The Right IIoT Platform Empowers Your Workforce
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is becoming the “technology du jour” for almost everyone in manufacturing. Layer on Smart Manufacturing and Industry 4.0 and you have a technology feast that promises to deliver the fourth industrial revolution across your enterprise and beyond. Manufacturers, beware: none of it will add any value unless you can align people, process, and technology into a coherent system supported by the IIoT platform.
Much has been written about the process and technology aspects; many forget the impact to and value of staff in transformational efforts, while others are bewildered about how to best apply their most valuable resources to the mix — people. The truth is, people throughout the organization are a critical element in the design and development of the industrial transformation program.
As the older generation moves towards retirement, manufacturing companies endeavor to attract younger professionals to replace the retirees and deliver more productivity than before. Today’s newcomers expect a much higher level of interaction with the plant equipment (and beyond the plant too) than their predecessors had or even expected. Thankfully, technologies like HTML5 will provide the base experience with the support of mobile devices and information everywhere, whether the user is on the shop floor, elsewhere in the plant or, indeed, at home. Just seeing what’s going on isn’t enough to engage the new generation, nor is it enough to deliver new productivity expectations.
Shop to Top Begins with Involvement
As manufacturers employ a younger workforce, they must do things right to ensure maximum benefit — simply replacing workers with robots isn’t going to do the trick, except for the most mundane of jobs. Right out of the gate, the enterprise must engage the worker and get them involved. If your organization is developing an operational architecture to support the industrial transformation program, make sure it meets the needs of shop floor workers. Even these staff members need access to appropriate analytics, apps, and information when they need it. Consider this: the definition and speed of timeliness for a plant worker is very different from that for a supervisor or business leader. To ensure the operational architecture will serve the plant staff and not just management, involve them in the process from start to finish.
As the company tests initial pilots in the factory (or virtually through digital twins), it should ensure the operational architecture delivers useful information (not just data) to all those who need it. Furthermore, that information should be easy to access using whatever devices workers already use to interface with the system. As the plant workforce gains experience, they will want access to increasingly more intelligence about their contribution, and performance. People in every kind of role will want positive feedback and timely information. The operational architecture can effectively aggregate, standardize and distribute data to suit everyone, everywhere and all the time.
Learning from Experienced Staff, Engaging the New Workers
It is always a privilege to sit down and chat with a truly experienced factory or plant operator. Their stories, experiences, knowledge, and wisdom are riches we’re going to lose as they gradually retire. If your company is losing tribal knowledge from the shop floor, shouldn’t it have a strategy to minimize the negative effects? The adage “two birds with one stone” comes to mind. Experienced workers are often engaged and enthusiastic about their jobs, for good reason. Has your company looked to older staff to mentor newcomers? When both join the team that’s designing the future architecture, you get the benefit of capturing that tribal knowledge in the architecture while preparing for the needs and desires of the younger worker — all this, while firing up youth … one of the main goals!
Apps that Engage Operators
Someone who is genuinely engaged with his/her job is happy, contributes to the best of their ability, and is continually looking to see how s/he can improve their own and their coworkers’ lot. The engaged worker is probably smart and should certainly be treated that way. Isn’t in the manufacturer’s best interest to do all it can to keep these workers engaged? Industrial transformation and IIoT platforms give us new opportunities to do just that.Give smart operators the tools to become smarter. IIoT platforms deliver app development for the non-programmer —simple ways of building mashups from pre-designed and configurable components. It’s easy to make tools like this available to the engaged worker (and indeed all shop floor staff). Think about those retiring workers again — isn’t it impressive how resourceful operators have always been when it came to working around the limitations of the systems they used to control the plant? Today we sanction that kind of behavior, giving everyone apps running on the IIoT platform.
These are exciting times in manufacturing technology. Let your best and most valuable resources — people — contribute to the amazing and valuable journey!
Learn how industrial companies handle and present data at the plant level in the spotlight report, “Converting Data to Decisions: How Industrials Unleash Data with User Experience.”
To learn how AVEVA can support your Industrial Transformation, visit : https://sw.aveva.com/digital-transformation
Andrew Hughes is a Principal Analyst with LNS Research, where he leads the manufacturing operations management topic area. He primarily focuses on industrial operations, with collaborative coverage across the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), product lifecycle management, the Digital Twin, discrete manufacturing, and other industry verticals served by LNS Research. With more than 30 years’ experience in manufacturing IT, software research, sales, and management across a broad spectrum of manufacturing industries. Andrew has led teams and initiatives across prominent companies like Aspen Technology, Philips Electronics, Honeywell and GEC Marconi. Hughes holds a BSc honours degree in Computer Science from York University. LNS Research provides advisory and benchmarking services to help Line-of-Business and IT executives make critical decisions. Our research focuses on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Digital Transformation; and providing insights into the metrics, leadership, business processes, and technology capabilities needed for achieving Operational Excellence.