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:

Sunday, February 1, 2015

OT/IT Convergence “What does it mean in the Industrial World?”

The convergence of Operational Technology and Information Technology is nothing new, it has been front and center certainly since early 2000. Where the Y2K challenge brought awareness in many organizations, how much server, IT like capabilities reside in the industrial automation/ operational landscape. But in the last 3 months I must have been pulled into 10+ workshops, sessions with companies where OT/IT convergence has been the leading point of the discussion. Determining how they are developing strategies to adopt, leverage the opportunity.

The diagram below shows a high level approach to how to “bridge” the different objectives of the two cultures of IT/OT. The success is not one taking over the other but the merger to achieve the combined value and objective. 

It is important to note that it is not a trend it is an opportunity due to evolution of technologies from IT/and OT that synergies and alignments are possible to provide opportunities too:
  • ·         Increase operational and business alignment in real time
  • ·         To alignment business across multiple plants and value chain
  • ·         To accommodate the empowerment of knowledge workers through a combination of connected and mobile devices.
  • ·         To leverage IT and Operational efficiency through common services, capability
  • ·         To address growing demand of Operational Management, that has out grown the tradition OT capabilities and methods. Only a step change by leveraging capabilities in IT, with existing OT/automation capabilities will the requirements be satisfied.

The companies I have seen successful have also understood that a new culture is required and have formed a “Product IT” team composed of IT and Automation/operational people. This brings the critical understanding and cross learning so the above “bridging” strategies are a combined experience strategy.

Companies that determine where they want to be understand the critical nature of multiple platforms at different levels of the architecture, but “loosely coupled, but tight alignment” between them is key. Platforms are key to a sustainable architecture that allows agility over different plants and different work forces and processes.  

I will continue this discussion in the coming weeks as this topic is becoming fundamental to success of traversing the “operational transformation”.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

How will we work in 2025?

During the holiday break I was catching up on reading, validating ideas, and directions, and I found this article on "Why we would work in 2020? from NASA IT Talk.

What interested me was you had a big semi government organization often not know for agility, talking agility of missions, of different sizes, and also the workspace transformation technologies and experiences were the same as we are predicting in Industrial/ manufacturing operational space.
The link above takes you to the article and here is an extraction: The targeted outcomes are aligned as well, with agility, collaboration, understanding the future,

"As IT professionals, we are used to rapid changes. But compared to what’s coming, we ain’t seen nothin’yet. Of course, no one actually knows the future, but by predicting it, we can make better decisions today that will help us become more effective tomorrow. The purpose of this article is to start a discussion so we can innovate together to help NASA IT lead the way and prepare for how NASA employees will work effectively in 2025. It has been said that the best way to predict the future is to create it. While we may not be able to create the IT future by ourselves, we can certainly in‑fluence it. A good way to accomplish this is to:

(1) collaboratively predict the future;

(2) test it together now with leading industry innovators by creating meaningful and evocative prototypes that provide high value for our constituents in the NASA environment;

(3) measure the results

(4) communicate the results as visibly and loudly as we can.

So, what will the technology environment look like in 2025, you ask? OK, here’s a prediction at a subset of the new normal in 2025:
  • ·         3D printing / scanning / faxing is mainstream.
  • ·         Consumer robotics is everywhere and really cheap.
  • ·         All data is accessible, searchable and usable from any device.
  • ·         We can use unlimited computing and storage through cloud computing.
  • ·         Computing is wearable with any data accessible at any time.
  • ·         Reality is augmented via modeling by default through our mobile apps and wearable computing.
  • ·         Space is partly commercialized and NASA routinely partners with commercial and nontraditional
  • ·         entities.
  • ·         Over 10% of cars are self-driving.
  • ·         More than 50% of  employees are Millennials.
  • ·         NASA looks and feels much more like a startup than we did in 2014 and we use
  • ·         crowd sourcing routinely.
  • ·         Projects are accomplished in months, not years.

How will we work?
·         We will routinely use effective, rapid prototyping with faster, lighter, cheaper, and more effective infusion of the latest technologies into the NASA missions. Agile development will seem cumbersome in comparison.
·         We will evaluate and use the most effective emerging tools as part of our normal work. Visual programming and modeling will be expected and NASA will show visible leadership to industry.
Where will we work?
Simply put, NASA will be the workplace of choice. We will have a balanced, “startup-like” environment with mobile, reconfigurable, ­t-to-purpose workspace that enhances personal productivity and job satisfaction.
Working from anywhere with any data and any device will be the new normal.
Who will perform the work? NASA will be the employer of choice and the
partner of choice for the next generation of startups, industry, partners, and competitors. What about “the crowd” you say? Bring it on! Crowd ideation / development / funding will be commonplace and highly effective.
What will we work on? We will be equally adept at small and large missions, for both wild and feasible ideas. We will use industry for transportation. We will be on our way to 3D printing on Mars in preparation for sending humans to Mars. Asteroids will be within our grasp (literally). Submarining under the ice of Europa will be imminent.
We will monitor and protect our planet with millions of sensors composed of official NASA instruments and crowd-sourced wearable computing and nanosats. And that’s just a start.
Here is a sampling of predicted changes and prime candidates for prototyping that will show us the way to taste test this future now across NASA Centers and with leading industry innovators:
• By taking advantage of Big Data and Analytics, we can easily ­nd, store, share, and update all relevant information when we need it. We will provide self-service analytics to all who need it, so our decisions are based on data, not anecdotes. Robotic devices and scripts will collect valuable data for us 24 hours per day, every day.
• The Internet of Things and Wearable Computing will help us to have instant access to all this information at our fi­ngertips, on our wrists, in our glasses, via hand gestures, and by simply speaking the questions.
• We will use just-in-time training through videos created by current NASA specialists, and through specialized Massive Open Online Courses, all available from anywhere and any device via on-demand video snippets delivered directly to our favorite devices, such as smart glasses.
• 3D Printing/Scanning/Copying/Faxing will be mainstream and will allow us to hold effective
brainstorming sessions where we mix virtual and physical models regardless of where we are located.

Is this too Pollyanna’ish for you? Too conservative? Either way, please participate in the conversation and help us steer this train in the right direction, because it is already moving and speeding up, with or without us. Our destination is exciting indeed. And it’s all enabled by IT. "

We should not be surprised, but it is good to see validation of our thoughts.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Traditional System Integrators Transformation to Solution Providers!!!

In a number of discussions this week and last year it was clear that in the next 5 to 10 years the role and way traditional System Integrators work in the Industry Supervisory/ Operational/ Information space, will transform significantly. Especially those serving the smaller to medium industrial market, customers will demand accelerated solutions with a different model of project management, eg no RFP, no long project cycle, expect pre canned domain knowledge. They will want setup fast, and results with understandable costs. Similar to Sales where your CRM system can be set up in days, is the model that early adopters are testing in 2014, and I expect to grow in 2015.

The leading System Integrators will start transforming to “Solution Providers” leveraging hosted industrial platforms of capability from leading industrial automation vendors, to build domain predefined operational solutions.

This is not far different to what system integrators do traditional as they take supervisory, scada, historian, mes, etc. products from industrial vendors and then configure and extend these products into a customer solution based on a customer definition.  So what is changing is that users are now wanting:

·         Solutions faster, minimal project removal of the project RFP process
·         Less involvement
·         Expect domain experience built in
·         Minimal impact on internal resources
·         Minimal risk
·         “Good enough” will do if it improves and minimal impact or up front cost
·         Minimal up front cost.

Traditionally customers have demanded their customer solution, with cost and impact of a project, but this is changing, with questions like:

  • Why should they wait? 
  • They cannot be the only company wanting do this? 
  • Why is not just a proven module of capability, they we configure for us?
So the new generation of System Integrator in the industrial world will be a “solution provider”. Providing a service of domain solutions hosted and built on an digital industrial platform from vendors such as Schneider-Electric. They will engage the customer in 3 to 5 year service contracts, but projects will be in weeks not months, years, RFPs will go away to selecting modules and completing configuration questionnaires.

These solution Providers will add and evolve the domain value in the applications to increase users accessing the information, and interacting, while industrial vendors will develop the industrial digital platforms with increased flexibility, functionality to attract local domain “solution Providers”, to build solutions on their platform. The local aspect will still play an important role due to confidence and uniqueness.

It will be interesting time over the next 5 to 10 years to see the “thought leaders” take on this opportunity and capitalise on a new landscape! Is this now the answer is yes I am working with 2 Sis who are transforming and will leverage the real opportunity!     

Monday, January 5, 2015

Top 10 Manufacturing Operations Blogs for 2014

Many of you probably already are subscribed to MOM blogs, but just in case you not I though these top 10 showed some interesting thoughts.

On my blog the two topics which had a number of blog posts, but had highest hits were around:

1/ Situational Awareness , and change in the way we must design based upon impact
2/ Internet of Things and Cloud.

Interesting the year before cloud and internet of things created very little interest, but this aligns with significant growth in interest in these topics in 2014, and will only grow further into solid reality in 2015.