Do you like spending lots of money, burdening your staff, and secretly wondering if the data you have is actually correct? I bet you don’t. Welcome to the world of manufacturing systems integration.
Here’s the truth. You want integrated data and a single source of the truth.
In fact, you want all of your systems to work together and to allow everyone inside of the business to be able to access the data they need.
Chances are, every employee inside of a manufacturing business is being pushed to operate leaner and with a more data-driven mentality. Unfortunately, without integrated systems, this is nearly impossible.
So… why does integrating manufacturing systems suck so much?
What Systems Need to Integrate?
Let’s think of it in really simple terms. You typically have some software. And, you typically have some machines.
Those things are not always connected and you normally have more than one of both (i.e. ERP, SCADA, MES, multiple machines, etc.). This means that all of these things are data variables. They all contain a piece of a larger puzzle.
That puzzle = How is the manufacturing floor running?
Is it running well? Are the machines down? Did we produce too much scrap last month? What is our production time trend? Are we able to do changeovers quickly or not this week? Why or why not?
You get it.
It is hard to answer these questions with authority unless you can see the full picture.
This is why manufacturers want to integrate all of their systems. They want the ERP data, machine data, and all other data integrated into a larger picture that is easy and actionable for different job roles.
However, most don’t do this.
I don’t blame them.
Why Manufacturers Avoid Systems Integration Projects
The people that do systems integrations projects internally are usually your engineering or maintenance staff. This is a mighty big load to place in the laps of these staff members.
It rarely works out well when these projects are handed off to these teams for two big reasons…
- They don’t have the time, bandwidth, or expertise
- Because of #1, this usually leads to the project failing (going over massively over budget or being scraped)
Both of these reasons result in a 3rd option. Hiring outside help.
Outside consultants are expensive. You already know this.
Even when they do good work, they still take a ton of your team’s resources to perform their projects properly.
This means that no matter how it’s done, systems integrations projects are really expensive and resource-intensive.
Manufacturers Are Not Better Off Doing Nothing
Unfortunately, despite the lack of good systems integrations options, most manufacturers are missing out on massive cash savings every day that they are unable to have a larger, and more accurate, view of how their manufacturing floor is running.
This is why so many manufacturers take the plunge on a systems integration project despite the fact that they know that it’s a total crapshoot.
Most manufacturers know that eventually, they are going to need to do a better job with data. They are just hoping that they can avoid the headache of a major project for as long as possible.
The Rise of Manufacturing analytics
They need to be configured and hooked up by experts to actually serve the purpose that is needed. They don’t come ready out of the box.
Manufacturing-specific analytics have become increasingly popular for this reason because they don’t require additional hooking up, or the purchase of extra hardware or software.
For ROI, You Need Role-Based Content
Ultimately, it really all comes down to this. Manufacturers need role-based data for:
This is the whole point of these projects.
These teams all need the data from all of these systems contextualized in a way that allows them to ask simple job-related questions and be able to extract the answers themselves — without the help of IT or technical staff members.
This means providing the ability for management to ask, “Why is it that our production schedule was off so much in June?”
This is the Goal of Systems Integration
The real goal is not to integrate systems. It is to integrate data.
You want data that is accurate. Not data that is kept in a database and known to the entire manufacturing floor staff as not the “real OEE metrics“.
This is something I’ve seen a lot. Manufacturers need more transparency.
Now, there are better options than hiring high-priced consultants or implementing expensive software systems. The future will belong to those that are quicker to adapt than others in my opinion.