Technology Bridging Gap Between Business And Shop Floor For Eliminating
By Andy Newsom, Senior VP, Chief Information Officer, CSL Group
Andy Newsom, Senior VP, Chief Information Officer, CSL Group
TECHNOLOGY TRENDS IMPACTING ENTERPRISE BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT AND MANUFACTURING INDUSTRY
One of the technologies in the manufacturing sector that is having a tremendous impact on operations is Manufacturing Execution Systems or MES. Prior to MES, there was no connection between ERP and shop floor systems, requiring a high degree of human intervention. As a result, there were far more operational inefficiencies and a greater potential for human error.
MES’ potential to integrate and improve manufacturing efficiencies and quality continues to evolve. Despite some remaining challenges in integrating MES across enterprise systems and the need for it to be thoroughly tested, the technology bridges the gap between business and floor shop systems and has spurred the growth of automation. The ultimate goal is to eliminate deviations and improve quality in the manufacturing process. Eliminating human mistakes has tremendous benefit to the bottom line. MES is integral to our manufacturing process at CSL Behring.
Advancements we’re eager to see are mechanisms to simplify integrating technology such as MES into the business.
More providers are recognizing the technology implementation challenges and are building out-of-the-box connectors and interfaces that simplify integration and reduce costly customization.
I’m also excited about the prospect for providers to create more Best Practice templates based on what other manufacturers are doing. These templates typically meet 80 percent of the needs of a business, and reduce the time it takes to implement them over customized solutions.
TECHNOLOGIES GIVING COMPETITIVE EDGE IN THE MANUFACTURING SECTOR
Business intelligence is an emerging technology. For example, we have lots of data in CSL Behring’s systems across the enterprise. The challenge is to transform that data to valuable information that is easy to get to in a timely manner. Our vision is to utilize business intelligence tools to get this information to managers in a form that is easy to understand in real-time or near real-time without being concerned about what systems the data resides in so they can make critical business decisions faster. This will give our business a huge competitive edge.
Data analytics is another technology that has been evolving over last few years and is often used for functions such as predictive analysis to identify trends. This helps the business be more efficient and effective. Most CIOs would include data analytics in the top five technologies they’re either looking at or are in the process of implementing.
OVERCOMING CHALLENGES TO MAKE JOB EASIER
One challenge is the fast pace of consumer technology. Bring your own device (BYOD), in particular, is an area that keeps me up at night.
Technology in this area is moving so fast and becoming so inexpensive that employees have their own personal devices such as laptops, tablets, and smart phones that they want to use for business functions. How can we help people use their own personal devices to access business systems and information without compromising the company’s information security?
Our company’s standard mobile devices have been designed, equipped, and tested to ensure they function properly with all our standard systems and the data is secure and protected with firewalls, virus protection, and data encryption. This is not the case with BYODs. If we don’t know whether these devices have proper security safeguards such as virus protection and we allow them to connect to our network, it could introduce a virus to our company network. As CIO, I walk a fine line between protecting CSL Behring’s information assets and serving the needs of our customers across the business.
Any technology that we can use to reduce human error in the manufacturing process is something we’d want to take a look at. Brand new technologies that are changing manufacturing include wearable technology.
But before introducing new technology into the manufacturing environment, always ask the question, how does it translate into helping the business? If the answer is, by reducing human error, it’s technology worth exploring.