Smart manufacturing is leading the Industry 4.0 shift, but its broad, lofty goals are often challenged by the real limitations that companies today face.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology defines smart manufacturing as “fully-integrated, collaborative manufacturing systems that respond in real time to meet changing demands and conditions in the factory, in the supply network, and in customer needs.”
It's an amazing concept with real power to transform how we do everything, but companies are struggling to implement enough pieces of a smart manufacturing initiative to create a fully-integrated, collaborative manufacturing system. Why? Because we are underestimating the current data mess that most manufacturers are in.
Years of mixing homegrown solutions with large systems implementations have created a devastating data gridlock. It’s not uncommon to see large corporations operating with 50 ERP systems and almost 100 product configurators offered by dozens of different vendors. The marketing team doesn’t use the same data as manufacturing, and sales can’t interpret any data from engineering, so each develops their own way of operating. When that happens, errors occur, costs rise, timelines extend, and intervention resources are called in.
The reality of this disconnected mess is that data takes days, weeks, and months to process. Your IoT sensors are sending data back in real time, but you’re taking weeks to process and make decisions based on that data, so you’re not even close to fully leveraging your IoT implementation.
As long as your data remains gridlocked, even the best smart manufacturing initiatives can’t optimize your systems or processes enough to drastically improve margins.
Before you try to optimize your floor with smart technologies, you must optimize the millions and billions of configuration data points.
A Configuration Lifecycle Management approach aligns your systems with a single source of configuration truth. It’s the management of all product configuration definitions across all involved business processes applied throughout the lifecycle of a product. This single source of truth can then be applied to every function - engineering, manufacturing, sales, and service – and eventually to the product out in the field.
Without a Configuration Lifecycle Management solution, it’s nearly impossible to manage all the configuration rules that support your data structures and it is impossible to efficiently and accurately execute those rules.
Smart manufacturing initiatives have the power to transform to our manufacturing landscape. They will optimize systems and processes so that it’s possible to meet modern customer customization demands, but these initiatives are easier to discuss than to implement.
Facing this challenge in your organization? Join us at Automation Alley for a Tech Takeover on March 6 to hear more about how a global Fortune 500 manufacturer has enabled its smart manufacturing initiatives with Configuration Lifecycle Management. And in the meantime, you can learn more by downloading this guide to Managing Product Complexity in the Age of Individualization.