AMR Research spoke with more than 25 companies for our recent research for the second part of our EMI/operations intelligence Report series. These companies are either using, implementing, or expanding on existing enterprise manufacturing intelligence (EMI) deployments within their organizations. The degree of enthusiasm the users expressed was rivaled only by the business performance improvements they reported.
It's rare to find users so uniformly enthusiastic about a particular class of software. In fact, we had one pharmaceutical reference quip that even in conservative pharmaceutical manufacturing, where deploying MES is "still considered a career-limiting move by some factions," EMI was turning out to be a business essential in clinical and commercial manufacturing operations. That said, we poked and prodded for dissatisfaction, but were hard pressed to find use cases where EMI users, buyers, or implementers were unhappy or disgruntled.
Yes, there was one case in the food and beverage arena where a single EMI application instance was connected to every data source the client had. That included 40 Wonderware InSQL servers at 50mm data points per day, 40 MES systems running 500,000 transactions per day, 40 Oracle databases, and a single SAP instance. You might imagine there were performance issues. In all fairness, the supporting architecture hadn't been designed to provide the kind of data aggregation and gear-down mechanisms we typically see in very-large-scale implementations--certainly not like the ones found in the oil and gas or petrochemical refining industries.
The manufacturer and EMI provider are currently working together to determine the optimal deployment and configuration for this large architecture. We'll provide a follow-up case study when the results can be made public.
The list of benefits cited by users--from plant engineers, to manufacturing scientists, to global supply chain executives--was substantial. Sophisticated users are thinking beyond overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), but don't be mistaken: OEE improvement holds the potential for great value, is a natural first step for justifying projects, and helps get the ball rolling while users get comfortable with product capabilities and possibilities.
The following is a list of EMI benefits users most frequently describe:
1. First-pass yield or Right First Time improvements--EMI provides the optics needed to understand and fix process variability issues. One biotech user has been able to take first-pass batch yield from 80% to over 90% and continues to see improvements year over year.
2. New product introduction and product variant impact analysis--A food producer anticipates being able to ask questions about products, series, and production runs. The company has had overall equipment effectiveness for years and is seeking tools that will enable the discovery of product and network relationships, ultimately for use in simulation and planning, that haven't previously been accessible.
3. Process automation and reliability analysis--A manufacturer of commodity products is using its EMI platform to automate the process of data capture with the eventual goal of improving process reliability. For now, having visibility into the performance of siloed assets for the first time is a significant step toward improving overall performance.
4. Network performance analysis--A coatings producer rolled out an EMI package to understand production throughput rates and equipment availability at a site level. It then used the application to compare sites in the network and compare networks. It was ultimately used to decide where resources were best deployed to improve overall network design and performance.
5. OEE improvements--Another manufacturer began with overall equipment effectiveness. It's OEE level was in the mid-30s when the manufacturer started. Over the course of two years, it moved up into the mid-50s and, in some locations, the 70s. This user maintains that sustainable, continuous improvements of this magnitude would not have been possible without the visibility its EMI platform delivers.
Companies that utilize EMI applications to support continuous improvement initiatives consistently stress the single most significant benefit of EMI--albeit a soft benefit--is user empowerment. EMI tools, when used to expose pockets of excellence, can enable change in the way an organization views and manages its performance.
The core theme in all the conversations AMR Research had with EMI application users was visibility as the enabler of sustainable improvement. Interestingly, we found that many organizations are initially resistant to applications that provide performance visibility. A number of companies that had deployed EMI applications reported users were initially resentful of what they perceived as being watched by Big Brother. Steve Belke, VP of supply chain for ICI Paints (now AkzoNobel Decorative Paints), offered a perspective on overcoming this resistance and using EMI to improve organizational performance by turning conventional thinking on its head in a pragmatic and highly effective way.
Mr. Belke set the tone for our conversation about EMI as an enabler of continuous improvement and best-practice replication like this: "We have no interest in this 'share' thing. People 'share' best practices and then walk away [thinking], 'That's all very interesting, but we're not going to implement it at our facility.'" Mr. Belke went on to explain that a network analysis, enabled through the use of an EMI application that provides network visibility, usually revealed pockets of excellence, like things individual plants did particularly well. His philosophy at AkzoNobel is to utilize EMI to locate those pockets of excellence, understand the components, and then spread the findings as rapidly as possible throughout the network. This accelerates the rate of transfer, innovation, and improvements, eliminating the scenario where multiple plants are spinning their wheels separately to solve the same problem.
Mr. Belke, along with Tim Del Vecchio (AkzoNobel's director of supply chain, continuous process improvement), has championed a gestalt shift that overcomes organizational resistance to performance visibility by making a calculated linguistics decision to frame improvement in terms of entitlement. According to Mr. Belke, communication is the key to enrolling the plants and working to allay resistance to change. He quips that the notion of performance improvement sets up a negative driving force that subtly implies plants aren't doing their best to perform, conjuring fears of probationary measures. As such, he champions the idea of entitlement, driving home the point that every plant, manager, and operator is entitled to best-in-class performance. The company is committed to providing the necessary support and resources if a compelling and well-thought-out case can be constructed. Provided by EMI, multisite visibility is the technology enabler for these efforts.
As for enabling technology and implementation services, Mr. Belke, Mr. Del Vecchio, and the AkzoNobel team work with Informance International. Initially deployed as many single-site instances across ICI's network of plants, AkzoNobel is now rolling out Informance's enterprise hub to further link and aggregate data across the network.
Closing thoughts: EMI applications come in several varieties. But unlike ERP or even MES, which are multi-month and multi-year deployment efforts (some of which even engage casts of thousands), EMI applications, such as Informance, generally begin to deliver value within days of being installed, offering an ROI that's measured in weeks and months, not years. Visibility alone has value, as it keeps organizations from backsliding on gains made through continuous improvement efforts. Add to this the ability to discover relationships and identify key performance drivers, and you've got a powerful tool to drive continuous improvements across the manufacturing network. As always, I look forward to your ideas and firstname.lastname@example.org.
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