Welcome back from a restful holiday break, assuming you were able to take one. But, like many in manufacturing, you might not had too much time off. According to Industry Week and MAPI, the High Tech industry in particular is booming and there is no slowdown to be seen. For the IT teams supporting these types of manufacturing operations, that means a lot more time troubleshooting and making sure that the network is always up and running. With the efficiencies that companies have put in place to see additional growth numbers (ERP, HRMS and other systems), the focus is moving more and more towards the work areas and away from the corporate side of the operations.
The recent blog from my colleague Chet Namboodri on “2015 Manufacturing Industry Predictions , highlights some key trends including the shift to the operational side of the house. In addition, new services offerings are coming from completely different markets to drive the space in new ways. To do many of these offerings, the basics of the factory are going to start to be analyzed in ways that have not been possible before. The base to build this analysis capability is the networking foundation where we will connect the information stores into a holistic view of the operations so you can understand what is going on from an end to end picture and drive new capabilities by tying in more and more information.
While this can be a daunting task to many, Cisco and our partners are currently doing this with our IoT and IoE initiatives. In my recent blog on The Internet of Things Accelerates Innovation and Value Creation for Manufacturers, I mentioned tying together systems that in the past were stand-alone operational systems with other operational systems as well as with the Enterprise systems that have been in place but were not part of the full picture. This can include integrating maintenance systems with HR/Scheduling systems as well as sales and ordering systems. An example I use (and am currently working with a customer on implementing) is to actually tie these systems together so that you know when machines are going to be down and when people are to be scheduled. While this has been done in the past, we are now adding sales information to the mix to understand that if a system is down what orders may be delayed and if there is a key order for a key customer that should not be delayed. In the past, this extra step was rarely done and the result was a conflict between sales and operations and finger pointing all around.
This and other examples WILL result in improved operations and even more important increases in capacity management and employee productivity. The costs are minimal, the time to get it right is the key. How are you focusing on operations and analytics in 2015?