See how two successful manufacturers began evolving for the digitized future of Manufacturing 4.0 while solving current production issues.
All successful manufacturers come to realize that People, Process (aka workflows), and Machines must work in total cooperation for world-class performance to be realized. The various industry players, in an attempt to provide solutions, have overly focused on individual pillars of manufacturing but have neglected the whole. This results in solutions that over promise and under deliver. The only pathway to success is a holistic approach that emphasizes taking action to resolve the identified problems systematically and thoroughly if an organization will achieve any lasting effects. In simple terms, this holistic approach must address the people and manufacturing processes in addition to the machines to be successful.
The industry, in general, has been fixated on Smart Manufacturing, Digital Transformation, Industry 4.0, Digital Twin, and other machine-centric approaches due in large part to the standardization of machine connectivity protocols such as OPC and OPC-UA.
A gold rush of SCADA, MES, and IoT solutions has led to petabytes of Big Data. With the advent of Big Data, IT came to the quick realization that no human can ever hope to make sense of it all. Hence the rise of AI and Machine Learning. But with ever-changing manufacturing methods and machine modifications, AI often fails to deliver on its promise due to the lack of context.
“Is this signal I just detected due to a failing component of the machine, different raw material, machine modifications that now create different sensor data, or a host of other possible scenarios?” Unfortunately adding another sensor is the never-ending solution. “If we only had more data…”
These approaches miss the critical need for Digital Transformations on the People and manufacturing Process fronts. People are our most adaptable and capable sensor platform.
They can detect problems on a dynamic shop floor in ways machine sensors will be hard-pressed. They know and are responsible for every changing context the machine is operating within. They are especially critical when those problems are with non-machine related processes and procedures directing the manufacturing operations. And what of the Processes that attempt to standardize the shop floor? They need a Digital Twin that is as adaptable and re-definable as they are.
The speed at which standardized processes evolve and change is a fundamental factor in the pace of innovation. Get that wrong and it can lead to disaster. And if process improvement doesn’t keep pace with the changing environment on the plant floor, you will be perpetually solving the problems of yesterday, not today.
Every shop floor has a host of policies, processes, and procedures that govern the movements, actions, and interactions of everything on the shop floor. Some of those are encoded in the hardware and software running the machines. But the vast majority are not machine-centric.
Over the last 10+ years, we have come to clearly understand that up to 90% of the processes in place on the shop floor have little to do with the machines producing the parts.
Our research into these processes or manufacturing workflows comes from hundreds of sites, located in over 35 countries around the world. They can be broken down into the following categories:
Some of our customers’ plants have over 215+ processes they have identified as critical to their business.
These processes take on many forms:
Here’s a more detailed but still partial list:
|5S Audits||5S Checklists||Automated SPC||Calibration Management|
|Change Management||Changeovers||Control Plan Checks||Corrective Action Requests (CAR)|
|Critical Component||Critical PM||Customs Compliance Process Manage (Import/export)||Daily Process Checks|
|Daily Safety Checks||Employee Reviews||Engineering/Planning||Environmental Audits|
|Environmental Findings||Environmental Test Failures||FDA Audits||FOD (Foreign object damage) Audits|
|High Rework||High Scrap||Incomplete Shipment||Incomplete Shipment|
|IMO (internal Move Order) excess property||Lab Test Failures||Late Delivery||Late Shipment|
|Layered Process Actions||Layered Process Audits||Machine Down||Machine Limping|
|Machine Shop Orders||Material Shortage||Missed Shipment||New Equipment Installation|
|Non Conformance Reports (NCR)||PFMEA Audits||Predictive Maintenancet||Preventative Maintenance|
|Project Management (Machine Build etc..)||Production Planning and scheduling||Quality - Damaged Part(s)||Quality - Finished Good Inspection(s)|
|Quality - Issue Containment||Quality - Out of Spec||Quality Alert||Quality Checks|
|Quality Return||Quality - Incoming Inspection(s)||Repetitive Motion Injuries (RMI)||Safety Audits (BBS)|
|Safety Hazard||Safety Injuries||Safety Near Miss||Short Shipment|
|Stay Interviews||Stop & Fix (Jidoka)||Supervisor Needed||Tier Meeting Escalation|
|Time off Calendar (Approval and visual control)||Tooling Management||Technical Work Instructions||Total Productive Maintenance (TPM)|
|Vehicle Inspections||Armed Shooter Alerts||Equipment calibration and repair audits||OSHA - occurrence documentation (lost time, injuries)|
|8D RCA||Expedited Shipments||+ many more...|
Processes may trigger one or more other processes. This can often cause a cascading effect, spurring a large volume of activity in a variety of different teams and disciplines. Visibility into this mountain of activity is difficult, to say the least. Ensuring that this activity is fully coordinated, standardized, and completed in a timely manner further underscores the challenges the shop floor faces on a daily basis. Failure of these processes results in real and serious consequences on the plant floor.
Let’s consider the example of football played at the high school and college level. It’s amazing to see the level of effort, financial resources, and hours of practice required to coordinate the intricate movements of 11 players on the field. The ability to run the plays from the playbook with exactness while anticipating and reacting to the defense is a real struggle. All that effort for just 4 quarters of game time each week.
Football and manufacturing have some interesting similarities. Who are the players and who is the coach? Where’s the playbook? Imagine the monumental task to scale that playbook up to hundreds of operators, maintenance technicians, and supporting staff for a 24/7 manufacturing floor.
When done well, it’s nothing short of a miracle. Processes are the playbook for manufacturing. Unfortunately for most organizations, that playbook is hidden in paperwork, whiteboards, and tribal knowledge (aka people’s heads) - in short, an expert system (a system that can only be run by an expert). This is why our customers are successful: LES modules like CloudDISPATCH for workflow management are their playbook. It also tracks the performance of those plays, every time they are executed, so you can analyze and improve each one over time.
To understand why most processes on the shop floor are accomplished through manual methods today, we must first understand where they come from, how they are created, and who’s involved.
If necessity is the mother of invention, then process and invention must be siblings. Necessity drives process development in a big way. In our experience, all processes are created by seeing a pattern of wasted effort, time, and/or resources, and then developing a common approach to resolving problems.
We have seen that the vast majority of Processes on the shop floor have originated from problem-solving activities. These processes are real and tangible solutions to common occurrences in the manufacturing environment.
Manufacturing processes on the shop floor have a short half-life. This means that they can mutate and change on a weekly or even daily basis as the true nature of the problems are discovered.
Using L2L's CloudDISPATCH, our customers can identify a problem in the morning, have a new Digital Process in place by the afternoon, and have 3 other changes to that process the following day.
In fast-moving environments, the constantly changing requirements of these processes pose a significant barrier to entry for more sophisticated tracking and management efforts.
Additionally, in this dynamic environment in which these processes live, it’s not uncommon for problems to seemingly be resolved within a short period of time only to have the problem recur days, weeks, or months later.
Leaving processes in place, yet dormant becomes the best practice to ensure fast reaction times in the future but can create an ever-growing maintenance burden on the IT organization.
This all creates a “perfect storm” in which traditional electronic systems fail to keep pace, custom solutions are too costly to maintain, and employee training fails to keep current.
IT is left to “reluctantly allow” the shop floor to manage these processes manually, due to their limited IT budget and a long list of high priority corporate initiatives. This leaves shop floor personnel no alternative than to resort to manual methods for tracking and reporting.
The following table describes in simple terms how processes evolve:
Trigger / Event / Need
I need a part made
Let’s define the work instructions on how to make that part. (Standard Work)
My machine just broke so I can’t make parts
Let’s define the Code Red maintenance process to get the machine fixed quickly, track action and Pareto chronic issues. (Maintenance)
The machine is scrapping an abnormal amount of material.
Let’s define an abnormal scrap process to alert engineering and management of abnormal scrap issues that could impact productivity, cost and material flow (Engineering)
I ran out of raw material to make my parts
Let’s define a material handling/logistics process to alert the logistics of material related issues that require action and follow up. (Logistics).
I found some raw materials on the floor that are installed at our supplies facility
Let’s define a quality alert process for the shop floor associates to alert engineering, react and correct possible quality concerns before they become major issues.
One of the most eye-opening things about deploying our LES solution is the cumulative effect of small, innocuous problems on the overall health of the shop floor. In nearly every implementation, we discover a disconnect between what is perceived to be the largest problem to solve and the actual largest problem to solve.
It’s often the small recurring problems that are draining the resources out of an organization instead of the large, infrequent, and public problems that tend to capture attention and are typically the only things that get talked about in the daily meetings.
The problem is when you start on a continuous improvement journey, in the absence of real data, you often don’t know which of the 200+ processes and problems are the biggest ones to start working on. That’s what L2L’s CloudDISPATCH does for you.
Often these small problems and processes have a real and meaningful cost associated with them that falls just enough under the radar to avoid attention. These issues occur at scale across the entire plant with very little understanding of the true scale and scope of the problem. Over time these costs add up to significant impacts to the bottom line.
As we’ve seen above, the dynamic nature of the shop floor can seem like ADHD to an outside observer. The constantly shifting priorities and needs create havoc on the latest “agile” software development methods. The time tested methods for gathering requirements, designing solutions, implementing systems, and troubleshooting functionality is too slow to keep pace with the rate of change and the sheer numbers of new processes created each week on the shop floor. The prioritization process alone can't budget IT resource time for these types of projects due to the size and speed of change. When considering the cost of redundant server hardware and software licensing, IT resource salaries, and ongoing software development resources to develop and maintain the solution, it quickly becomes obvious that building this type of solution internally is a non-starter.
Selecting a traditional enterprise vendor solution is a non-starter as well. These vendors have been engineered top to bottom to extract large quantities of money from their customers through professional service engagements. They love chasing these ever-changing requirements and have very little incentive to deliver when billable hours are to be had trying to capture the latest set of requirements. When pressed to finish the project, the result is an overpriced solution that is specific to one area of the shop floor that doesn’t fit the current workflow on the shop floor. This leads to what’s called pilot purgatory: A project that consumes valuable organizational resources with no ability to scale to the rest of the organization.
Our customers are succeeding by adopting a subscribe mentality that utilizes our innovative and unique technology designed to adapt to shop floor needs. They know we can deliver the customized solution they demand, at a price point that is a fraction of the price of building or buying a traditional on-premise solution. Often at less than the salary of 1 employee per site. And we can implement in 45 days, in stark contrast to the months and years of more traditional methods.
The manufacturing software landscape is a confusing mix of approaches with vendors from every angle vying for a piece of the pie. You have hardware vendors trying to get into the software business, and accounting ERP vendors trying to extend accounting-based approaches down to the shop floor. You have integration vendors trying to glue everything together.
IoT vendors generating piles of useless “Big Data” bound for the Data Graveyard never to be seen again, and AI / Machine learning vendors offering to “read the tea leaves” of your big data with little to no understanding of the true context of that data. Not to mention the dashboarding and business intelligence vendors trying to turn heads with different views of the same old tired data. All of which are promoting the same overarching company benefits with little to no clear plan and ROI to deliver on that promise.
From our Extensive Research, we’ve uncovered a number of missing elements in manufacturing systems available today that when applied lead to much greater success.
These critical elements are why these tools are not effective on the shop floor, resulting in disparate manual or homegrown methods. Among these missing elements in the traditional manufacturing, software stack is the lack of systematic follow-through, problem-solving, and process improvement, while also ignoring the common activities workflow management software addresses on the shop floor.
It’s as if these software packages either assume:
L2L's LES, on the other hand, is focused on the abnormalities and process surrounding how an organization deals with problems on the shop floor.
We are a continuous improvement engine that drives prompt issue resolution through accountability, visibility, escalation management, problem-solving, and process improvement. In this respect, we work alongside all of the major manufacturing systems, and extend these systems and their processes to facilitate continuous improvement.
These systems include, but are not limited to:
As we have described above, manufacturing runs on processes. Our ability to digitize these processes is only half of the solution. Most systems on the floor today focus on the “Break / Fix” cycle in that they help identify problems, provide some rudimentary notifications, and reporting. With the exception of CMMS, the tracking of the work involved fixing or resolving the issue is typically assumed to happen outside of the systems.
L2L's LES has full support for the Break / Fix cycle. This provides key data for supporting process improvement through the “Root Cause” cycle and corporate-wide continuous improvement through the “Yokoten” cycle. This added functionality provides a systematic framework for sustainable continuous process improvement.
Over the years the L2L's LES solution has grown significantly in the area of Add-On or Optional Modules. These modules have come directly from customer suggestions and enhancements. They have been battle-tested on the shop floor to ensure they exceed expectations of end-users in over 35 countries around the world. Many of these modules grew out of watching our customers create processes within our core functionality that we never dreamed of.
As their use of the system grew, we logically extended these modules to accommodate more and more advanced processes and use cases. In many cases, customers asked for these modules to fill gaps in their existing infrastructure.
In others, we extended our world-class Application Programming Interface (APIs) to allow customers to integrate their existing trusted systems to our core functionality instead of using our add-on modules if a corporate “system of record” mandate applies with existing systems.
Whether you use our add-on modules or integrate into our existing system, L2L is focused on providing you the flexibility to improve at your own rate and in your own way. Our success is measured by your improvement month over month and year over year. That is our end goal. Our add-on modules are provided to fill in gaps and to bridge you to success.
Our add-on modules include:
This flexibility provides several distinct advantages to IT departments and the shop floor. We rarely see an enterprise that has one standard ERP and MES deployed across all of its manufacturing sites. They all have a multi-year plan to rip and replace those systems in an attempt to have a common corporate global standard. This approach to a global standard is noble to be sure, grand in its scope, and fraught with peril. It’s our unfortunate experience that many CIOs and VPs have come and gone during the “ten-year” of these projects.
However, we have seen great success in deploying the LES platform to standardize the manufacturing process environment and thereby masking the various differences between site-level MES and ERP systems. This approach is a fast path to a global standard that can pacify those requiring all of the benefits of a global standard and thus relieving the pressure of delivering an ERP or MES replacement in a rushed or risky manner. This allows IT to tackle their corporate projects on a more realistic timeframe with all of the safeguards a project of that scope demands.
Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) are unfortunately seen as a panacea for all shop floor problems. This has lead to growing backlash as MES deployments are failing to live up to the hype surrounding them. Truth be told, MES has the following sweet spot for certain heavy machine-centric “Discrete or Batch” production verticals needing:
Items MES does not solve:
In the rush to deploy MES we suggest a comprehensive approach, customers need to determine why they need MES. Consider the following questions:
It should be obvious, but it’s worth restating that L2L's LES is not an MES. In our experience, MES is costly and difficult to deploy. And once deployed it can only alert you to machine-centric problems. From our extensive research, across multiple industries such as automotive, electronics, food processing, chemical, etc., these problems typically represent 10-12% of the total problems and processes on the shop floor. Based on this perspective, we recommend deploying the LES first to make the biggest impact on the shop floor. Then let the LES data guide to the areas where MES will have the biggest impact on machine-related issues.
How we extend MES for continuous improvement
To learn more about a proven approach to MES and LES, checkout our guide: So You Think You Need an MES...
The macro trend in the manufacturing industry is a move toward digitization. The key buzz words are Industry 4.0, Digital Twin, Digital Transformation, Digital Manufacturing, Digital Factory, and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT or IoT). By and large, these initiatives are machine and engineering-focused and are tightly integrated with the Big Data and AI / Machine learning trends. The reasons for this are economic in nature and come from vendors that make money selling new hardware and software upgrades.
This machine-centric view of the manufacturing shop floor emphasizes the importance of the machine and neglects the people and process pillars of manufacturing success. This is logical since hardware and software vendors are typically not built to manage the ever-changing landscape of people and processes. So they stick to what they know.
Our experience proves that the low hanging fruit for improving the shop floor is found in the people and processes, in conjunction with the machines. Since people and processes are so quickly changed and updated, this is the real strength in our approach and the way we are so fast to achieve value. Given these advantages and our unique technologically advanced solution, we can demonstrate a faster path to Industry 4.0 value. We call this holistic approach, (People, Process, & Machines), Manufacturing 4.0.
People are your biggest and best change agent. Your employees are a highly adaptable and versatile intelligent smart sensor platform. They can detect problems traditional IoT sensor deployments can’t. For a real digital transformation to occur within an organization, you must have a strategy to include the People and Processes.
By digitizing the Processes on your shop floor you provide a repeatable standard that can be tuned and refined to the point where machine automation is a real option. There is a reason humans are used first to pioneer a new process before you choose to lock it down into a repeatable robotic platform, automated production line, or software solution. Let them innovate and iterate the process quickly.
|Faster time to value due to our fast deployment|
Machine integration is time consuming (months) due to the wide variety of machine types, vendors, protocols, and standards (or lack thereof)
Our integration partners have likened this to “Ground Warfare”
Our 45 day implementation period ensures we’re delivering value quickly. Our machine integration approach is to use L2L data to point customers in the right direction (appropriate integration). Only integrate to solve or alert specific problems that you know are impacting operations vs boil the ocean
Our approach does not require Integration to get started, thus easing the implementation burden and allowing integration to happen in parallel. (See our Integration White paper for more details)
|Lower cost to entry|
Machine integration is expensive and creates big data that trigger more investment in AI and Machine learning with questionable ROI, creating a never-ending rabbit hole.
AI takes years of data before it can even start to predict patterns
Our customers have shared their experiences working with AI companies as a 5-10 year science project with no known ROI benefit
L2L's Lean Execution System comes with a well thought out and comprehensive web-based API that makes integrating your MES an easy and straightforward project that can be accomplished in hours and days, not months and years as found with typical enterprise solutions.
|Compatible with your Existing MES plans|
MES has a huge gap when it comes to people and processes. The typical approach is to build it yourself inside the MES. This is costly and not scalable due to the dynamic nature of the shop floor.
L2L CloudDISPATCH comes with a well thought out and comprehensive web-based API that makes integrating your MES an easy and straightforward project that can be accomplished in hours and days, not months and years as found with typical enterprise solutions.
Traditional CMMS’s are siloed systems that isolate maintenance data from production, quality, and the rest of the shop floor. L2L's next gen Maintenance module is purposely designed to integrate the maintenance organization into operations by making production the main focus. We’ve also designed L2L's CloudDISPATCH to be utilized as an indispensable tool aiding the maintenance department to do their jobs within the greater context of production vs. a task, or mandated requirement to collect data for management, but doesn’t make their work easier.
Traditional CMMS software provides advantages over the paper and Excel spreadsheets of the past, but it cannot meet the demands of the modern factory, and how we need to operate
In order to succeed. Basically, the maintenance department needs to be run like a business; a profit center that must provide value. Otherwise, you’ll never get any support from management and feel like you’re constantly losing ground. It’s time to stop looking at the maintenance department the way we did 30, 20, or even 1 year(s) ago.
In today’s fast-changing global environment, companies are less likely to invest in high-cost maintenance solutions that take years to implement and struggle to provide an ROI. In some cases, equipment and products are changing faster than other CMMS’ have time to analyze. In this environment, it is essential to get the best information in front of the maintenance team to help aid in troubleshooting and problem-solving.
We need to look at the maintenance department as a value add to the business that’s helping drive the overall company metrics (safety, quality, cost, and delivery).
Instead of changing a bearing out every 12 months because that’s how it’s always been done, you need to look at ways to make the bearing last longer and/or even signal the team before there is an actual problem. It’s time to start looking at utilizing all the options available to aid your maintenance team in becoming more effective.
L2L's Maintenance module combined with CloudDISPATCH help you look at every maintenance activity as an opportunity for improvement. It equips the maintenance organization with tools to quickly evaluate and prioritize problem-solving. It also addresses maintenance from a production-centric view, where all maintenance activities should be done in the most efficient and effective way possible so that the impact on production is minimized.
A pit crew may want to change the tires on the car to avoid a tire blow out on the track. The driver knows that the goal isn’t to avoid a blowout, it’s to win the race. The goal of a manufacturer is to produce a product with efficiency, quality, and safety. Therefore our approach to maintenance is very different than typical systems on the market today, and why we are commonly displacing large established systems like Maximo, SAP PM, eMaint, etc.
Shifting your maintenance department from a mentality of maintaining, toward a continuous improvement mindset with a goal of perfection should be your vision. Every maintenance organization should have a relentless focus on the elimination of maintenance (no more maintenance).
Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) is a useful control and data collection of shop floor machines. We are not a SCADA solution, but we consume data from SCADA solutions to provide situational awareness, alert users, and trigger processes within the L2L LES platform. This data is typically used in our production module for recording product completions and scrap counts. It can also be useful for triggering processes in the maintenance and CloudDISPATCH modules to engage people to respond to events on the shop floor.
SCADA is useful for collecting sensors, PLC performance, and fault code data. We normally see engineering use this data from machine improvement projects. LES can bring much-needed context and priority to these projects by helping the organization see these projects in relation to the broader context and needs of the organization.
Having LES provide the prioritization and visibility of the most pressing issues on the shop floor helps plant staff focus on the high priority projects first. We see real value in SCADA data for troubleshooting machine level issues during the Root Cause Analysis cycle. For this reason, the best practice is to deploy LES data to direct resources to use SCADA data at the appropriate time instead of letting SCADA direct the behavior on the shop floor.
Common Areas of SCADA Integration:
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions are a foundational part of the back office. Without ERP, customers can’t place orders, raw materials can’t be ordered, and finished goods can’t be shipped. Having accurate financials is critical for success. Your accounting team has spent years refining their methods to account for every penny. ERP’s deep roots in the accounting space can be seen in the strict rules governing every financial transaction. This attention to detail can mean the difference between getting paid and closing the doors.
The most ERP approach to manufacturing is asset-based. This Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) approach is rooted in maintenance activities for the purpose of recording the costs associated with the upkeep of individual machines for accounting purposes. An asset or machine-based approach tends to ignore the People and Process pillars of Manufacturing Success. This methodology limits the level of success by trapping that data in a “Maintenance System Solo.” There is a significant and meaningful gap EAM misses.
Unfortunately, the shop floor is a very messy place. It’s full of exceptions, workarounds, and “good enough” manual data tracking methods. This is where the clean and orderly world of accounting meets the hidden plant. Over the years we’ve seen customers fail at deploying ERP designed solutions for the shop floor because they are inflexible, inefficient, and don’t honor the realities of the shop floor environment. There is a reason we don’t hire accountants to work on the shop floor, why would we expect an accounting solution to be any different?
The good news is that LES can bridge this cultural divide between the shop floor and the back office. Our easy to use and straightforward API is perfect for integrating into all of the major ERP systems like SAP, Oracle, JD Edwards, and QAD. The results data is demonstrably cleaner, more accurate, and more actionable as a result.
List of Common ERP Vendors:
IoT is a major trend in the industry. L2L's LES has been designed from the ground up with a robust Application Programming Interface (API) that provides great connectivity to IoT platforms. We have customers all over the world that have integrated a wide variety of sensors and solutions into the LES platform.
Where IoT platforms shine is their ability to collect, store, and analyze data from independent sensors and hardware. These platforms may also have the ability to alert users to abnormal conditions or when the measurements trend outside of defined control limits over time. Knowing there is a problem is the first step toward resolution, for data to be actionable you need a system to track the process thereafter. That’s where LES becomes the perfect fit for IoT platforms. We provide the Break / Fix cycle management to ensure problems identified by the IoT platforms are resolved in a timely and complete manner. When you combine that with LES’s Root Cause Analysis and Yokoten Cycle functionality you get the perfect system for process improvement.
LES has an added benefit of being able to highlight the areas on the shop floor where additional IoT investment would make sense and provide a useful ROI. For that reason, the best practice is to deploy L2L's LES first and let it help direct your IoT efforts toward the areas where the most value can be gained.