The first question any manufacturing CFO must answer is: What is the Connection between the Shop Floor and The Top Floor in my plant?
Why does this question matter?
Because the manufacturing organization needs a consolidated view of the production process. Therefore, the manufacturing enterprise requires a standardized business process for better control and visibility. The promise was the Manufacturing Execution System (MES), which was to streamline data management, deliver knowledge throughout the enterprise and provide a window into the true operational state of any plant. In reality, MES might better stand for ‘Monolithic Enclosed Silos’. Instead of seamlessly meshing plant information, the monolithic MES created walls where given portions of data—sensors, maintenance information, planning, logistics and supply chain, to name a few—were kept apart from each other.
Individually, each silo of data is important, but the power of data is exponentially multiplied when that data can be analyzed to provide a single image of a plant’s total operation, from the front door to the back door. For those manufacturing businesses in multiple locations on different continents, such data silos make it impossible for the manufacturing CFO to compare operational data. To be able to benchmark best practices across every facility, and to find common equipment or strategic shortfalls across multiple locations. So, what is needed, then, is connecting the former silos together in a network that fully captures and considers the data that is already available. Those information silos are being demolished through that operational revolution known as Industrie 4.0 in Germany and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) in the U.S to provide the manufacturing CFO with powerful insight to help streamline business practices and deliver dramatically measurable savings across the enterprise. By any name, the goal is to create a Smart Factory—to leverage the existing and latent data to provide managers with the tools they need to reduce downtime, improve human resource management, cut waste in materials and energy and improve safety. Every one of those metrics delivers cost savings right to the bottom line with no change in suppliers, capital expenditures or personnel. It is the lowest of hanging fruit.