Panel Builder System Integrator

August 19, 2019

By John Southcott

Digital transformation is top of mind for business leaders, solutions providers and consultants these days. The multi-trillion-dollar predictions on everything from IOT to AI/Machine Learning are indeed staggering to think about. That said, when it comes to manufacturing systems our recent experience suggests that organizations are still cautious when it comes to investment and taking their first steps into the digital world. In many cases, the business value is being questioned. Yet in other industries, or indeed in other functions of the manufacturing business, it appears its full steam ahead.

At Brock Solutions we have done numerous “get started on the digital journey” consulting engagements for manufacturing companies with the following attributes:

  • Their existing Manufacturing Execution System is a combination of excel, Access databases, tribal knowledge and custom systems
  • Real-time operational systems and visibility into manufacturing operations is required to take advantage of significant market opportunity
  • Serious risk of business interruption if systems fail or key people leave/retire

Yet after completing the engagement, we have experienced some organizations putting their digital journey in manufacturing systems on hold even though the project was well received, and the client feedback was that the process was valuable.

Why is that? When we ask our clients to reflect on that question, a few common themes emerge:

  • Competing Initiatives. ERP, SCM, CRM, PLM projects that are underway and already funded often consume the resources required to transform manufacturing operations
  • Competition for Capital. New facilities, new lines, new equipment that have more visible payback often take priority
  • Elusive Business Case. Often it is difficult to pin down an aligned business case and cost certainty. Technology in and of itself does not drive value. It is the combination of people, process and technology that drive measurable benefits. So, the true business value of going digital in manufacturing is difficult to derive. Also, many of our clients are wary of large-scale transformation programs based on their experience with other technology deployments
  • Lack of Buy in from Operations. The very people that this is supposed to benefit often resist change even though there is agreement that the status quo is not sustainable

I find the last point intriguing. So, I reached out to a colleague who is the VP Operations for a large consumer products company who has had success going digital with his organization. I asked him to share the secret sauce, and his answer was quite insightful and in fact had nothing to do with technology.

He told me that there were two things I needed to recognize about the manufacturing world:

  • People are trained not to fail, versus trained to win. It’s how they are wired!
  • An incremental approach to change is preferred over step function

Yet there is unanimous agreement that it isn’t “if” but “how” and when to get started on the digital journey.

Based on the voice of our customers and our own experience, we have some thoughts to share about how to break the log jam.

Education, Knowledge and Alignment

The manufacturing digital journey will go nowhere fast if the various constituents responsible don’t know what the technology is capable of, where it has been deployed successfully and what the organization’s priorities are. Unlike ERP systems which generally speaking have a common definition, manufacturing systems do not. For example, MES (manufacturing execution systems) is defined differently depending on the industry and in some cases differently by company. We recommend that our clients:

  • Spend time getting themselves educated on what these systems are capable of. Solution provider conferences, organizations like MESA and industry analysts such as Gartner are good sources
  • Reach out to organizations who are on the digital journey. Do a site visit if possible. Learning from their experiences, both good and bad, are invaluable lessons
  • Establish a governance process to oversee the program and execute projects. An executive steering committee providing broad based direction and timely decision making along with an empowered core team of representatives across key functions responsible for day-to-day project execution is best practice in our experience

Roadmap with Measurable Gains

We think it is important to have a long-term vision that guides the organization through the digital transformation process. That said, we also know that it is unacceptable to have long, drawn out implementation projects that take too long to deliver value. In our experience best practice is to establish an aligned, flexible strategy made up of a series of initiatives that move the organization forward with measurable gains that fit together. We purposely avoid the term “Pilot” because there is a risk of implementing solution(s) in isolation without considering the bigger picture.

Adopt a Continuous Improvement Culture

The VP operations referred to earlier was emphatic that culture change is table stakes for successful digitization of the manufacturing function. Unless there is a concerted effort to change the culture from “run to fail” to continuous improvement, value capture will likely not meet expectations. It starts at the top – a strong executive sponsor willing to drive change and remove barriers is critical for breaking the digital log jam in manufacturing.

Source

Changing Scene

  • Prev
The Canadian Apprenticeship Forum-Forum Canadien sur l’Apprentissage (CAF-FCA) has announced ...
Intertec Instrumentation is launching a range of tough field enclosures for housing remote I/O and ...
nVent Electric plc recently announced it has signed an agreement to acquire Eldon, a privately held ...
Canada continues to be an excellent performer for HARTING, recording double digit revenue growth on ...
  For the past number of months Proax Technologies Ltd. has been in discussions with ...
  Phoenix Contact Canada is pleased to announce that Roger Hallett has accepted the ...
  Machine designers are required to design safety into more industrial systems than ever. ...
Pilz Canada officially opened their Canadian Facility surrounded by Industry Partners, colleagues ...
Allied Electronics & Automation has announced the addition of the new TM Series of ...
Cybertech Automation is proud to announce the expansion of services into Texas, Pennsylvania and ...

One of Canada’s largest wastewater treatment plants at Annacis Island provides secondary treatment to approximately 175 billion litres of wastewater every year for over 1 million residents in 14 municipalities. After almost 20 years in operation, the variable frequency drives supporting the critical pumping systems for the primary treatment and secondary treatment facilities had to be replaced to ensure that the plant’s high operational availability and reliability will not be compromised in serving the plant, the surrounding municipalities and the environment. Metro Vancouver Regional District chose to deploy Rittal’s enclosure and power distribution solutions with E-plan software to efficiently support vital infrastructure improvements by reducing equipment replacement times and thereby minimizing risk to plant operations.

PB 25 Phoenix ControlCabinet 400

Phoenix Contact will provide you with support as your reliable partner in the optimization of your processes in control cabinet manufacturing.

Phoenix Contact provides you with holistic solutions in a cooperative partnership, based on their products, services, and experience. Digital data is used consistently, processes optimized, and time saved. The PROJECT complete planning and marking software supports your entire control cabinet manufacturing process. The program provides you with an intuitive user interface that enables you to individually plan, automatically check, and order terminal strips.

Thanks to optimized interfaces, you can easily integrate data from common CAE systems. This enables you to save significant amounts of time in the overall engineering process. Read More


 Like many cyclical industries, mining is reviving, driven by steady global economic growth and an increasing demand for materials to support new technologies like electric vehicles, renewable energy and mobile devices. Despite the optimism, the industry still faces major operational challenges including process efficiencies, cost control, worker health and safety, and skills gaps. To address these challenges, Rockwell Automation introduced The Connected Mine, leveraging the latest enabling and digital technologies.

Utilizing advanced analytics, The Connected Mine helps mining companies collect and aggregate data to gain end-to-end visibility into their operations and make informed business decisions to improve mining operations.

Read More

PB 25 Rittal MarineWaves 400For almost a half a century Canal Marine & Industrial of St Catharines, Ontario has provided electrical design, engineering and services around the clock to the merchant marine, naval and coastguard fleets in Canada and the rest of the World. In recent years, Canal has become a leader in the design and supply of marine hybrid power and propulsion systems. These systems utilize alternative methods for supporting propulsion and the vessel’s electrical power plant, so that fuel consumption and emissions are reduced.

Great Lakes Towing of Cleveland, Ohio (popularly called “The Towing Company”) operates the largest and most experienced U.S.-flag tugboat fleet. The Towing Company is a significant marine operations link in North America’s U.S. Great Lakes-Saint Lawrence Seaway marine transportation network, the fourth seacoast of the United States, an operating area that extends over 8,300 miles of shoreline, encompassing a water surface area of roughly 100,000 square miles. Read More

HARTING Electronics: Circular Connectors – A Round Thing

Circular Connectors 400

Jonas Diekmann, Technical Editor at HARTING Electronics

The metric system of units was introduced for the first time in 1793 during the French Revolution and is used even today in almost all countries worldwide. The metric round plug connectors are also based on this system of units and are a known standard in raw industrial applications. In various diameters and codes, they are a reliable connection for the three lifelines of industrial applications. Data, signals and performance are essential for drive, control and communication. The typical round appearance with the thread for screwing in is a success story up to the present. But classics often also still reveal unexpected potential. With its new PushPull Locking and Com-Lock HARTING is making two round guild models ready for the future.

Metric round plug connectors are some of the most widespread interfaces worldwide, when it comes to cabling for machines, industrial plant and devices under demanding conditions of use.

Read More

Rockwell SleemanTen years ago, tourists looking for a taste of the local life in Southern Canada may have asked for one of the region’s best wines. Today, it’s all about craft beer.

From entrepreneurial newcomers to large-scale producers, brewers in Canada are cashing in on the thirst for craft beer. The number of microbreweries – ­producing less than 25,000 cases of 24 – has more than doubled in the last seven years.

The explosion in craft beer popularity had one company – Sleeman Breweries – bursting at its production seams. The third-largest brewer in Canada, Sleeman brews and distributes popular beers from lagers to pale ales.

 Read More

 

Product News

  • Prev
Continuous data flow ensures transparency in the product development process and allows ...
Inductive proximity sensors are the preferred choice for the majority of applications ...
The bus controller makes it possible to connect X2X Link I/O nodes to POWERLINK. It is also ...
Balluff’s U-890 Ultra High Frequency (UHF) handheld RFID reader simplifies mobile data ...
Pfannenberg, a leading global manufacturer of thermal management technologies, highlights ...
One of the many advantages gained by the integration of TwinCAT 3 into Visual Studio® is the ...
Certified for use in Zone 2/22 and Div. 2, the Smart-Ex Watch 01 from the Pepperl+Fuchs brand ...
As a specialist for safety, Pilz invests not only in functional safety but also in IT security for ...
Balluff's new EtherNet/IP IO-Link master block insulates against inductive, conductive, and ...
Remee Wire & Cable, a leading manufacturer of electronic wire and cable, announces new ...
Kerrwil Publications

538 Elizabeth Street, Midland,Ontario, Canada L4R2A3 +1 705 527 7666
©2019 All rights reserved

Use of this Site constitutes acceptance of our Privacy Policy (effective 1.1.2016)
The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of Kerrwil