Monday, October 27, 2014

The Perfect Storm in Industrial Operations = New Paradigm in Operational Landscape

I decided to revisit a blog that I have enhanced from over a year as preparation for a discussion I have been having with many people in the last 2 weeks around "realtime Information Platform" vs "Historian" which I enter that discussion in the next blog. Too many people are looking at one aspect.

The most significant disruption in industrial operational strategy is happening in this post GFC (global financial crisis) era.  This is focused on determining an operational execution environment which enables timely contributions by the operational team for sustained high-performance plant execution.  The focus is currently on operational processes, but this will shift quickly to driving a new operational experience which enables a new operational execution plan. Traditional user interfaces will not “cut it” both in products, or the way they have been implemented.

A common thread around the world is the operational personnel challenge, especially the finding of people to replace the existing “baby boomer generation” and lack of experience available in the market.
This is only part of the most significant disruption in operational strategy in the last 20 years, even since the introduction of the PC.  There is a perfect storm happening, with these vectors:
  •        Ageing workforce: the significant number of highly experienced operations, maintenance, process workers who will retire in the next 5 to 10 years.  Some mangers in “oil and gas upstream” talk about the fact that 80% of their current team will be gone in 5 years.
  •          Operational Agility means Decision NOW: to be competitive, decisions must be made now, this has caused a change in thinking that workers need to be empowered to make more decisions, through more information, higher knowledge and access to experience, and a transition from “worker” to “knowledge worker”.  This also means that they have much more responsibility.  As one customer recently stated, traditionally they had an operator cover 5 to 10 wells; this was fine when you have 100 wells which lasted 20 years, but in the next 5 years he stated “we will have 20,000 + wells, but we will not have 2,000 operators”.
  •          The rotating operational person means “time to experience” is shorter than ever: the experienced generation is retiring and transitioning to an age group 20 years their junior, and there is a new factor that people are not staying in their role or location longer than a year.  One company stated 10 years ago that people were in a role approximately 5 years, but now they are seeing rotations of 8 months.
  •         Transition to digital native worker, with very different expectations, causes challenges with worker retention: The new generation is “digitally native”; they expect access to knowledge, they expect “touch experience”, they expect collaboration from anywhere, and they expect to learn on the fly.

Stepping back and looking at all of these vectors; we have significant disruptions for those in charge of industrial / manufacturing operational execution strategies.
Addressing that significant disruption will require a combination of techniques:
  •          A new generation of user interface products with more than interface capability, but embedded knowledge access, experience access, actionable procedures and natural intelligence, really empower the operational workers in all roles.
  •          A new operational experience design.  Notice that the traditional enabler -HMI (Human Machine Interface) does not express this new design: as it is a true “operational experience” that goes through the “day in the life” of the new generation of operational knowledge workers.
  •          New alignment across the different systems, plant applications and sites to align context, actions. Keeping the sites, applications and systems “loosely coupled but tightly aligned”.

Why?  Because today is not about Control Rooms; it is about agility and timely decisions, and this requires the “Flexible Operational Team” that works naturally together to leverage their experience, in the NOW to have decisions of all sorts made in a timely manner (often earlier than “now” to prevent instead of react).

The above diagram shows the concept of Flexible Operational Team, where at the bottom the traditional User Interfaces (UI’s) would have been permanently manned.  These UI’s are becoming transiently manned, but all functions relative to the zone of responsibility are available.  The more central operational centers (increasingly remote) will have a “quarterback” operational controller who is calling the shots, with a transient in-plant team of different skill sets, and a virtual team of experts usually external to the plant.  The in plant team executes activities that must be done locally, e.g. Inspections, maintenance, and certain manual operations, and the virtual team are experts across the world who can be tapped on for experience and knowledge to work with the controller or the in-plant team.
The above requirements is driving customers to look at the concept of “Enterprise Control”, providing the unification, and evolution of existing systems to achieve the alignment required to enable the concept of “agility thru Operational alignment and decisions in the NOW”.
The Invensys Enterprise Control Vision is to provide a set of capabilities that enables customers to achieve "Operational Excellence” through three strategies:
  •          Empowerment of Operational People

Operational personnel (e.g. Operators, process engineers, process experts, maintenance, quality, production management) are empowered real-time decisions through operational awareness, access to experience, collaboration, and best practices in a proactive system, to perform multiple tasks, in flexible roles, in multiple locations.
  •          Unification through Federation across assets, applications and systems

Align the different assets and processes across the operational management layer (of the traditional automation levels) so that the industrial operations are more agile (can change equipment configuration and use of the equipment much faster and much tighter coordination).  These assets that reside within a plant, within a process and across multiple sites are aligned to business and operational processes and require consistent measures and information.  Each of the existing applications/ controls continue to run, but their information and visualisation models are aligned, and communication happens with orchestration execution, in order for the Operational Process to execute in the most timely and effective manner.
  •          Built on a Sustainable platform of capability so that the system has longevity to evolve.

Enterprise Control will be implemented in stages and evolve in scope, breadth and functionality through its lifetime at each customer installation, which could be 20 years.  The system has been engineered and architected in a way that enables this evolution to occur in a sustainable way and caters to changing engineering teams and technologies.

New technology products will enable the above operational/automation paradigms, satisfying the changes in the market and workforce, compelling all of us to think and engineer differently as we evolve our operational systems.
I am hoping this refresh and discussion answers many of the questions people have asked me lately, as it is not just about the ageing workforce, the transition, the whole workforce culture and approach to work will be different in 5 to 10 years, and it really is a transformation to "smart work" in the industrial operational space. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Paradox of the Growing Trend of Increasing Complexity in Industrial/Operational Solutions

I was discussing with a customer this week their systems, solutions, what was being asked of his team, and how even on a medium sized business and mature production processes the solution complexity is growing. He talked about the continued pressure of audits, regulations to satisfy government and just the consumer, combined with an increasing rate of " new product introduction" (npi). Yet production agility, timely actionable decisions, demands real time transparency into production, and across the supply chain.

Over two pots of tea we mapped out a high level functional landscape, his comment what happened to traditional  solutions. His comment was valid as the traditional supervisory solutions of 10 years ago, had transformed on the paper in front of us to "operational management architecture". With now an architectural landscape that connects to:

1.       Multiple vendor controllers and smart devices from ever increasing intelligent process equipment
2.       The range of people with different roles is increasing, in this example we have 8 different roles interacting with the solution, and taking actionable decisions
3.       The location of these people has shifted from the control room to every where, eg in the control room, roaming the plant floor, roaming the office, working remote outside the plant.
4.       Multiple applications that the system interacts with, has gone from to 7 This is not a big system, yes it is a batch system, but now cyber security, data transformation to deliver the correct trusted information for a role is available.

So complexity is increasing but the outlook is this will not change that business  will continue to demand more interactive, real times, collaborative, and transparent solutions in order to maintain competitiveness.

As seen below from an interview in North America, note the % of skilled and highly skilled roles, and the future additions of roles is in this skilled and highly skilled area:

So the complexity grows at a time when we have a transition to a less experience workforce, that will be in constant state of learning, and dynamic nature. In the conversation we talked about the team on his site, that he now had 50+ experienced and a junior engineer in his 20s. Fully capable but different, and less experienced on a site and role.

The diagram below shows the same people when trying to fill these skilled and highly skilled roles.

This is the paradox of today's dilemma facing engineers and operations, combine this with the demand projects with shorter project time, and that the system will evolve.

Now the control on the prices systems has not dramatically increased this is well defined and mature, it is the ability to absorb change that is key.

As we concluded our second pot of tea, it was clear the need to shift away from customer, home built solutions, away from customer excel sheets, to "off the shelf" solutions products that interact, can be easily configured and provide intuitive use, and learning, on an architecture that absorbs evolution and change. The discussion shifted to how transform their internal resources from internal customer code creation, to configuration, and acceleration of a more expansive solution building on their skill and knowledge.

The key walk away from this conversation, and why I shared it, was the realization by the customer that his approach to projects, and direction of addressing demands from operations needed a rethink in their approach, and using of existing staff, especially with the key experienced staff, and development of new staff. This included looking outside their own industry to potential significant advancements in addressing common operational approaches. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Is 2015 going to be the year of Wearables in industry? What is your strategy towards wearable devices across your “industrial operational team”?

I started writing this blog post 2 weeks ago, as I was seeing the potential for a huge increase in the empowerment of the mobile worker in industry, not just in the plant, but in all roles in the “flexible operational team” freeing the worker up from been tied to a computer.

I started ask “could 2015 be the real year where we see the explosion in industry of wearable devices to empower actionable decisions of all workers?”  All this became supported in a number events, publications in this two week period.

Last week I was delivering a session on the “re Imaging” of our world, and one of guys in audience had a watch with industrial alerts and alarms on it.

His workflow was:
·         that he received an alert/notification of event needing his attention, (he had set up his own alerts “my alerts” in our Smart Glance application)   
·         He was then able to take out his tablet, or smart phone and investigate the more detail on the event with the increased real estate experience a tablet or smart phone provides

Why does this appeal? Is that I am notified, but I can have the tablet in my backpack and based on the type of notification I am able to make a decision to investigate Now or defer to a better time, combine this with information on the tablet I can take an action.

Gartner then released this:
Gartner Identifies the Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2015

The top one was:
“Computing Everywhere
As mobile devices continue to proliferate, Gartner predicts an increased emphasis on serving the needs of the mobile user in diverse contexts and environments, as opposed to focusing on devices alone.
"Phones and wearable devices are now part of an expanded computing environment that includes such things as consumer electronics and connected screens in the workplace and public space," said David Cearley, vice president & Gartner Fellow. "Increasingly, it's the overall environment that will need to adapt to the requirements of the mobile user. This will continue to raise significant management challenges for IT organizations as they lose control of user endpoint devices. It will also require increased attention to user experience design."

The diagram below came out with commercial market on different wearable devices that we would expect to have and interact with. Again this points to different expectations, but even with the acceptance (takeup ) of devices like "fitbit" and now smart watches, we can only expect empowerment of our other sensors.

Adding to this in the last couple of weeks I was reviewing research about enabling the mobile person in the manufacturing/ industrial space. :

The concept of eye piece that can support HMI or reduce screens. In our case screen built in Wonderware InTouch can be seen in this eye piece through streaming HTML5, and actions taken. Yes is it practical that is depending on how you define the experience, certainly just taking a traditional HMI screen to an eye experience the size of postage stamp does not work. But again notifications, awareness of certain controls, and alarms, safety in that area is key. Due to magnification of eye and proximity you can see a significant amount of information

Contextualized Industrial Companion reality on the Tablet then provides nearly a full control, awareness experience, with location, and direction of vision awareness. So as a worker finds himself in a location or situation that they have to make a decision, take and action , on a situation, devices, process that was not planned. They can see the current situation, access information, access people/experts, share all in the cause of “making an actionable decision in the NOW” without having to go back to office or location.

Initially people think of the roaming worker on a plant, remote site, but the key changes are:
·         IT is allowing “bring your devices” on plants in the IT infrastructure and increasingly users are expecting to use the same or similar devices they have in their private life as in working life. The concept is simple why do need two different experiences. If I can be connected and empowered in my private life increasing efficiency why not in my working life with same experience but now for working decisions/actions.
        Actionable Decisions are key in a timely manner, causing working outside the standard working hours, and always connected. Perfect example was when a end user came back to be realizing their internal connection was changing. They had asked for concurrent licenses for information clients, expecting a certain amount license to shared by those on duty. What they are now finding is that workers are not logging off, they stay connected maybe only with a smart phone but still connected. So now they rapidly approaching a point where they need the same number of licenses as users / workers and concept of concurrency does not apply.   

So the shift is from roles to “activities”, where the information can be delivered across different devices. With different applications with different information in context for the “activity/ decision” needing to be taken. The leading companies are all trying to empower the total operational team, all roles and all “activities” and this means unharnessing people from the computer console.   

So where are you on approach to introducing/ accepting these new end point devices in your industrial operational experience? Certainly from our stables, we will continue to increase enabling information and actions in all situations for the worker. Expect the adoption on wearables devices as the primary way the operational empowerment, notification and awareness to workers shifts in 2015/16. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Collaboration with plants and Governance is key to Standards,

There can' t be a week go past that companies do not talk to me about standards leading rapidly to discussion on standards management. Standards are the only way companies can achieve:
1/ Rapid roll out of new processes across plants
2/ Reduced risk
3/ Reduced dependency on key critical experienced resources.
4/ Consistency in operations, information across plants

Yet most companies do not really understand what a standard is and the investment, design, and approached needed so that the standard can evolve over time, and be sustained as a standard.
When you have comments like;
 "You that standards library we built? We now have 45 of them ones for each site."
Losing the whole effect of what a standard is and hamstringing the ability to evolve and react to the market in an agile way.

The culture of a standard is closer to that of “a product" than an “application" yet most companies treat them as an applications. Missing the culture and governance needed to make the standards grow and be naturally adopted.

Too often we see it as push from the Center out, with the standards being designed in isolation of the plants, or certainly that is the perception from the plants.
The key is to have a culture where the standards and built with the first site, but with a mind that it will be rolled out across plants. So the design, architecture and approach allow for future capability to be added to it.  Providing the plant teams the ability to contribute, and feeling like they have some ownership, so they will adopt. Plus the culture that sites engineers can contribute improvements back the central governance and improvements will happen.
Clear ownership of standards management, this could be or multiple people with different aspects of the standard library being managed by different people. Similar to what we do with software products, we have product managers, who gather the feedback, define the vision, and strategy, and then provide direction for improvements from version to version. The same concept Product Management for the standards, listening interacting with the sites, determining what is common and valuable to standard by version. Then making sure there is clear governance process, enforcement in place, and testing of the standard.

Architecture levels:

It is important to have the correct standards and levels, so the Hierarchy levels need to set up, with the correct number so the appropriate changes can be added at the correct level. A good example is below where there are corporate, to site, to area, then plant, each of these allow extensions to that level while sustaining consistency from the top.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

"Times are a changing": Re imaging of Our World, it is flow on to Industrial Experience

As I sit on a plane heading over the Pacific again, I look around me and even my life and see how we are re imaging, or changing the way we perform daily activities. The different devices, applications change the way in which we engage with traditional activities.

Example below in the images are real:

Hotel checking happens from the applications on my smart phone instead of registering at the front desk.
In Singapore last month it was was Friday afternoon, I was on the street hoping to get a taxi to airport, initially, you think wave one down. No, not today there must have been 8 of us trying to compete for taxis at peek hour. So out comes the smart device and Über application, and I nominated a price on line for car, happy to pay a little bit more to not miss my flight, and secure a service, a win for me, a win for the driver ( he got a bigger fair).

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.