Monday, May 25, 2015

How do you Achieve Orchestration in Industrial Internet of Things without Managed Configurations and Standards?

Last week I was at mining conference and had a rare chance to sit back and listen to people’s thoughts on innovation, and the future. It was good to hear the topics of partnership are key to innovation, (relating to my blog of a month “Participation architecture and culture key to Innovation”).

As expected the “internet of things” came up a lot, in many contexts, like it did at the Dairy conference the week before. With this cam the usual many definitions of IOT and the impact it will have on the mining industry. I just wondered how many people really comprehend the value, and complexity that it brings?

One evening I was on call with France with a partner discussing smart cities and IOT and he made the interesting comment:

“The Internet of Things has moved beyond big data and analysis to how will we align the devices and people into an orchestrated operational strategy that achieves a repeatable agile outcomes.”

I sat back with a big smile as he had articulated the change I had been seeing. As decisions and data is nice but it must go from data, information, knowledge to wisdom where actions can be taken, no matter if that action is taken by a device, or human.

Then I saw this categories of maturity in the internet of things, I had seen something similar but in a week of much discussion on this topic I thought this one would do. It shows devices going from a data sources with intelligent data / I hope actually Information. Evolving to control of devices in orchestrated way, no matter if the control is in the thing or in cloud the things know how to work together in a coordinated strategy. Once you have all the things working together you can move to tuning their operational behavior and effectiveness. This seems simple but things require access to control strategies, and orchestrations that guide these things, now we talking 100s to 1000s of things in this coordinated community. Eventually you end up autonomy or semi autonomy “managed by exception”.
In another discussion with a large network hardware supplier we were discussing a mining extraction alignment solution that could be enabled by IOT unlike today. So we took a practical look at the application, and saw 10s of like machines and a few classes of machines. Then you look at the operational processes they executing and again see repetition, but we are now talking 1000s look at devices.  Yet we had a customer wanting achieve level 3 in the above model “Optimization”. I thought back to many industrial sites I have been on in the last few years where there are 10s of PLCs programmed with larger control strategies but programmed at different times and by different people (even if from the same vendor) and how customers were having a significant cost of ownership in evolving these strategies. This why organizations like OMAC and PACKML have come about defining standard control strategies for operations/ devices that could span vendors.

So I ended back at my conflict, as we move to landscape where we will have 1000s of devices often smaller than traditional PLCs but each with their own monitoring, or control strategies, and then high level strategies that enable the orchestration of these devices/ things into a an effective operational strategy.

I asked how are we going sustain and evolve these strategies without having an “Enterprise Standards Management Framework” that enable standards to built for an operation? These are then deployed over 100s of similar operations on different devices. Now we shifted to managed, agile and sustainable solution.  

The thought of 100s of people programming 1000s of devices and then trying tune and evolve these seems un practical, plus if we enable standards management the reuse of IP and rapid rollout is achieved, while leveraging the revolution to smart devices and lower cost devices that execute these strategies.
A food for thought!!!!!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Cyber Physical and Operational Management Evolution

In recent months Stan DeVries and I as part of Common Architecture Team, and also investigating large opportunities have spent many hours discussing the internet of things, Industrie 4.0, and shift to Cyber Physical architectures. It is fundamental for the rapid innovation businesses will need in order to stay competitive, both delivering products, but evolving efficiency and leveraging an effective "operational team", Stan submitted this blog on the subject.

Recently the academic phrase “cyber-physical systems” has appeared in presentations and articles on smart manufacturing and Industry 4.0.  Much of the emphasis has been on the “cyber” element, with frequent example of automation.  This may imply “lights out” operations, which might be achievable and desirable in some operations, but unnecessary, in-feasible and undesirable in most.  It should be helpful to consider one of the models of cyber-physical systems, which is called the Boyd OODA Loop, as shown in the following diagram:
Colonel Boyd was an excellent fighter pilot and military strategist.  The key elements of his decision model are:
  • Observation: the collection of data by means of the senses
  • Orientation: the analysis and synthesis of data to form one's current mental perspective
  • Decision: the determination of a course of action based on one's current mental perspective
  • Action: the physical playing-out of decisions

Using this model, automation improves the Observation and Orientation so that users engage with only the “right” information, at the “right” time (often earlier than real-time) in the”right” context – for the “right” results.
While the Boyd decision model is excellent for one or a few workers, another model is necessary for considering an entire operation, such as a manufacturing plant, a power generation station, petroleum refinery, oilfield etc.

If we accept that the main value of the automation is to improve the Observation and Orientation, then the above diagram implements these 2 important steps in what can be called the Smart Solution Center, which is a combination of a technology/data center and specialists who are providing support, improvement and instruction to other workers.  One of the key outputs of the Smart Solution Center, so that most of the work performed by knowledge workers within that Center and other workers spend the majority of their time on planned work, instead of being consumed with reactive work.

But automation of Observation and Orientation must be extremely accurate and trustworthy.  To achieve and sustain these attributes, we recommend a “Virtual Smart Plant” which is used to design, modify, test and train workers.  This is also key to sustaining behavior change and if possible, culture change.  Best practices have shown that workers change their performance in lasting ways if they experience the change for themselves, and especially if they can experience new learning in a “safe” environment.

In the above diagram, the “work orders” are more than task lists, but a combination of recipes, KPI targets, instructions, handover/turnover actions etc.  The black rectangle at the center bottom of the diagram is focused on people, who are doing what humans do best: dealing with new knowledge, managing complexity, and navigating change.

So the key to applying “cyber-physical systems” is optimizing the use of the workers, not eliminating them, and this optimization requires using technology in a “smart” manner, such as focusing on Observation and Orientation.

An increasing amount of leading companies are developing the "Smart Solution Centers" (often reference to as Centers of Excellence) where they can physical one location or a "virtual smart center" maximizing the leverage of key thought leaders in the analysis and development of operational/ process innovations. A good example of this is Rio Tinto's Process Excellence Center for mining in Brisbane (plenty of write up on this) where data is analysed converted into effective knowledge through simulation, analysis models, to improve operational running of mine process. 


Sunday, May 10, 2015

Increased Automation of Tasks/ Decisions over the next 10 Years is Foundational, but that does not mean “Lights out Manufacturing”.

In order to deal the increased complexity of the operational opportunity of today, the flat world of competition from around the globe, and the complexity of the Operational System, the production increase dramatically. Requiring higher qualified people, or take the approach that we must constantly simplify the operational experience, so the required skill level does not increase with the complexity of the Operational Scenarios the system is applied.

The diagram below shows the critical drive to sustain productivity margins, by increasing the productivity, while flattening the hourly rate for that productivity. This can only happen through increased effectiveness of the systems, and use of people, without adding more people, or requiring highly skilled people.

So many of the programs have this drive to increase automation of tasks, with some people jumping to the conclusion that means we moving to “lights out manufacturing” an old concept. That is not the case, we need the human brain to deal with the exception and edge decisions and actions where the model has not been created. With agility increasing velocity of products through the supply chain, while increasing the volume of new product introductions, combined with the complete value supply chain managed as one, the role of workers is key.
The table below shows one version of the 6 levels of automation. The key is as a decision and action become predictable and well known, then it must be rolled into the system as “knowledge “and “Wisdom”.

The goal is to get to “Manage by Exception” (level 5) vs all decisions, this is what is done in a aeronautical industry with pilot/ plane control, and is why it is key to take on principles like “situational awareness” so a worker is able to see the ever growing scope of responsibility, in an insistent.

Where does you design principles apply in this landscape?

Sunday, May 3, 2015

A Different Approach to Design Operational Systems is Needed!!!

I have had the opportunity to review some new strategies of some companies are taking to designing their systems for operations in 2020 to 2030, and I am pleased to see they have taken not just a technology approach. But really turn around and looked at “who they will execute work across their value supply chain” focusing on how they will have operate in this period then how they will be executing their work to achieve this.

Now technology is key as it will enable vision to be achieved in “agile “ world, while making it a sustainable evolution.

The diagram below illustrates our current summary of change in thinking needed in approach the bigger picture programs.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Participation architecture and culture key to Innovation

For the last couple of weeks I have been travelling in South Africa, visiting and talking with customers, and listening. But last week at I listened to a talk given by the Ex CEO of Google South Africa (Stafford Masie), and the core of the talk really resonated with what I have been talking about and seeing.

The key was the you need to open up your cultures and architectures to naturally allow participation in your companies evolution from members within the company and outside. Too often our traditional cultures and systems have closed the strategy, innovation of ideas to evolve companies’ offerings in products/ services to a few. But in the software industry we have developed programs that promote innovation from all corners of a company, Google does this using Friday’s for “my innovation”. Key is the culture to enable innovation and then the framework in the company for promoting ideas and selecting valuable ones to be invested in to be evolved.

Stafford Masie's thoughts took this a step further into general industrial space using examples where companies have opened up their products/ offerings to external groups to provide a different, free thought for evolving the offering, to enable certain break through.

In the past I have spoken about “Operational Innovation”, too often people look at innovation as purely technology, but I believe the greatest return on investment is on “operational innovation” in improving the operational processes and efficiency for producing products and services. Requiring companies to develop a culture and architecture that enables:

  • Capturing and understanding current operational processes. Across the industrial assets/ plants making certain products. Providing the opportunity for identification of common best practices, both inefficiencies and efficiencies.
  • Promotion of participation across the company from workers, operators and others to contribute operational improvement to processes they work on.
  • An architecture and environment where operational processes can be tested, in safe area, so innovation can happen through constructive failure and environment to promote trying. A good example of this is where people can try operational procedures in simulated situations and results captured. Something like an Operator Training System used for both training, and “operational innovation” is valuable environment for safe constructive operational process innovation.
  • An environment / architecture that allows ideas to improve to be entered there and then in the system, while the idea is “fresh” and context can be captured, but the idea result in evaluated and feedback to the contributor.

Below is a diagram I have commented on before but shows how companies that embedded process after a lean improvements program far exceed those who just manually implemented process improvement. But the real opportunity for improvement comes when people apply continuous operational innovation (red line). Not being content with their current process but have implemented abilities to understand process performances both machine to machine, people to people, and people to machine. Because they have embedded the operational procedure in the system, over multiple sites, they have everyone acting the same way, so improvement is possible.

Core to success in the next decade is the ability to evolve and innovate, and it is the companies that implement an architecture/ system and culture that promote participation that will be key. What are your plans in seating up a system to enable participation and evolution in a sustained manner?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Smart XXXX: What does it mean!!!

So often today you hear the word “smart” put on the front of a segment describing the transformational program encompassing many of the Internet of Things concepts.

Smart Cities, Smart Farms/ Agriculture, Smart Airports, Smart Plants, Smart Fields etc.

Are they different or do they all come down to a basic set of concepts, transformations that are applied to that industry to significantly shift the needle in operational efficiency?

 Fair question, and so often lately I am being asked what is the difference between IT/OT, IOT, and Smart xxx? So I thought it was worth a discussion, as I suspect there different interactions.
To me the discussion of “smart/intelligent” industrial it is all about achieving “operational Optimization/ Excellence”, to suite the required production at the most effective time, cost. This is a shift from time based production and managing the process to managing the production of product/service. Driving the optimized execution of work / actions on operational processes for that product/service delivery.

At the core it is about changing the way in which we manage and execute work tasks, either automated or actions with human intervention so that only required work is performed at the correct time.  

“Smart Strategies” are fundamentally different from current IoT, Big Data etc. thinking:

  • The IoT, Big Data etc. Initiatives/trends can be characterized as offering the 5 “any’s” – any information, in any context, at any time, to any user, for any action
  • “Smart” products and operations can be characterized as offering the 5 “right’s” – the right information, in the right context (operations situation), at the right time (which is often earlier than “real-time”), to the right users for the right actions (which are often preventative and at best prescriptive).
All fundamental on the journey towards “operational excellence.”

That said “Smart Strategies” will employ the services of IOT, and big data, but the key is “Smart” is about tightening the execution of an operation process relative to the current product delivery expectations. A key concept is that the Operational Process, (no matter if it is in a city, airport, or production line) understands:
  •        What it is expected to deliver in characteristics of product or service, and when
  •        It is “self-aware” of it’s condition and ability to deliver that product/ service, due to capability, materials and the situation it is in.
  •        It is able to then request and interact with other process, applications, assets and people to gain the required actions needed to succeed and when. 

This is a transformation from just understanding it is taking control of the process, as opposed to time schedule actions.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Empowering a New Generation of Front Line Workers.

Recruiting and retaining talent is a top concern for management as the global workforce transitions to the “millennial” generation.  Every time I am in front company executives across industries and regions of the world, yes operational efficacy comes up, but always the deep conversation and search for ideas comes around the changing operational workforce, and associated workspace.

The diagram below illustrates the changing workforce:  

While mundane tasks will continue to get more automated, what work remains in terms of executing on the front-lines warrant a smarter workforce to deal with the corresponding rise in process complexity and product velocity of the value chain. Or a Operational System that abstracts this increased and evolving complexity into the system, allowing variability in the workforce experience and skill. In other words, for those on the industrial front-lines, the boundaries between physical vs. information work will continue to erode – which in turn, changes the very nature of the software applications to support these workers.  

The next generation of industrial software must be able to propel the productivity frontier to new limits while accommodating the new expectations of the Millennial workforce. Examples include:       
  • Information at the fingertips: The information they demand to do their job must be equal to or better than their experience as consumers of mobile, social and collaborative technologies.
  • Work to be rewarding: They can accept tough work conditions if it offers them the autonomy to contribute in their own way in order to keep them engaged and committed.
  •  Change jobs more often: As opportunities to grow “up the career ladder” shrink, they will seek lateral mobility for growth, putting greater pressure on software applications to accelerate “time to proficiency” and performance consistency.
As I sit in the Karoo in Southern South Africa, on Easter weekend away with a number of senior managers of companies in different aspects of manufacturing. The conversations do discuss the future of economics, but the big discussion comes back to workforce transformation, skill set development and retention, and new culture and work method with the Gen Y, how to maintain their engagement and interest. In this country (South Africa) where there has been a significant departure of “baby boomer and gen x” over the last 20 years, leaving the current level of Gen Y in the workforce is already at levels of 2020 expectations in western world (40%).

The issue is how to train, retain, and develop skill and experience, so that companies maintain the required output efficiency. The nice part of the discussion is the reality that it is not a transition of workforce, that it is a totally new workforce that will engage, operate and work totally different to the traditional Gen X and before, and the development of an company/ operational culture that is exciting to attract and retain talent is key.

The big question is can this exciting, attractive culture/ experience be created in an economical and sustained way, especially in the current cost restrictive climate? This then leads to a discussion on the alternative discussion around “generalization “ of “activities” through templatisation of processes, and information, so that decisions and actions can be abstracted from the variability in the experience levels of the work force.  The key assumption is worker experience will vary, and your operational practices will evolve and improve with the business at an ever faster rate, the operational systems of 2020 need to enable a workforce of different skill sets to work in a consistent manner making consistent timely decisions and taking proven actions.

The airline industry has done this with pilots being able to move across different plans, meet their operational team ½ hour before flight, and key still act in a timely and consistent manner. Perfect example was the “Hudson River Incident” where the pilots met ½ hour before take-off, and in the 3 minute flight they took actions only speaking once due to repeatable proven procedures to achieve a successful outcome. 

Why cannot we do the same with the industrial landscape and systems, so that we assume that workforce will change, evolve and the operational systems can accommodate this change while maintaining operational efficiency??