Manufacturing Day is celebrated on October 6 this year to recognize advances in manufacturing and inspire the next generation of manufacturers. Over the last decade, there have been major changes in manufacturing that give the next generation a lot to be excited about. Most notably may be the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), the Industry 4.0 workgroups, and the impact big data and cybersecurity is having on operational technology (OT).
However, today’s manufacturers are also under increasing pressures from customer requests, government mandates, changing workforce, and evolving technologies. These pressures paired with IIoT have created a complex environment for modern manufacturers to navigate. Some have made investments in large Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) in an attempt to better manage and monitor work-in-process on the factory floor only to find delayed software deployments, system integration issues, and unnecessary reliance on third parties and costly programming.
Tracking of all manufacturing information in real-time and receiving up-to-the-minute data from the plant in an MES often comes with a big sticker price. And many of the MES solutions fail to deliver on the promise of solving all manufacturing challenges and create new challenges of their own.
The next generation of manufacturers are now looking for a flexible, cost-effective solution that configures to their needs. On this quest, they should ask:
What is driving my manufacturing process?
Too often, manufacturers get caught up with complying with government mandates or fitting into third-party programming requirements. While these mandates and specific requirements are important to the manufacturing process, they should not be the drivers. Instead, business strategies built around agile production and customer demands should drive the processes. Today’s manufacturing solutions must be flexible and allow for business to lead the approach.
How can technology support my changing workforce?
Operator turnover and a skilled workforce gap are two of the most common challenges faced by manufacturers today. Any technology solution that addresses manufacturing processes must take into account workforce concerns. Manufacturers can resolve problems on the plant floor faster by using technology that enhances communication and empowers their workforce. A system that prescribes work and assists operators can help close the gap and lessen the impact of turnover.
How significant of investment is actually needed?
The challenges of today’s manufacturing environment are not necessarily solved by throwing more money at them. Manufacturers should look at the assets and systems currently in use and focus on efficiency. When evaluating a new technology, it needs to have flexibility built in so that a manufacturer can integrate it with current systems. Agility is critical and a solution should support changes that are made through reconfiguring – not reprogramming – operations.
Leidos helps manufacturers meet their increasing demands by enabling agility and standardization as a fundamental aspect of business activities. Our Assembly Management System (AMS) bridges business systems with the plant floor for seamless management across an enterprise and connects people with technology to help them understand operations and respond faster.