Smart Manufacturing – The Implementation Dilemma

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck couple of years ago, it forced much of world to move online. This also accelerated the digital transformation in manufacturing which has been underway for decades. A McKinsey survey in late 2020 revealed that companies which had already started their Industry 4.0 journey were able to better manage the pandemic and were able to keep their operations running even during the crisis. This forced even the hitherto laggards to re-evaluate the progress of their digital journey and include Industry 4.0 in the future landscape. Today manufacturers believe Industry 4.0 will help them prepare better for future disruptions.

Smart manufacturing seeks to build a resilient manufacturing ecosystem that is responsive, productive and less prone to disruptions using technologies like connected machines, AI/ML and predictive analytics and automation. Even though most manufacturers are convinced of the need for digital transformation to smart manufacturing, the hesitation to undertake the journey stems from the fact that the implementation process is perceived to be costly, time-consuming, disruptive and risky. Executives are also unsure of how the Industry 4.0 technologies like IOT, AI/ML etc. will fit together with more traditional ERP. Another concern for any transformation project of such nature is whether to go full big bang or start with targeted incremental implementation. For a manufacturer looking to completely transform its digital landscape with greenfield implementation, a big bang approach might seem a better fit. However, a pilot is still strongly recommended. For manufacturers looking to enhance the ERP capabilities by adding Industry 4.0 technology to their existing landscape, the incremental mode of implementation might make more sense.

As part of the Infosys Cobalt offering, Infosys Discrete Manufacturing Solution seeks to ameliorate some of these concerns and present bundled solutions to help build smarter factories where shopfloor is data driven, manufacturing decisions are insights driven and shop floor reporting is automated. As part of bundled solutions for smart factories we are developing some key solutions which would help accelerate your journey towards smart factory by making implementation process simpler and faster yet allows the flexibility of tweaking the solution as per organizations need.

  1. MES integration Adapter –> MES systems (Manufacturing Execution Systems) are quite popular in industry today. These ensure effective execution of manufacturing operations and meet some of the unique business requirements which traditional ERP systems may not be able to meet. MES systems play a fundamental role in the digital transformation of factories. However, one of the key challenge most organizations face is how to effectively integrate MES systems with their overall ERP system. The flow of data between the two systems presents a huge challenge considering the MES system is responsible for entire shop floor operations and all this needs to be interfaced in real time to ERP where other master data is maintained. Infosys has developed MES integration adapters which can used with little customization to integrate any 3rd Party MES system with Oracle Manufacturing Cloud. We have implemented this in an Engineering & Manufacturing major where multiple factories & MES systems were integrated with Manufacturing Cloud & PDH (Product Data Hub) Cloud. This adapter considerable reduces the effort needed on building MES integrations.
  2. Manufacturing Execution System (MES) Cloud Solution by Infosys –> MES Cloud Solution by Infosys is an Integrated Engineering & Execution capability platform built leveraging the Oracle SAAS with automation toolsets and open-source technologies with aim to transform factories paperless. Some of key capabilities available in the solution are ability to enrich work definitions in MES with additional information like suboperations, images, notes and work instructions, ability to apply operator qualification by restricting access of work centers to only certain users, ability to record clock in clock out for operation transaction. In our experience, these capabilities cover most of the basic MES requirements that a typical organization asks for.
  3. Predictive Quality Workbench –> The investment in preventive quality comes with diminishing returns on quality levels. As the Quality levels have improved, the organizations are now looking for ways to further reduce the cost of quality while at the same time improve the quality levels which is no longer possible using preventive quality methods. The smarter factories of future will be using predictive quality methods to identify batches with potential quality issues and restrict the quality checks to only these batches. This reduces quality efforts while at the same time effectively addresses the quality issues. A Predictive Quality workbench could be a one stop solution for predicting quality levels in production & supplier batches and effectively address the quality issues. The workbench could also provide analytics in the form of info-tiles and provide insights into factors affecting Quality which can be then controlled to further improve the quality levels.
  4. Shopfloor automation through effective integration –> One of the pain points of traditional ERP implementation is that shopfloor operators spend a lot of time entering data into the ERP system. There is a need to develop effective ways to automate feeding of shopfloor data to Oracle Manufacturing Cloud ERP system for transaction completion. The manual entry of data can be reduced through effective integrations with RFID / Barcode Readers / Controllers etc.
  5. Connected factory through IOT –> The journey to industry 4.0 cannot complete without achieving the goal of connected factory using IOT devices. Oracle IOT Production Monitoring Cloud and Oracle IOT Asset Monitoring Cloud services can be used to seamlessly connect your factory with IOT devices. This helps in tracking the real-time status of machines, diagnose performance issues, use predictive maintenance and apply predictive analytics to the machine parameters.  These IOT products also come with out of the box integration with Manufacturing and Maintenance cloud services.

The Journey to Smart Manufacturing is a massive opportunity for organizations to gain operational efficiency and resilience. With Infosys Discrete Manufacturing Solution, we provide some creative solutions which can help organizations undertake this journey effectively with all the required tools.

Author Details

Vishal Chourasiya

Vishal is a Supply Chain Consultant with 12+ years of experience in ERP Consulting. He is a successful practitioner of Oracle SCM modules with experience in Supply Chain transformation and Implementation projects. Successfully handled projects across geographic locations like Europe, North America and Latin America. He is an Oracle Cloud Certified practitioner.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.