Monday, July 28, 2014

The Re Think on the Role and Use of the Experts in Industrial Operations/ Automation!

For a while now I have spoken about the trends in the operational workforce, and people have been talking about the aging workforce (expect major impact over the next 7 years), but the talk has only been in one dimension.
Over the last week as we did analysis across a couple of industries an “aligning of the planets” into a major market disruptive event has become clear not just from the “aging” workforce retiring , but from two additional dimensions.

The diagram below tries to show the 3 converging dimensions that became clear where speaking with 2 customers and then listening to a few others.
Looking at this diagram you have 3 clear dimensions, driving different aspects of the new strategies we seeing in “Smart Facilities/ Plants” etc., but they all effect each other, and will cause a significant shift in how we handle experts.
Experts can be in the Operational Process, Production, IT, Automation, Asset etc.

1/ Reducing Expertise Capacity (Aging workforce): Nothing new here except the impact of GFC (global financial crisis) has pushed out the retirement of many people. But as predicted in Europe that in 2030 there will be an 8.3 million deficit in people entering the workforce vs retiring or leaving. Other charts show the next 7 to 10 years will see the acceleration of retirements in industry.
Two big feedbacks in this area:
  •         People are predicting that the workforce of 2020 will have 30% of experience of the current workforce, does not mean they less qualified, but their first hand experience in a role or location will be down. That tacit knowledge vs the explicit knowledge you can learn from text books.
  •          Two companies just talked about even the shortage of people hiring into positions even from Gen Y.

One comment from the mining field I've been told by engineers on more than one mine site that they just don't run the existing equipment as well as they used to in the early 1990s. Particularly the big plant and equipment. This seems to be more an issue of availability of expertise and training!”    

2/ New Digitally Native/ Dynamic workforce: This I have talked about at length, but it is still an eye opener for many people that the above “ageing workforce” retiring is not just about the loss of experience (which significant), but the transition. The new workforce is not the same as the old, and the interfaces, procedures, approaches will not work, or keep the experts.
  •         They are digitally native they expect to collaborate, share, and in the NOW
  •          They will evolve in roles, careers, and locations many times to the point that they will not stay in a role/ location for longer than 2 years. We already seeing this in some parts the world.  
  •          There ability to use tools to execute exceeds to two pervouse generations, but their tolerance and ability to solve, investigate work determining execution is reduced. The system should provide the information and action.

3/ Personnel Efficiency Reduction: This was brought to me 2 weeks ago and I was surprised as I know in my own work that I do far more than I did 10 years ago, and effect all parts of the globe so my reach is more effective.
But in Solomon Benchmarking for refining, which is really the Refining industry benchmarks by which companies in that industry judge their performance. Indicated from 1994 to 2012 the Personal Cost Index is dropping. PCI (Personal Cost Index) is equal to “Personal Cost/ Equipment/ Asset Capacity to Produce “. Over the last 18 years the trend has been that Asset/ Plant capacity increase has not kept pace with the increase in Human Overhead cost. Example in 2010 = 23.5 2012= 25.7. Driving strategies to use fewer experts across wider influence over the total industrial supply chain, increasing the effective output.
Is this surprising initially probably yes, but when I went back and looked again, in my role I have increased my efficiency and output, by leveraging new technologies built into the latest office, communication, and task execution tools.
But has that same dramatic increase in tools capability to empower operators and experts to increase their effectiveness happened in the industrial world, ASM (Abnormal Situational Management Consortium) and others indicate that we have not increased the empowerment of industrial worker. We have done integration, we have looked asset performance, process performance, but in most cases until recently we have not changed the personal experience significantly to performance tasks.
With the true application of the ASM concepts, going to Integrated Operational Centers, going to exception based awareness, vs monitoring. Truly not just making the equipment smart, but leveraging the smart “self aware” equipment to empower a new level of operational efficiency and increased output relative to the amount of experts and operational staff.
Also during the same period the both the “mechanical and operational availability” in refining has dropped.
This is all food for thought, but in so many of conversations I am having today with leading thought leaders in industrial companies, the need for innovative ways to effectively use their workers and experience across their industrial supply chain is “top of mind.”
A foundational pillar in an Effective Operational Excellence Strategy, is the strategy around using experts differently, leading companies towards the “Virtual Expert Teams” that collaborate on trusted information with the local teams. Indications are that the operational work-space of 2020/ 25 will have a significant 40% less operational experts across a companies industrial supply chain, with the systems housing the required knowledge to be agile.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Clear KPIs for Measuring “Smart Plant/ Factory” Success is Key, Again Operations, Humans are Difference in this 4th Industrial Revolution

I seem to have been involved in Smart Fields, Smart Facilities, etc for years, and a lot of the discussion and thought leadership was around information, and more intelligent devices. But many have had limited success, until now, why is because many “smart” strategies did not cover all the bases.

During last week a colleague and I had a number of workshop sessions around forward strategy, reviewing specifically what is different this time round with smart, looking at the “Operational Transformation” event we seeing unfold, what is different and core this time! It was very clear, but so was the significant discontinuity in the market.

When we talk Smart concepts too often, the discussions goes quickly to the “smart/ intelligent” devices, and data and information, with the hype around the “Internet of Things” this continues. But when you really get down to what people are trying to achieve is decisions faster, and flexibility / agility through awareness and operational transparency.  

Yes the real impact here of this Operational Transformation is not just that devices are becoming smarter, “self aware” but the need to gain consistency in operations, and reduce errors. There is significant discontinuity happen in the market, as the logical way to eliminate the errors is through experienced workforce. As we all know that actually the workforce in 5 years will dramatically be less experienced than the workforce of yesterday or today.

The diagram below shows the experienced workforce  today is responsible for most of the unscheduled shutdowns.
So the outlook in the next 5 years is grim as we move to the in experienced workforce, unless our systems and operational processes change that is why “smart xxx” is real.
The major outcomes of the drive towards “smart factories, airports, fields etc” is to embed the operational experience, and self awareness in the Smart Devices” and “Smart Processes” .

Too often we do not have clear goals, but it was interesting to see a leading coming define very clear goals constantly to monitor the direction, and success of this "journey". 

Below is their goals:
Key drive is for zero human, equipment and process shutdowns and errors; this drives towards a significant embedding of process and automation on process and analysis to predict situations so that planned / controlled actions can take place limiting unnecessary shutdowns.

Key is the recognition that number of experts that are going to be available due to new generational work-space is going to be limited, and it is key to dramatically reduce the dependency on these experts by 90%. Another shift is to Global centers of excellence that must have access to timely information in context and trusted to interact with the local teams.

100% optimization of Feed/ Energy/ and Product usually plant have 1 maybe two of these tuned , but not 100% optimized, but this is not as simple as it looks when Feed stocks vary, Products instruction is increasing and Energy is totally variable, but the company has recognized to minimize impact of variability is optimization.   Also the knowledge of the system must be embedded, so the system is intuitive and self aware, enabling operational workers to rotate while maintaining consistency in operations and process.
Intelligent Alarms, and awareness will have to natural, so state / condition pattern analysis the move to the “to be” state is key. Many companies have significant programs in play now for transforming their current alarm structure to enable rapid, intuitive awareness of where that “pin” is in the haystack of alarms, and events.

As the plant becomes more intelligent and able to operate, key decisions and follow through actions in a timely manner are fundamental. This will not be one person; it will be a set of actions, and decisions across a team. So the operational system will be designed with collaboration in mind, the natural ability to guide, have built in operational process, natural documentation of actions, and passing of actions to the next person. Key will be the ability to “Resolve Operational Tasks” through tracking and an operational work system within the system, optimizing the human assets as much as the physical assets and processes.   

Monday, July 14, 2014

Asset Management / Optimization Stands to Take Significant Leaps of Value with the Internet of Things

Last week I talked about the “smart plant”, one of the key areas that is changing and opportunity for a step level of output value is in the “Asset Reliability” / “Operational Continuity”.

The real opportunity in is increasing capacity of through :

  • Increased flexibility in the existing assets to run more products, and we understand asset condition through pattern recognition
  •  Improved preventive, and “awareness” of asset condition and capability of performing at optimum. The devices / assets are “self aware” and self learning on improvement and conditions so early detection of conditions are seen and corrected in a timely manner.
  •  Improved planning and asset utilization through transparency across assets on a site and across sites,
There is a lot of talk around the internet of things (IoT) in the general world but in the industrial world there is huge opportunity just due to the significant number of devices.
Industry pundits predict that by 2020 over 50 billion everyday objects will be connected to the Internet. This does not even include the Industrial IoT and the entire M2M environment, much of which is already in place in our factories, plants, and infrastructure.The initial trend will be to establish one-way communication, ultimately migrating to "many-to-many" communications as more physical objects be-come connected. Connecting all the assets and devices in communities of active tuning, decisions and optimization, requiring a significant rethink and change to current operational management/ supervisory systems and information systems to take advantage, but it aligns with the workforce operational transformation.So if we look at the clear steps that can happen in Asset Efficiency:

1/ Increased information, data in a one way capture of asset information.
This step is the first one and is well under way where increased intelligent devices are monitoring / calculating their performance and the information is logged to an historian. As stated in past blogs we seeing the I/O count between control systems and historians increasing by over a factor of 10. (example a pump use to be 5 to 10 variables, now is 120 to 200, a well head was planned to 50 points now logging 690 points).
Once you have this data companies like Pattern Discovery Technologies ( produce solutions that used defined events to investigate through Big Data Techniques asset condition patterns, from this vast historical data, so that better prediction is possible of conditions earlier.
2/ Is by direction, and communities of devices “learning” together and tuning their performance.
So instead of a device/ asset just learning on it’s own, imagine a community or similar type devices learning and sharing their learnings between them. This is not a linear learning of optimization but an exponential learning. So the conditions for a type can be immediately picked up and used by a new device / asset of the same type. Machine learning and community “hub” learning is a powerful predictive capability coming into the market.
Companies like MTELL ( have introduced some powerful “Machine Learning” capabilities, that combine with their “Transfer Learning” capability. Key is this does not have to wait to new devices/ assets on the plant it can be applied to existing assets, and the “learning” will begin.

The concept of going to “Smart Machines/ assets” that are:
  • Self-Aware”
  •  Self and Tribal Learning, so improving in predictive understanding of behavior

  Notification and increased analysis capability through powerful tools for asset analysis from the dramatic increase in data available.Now that devices can be connected through wireless to internet, and therefore a “cloud historian that is managed” and these analysis tools can executed centrally, or devices discover each other and learn together provides the breakthrough in the Asset world from predictive to prescriptive.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Smart Plant a Realistic / Holistic View

Smart Cities, Smart Airports, Smart Farms, Smart Upstream Fields are all the talk, but when you get down to interviews with companies, cities etc, the definitions change from city to city, from major oil company to another, so if you looking for a clean definition it not to be found. But there are underlying trends you see across all of them:
Trends/ Objectives:
·         Faster decisions and less people monitoring / responsible for more. Leading to the Integrated Operational (control) centers.
·         Increased agility and efficiency through transparency across the whole landscape, so better alignment to plans
·         Increased Operational Continuity
·         Lowering of cost through increased understanding of operations, and operational efficiency of assets. Energy management and material management.
·         The Operational Workforce transition of experience and to a dynamic, digital workforce.
·         Environmental/ Safety and regulation control, limiting exposure and cost
·         Change of equipment/ instruments to “smart equipment” which have increased intelligence and “self monitoring” , a dramatic increase in data that needs to be understood, and used for more predictive awareness
Yes this is all a part of the Operational Transition I have been talking about, and believe will transform the industrial sector over the next 5 to 10 years, as part of the 3rd industrial revolution.
But in the last couple of weeks we have worked with a company in Asia who has a really good grasp of “smart plant” and the overall concepts that need to addressed in their journey.

They are really looking at the 4 main themes with their unique names, but they also looking across these and how they interact, as well not just a plant but across assets.
This is built on their belief that Operational Workspace is changing and not in one area but multiple dimensions, with workforce change, but also ICT changes like “cloud," “Bandwidth," IOT (Internet of Things), Smart / intelligent devices, and the move to naturally using simulation.
The diagram below shows the two big axis they see changing, not too different to People and Asset changes we have seen before.
An interesting observation is the shift to “larger, more complex process” this is true in all industries, as the problem we are being asked to solve is significant compared with the traditional control, but the opportunity for return is significant as well. But with the use of centralized computing, and shared learning, the cost, and ability to solve these today over all size plants is possible.
In reality the fact that this company has engaged on journey and understands it is journey is important, understands the goals, and direction, the shift to manage “work” and transition their architecture to embrace “intelligent devices” so they can leverage the IoT developments and Big Data, Industrial Analytics. Probably means they will lead the transition and be positioned well in the new world beyond 2020, but we all entering this world!     

Monday, June 30, 2014

Time to remove manual processes, paper from Food and Beverage! How do we address regulations, at a cost effective level.

Last week I visited 2 Food and Beverage sites in the last week, and I am continued to be surprised by the amount of manual processes and paper trails that still exist. This is for set up of runs, quality, regulation, and process improvements.
To achieve a “positive release” of the product, there are many paper documents filled out across the production line that make up the production record for the run. This process has been running for years, often the data is captured on clip boards and then in some case re-entered into requirements of the business applications. All of this leaves significant room for error, but most of all it leaves limited room for agility of production.
During discussions, the increased requirements for satisfying regulations set down by government or retailers. One customer talked about new significant requirements coming from the “all important” RETAILERS, who own the “shelf space." Does this mean more paper, and how do you educate the operational staff and gain consistency?
Take this combine it with the other big business challengers in F & B:
·         Increased Variety of Products on lines, increased NPI (New Product Introduction)
·         Increased velocity of production
·         Driving of these costs down.
·         Increased regulation requirements.
Combine this with the changing workforce which I have talked about at length. Too deal with these challenger's business would ideally require a stable, experience workforce, but the opposite is now happening.
A foundational requirement is that the manual process / paper processes are replaced with “Managed Operational Processes” that are electronic and enable enter data once have a model driven workflow for “self-learning” of the process. This allows monitoring of the process, and improvement/ tuning of the process. Most of all it removes delays in capturing of data, while allowing workforce transition across activities.    
The technology is mature in Operational Process Modeling, and the shift to an electronic process, is real, it is key for F & B across the world to remove as fast as possible manual operational process!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Demographic shifts transform the global workforce, why we need to rethink Operational Systems

This is an interesting article supporting another challenge in the workforce and why many of trends we have talked about are key to consider now, not in 5 years.
Summary: Never before has demographic change happened so quickly. Global employers face the challenge that, despite a growing global population, they will soon have to recruit from a shrinking workforce due to an aging population.
Despite a growing global population, the availability of skilled workers is actually shrinking, and no longer just in advanced, aging countries such as Japan and Italy. Now, some emerging markets, such as China and Russia, are also feeling a demographic pinch.
The data suggests that this is only the beginning. A “demographic divide” will soon arise between countries with younger skilled workers and those that face an aging, shrinking workforce. The war for talent will become increasingly acute in certain sectors, especially areas requiring high skill levels and more education.

Consider once we in this new workforce then we in a dynamic workforce. 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Factory of the Future 2014 centers on Workers ! Tacit knowledge is key not just explicit knowledge!

Sorry for missing last week, just in too many planes. But time to read and reflect on points, and I was discussing an opportunity in Korea with a colleague. Some in the customers think tank asked him to present at a high level the landscape of manufacturing in the future 2020 +. Not surprising to me he centered the new world of manufacturing and industry around the “worker and human decision making/ action”, going out to the processes and then production assets.

I was then reading some background material around Horizon 2020 call for tenders relative to “Factory of the Future” driven by European Commission.

Under Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, for 2014-2020, the new contractual Public-Private Partnership (PPP) on Factories of the Future (FoF) will build on the successes of the FP7 Factories of the Future PPP.
The FoF multi-annual roadmap for the years 2014-2020 sets a vision and outlines routes towards high added value manufacturing technologies for the factories of the future, which will be clean, highly performing, environmental friendly and socially sustainable. The priorities have been agreed within the wide community of stakeholders across Europe, after extensive public consultation.

The interesting focus of this year of the program was around the worker, both in increasing the effectiveness of the different workers but also attractiveness of industry to entice the new generation of workers to want to engage in this industry. This has been a challenge for the last 15 to 20 years where the industrial sector has been seen as slow, and of limited innovation. But “the times are a changing” and innovation is happening fast, and with the acceleration of the industry down the “internet of things” path (as the biggest potential value growth of this approach is in industry with it’s millions of devices) so will come innovation.  
This year’s Factories of the Future work program includes a call for proposals that address increasing the attractiveness for workers. The scope of proposals could have included:

• Methods and tools for design or adaptation of facilities and technologies to support productivity, well being, and worker autonomy in production

• New methods and technologies supporting knowledge capture and team interaction to enhance work satisfaction, safety, and ergonomics

• Integration of innovative production technologies supporting increased productivity and flexibility, and

• Training and educational aspects to raise job attractiveness for young people and the elderly

The call text specifically mentioned scheduling of work and design of work places, adaptive technology such as augmented reality, addressing tasks holistically, and production systems ensuring efficient transfer of knowledge and information. New systems must support the “tacit” knowledge of the worker in the process of controlling advanced machinery and production lines.

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. While difficult to articulate, this cognitive dimension of tacit knowledge shapes the way we perceive the world.
In the field of knowledge management, the concept of tacit knowledge refers to a knowledge possessed only by an individual and difficult to communicate to others via words and symbols. Therefore, an individual can acquire tacit knowledge without language. Apprentices, for example, work with their mentors and learn craftsmanship not through language but by observation, imitation, and practice.
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.
Tacit knowledge is typically difficult to capture and transfer from one worker to another, so if systems could be designed to do so, it could minimize loss of critical tacit knowledge and thus help relieve the skill crunch related to the aging workforce. At a macro level, this could increase the industry’s capacity to innovate and capture knowledge. In the concept of Operational Manufacturing Interfaces the ability to capture, embed evolve operational procedures, process based upon experience is key. With this there is a basis for companies to build and evolve through consistent and optimized operational actions aligned to decisions in the NOW, providing the foundation for "Operational Innovation". This is not natural in the traditional HMI, Industrial Workstation and in the way design our industrial systems for the last 20 years, it is time change!

It would indeed be very valuable to adapt the work place, work scheduling, interactions with production technology and documentation to the skill level and mental and physical state of the worker. It would also be a major advance to be able to adapt the decision support content and mode of communication to both the state of the production line or factory and to the state of the worker.

It is pleasing to see the continued evolution and alignment around the thinking of workers, how "operational Innovation" can become a natural part of the systems.