JUL-AUG 2018

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32 INTECH JULY/AUGUST 2018 WWW.ISA.ORG AUTOMATION IT Speaking at the recent MESA NA con- ference, Tomas Norbut, project manager of IT infrastructure and services at Trel - leborg, said he discovered a discon- nect in how the manufacturing and information technology (IT) depart - ments perceived company readiness to embark on a digital transforma - tion. The operations technology (OT) professionals running manufacturing thought it was ready, while IT deter - mined it was not. The difference of opinion, as he de- scribed it, was as follows: "Your pro- cesses could be very, very mature, but the abilities to digitize those processes can be very, very immature." That is not a knock against OT, he added, "We have a very well laid out manufactur- ing program, and they are very well invested within each of the [factories], and they were starting to shape the journey for PI." However, he said that while they had very clear concepts of the manufacturing world, they were unknowingly relying on buzzwords when they discussed digitization. To "get everyone on the same page," Norbut first collaboratively worked to establish a common vocabulary, and to categorize and create a maturity model around the concepts, so everyone was speaking the same language. The next step was to survey the facilities based on that common understanding. Significantly, survey results indicat- ed that 57 percent of the companies' machines were MES ready. "I'm using MES as a catch-all term, because it can mean a lot of things to people," Norbut said. "But from a perspective of being able to connect your machine, gather data off of it, and dump it into some sort of system, that's what we catego- rized as 'MES ready.'" The company will continue with this definition, even as it harmonizes MES capabilities across the company's 120 facilities, which have deployed various MES capabilities. "I don't envision one central stack," Norbut said. "I do envi - sion some common functions and stan- dardized features." Trelleborg will focus on "developing a common set of stan - dards around what the data need to look like and how the data need to work." MES as a foundation Other companies say MES is a founda- tional element of their smart or digital manufacturing initiatives. Andrzej Go- ryca, senior enterprise systems man- ager at Virgin Orbit, one of the Virgin Atlantic companies founded by Sir Richard Branson, ascribes to this view. The vertically integrated company builds rockets that launch small satel- lites into low-earth orbit. As a relatively young company—it has built about half a dozen rockets, so far—its goal is to design, build, and launch the rockets, while "at the same time we're striving to design, build, and launch our business," Goryca said. Its specific focus is on "get- ting us ready to build at rate and be able to support all the operations at rate." "So with that vision and those goals, we are focused around creating digi- tal threads—being able to digitize that whole chain, all the way from a launch event, which is our key event, and back all the way through test, integration, manufacturing, design, and all the way to the original requirements that drove how the vehicle should perform." He explained where MES fits into the strategy to achieve this at the recent MESA NA conference. Put simply, he said, "MES is an enabler" of: Digital records: "In our industry, you launch a vehicle and you have one chance; there's no plan B," Goryca said. "Proper controls are essential, so we'd rather not do it on paper; we'd rather have an additional record of it." Cost analysis: As the company scales from building one rocket at a time to building to scale, it is important to un- derstand how to do so while generating positive margin. Capturing, analyzing, and trending cost data for each build is crucial to this effort. Repeatable processes: On the way to scale, MES helps the company iden- tify and replicate what works, as well as controlling and revising what does not. Better decision making: MES collects and analyzes the data, turning data into information, which help the "hu- man in the loop" to make better deci- sions more quickly. Ultimately, "we want to make sure we have the right systems for the right tasks," Goryca said, echoing Clemons' point by noting the plethora of poten- tially redundant applications. "We have a vision of one system, one user—to simplify and have everyone provided with the right tool to do their job." Summing up, Goryca said the com- pany plans on having MES in the man - ufacturing and quality space; ERP for planning in the supply chain, purchas- ing, procurement, and finance areas; and product life-cycle management and a few other systems in design en - gineering. Still, he asserted, "What's important is that they have to be con - nected in that digital thread." Quantum leap or business as usual? The varying views about MES explain some differences in how manufactur - ers view smart manufacturing, whether as the next step in an ever-evolving continuous improvement effort or as a strategic transformation. The simple answer is both, according to recent research conducted by MESA and IndustryWeek to determine prevail- ing views about smart manufacturing. Transformational strategy/ new business model Not clearly one or the other 24% 33% Continuous improvement/ innovation/lean 43% Companies see smart manufacturing as... Continuous improvement or strategic transformation?

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