Traditionally, manufacturing processes are siloed. Operational technology (OT), including manufacturing production management software and the proprietary technology within machines themselves, often work as standalone systems. There is little real-time visibility into phases of the production process or machine health – and there is no data thread connecting OT with IT systems.
In a highly competitive landscape, however, businesses with non-integrated systems will lose their edge. They won’t operate as fast, efficiently, productively and profitably as manufacturers with integrated systems. Beyond that, they won’t be able to compete in terms of quality control and customer service enhanced by data from a fully connected network.
Integrating manufacturing production management software with your existing applications and systems can change the game. With integration, data can flow freely between processes and people, creating a single source of truth that benefits the entire operation.
When a business achieves a fully connected network and bidirectional data threads that enable information sharing throughout its entire operation, more is possible. For example, by tying in real-time machine data with historical data, operators can and automate routine processes, allowing employees to focus on higher-value work. Data from integrated systems can also continuously monitor manufacturing equipment, detect potential problems, and give operators the ability to address them before catastrophic failure – and high repair and downtime costs – occur.
A manufacturer that has relied on an on-premises system to manage production and run its business will quickly find that the costs of onsite infrastructure and data management to support a fully integrated system can be overwhelming. Cloud infrastructure and applications, however, can solve this issue, as well as provide added benefits, such as easier paths to backing up mission-critical data and securing the network.
With cloud-based manufacturing production management software, an operation can connect proprietary equipment using cloud software’s application programming interfaces (APIs) and software development kits (SDKs) to connect tools, machines, processes, as well as workflows.
The ability to extend your system will also help future-proof a production environment. Technology advances quickly, industry standards change, and customer preferences evolve. The ability to add new functionality will help adapt, whatever the future brings.
In addition to solving pain points and existing operations, integrating manufacturing production management software also lays the foundation for a business to innovate.
With cloud-based manufacturing production management software as the core, an operation avoid using legacy software with disconnected interfaces and instead use platforms with well-defined and clear APIs to allow for connections to their broader IT and OT ecosystems.
Integrating manufacturing production management software with a broader network of systems and applications also enables a business to leverage Internet of Things (IoT) technology, edge computing, machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI), robotics or other advanced technologies to digitize and automate processes, moving the business closer to the goal of an Industry 4.0 operation. The potential that these technologies represent is driving competitive manufacturers to adopt them. According to FinancesOnline, only 4 percent of businesses have already integrated these technologies with their management solutions, but 33 percent are in the process of deploying them and 53 percent plan to do so.
In some cases, operations have had to overcome more than proprietary technology and lack of interfaces to integrate manufacturing production software. The staff that manages and uses data from IT vs. OT systems are often comprised of people with different skills and different roles. Maintaining data silos may have seemed easier for those teams. However, it can be holding the company back competitively.
To facilitate change, smart businesses keep all stakeholders informed, from planning to integrating manufacturing production management software. Operations managers and their teams may be concerned that technology will add steps to their workflows, make their jobs harder to perform, or even replace them with automation. It’s vital to let them know that digitally transforming operations will make their lives easier and help them be more successful in their jobs.
IT-OT convergence isn’t a new idea, but it’s been difficult to achieve. Cloud manufacturing production management software opens the door for operations to have new capabilities, a pathway to innovation and greater competitiveness. Integration with business systems and applications is the key to making it happen.