[…] In the path to Digital Transformation, a ‘huge amount of data is made available through interconnected systems: Companies need to have tools to manage this amount of data to turn it into information that can support operational and strategic decision-making processes. The engineer Tiziano Bertoldi, Channel Partners Manager at Qualitas Informatica tells us about the benefits of integrating a MES (Manufacturing Execution System) into an EPM (Enterprise Performance Management) system
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he Manufacturing Digital Transformation, supported by a technological backbone consisting of cloud, mobile, IoT, social and analytics, enables a business model characterized by real-time and data-driven decision-making processes.
Among the many challenges that Operation Managers face in this process of change, the most important is the integration between the MES system real-time factory governance and state-of-the-art BI systems that include Kpis that focus on productive performance to enable decision-making processes, including predictive logic, aimed at improving factory performance.
There is a change in the “culture of data”: we realize how it is necessary to collect the data “right and correct” and be able to enable real-time or near-real-time analysis to support the operational decisions of the factory government, and broader analysis to support decision makers on more strategic issues related to the analysis/modification of production processes. Increasingly important is the collection and analysis of data from ongoing operational processes: the progressive diffusion of digital technologies, including the Internet of Things, enables a path to the 4.0 Enterprise that allows the creation and collection of data while activities are still ongoing. In this way, any critical issues can be prevented and decisions made even before inefficiencies and/or errors occur.
To adopt these new processes and decision-making models, companies – in addition to introducing new management styles – must rely on operations management tools, MES systems, perfectly adhering to the paradigm of the fourth industrial revolution, and latest generation Business Intelligence tools, able to provide a centralized view of all production Kpis and provide dynamic analytics and reports. To support the new decision-making processes in the path to digital transformation, it is necessary to abandon tools of analysis of data not adequate, such as using spreadsheets and using technologies and systems that can collect and process huge amounts of data.
MES (Manufacturing Execution System) systems are specialized information systems for manufacturing companies and allow to trace and document products in their transformation from raw materials to finished products and related processes. MES systems provide information that helps production managers understand how to optimize production activities to improve performance. They work in real time to allow the control of multiple elements of the production process such as used materials, personnel, machines and indirect activities.
The main functionalities of a MES system include production planning, operational programming, digitised distribution of product information for operators and machines, the detailed collection of information on the used and produced materials: good quantities, scraps, batch, serial number, and processes; working time, downtime, quality data, process data, data on maintenance operations.
The main outputs/dashboards of a MES system are: the OEE( Overall Equipment Effectiveness) which is the best known efficiency index, the analysis of the waste causal, the traceability of product and process, the analysis of operator productivity, the comparison between theoretical and actual production times, and the analysis of rework.
The main benefits are:
- Reduction of waste, rework, waste, set-up times
- Accurate collection of cost elements: labour, machinery, waste, stoppages and secondary resources
- Increase in OEE index
- Digitization of processes (paperless)
- Product and process traceability
- Reduction in stocks
The decision making processes and the consequent activities of planning, control and management of the production have been entrusted for years to spreadsheets and to the ability of managers and analysts in manipulating and analyzing the data; In many cases, the situation is still the same, that is, the planning and forecasting activities are based on the skills and intuition of the operation managers. What has contributed to the rapid spread of the use of spreadsheets is their ease of creation, sharing and manipulation. Although many people on staff at operations have the skills to manage spreadsheets and create complex models and formulas, all the well-known problems related to the use of the same remain open:
- poor robustness of tools used: many links and spreadsheet formulas can be easily removed or modified;
- data governance issues: it is very difficult to keep track of changes to different spreadsheets;
- security: spreadsheets are usually shared via email or sharing services that do not meet high security standards;
- static data: for example, unstructured data or real-time data from ongoing processes cannot be processed;
- the analysis activity is very time-consuming;
- a general complexity of collection, extraction and integration of spreadsheets between different functions and production departments.
These factors are contributing to the progressive “awareness” by companies of the need to rely on more advanced analysis solutions, that can best support decision-making processes and enable decision-makers to have a more comprehensive and integrated KPI view of operations.
The MES systems feed the latest generation BI system to take advantage of the large amount of data collected from production processes, to obtain, in addition to operational Kpis, broader analysis to support strategic decisions.
In the path towards Digital Transformation, companies are therefore attributing increasing importance to the tools of Enterprise Performance Management (EPM), that is, solutions able to support them in a timely and complete way in decision-making processes. The main objective of EPM software is to measure, analyze and optimize performance management activities, through planning and forecasting operations. The main analysis supported by these systems are:
- Cash-flow and cost of a simulated production plan with the Production Planning module
- Analysis of the actual cost of the product (enhancement of man/machine times, external processing, raw materials, waste, stock) and margins
- Cost simulation against changes in production processes (changes in different bases and cycles), or new production plants
The benefits found by companies resulting from the use of EPM software are different and among them stand out:
- More accurate metrics to measure production performance;
- Possibility to analyze different types of data from different sources (not only production data but also other economic data: indirect costs, etc.)
- Faster data analysis and management and therefore more timely decision-making processes;
- The need to employ fewer human resources for data analysis (compared, for example, to the use of spreadsheets), which can be dedicated to other activities of greater value for the business;
- Possibility for managers to create scenarios and simulations (by modifying the analysis criteria), to manipulate the data directly without necessarily having to resort to expert analysts of spreadsheets, and then to create dynamic analyses and reports;
- With advanced analytics capabilities, the latest EPM tools also offer the ability to support predictive and responsive decision-making processes (“what if” analysis, recommended actions).
A MES system that integrates an EPM module is able to operate in real time on the data that are collected and analyzed, to send alerts in real time and to provide suggestions, simulation of scenarios and dynamic reports in a simple and intuitive way. They also allow to detect and quantify the different economic impacts of activities and operating processes – ongoing or concluded – as it allows to allocate costs on the size of the business.
Through real-time technologies, it is possible, not only to identify events and business impacts of certain decisions, but also to implement and monitor corrective actions, defining a “to do plan” through which it’s possible to verify if the management and the persons involved are operating as established.
The application, therefore, is not a simple tool of “alerting and notification”, but is characterized by the ability to propose and verify the strategic choices and their implementation.
The Operation Manager can use the tool according to 2 registers: the first, to optimize choices and strategies based on available resources, and to assess their impacts, while the second allows him to simulate new strategies with new scenarios.
Based on the first approach, the solution allows to identify the relevant phenomena, assess their impacts (both in economic and business terms), plan corrective actions and monitor the actions and people involved in the strategic choices, to assess whether they are operating as intended, monitoring, advising and proposing corrective actions as appropriate.
Based on the second approach, namely the simulation and definition of new strategies implementing new scenarios, the tool allows you to evaluate and plan initiatives, to estimate the impacts and – also in this case – to monitor the different actions.
The MES Net@pro System is enriched with a new EPM/BI module that allows companies to collect and exploit data from production processes and use them to transform them into key information for management to support decision making.
The EPM module included in the MES Net@pro System is the result of the long experience of our colleagues at Businessbrain (an Impresoft Group company such as Qualitas Informatica), one of the leading experts in EPM systems in Italy. In addition to providing our partners with a first-class ready-to-use pre-configured product, we provide their expertise in the implementation of complex EPM projects.
2020 opened with big news for the MES Net@pro system:
- the pro sequencer module,
- Net@pro in cloud,
- the DOBEYA module, the new activity management platform that allows work teams to be aligned on the goals, projects and daily activities that allow your business to grow,
- the Net@pro EPM/BI module
And so MES Net@pro comes out of the factory and comes straight to the management table to help it in global competition.
Written by the engineer Tiziano Bertoldi, Qualitas Informatica Channel Partners Manager, an Impresoft Group company
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