Monday, March 30, 2015

Multi-dimensional impact of a changing Industrial Operational Workspace vs. the Transforming Workforce!

Multi-dimensional impact of a changing Industrial Operational Work space vs. the Transforming Workforce!
This blog has discussed a lot about the changing workforce, but let’s step back and look at the real change that of the industrial work space. The way in which we operate the business, from:
  • business strategy to operational execution real-time alignment
  • to serving customers
  • new product introduction
  • to operating across multiple plants and regions
  • to collaboration manufacturing
  • to speed and agility of manufacturing

Are all changing, at increasing speed, forcing increased volume, quicker, accountability and consistent “actionable decisions”.

There are two significant forces (workforce transformation to dynamic workforce, and the work space transformation) at play. That are “lining up” to drive the most significant transformation in the  business/ operational landscape required in order to be competitive, leveraging the third force available that of technology, (bandwidth, Internet of things, cloud, etc).

This post will focus on the changing Operational Work space as illustrated in diagram below depicts:


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Managing Variation is Corner Stone of Operational Growth but Requirements Platforms

I wrote about this 2 months ago, but seem to have spent the last two weeks talking and working through this “managing of Variability/ variation” as key. Too many people said that you are forcing standards, but these only come once you have a platform of abstraction on top of variation you want manage or accommodate.

 “How do you manage this Variability, so that production consistency, agility and increased production output are achieved?”   While the concept of everything being a standard would be great, it is not practical and there are variability’s that we must “manage” and others we must “accommodate”.

 “Standardization is not a business goal – it is a means to an end. 
The goal of business is to make a profit.”
                                                             - Continuous Improvement Leader
Thus, any standardization effort must distinguish between the different types of variety in a way that maximizes profit without constraining the business strategy. Thus, the business challenge can be summed up (using the mining example illustrated in the above) as follows:
  1. Mastering necessary variety: When running a mine or plant, such things as Ore Body quality (raw material quality) that varies not according to the ideal plan. Breakdowns of equipment, weather like hurricanes/ cyclones disrupt ports and operations, tides effect ships coming into ports. These are “necessary variability” that all must be “mastered” to optimize production, operations, and you need to put systems in that allow you change plans and strategies as required. I had one workshop last week where the team was looking at long term strategies in the traditional sense. They had not adjusted their thinking to a long term strategy now has to make of shorter operational plans that can be adjusted in “near real-time” due to “master” these “necessary” variability. The operational systems must empower all people to be planners in their time span, to empower actionable decisions that are related to achieving the bigger strategy, and clear impact is understood.  As products, deliverables change and vary more regularly, plans will become shorter and increased volume of plans to achieve a business strategy.
  2. Accommodating unavoidable variety: Situations like different automation vendors or implementations across equipment, processes and sites. It is impractical to think a company can acquire new or existing equipment and processes and expect a particular PLC or automation system, the OEM equipment suppliers just make the change to cost prohibitive. In order for companies to grow and be agile, they must “accommodate” natural variety from equipment suppliers, existing sites, but be able to apply their operational standards/ processes across the different equipment.  Another area that that limits operational excellence is the different “experience” levels of the workforce, from shift to shift, from site to site. The operational systems must abstract operational/ or site experience by embedding operational procedures/ actions into the system providing a guidance and consistency of operational decision and action. This starts to generalize the workforce experience enabling significant operational workforce flexibility between sites, and hiring, addressing the challenges of workforce / skill shortage.
  3. Eliminating unnecessary variety: Anything other than the above two scenarios would be eligible for standardization.
It is NOT about “rip and replace with standards it is about “mastering and accommodating” these variations while enabling operational excellence growth and continuity by applying operational standards across this variability. Key is “platform strategies” that abstract the variability and can absorb variability while provide a platform for services that enable standards to be built on. Providing the architecture for “sustainable innovation” through managed standards that can evolve over time. Standards can be operational models in supervisory for alignment of context and structure, as well as operational actions to guide users through tasks in a consistent way. Also, configuration of control strategies should be over multiple vendors, where common control standards for process can be deployed over multiple controllers but managed in structured way.
Does this mean one platform? NO, not for the industrial landscape different layers of the industrial operations landscape have different roles. Providing different services and different ability to absorb a variety, but the common services between these platforms must enable them to “tightly aligned but loosely coupled”.
As we have pointed out the key to success in this dynamic but changing world is the ability to “Master Necessary Variety” in your business, while “Accommodating Unavoidable Variation”. Providing a structure to acquire new “brownfield plants” accommodate their existing automation and process. But apply the new companies’ differentiation through applying their operational procedures across these acquired plants.
This is not a new concept, but I seem to explain it a lot now days!!!!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Multi-site standards have to be economically viable, but Operational Value of standards is the driver vs IT requirement

While flexibility allows us to deal with the plant floor reality, it also comes at a cost and thus requires governance. This is typically where the IT and Engineering perspectives tend to clash:

  1. Standardization (what Corporate IT desires): How to deploy “out-of-the-box” or packaged solutions that reduce risk and time-to-value in implementation across the plant sites? Increasingly Operational value is driving standards and platforms.
  2. Flexibility (what Engineering desires): How to support the various customizations to accommodate the heterogeneous nature of the process within a plant site?

But with the growing demand for agility and ability to absorb new production plans, new product introduction with minimal impact to day to day operations. Combine this the ability to “accommodate variability” in automation systems often from different vendors across multiple plants, or equipment, as well variety in team skills, and experience. The implementation of platforms combined with standards provide the necessary abstraction to “accommodate” this variation. So move to standards is growing driven more from the operational continuity drive than IT (which drove it based upon cost of implementation and sustainability).


To solve the above two seemingly opposable expectations, large enterprise users of a platform use a Center of Excellence approach to centrally manage the template library while helping orchestrate each of the plant’s technology roadmap in a way that is aligned to their Continuous Improvement journey.
The illustration below maps (at a high-level) the governance process of how templates are created, maintained, and modified to support the rollout across a multi-plant standardization effort.

Many of the most successful companies driving standards, are now seeing the rewards and return through agility to absorb new plants into their organization, yet leverage the existing unique automation, plant floor systems.

But so many of them comment to that they learnt the hard way the need for governance, yet site collaboration to make the standards effective and adoption successful. Too many state building standards from the corporate center out seems logical, but in reality so much knowledge is in the field and the need for capturing that experience back into standards is key. Plus the shift with standards away from a project DNA to more of “product” life-cycle DNA is key.

The important learning is that standards are part of a program, they part of learning, but return is significant now not just IT point of view but from an “Operational side” and this is where the significant economical returns are seen through operational consistency, and agility. Understand that standards is a program, clear understand the required governance to succeed long term, and investment up front with the field so the standards will be adopted. Combine this with clear kpis to understand the reason why your implementation a platform and standards so the value can be measured for the long term, as this is a long term initiative that must enable sustainable innovation.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Cost of Delay: Realtime Actionable Decisions Critical at all Layers in Industrial Operations

In a number of recent discussions with people when they have listened to sessions on the operational transform and the concepts of people and team transformation, they incorrectly feel the focus is only on the  “operator”. While the operator is the closest person to the “coal face” a fundamental concept of the operational transformation are the shifts to:
·         Actionable decisions performed as early as possible
·         Collaboration across the operational team in making the decision, and taking the action
·         Sharing of current situation and experience
·         Awareness of the situation as early as possible.


As seen in the diagram below if a situation is left then by the time it hits the weekly report even daily report the cost of the situation is significant.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Taking a Lead from the Human Body with Reducing risk through an Enterprise Nervous System for Industrial Architectures

For the last couple of weeks I have been travelling in what seems hundreds of meetings with many people. However, last week I had a number of presentations on the direction of Operational/Automation systems, and challengers of the 7 to 10 years.
Twice a question was asked around flat vs. layered architecture, similar question around one platform vs. multiple platforms.

       Layers allow me to contain change

       Layers allow me to manage complexity, divide and conquer

       Inter-operable layers reduce technology lock-in and increase options for clients


       Federated means lower level has autonomy but cannot violate higher level rules and principles.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Operational Practices, the associated activities, then impact on Roles provides the path towards Operational Excellence Design

Again the last 2 weeks in the USA speaking with customers the question of how they move forward towards 2020 where do we start. Too often I see people start from the easy place that of technologies and products, vs really understanding where they want to be in 2020/25. How will their run their plants, and operational practices across sites and supply chain at all levels is key. Once you know the operational processes you can determine the operational activities and effect on the roles in the company at that time, this will lead to the required solutions.

Companies have invested and executed on the tradition alignment in a plant across process systems, and business systems such as SAP, leveraging such guidelines as ISA 95. With the drive towards more and more agility and rapid deployment of products to markets, these alignments are key, but the other area of critical concern is the operational workplace. With the rapid agility, comes more alignment, and more complexity, combined with key / rapid decisions to be made, the operational team, and operational workspace will be critical. Combine this with the facts that over 10000 experienced baby boomers are retiring each week, and this rate is expected to continue for seventeen years, and that by 2020 the 42 workforce is expected to made up 42+%  
So where do you start when planning to design a system  What concerned me was the throwing of technologies around like cloud, wireless, and mobile, and looking for how, instead of stepping back and looking at what are they trying to achieve, and then applying technologies to that plan.
It is important to note that, in both cases, their automation layer is mature and well established and that their business side is also well thought through and well on the way to being established on the second generation business system.
Again the opportunity of significant improvement and gain in operational efficiency is at the operational layer across multiple facilities. Again the role of people and enabling decisions in real-time are key but not just decisions but a consistency in action in the operational control loop.
The question of where to start came up, and through the discussion the opportunity of stepping back and taking a look at the roles that an operational plant will require from the roles in 2020 to execute. These roles could be on site or off site, through the concept of the “flexible operational team”. Define the role, the day in the life of that role taking into account location, what decisions and actions that role is responsible for and who and what he will interact with through the day. Yes, switch into a “Facebook” thinking of friends, but friends maybe people, (other experts) Assets, Processes, even products. Once this map of a decisions and responsibilities during the day is defined, this drives what information, systems and people this role must interact with in a day. It will also determine what operational procedures (Operational Activities) the role will potentially engage.
This role map is key as now you have a starting point, as to driving consistency in a dynamically changing workforce. Combining these role map, composed of “operational activities” associated with the role, where the activity has the required notification, information, actions, community of expertise etc. and architectural landscape so these “operational activities” can compliment existing systems.
The architectural landscape should define the layers on top of existing systems, in a neutral way, where these operational activities (model driven approach) will reside, these could be local or remote hosting but will require clear governance and require models to defined in an environment that enables constant evolution of the practices but process experts locally and centrally as a “crowd development”, with governance control.
This focus on a role or set of key roles allows the company to focus on how the operational plant will run in 2020 and the key decisions that required, and start applying these now in an architecture that lives with the current systems, but starts to drive consistency and faster decisions across that same role over multiple plants. Notice I have not talked technologies, my assumption on mobile and cloud that the architecture is set up so these activities will be able to execute independently of the device, so the adoption of what devices are used on a plant are relative to plant and support they get, key is the devices no matter if desktop or mobile or web should be suited to efficiency of the role execution.

The clear opportunity is the linking of smart/ intelligent assets to people, and optimized process, and this is the essence of distributed industrial systems of the future on which “Internet of things’ / “Industrial internet” and the “third Industrial Revolution” are based. Key not getting overwhelmed with technology (it is here) it is the “job” or operational improvement that is the opportunity, and how to achieve this. A good starting point is understanding and achieving consistency in the key roles in the future vs the dynamically evolving workforce.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

A New Approach is Required to Enable It/OT, with Information Driven Systems!

Two weeks ago I wrote about IT/OT convergence, and some thoughts, while the convergence has been happening for years. It seems only lately that we running into the significant step of changing the organization from tradition structures to a modern / new generation Operational IT approach. But the interest in that blog post was significant, with many hits, and many direct emails on ideas, comments.
The fact that 4 significant companies I have visited lately that we find that the head of the traditional IT team, and strategy is someone from Operations, with limited traditional IT experience, but huge amount of Operational and Business experience. The strategies are now not about the technology they lead by an business/ operational value, and how do deliver solutions fast, and efficiently, with technology and systems that are sustainable, and evolutionary.

In the information driven space this is giving rise to a different approach: