Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Rogue One – Can Intelligence Prevent Catastrophe?

By Jimmy Asher Director of Product Strategy for Savigent Software

I am fairly sure that you have heard of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. But just in case you didn’t know, it hit the movie theaters this past weekend. For those less familiar, Rogue One is set just before A New Hope and centered on a new set of characters, who set out to steal the plans to the Death Star. Being a sci-fi fan and having a 12 year-old too, we hit the theater to check it out. 
No worries, no spoilers here – I just wanted to draw some parallels to the latest in the saga and today’s manufacturing environment. So how might this relate to today’s manufacturing environment? Is there a PLM system to govern the building of such a complex piece of equipment? One would hope so – but I will save that for a future blog. Today let’s focus on the underlying plot - it is all about intelligence and doing something with that information. If you are like most, a parallel can be drawn in how the Rebels found, via intelligence, that a massive weapon was being constructed and ultimately how to defeat that weapon – saving countless lives and planets. However, if you are a fan of the dark side (yes, they exist) and root for the Empire – you can instead think of that intelligence as a discovery to a critical flaw in your process. Either way, Rebel or Empire, imagine if you could determine a key defect in your process and take action.

You don’t need to be set in a “galaxy far, far away…” manufacturing intelligence can enable you to better understand your processes and ultimately prevent a catastrophe in your process or business objectives. The heart of manufacturing intelligence is a Historian, a way to capture relevant process data. This is often the logging temperatures, pressures, speeds, etc. in a time-series format capturing the “what” and “when”. Even more critical is contextualizing the “why” and incorporating elements such as batch number, recipe number, operator and status and storing them too. Armed with these fundamental pieces of data, engineers are now equipped to investigate the “how,” should a problem arise. Moving beyond reactive investigation by engineers, systems can be put in place to automatically detect the correlations between events and ultimately turning the data into manufacturing intelligence.

In summary, when armed with the proper intelligence, you can save the galaxy from a threat. But remember, just like characters in Rogue One, intelligence alone doesn’t matter, you need to take action too on what you discover to truly bring about change. Sounds like a topic for a future blog post… in the meantime, enjoy the movie!



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