In September, Haresh Malkani presents the keynote “The Democratization of Smart, Sustainable
Manufacturing” at the fourth-annual Smart Industry Conference. Today the chief technology officer with the Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute (CESMII) shares his thoughts on the journey to smart manufacturing, the strategic use of tools and the opportunities for small manufacturers to take part in digital transformation.
Smart Industry: Explain what is meant by "The Democratization of Smart, Sustainable Manufacturing?"
Haresh: Smart Manufacturing is not something that materializes overnight. It is a journey, as you may have heard from many others. Many large companies have been on this journey for a while. But how do we make sure that every manufacturer (small medium or large) has the opportunity and means to not only begin this journey, but stay on it and make it part of their manufacturing DNA? That’s where “democratization” comes in—make it collaborative, make it broadly available, and make it cost effective for each and every manufacturer who wants to adopt these technologies.
Haresh: Real-time data analytics is being done today already, but in specific industries, in specific operations, at specific scales. When you think of a plant that has, say, 14 different operations to convert raw materials into a finished part, the analytics problem becomes complex real quickly. The information is now a mix of material data, part data, equipment data, process data and so on. It requires data to be integrated and contextualized, with the ability to move seamlessly across the organization, on premise, to the cloud and back if necessary. This requires an infrastructure that is fast, flexible and secure, matched with analytics tools that can be deployed whenever they are needed (real-time, offline), wherever they are needed (device, edge, cloud), and with whatever flavor of capabilities that the user needs (operator, line supervisor, engineer, plant manager, etc.). The way we overcome this is by starting with use cases and then drilling down to identify what is required to satisfy the use cases.
First ask the question “Why do I need the information?” Then determine “What is required for me to do that?” And finally “How am I going to do that?” That allows us to build the right infrastructure, and the right tools, from the get go. Very often we jump on the bandwagon and start getting tools and infrastructure into place without a vision for how they are going to be used. You end up spending a lot of money quickly, then find out that it only serves a small set of use cases in the end.
Smart Industry: Are effective platforms currently restricted to large manufacturers?
Haresh: It is true that the conventional, legacy automation and smart-manufacturing architectures of yesterday required a ton of resources and investment to design and deploy automation and smart-manufacturing platforms, which (perhaps) only large manufacturers could undertake. We grew up in the era of layered architectures, the ISA-95 pyramid, and hardware and software systems that relied on “interfacing” rather than “integration.” However, with the advent of low-cost sensing, wireless connectivity and cloud computing (IoT and IIoT technologies) we are rapidly moving into a world where low-cost, agile solutions can be quickly spun up to serve the needs of smart manufacturing, whether those needs are sensing, visualization, control, modeling or analytics. It is going to be exciting. It already is exciting!
Smart Industry: What should inform the strategy an enterprise creates when getting started in smart manufacturing?
Haresh: Think big, start small, get quick wins and feed the frenzy. You need to begin with a vision that everyone can buy into—from the folks on the floor that touch the process daily, to the C-suite that can sponsor it. The vision needs to be concise, clear and compelling—one that can be socialized throughout the organization. Find passionate leaders to do that. Then go after quick wins in your manufacturing operations that you can use to demonstrate what smart manufacturing can do for you. This helps build energy and commitment, helps get the buy-in, and helps change the culture, which is huge. Then feed that frenzy—standardize where it makes sense, deploy in other swim lanes, and maintain momentum and excitement.
And you must do those things without losing sight of your vision—ensure that whatever you undertake is 100% aligned with your vision.
Lastly, don’t go at it alone. Learn from others, collaborate where it makes sense, and leverage technology partners. That’s how you win this game.
Join Haresh and hundreds of other thought-leaders at the 2018 Smart Industry Conference. Click here to learn more.