The Role of Smart Manufacturing Operations Management in Discrete Manufacturing and the Smart Factory

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The world of manufacturing is changing and in the process of speaking with clients, I’ve been asked repeatedly about what role digital technologies and automation will play in the next generation of factories.

As I’ve told them every time, digitization will be central to smart factories, which represent a new revolution in manufacturing. It will completely transform the way that we observe, evaluate, and drive processes and resources within production lines.

How has it been done until now?

Until now, manufacturers have been using Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES), also frequently known as Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM) solutions or methodology. This was an attempt to gain increased visibility and control into the manufacturing processes to increase its effectiveness, ensure compliance, and improve flexibility. This marked an important step towards the automated monitoring of production lines and factories.

Considered as the “ERP of the shop floor,” MOM solutions have largely advanced at a slower pace during the early 2000s. Preoccupied with long and complex ERP implementations, most organizations were unwilling to initiate risky MOM projects as any failure could block production for hours or days. At the same time, unavailability of digital technologies made it difficult to realize RoI for such projects.

MOM solutions suffer from a number of challenges. Their role has been predominantly limited to executing the instructions from ERP (when and how much to produce) and PLM systems (how to produce) with little scope for deviations. With ERP and PLM systems having daily or weekly update cycles; it becomes difficult for MOM solutions to manage production processes in real time, anticipate problems or respond to unplanned events or unexpected incidents. Finally, MOM solutions have struggled to support event-driven production operations.

So we need a smarter, flexible solution that leverages digital technologies such as IoT, big data, analytics and artificial intelligence. This needs a combination of methods, architecture, software and hardware to anticipate or react instantaneously to inputs from diverse sources and systems. It also requires a seamless integration with the enterprise supply chain and PLM solutions, best-of-breed shop-floor solutions and smart assets. Such capabilities are limited in today’s solutions. So how do we get there?

Smart MOM: the next step

The Smart MOM vision proposed by Capgemini Digital Manufacturing services line outlines the advent of such a solution leveraging comprehensive orchestration, and machine learning. It helps you realize the full value of your Digital Manufacturing initiatives. By completely connecting operators and all of your assets and introducing smart devices, Smart MOM allows a new level of digital intensity.

Smart MOM will be able to manage Shop Floor operations–such as logistics, production, quality control, and asset maintenance–in real time. By collecting data from every asset and operators, Smart MOM provides a complete overview of your manufacturing process to either allow a supervisor to communicate with work force, make an informed decision or an automated manager to trigger new actions, reroute work, reorganize assets, adjust parameters, or create new orders based on predefined rules. This comprehensive overview will be an essential part of the smart factory, serving as the core of your digital operations.

How Smart MOM improves on existing systems

Through the use of digital technologies and smart devices, Smart MOM builds upon the original intent of MOM to make your production processes more dynamic, responsive, and adaptive.

IoT helps increase visibility of essential data and ensures that the right information is available to the right people at the right time. While IoT manages your data flow, Smart MOM will build upon your improved capacity for data availability and analysis in order to create a smoother business process flow. With the proper implementation of automated operations management, you will be able to connect multiple factories so that your supervisors have the ability to make decisions and take action across numerous sites simultaneously.

As a result, the ability of your processes to respond and adapt to new information and demands related to the shop floor is increased dramatically, allowing for preemptive as opposed to reactionary decision-making. This will improve the fluidity and dynamism of your smart factory. With Smart MOM as your primary tool for monitoring and analyzing your manufacturing process, manufacturing and supply chain supervisors will be empowered to more effectively manage your operations.

Ultimately, Smart MOM’s greatest impact is in how it adds to your supervision capabilities. By adding a variety of tools, Smart MOM allows your supervisors to anticipate unplanned events and better manage your processes. With dynamic dispatching and sequencing, remotely controlled operations and set up of smart assets as well as dashboards that utilize predictive maintenance and manufacturing intelligence, you will not only be able to spot breakdowns in your manufacturing process before they take place but react to them quickly. This is further strengthened by flow simulations tools and on-demand simulation services that are incorporated into Smart MOM. All of this means that your manufacturing process will respond more quickly and be more empowered to change and adapt to future challenges.

What’s the next step?

As you consider the task of updating your factories and embracing Industry 4.0, it’s important to consider how your operations management will similarly need to be updated. We are moving into a new world of manufacturing, one built upon an interconnected process and comprehensive data. So that means that we need to evolve our methods of operations management to keep pace and support new developments.

The smart factory is the future of manufacturing and Smart MOM will play a key role in its success. I recommend starting to think right away about how your organization can take advantage of digital technologies and automation so that when you are ready to implement your own smart factory initiative, you will be ready to reap the benefits immediately.

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