0 ready?

Manufacturing Software for Industry 4.0. Embracing Change and Decentralization for Success.
by Iyno Advisors and Critical Manufacturing

This White Paper defines a path to Industry 4.0, focusing on the following aspects:

Download White Paper

I4.0 concept: enabling technologies, cyber-physical systems, etc.

role of MES in Industry 4.0,

steps companies can take now to prepare for Industry 4.0.

It is common for process owners and top executives to get infatuated with a new piece of technology. The roadmap we are about to present will help companies generate maximum value from their implementation of digital innovations in their value chains, first by understanding their manufacturing process, then by mapping their business process, followed by monitoring and improving process.

Step 1: Mapping Physical Processes

Let’s begin with mapping the physical process. It is important to have all physical assets involved in the actual manufacturing process mapped and outlined. With the advent of IOT, almost each and every process equipment, big or small, has the ability to communicate, through smart sensors, RFID or WIFI enabled placement. Other equipment robots are all PLC or OPC enabled and have the ability to communicate their status and issues if any. For assets which have only manual inputs but still constitute the process, it is important that such assets be mapped as well, until a clear picture of current manufacturing process is established.

MES application play a vital role in establishing a clear picture of the current process, it acts as a virtual connector for all process assets and allows for the flow to be documented, understood and improved. Each piece equipment which has an IOT feature can be linked to the MES application, thereby providing a common platform for the information being passed by such equipment to be collected and collated. Even equipment with PLC type communication capabilities or with no electronic communication capability.

Step 2: Mapping Business Processes

After having mapped the manufacturing process and ascertaining the role of all physical assets involved, the next step is to map the business process. This step is key to an integrated value chain which is geared to benefit from Industry 4.0. A clear and comprehensive understanding of how the functions connect with manufacturing internally and how the entire manufacturing function then connects with other members of the value chain such as the suppliers and the customers becomes extremely important to better facilitate the digital transformation of the whole value chain.

At this point in our map, we need to connect all internal functional areas with manufacturing and understand the relationship that currently exists, say how R&D is connected to the plant and how information currently flows to and from these two entities. Similarly all aspects of the business operation need to be connected to the core activity of manufacturing, followed by establishing an understanding of how the internal process as a whole then integrates with other players in the value chain.

It is at this point that interfaces between IT applications need to be considered, say for example if the LIMS application deployed in R&D can’t connect and communicate with the MES deployed for managing the production, it will allow inefficiencies to creep in and thereby limited true integration and collaboration. For a value chain to be truly Industry 4.0 enabled it is absolutely imperative that there is end to end connectivity of all the members which constitute the main value chain. CRM-ERP-MES & SCM-MES-PLM integration becomes the most important consideration at this point.

As we go on in this series, we will address how one moves further in achieving a digital value chain, which at its heart has a fully digital, integrated and intelligent manufacturing plant.

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IIoT Has a "Thing" for MES. Why IoT Platforms Won’t Replace MES for Industry 4.0
by Iyno Advisors and Critical Manufacturing