Sunday, September 21, 2014

Federation of Multiple Control Systems is a Key part of the Operational Transformation, It’s time for an “Industrial Enterprise Configuration Environment”

Last week this came up 3 times in a week, customers asked me are we working on a unifying configuration environment that will manage standards for control, supervisory and more over multiple different vendor controllers. We talked about the need for multiple teams, one for templates development, others for deployment and the critical need for version management. You cannot expect to have standards if you do not have strong governance and in my experience this means a tool, and environment that promotes the successful management of standards.

We talk about federation of information across data sources in an information driven manufacturing environment, but an effective operational transformation is about decisions and actions in a timely manner and consistent manner. Too often we talk at the high level and overlook the extensive work required on the plan automation control integration. Most plants are on to at least their second generation of control, in DCS, PLC and SCADA. These systems are mature and functionally immensely rich that they can expand and evolve to satisfy most processes today.

The Modern Automation/ Operational system is not an enclosed system, it will have many controllers of different sizes running different processes, hopefully the correct controller for the correct process. With the evolution of the “Internet of things” in the automation world there is a trend to smaller powerful controllers so each asset/ process has it is own control that links into the higher world. This makes sense as long as there is the ability to federate these controls from a:

·         Naming convention consistency across the controllers
·         Control Standards for a process over different controllers
·         The ability to configure different levels of a control/ process strategy across controllers but deployed to a different controller instances which in many cases will be controllers from different vendors.
·         The ability to automatically configure the integration with the supervisory platform and the controller at the same time, any changes are automatically managed and sustained.
·         Clear governance over the management of standards and versions across the supervisory and controllers
·         Version management is key the ability to manage different versions of standards in the same strategy deployed to different controllers, combined with incremental updates.
·         The End to End System Integrity at the time of deployment, this is the step most people are concerned with as the system must make sure the integrity of the different parts of control sub system are in place, so we have no dead ends on references that can cause controllers to not function. Assumed in this is the peer to peer communication and referencing between controllers of different roles, types and vendors.

Yes, the leaders in the operational transformation while implementing a Supervisory Platform with operational standards and decision support, they are complimenting their investment with an equally often more significant investment in alignment of the existing and new control systems. Their standards, their interfacing and most of all their management of integration and standards.


The new generation “Industrial Enterprise Configuration Environments” will live above the individual vendor configuration systems but enable a holistic management of strategy and standards leveraging a multi discipline team, with version governance naturally built in. When we look at the “Internet of things” this will become key, as we go to “atomic control” at the devices and machines, the thought of learning multiple tools is not practical. The only way in the industrial world will be a common configuration environment that enables standards, and deployment to different device platforms, with governance, and confidence.
Watch this space as we accelerate the innovation in this area, to bring reality. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Steps on the Operational Journey from Siloed to Optimized to achieve Operational Excellence

We have all seen the debate on how do we go from todays manufacturing to an effective operational landscape, across the full valued supply chain. The increased urgency of this debate has become  recent discussions, I have with different companies; people are trying understand how they going stay competitive delivering the correct products, to the correct markets, locations, in the correct time, at the correct price and margin. All this with increasing costs in labor, energy, transport and regulation compliance.  
The common thread across the discussions was:
·         Real time transparency across all sites, and “cogs” in the supply chain.
·         Shift from “traditional reporting” to “actionable decisions”
·         Shift from operators to “Operational Teams” that align operations, planning and expertise
·         Shift from Siloed process on a plant or across plants to optimized and aligned.
·         Shift from experience in people to experience in the system
·         Alignment and consistency across the operational decisions and action for a product no matter location. 
Providing the foundation for optimizing and continuous improvement, not just of assets but process, assets, product production, and workforce.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Industrial Internet of Things: What does it mean to me?

I must have sat through 3 to four presentations of IoT in the last 2 weeks from different vendors, different industries. Combine this active strategic discussions within our development teams, you see many angles and thought approaches.

ARC’s definition:
“The industrial internet of things is a collection of technologies that can come together in a targeted  solution to improve business performance and machine availability”.

The key is the transition to information driven system has begun and it is about alignment of devices, process and people, to be effective in real-time agile production. Extending across the plant, and the whole value supply chain, providing transparency in end to end operations.


All are valid, but the question was asked on a site visit last week " what does it mean to us?". So I stood up and went to white board and drew three circles and intersected them, to represent the opportunity.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Effective Situational Awareness (Actionable Decisions) requires “Engineers to evolve to Artists.”

Industrial situational Awareness is a key concept for the future of supervisory/ operational systems. Moving beyond ASM (abnormal situational Management standards) which have had mixed success, not due to standard, but due to implementations. Understanding this subtle difference in implementation is when we start talking “engineers evolving to an artistic, human factor aware.”


This image shows a traditional process screen with photo like images, and the right hand image shows the intensity of eye focus based upon color and drawings. The issue is the awareness of the alarms up the top or indication symbols up the top are lost, this is where the ASM brings a cleaner view, as seen in the image below where this same screen has been evolved to ASM. Yet even that design can be improved.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Knowledge must transfer to Industrial Systems to Combat the Skill Shortage/ Lack of Experts

A couple of weeks ago I talked about tacit knowledge and how it is key due changing way experts will be deployed, and short fall in skilled workforce. This was driven home again this week, with the release of skill assessment by “Accenture 2014 Manufacturing Skills and Training Study” that showed some real truths to the situation in the USA.
The diagram below show the current split of jobs that Highly skilled to skilled to unskilled, then the second shows that percentage of the Highly skilled and skilled jobs will grow over the next 2 years.

This is in total contradiction to the next set of questions around how severe is the skill shortage in customers.
The take away is that we putting in more complex processes, and systems in order to compete in the “flat world” which requires increased skilled people, yet there is reducing capacity in skilled, and highly skilled talent, actually the pool is shrinking.
The study goes on to talk about training and the use of operator training systems, and the need for intuitive (self learning) systems. But my thoughts rang back to discussion on Tacit Knowledge and how critical it is to capture experience not in words, or videos, but in systems that enable actionable decisions (built on embedded captured operational experience). Examples are Embedded operational Procedures, simulation for the future, pattern recognition on conditions to see events before they happen, all new techniques just entering the operational systems.  
Tacit knowledge is not easily shared. Although it is that which is used by all people, it is not necessarily able to be easily articulated. It consists of beliefs, ideals, values, schemata and mental models which are deeply ingrained in us and which we often take for granted. The key to acquiring tacit knowledge is experience. Without some form of shared experience, it is extremely difficult for people to share each other's thinking processes.
Tacit knowledge has been described as “know-how” – as opposed to “know-what” (facts), “know-why” (science), or “know-who” (networking). It involves learning and skill but not in a way that can be written down. On this account knowing-how or embodied knowledge is characteristic of the expert, who acts, makes judgments, and so forth without explicitly reflecting on the principles or rules involved. The expert works without having a theory of his or her work; he or she just performs skillfully without deliberation or focused attention. Apprentices, for example, work with their mentors and learn craftsmanship not through language but by observation, imitation, and practice.

The study goes on to provide examples of the impact of this shortage for a midsized $500m complaint to be $4.6m loss annually:
Food for thought!!! Tacit Knowledge must be captured in a form that new users can take actionable decisions in a reliable and effective way, through knowledge and experience moving from the experts to the systems in a sustainable approach that can evolve.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Can you have Smart Cities without Smart Citizens?

For the last couple of weeks I have been engaged in smart cities investigation, interviews and understanding the landscape. While I keep abreast of this developing and over crowded market, we have a focused team in this area that requested my input on investigations and defined strategies.
Enjoyment in these exercises is the interviewing and learning. It was clear that many of the initiatives we seen in the industrial sector apply to here but differently in smart cities. So in a visit to Singapore I had the opportunity spend time with a number of “city authorities” involved in their smart city vision.
The head of the Urban Planning   made some very interesting comments, around what a Smart City is! Too often we read about the efficiencies of smart devices, and management of energy across a city, the transparency across a city to systems.
But he raised the point that a “smart city requires smart citizens, and smart service workers”, this took my interest as the concept aligned with my thoughts on empowerment. On digging deeper he broke up his thoughts into:
  • Workers: Workers being the people who work in different jobs in the city, but use the services of the city to get to and from work, and to execute their job each day.

  • Service Workers: These are the people who provide the services to keep the city running, from bus drivers, to city clerks, to maintenance electricians, to firemen, and the other 1000s of job roles in the city.
  • Citizens These are the above and everyone else enjoying and living in the city, no matter if they in the park, at a concert, at a football game, shopping, or out to dinner, or just living at home. All the time they using services of the city.
In my discussions with the planning authority, and then with one of the universities, and others it became clear that they faced a similar problem we have in Industry, but on different scale and angle with the empowerment of people, and processes. In order to change the culture for them to use the services of the city in a more efficient way, and allow people more enjoyment time.  Remembering that the average age in most cities is going up, and we do not have transition of population, but yet we require an “operational change in culture” in the way they use their city services.
When discussing this concept I was reminded of a concept of the modern wealthy: “today’s wealthy been wealthy in enjoyment time, not necessary money.”   A reflection on our current times where we are always connected, always working, and not disconnecting and really enjoying. The modern wealthy have learnt how to execute work effectively while maximizing their time to enjoy.
This came up in a conversation in Singapore around “smart work” when asked the answer related to “worker” category of person above. To the way they need to change the way they work from being able to work anywhere, not a new concept called “activity based” work. He went on to talk about a worker not wasting time in travel, or in a train, but to use that time effectively, giving increased output, and giving back time to enjoyment.
The real area that caught my interest and debates were around the “changing of the culture” in all the citizens in the city to use services efficiently and turnoff lights, use less water, change habits. Like we have changed over the last 20 years to wear seat belts naturally in the car, how can we evolve the way people operate their house, their work environment, and their enjoyment environment.
I reflected on how my family’s culture had changed when we lived our yacht for ten years, both in California and travelling, as the boat is a small micro grid for power generation storage and usage, and we make our water from seawater or capture water. But we set the boat up with LED lights, and taps that force turn off, installed efficient shower heads, and on goes the list. My sons turnoff lights; they watch the power; it becomes a core part of daily KPIs, similar to weather.
When discussing this required cultural change the real concept of “smart Citizens” came into play. It was not just about the app on my phone to understand how to order taxi’s or understand the transport system. Tt was also about the applications that embed best living practices on how to operate the house, etc. So that through the natural use of these applications in the house, on the phone, etc. the user inherently executes the best-operational practice and increases efficiency. As that operational practice in tuned and improved, the embedded procedure is updated and effecting 1000s, to millions of people, without them realizing, but with significant impact to cities use of services and therefore improved efficiency.
This discussion does not take away from much of the focus today in smart cities around empowering the “service worker” and the associated services provided to citizens to attract them to live in the city. How a smart city will make these “service workers” situationally aware of conditions in the city not as they happen, but in the future detecting conditions from historical patterns bringing awareness of situations before they occur.
A “smart City” is about the city systems, services status, and capability being intelligent, and empowering right decisions faster to bring service satisfaction higher in the city. But all of this must happen while significantly reducing the impact on the environment, with goals of 50% reduction in energy usage and carbon footprint from cities by 2030, if not more, not counting waste and water usage. A lot more than just the systems must change, or the efficiency of the services and people are operating them. The way in which we as citizens go about daily life must change, so we enjoy more, but execute in the most efficient and natural way to increase the efficiency of the city.

It is certainly an interesting opportunity, but draws on many parallels whit the “operational Transformation” in the industrial space, and merging of concepts can only help accelerate the transformation in both landscapes.  

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Smart Plant Culture, What is it?


The concepts of an agile / smart plant, facility are not just in the assets, equipment, and systems, the key to the modern world is the efficiency in the work, and how people and expertise is used across the given tribes of people working and contributing to the business success. This article by Stan captures what is core to that culture.

 
The Smart Plant is characterized by its behavior, which is a combination of technology enablers and the culture of the organization.  If the people don’t effectively use the technology, then the plant won’t behave in a “smart” way.
One of the most effective analyses of culture and culture change comes from Roger Connors and Tom Smith, who have written a book called Change the Culture, Change the Game.  They assert that actions and results only change when beliefs and experiences are changed.  When management attempt to change the results without changing beliefs and experiences, the organization doesn’t produce lasting change, and the amount of “disengagement” and rebellion increases.  These authors have also analyzed a key aspect of culture that they call “accountability”.  In this analysis, they recommend shifting an organization’s behaviors from what they call the “blame game” to a behavior of openness, ownership, teamwork and collective actions to solve the problems.

Dr. Stephen Covey has embraced these and he has written a book called Principle-Centered Leadership, which recommends a combination of changing the goals and measures, combined with a different approach to managing performance.


In the above diagram, the most important goals are called Wildly Important, and these are made clear and prominent.  The second step is to shift from the traditional “lagging” measures to “leading” measures, so that organizations can continually prevent problems and take full advantage of opportunities.  The third step is a “compelling” scoreboard, which requires all workers to have information with sufficient frequency and detail that affects their jobs.  This often requires hourly information focused on manufacturing or processing “cells” or “units”.  And the fourth step is a supervisor “cadence” or regular review and adjustment of targets.  In many industrial facilities, this might occur daily.
The Smart Plant culture reaches across organization silos, reaches across locations and reaches across time to share ownership of challenges and solve problems together.  The “blame game” is minimized and new employees are oriented into the shared beliefs and experience of problem-solving and sharing information, both good news and bad news.  Training shifts from isolated prevention of blame to team training which share performance.



Article authored by Stan DeVries Snr SOlution Architect at Schneider - Electric