Making use of data in Manufacturing

I guess by now most people have fully understood the value of data driven decisions and are looking to find the right entry point, i.e. the right initial use cases to dip their toes into the data lake before really getting feet wet. One of the questions coming up quite often in customer discussions is how to start. Maybe the following can help some of you to find those initial use cases.
Please keep in mind: IoT / Smart Manufacturing / Industry 4.0 etc. is about making use of information for fast and accurate decisions for incidents, risks, need or opportunities, making use of modern technology to retrieve and visualise the information, simulate decisions and feed the decisions back into an (hopefully highly automated) execution system.
So let me walk you through a few steps (these steps apply to existing plants  – a greenfield approach would have substantial differences):
Step 1 needs to be: Find the use case – for an incident, a risk, need or an opportunity – or a combination of those. An opportunity for a manufacturer could obviously be the increase of productivity – which in return could be based on the need to satisfy customers (which of course could also bear the risk of not satisfying so a wee bit more than a need – but that might lead a bit too deep here). So the first thing to do: Understand why the productivity is not sufficient, understand if there are unknown drivers and make these known drivers, map out the known drivers, select the ones that would make the largest impact with the least effort => That’s the first toe one wants to dip into the data lake! Let’s assume one of the known drivers is lack of transparency in the supply chain (which can be external or on campus / in plant like “where is my material, where does it have to be next?”
Step 2 now follows: Define the KPI(s) – don’t do more than 2 initially! What do you want to achieve and how do you want to measure? Using the final assumption in step 1 we could focus on an increase hit rate of “right material at the right time at the right location” – this is pretty easy to measure, but does require some real thinking on how to achieve; even if it sounds easy to achieve on campus (it actually is not – depending on complexity and size of plant and/or product) it’s getting tougher with inclusion of external supply chain (you might have the perfect system and routing in place on site, but what if suppliers can’t deliver for whatever reason?).
Step 3: Measure the KPI without improvement – and find out which improvements you could do without any investment; some might just be common sense, most won’t lead too far, but to later be able to justify the investment, you want to make sure you’ve done the business case throughly – this exercise might even lead you to select a different use case as the potential with investment might not be to great compared to the one without.
Step 4: Select your pilot. Don’t make it a proof of concept – that’s too theoretical – make it a real pilot with careful selection of scope. Scope should be able to deliver tangible results (like a small production line or a subset) and make sure you can honestly expect positive impact in a short time frame like 2-4 months after going live with the pilot. Another parameter of the pilot is easy ability to replicate – with success you want to roll out fast; so if you’d have a few similar lines you probably want to pick a small to medium sized ones of that group for the pilot.
Step 5: Define the pilot. This is also the latest point where you want to engage with external service & software partners (but of course – the earlier you include them, the better – most of us are happy to support in the early phases). This definition will also include architecture, technical & functional requirements, how KPIs will be implemented in the final solution. All specs for sensors, potential track & trace devices (especially for on campus / in plant tracking) interfaces to ERP, SFM, MES, PLM, PDM and to external supply chain (if applicable for the pilot) need to be agreed and contracted. The definition should be built as a template so with success (see step 4) you can roll to similar lines as fast as possible. If implementation time for the pilot is longer than 2-4 months: Go back to step 1. If no mobile, (near) real-time, always-on information or alerting: Change your partner. Also make sure you can get majority of services in an aaS model.
Step 6: Implement the pilot. Start measuring. Do constant review – this is after all the journey to a continuous digital improvement.  Concentrate on evaluating the KPIs and start planning beyond step 7.
Step 7: Assuming success: Roll out pilot functionality to other lines (horizontal expansion) while in parallel work on extending functionality / KPIs (vertical expansion). Topics you want to think about in this and following expansions should also include how to integrate more closely with your external partners (e.g. API vs. interfaces) and/or move to co-creation.
These few steps will get you started – other companies have executed and e.g. achieved 20+% increase in OEE in short time frames (6-12 months), increase in productivity (200+% in 2-3 years) – so what’s next?
The minute you’ve started the Digital Journey, you’ll most probably want to continue the digital improvement. So let me give you some outlook on possible scenarios:
  • Supply Chain Prediction: With high visibility / transparency along your supply chain you will be able to predict incidents (using data science scenarios similar to those used in predictive / preventive maintenance). This will of course enable you to plan / schedule accordingly, thus further improving productivity, planning accuracy etc.
  • Also you might want to look into Demand Chain Prediction to cover end2end
  • Decision simulation: With full transparency you can simulate your decision / reaction to any incident (or need, opportunity, risk) before executing. Eventually this could result in a full simulation of a full blown production environment before taking any physical measures (this of course requires all production data to be basically kept forever in a Big Data environment to rebuild the full plant with real data in a simulation environment – but still cheaper than rebuilding a plant)
  • Potentially start looking into the intelligence of your products to move your now digitised company from product sales to service provisioning.
Let me have your thoughts please. Thank You!

The BizCloud Traveler

Recently I found myself in the position to explain “The Cloud”, the advantages & disadvantages, how to get there and how to identify technical, geographical and functional requirement – this very much for non-techies. Thought I could share my latest analogy:

Being a frequent business traveler I have identified quite a number of similarities between cloud services and hotel services:

  • A cloud service is similar to booking rooms in a hotel where number of rooms and consumed additional in-room services might be uncertain at the the time of requesting the services, but I do know I need access to the hotel
  • I might also be interested in door-2-door services, i.e. get from home to hotel, have a rental car available for spontaneous trips and at one point in time really want to get home again
  • I expect the hotel to cover some basic needs and have those covered by the basic charge
  • I definitely want the hotel to be flexible in regards to my potential upcoming request and am willing to pay a fee for additional services (while still hoping my loyalty program covers at least some of my additional requests); I also accept fees will go up when ordering services out of standard hours or non-standard services
  • I know I will pay for some services I won’t use (e.g. I never managed to use more than 2-3 tea bags per night – in a lot of hotels you get up to 10), but I also understand the service provider (i.e. the hotel) has done the maths for finding the right balance between satisfying the contractual obligations and teasing me into using additional services (“You like the tea? More available at the front desk”) vs losing a customer by including unnecessary items into basic charge

Some obvious statements

  • I want to feel secure in the place I stay – in room and also when walking in the neighbourhood
  • Different hotels offer different choices and levels of quality for certain services
  • Every traveler has different likes, requirements and financial capabilities
  • Services offered from hotel as well as services requested from any traveler might change even during stay
  • Let’s say I originally booked a “just good enough” room, find a precious valuable for my wife on the local market and intend to protect that => “Can I have a safe with adequate insurance coverage?”
  • Let’s face it – it might even be I just don’t like the hotel and want to move to a different one in a close location
  • Searching a room just for myself is way easier (and can be done by myself) than organising a meeting with a few people (that’s where assistance from secretary/PA and travel agency comes in); it’s getting even more complex if a large crowd needs to be gathered for let’s say a conference – that’s where professional conference services take over. (And I’m not yet even talking about the real complex topics like arranging visa for certain countries etc)

Travel scenarios

  • If I travel to a place I’ve been before I tend to look for either my favourite hotels or – of not available or plainly too expensive – check the area I like for something similar – and yes, i of course do this before I travel; I am also pretty adamant on having a confirmation from where I intend to stay before I depart – for some regions / countries on this planet it’s actually a requirement to have the confirmation to get the visa done.
  • In case I need a visa or work permit I will also engage the right professionals – i.e. the ones who give me a guarantee on success before I take next steps like contracting with the client
  • In case I travel to a place I had not been before but know my employer has an office not too far away I might decide to stay close to that office (because I know the hotels around or because we have a great discount) and accept having a slightly longer ride from travel target to hotel or back
  • In case I need to go somewhere I have no clue about I will ask some folks – that’ll include people I know having been there as well as the travel agency to get me a good price for the recommendations received from friends, colleagues and customers

Business Travel Conclusion

  • When on business travel there’s a clear objective for the business part – and I also tend to have one on the travel part reflecting / mapping with the business requirements.
  • I want to be secure, I want my belongings to be secure (insurance for in-room storage of electronic devices and passports, no surprise like another guest in the same room…)
  • I want the accommodation to be flexible to my needs (early arrival, late departure, unplanned check-out, taxi call on time, conference room for x people on request….)
  • Basic stuff like “split my bills into business and private items”
  • If I am a loyalty program participant I expect the hotel to have both my addresses (business and private) on file
  • I expect my travel agency to fully comply with my corporate rules on security, costs, locations..

Analogy Conclusion

  • When I move business data and applications to the cloud I expect full compliance with internal and external regulations
  • My provider needs to cover basic requirements like access management and security
  • I want to have a provider reflecting and responding to my changing requirements
  • I want my provider to be able to respond to scale up/down requests
  • I need to have a Service Level Agreement that explains in detail the expected charges for scaling standard services or requesting non-standard charges
  • A supplier offering the majority of services in a financially reasonable fashion at a consumption based rate will have an advantage over the competition in the same area

Rough thoughts at the late end of a day – might clean up in the next days.

Appreciate your comments as always


#SpeedIdeation – 1st Crowd Event on August 11, 10am EDT

So: We’ve settled on the date & time we targeted – it’ll be on August 11, 10am EDT, 4pm CEDT – still hope this time is good enough for most of you around the globe.

Final link to CrowdChat will be available soon – Thanks Heather and John for your great support here!

What’s next now:

– We keep going with the (easy, but still needs to be done) template for the folks who wish to pre-register an issue
– We’ll get the chat site configured
– We’ll work on this blog site to cater for team rooms to work in communities for follow-up tasks (see earlier posts – we don’t expect all issues to be solved right now, but to find folks willing to form a virtual team to get that stuff done)
– We’ll spread the word

What can you do:

– Spread the word (i.e. retweet, forward link etc)
– Gather your issues in case you have and pre-register (as soon as open) to get the experts informed
– Book the slot in your calendar
– Team up already now with those friends & colleagues who’d like to run with you in a solution team or just hesitate to participate on their own for whatever reason 

Who should participate:

– Everybody interested in either getting an IT issue solved or in helping to solve
– Each of you who’d like to work in fast moving environments and new communities

Special task for #CSC AGMs, SREs or other customer facing roles:

– Get our customers to participate and raise issues – here’s the chance to get a global community to jointly work on their current issues

I’ll see Jethro Tull tomorrow, so next post probably only on Sunday (or maybe late Saturday)


#SpeedIdeation Update 2014-07-22

As you probably noticed, the initial poll on where to run this is closed, final decision is “all public” as expected (and hoped for). We did ping the first customers asking for participation – this could really be a lot of fun with great results.

Things we’re working on right now:

– An easy form for those of you who’d like to pre-register an issue (targeting this weekend – but might be Sunday as Jethro Tull is playing in my area)
– Final date & time – still targeting Aug 11th as stated in previous post
– Spreading the word and invite more participants (please help!!!)

Some considerations on constraints:

– If this kicks off, there will be a time where we will not limit topics, but at the moment it’s probably best to limit for the first round.
– So: We will focus on IT stuff – no limitations here (but still keep in mind to spread the word as far as possible if you’d like to tackle a niche subject to make sure the respective experts are in the crowd)
– There are a real lot of other areas I personally would like to do some #SpeedIdeation on, but let’s focus on the above mentioned area first; I intend to get a next on social issues started soon

More tomorrow or Thursday


#SpeedIdeation Update 2014-07-17

Couple of things:

Date/Timing: Still to be finally confirmed, but we’re shooting for August 11, 10am EST / 4pm CET (you can do the math for you timezone); we’re aiming at a 60 min window – still considering/debating if we should go for 90/120, but probably not this time.

Communication: Will remain on social media – main site for the time being is the one you’re reading right now; of course pending final result from the initial poll – but looks like majority votes for staying public with this (you know my vote – not being open here is really kind of contradictory to the idea)

Issue submission: As stated in yesterday’s post, we’ll also run through ad-hoc requests during the chat, but still will open for submission a few days before we run the event

Targets (I don’t want to be over-ambitious, but….):

1) Get it started
2) Get issues solved
3) Create open communities focussed on issues / ideas made available – where those communities might of course be of really short temporarily nature, i.e. until the issue is solved
4) Create a recurring event out of this – this of course will only happen if you get in and also motivate your friends / colleagues / customers / partners / suppliers / project members….)
5) With those targets we also move away from the “vote on idea” stuff – it’s all about getting stuff solved, not debate who’s got the “better” issue

Procedure: Those of you having participated in e.g. #CSCTechTalk on CrowdChat know how this runs – it’s an open discussion on the platform (final link will be published soon – probably where all questions and answers are automatically posted on twitter. We’re looking into providing a follow-up platform for larger issues where teams will need to collaborate for an extended period of time. Other than in CSC’s standard TechTalks, there will be no Google hangout – we’ll focus on raising and solving issues, so educational part will not happen in this event.

Issue submission: Those of you who’d like to raise an issue before the event, please do comment on one of the posts, so we can approve – I don’t think we’ll have the bandwidth to do approvals 3 minutes before we start….so thanks for an early heads-up.

So, thanks again to everybody support this initiative – stay tuned, more updates soon


#SpeedIdeation – thoughts on procedures – please comment!!!!

Luckily I had to drive for roughly 5 hours today and could do some brainstorming with Soren on the phone (short but significant) and myself (long with results to be reviewed by all of you)

Soren had a valid point when stating that long preparations are not really what we need in a #SpeedIdeation event, so let’s talk about the following:

a) We’ll reduce lead time to a minimum, i.e. participants can raise any issue also during the crowdchat
– This would also cater for being able to raise current issues (development, business, anything you need to get done fast)
– As this could lead to topics being raised where no experts present in the event, please make sure to activate everybody you know – the higher the participation, the better the results of course

b) We’ll still cater for early posting of stuff to be discussed – let’s say 1-3 days in advance
– Keep in mind that a good description of what you want to get resolved helps to attract the right experts into the chat

c) Expected results
– I would not expect we will be able to solve all issues raised within the event, so one outcome for a certain topic might be a group finding together committing to craft a solution (would hope this groups would then continue to report results via #SpeedIdeation and on this site

What do you think?


#SpeedIdeation – Initial Poll

Let’s get this started!

This initial poll (see polldaddy form below) just to find out where you’d like to share ideas that we’ll discuss and select in a later (soon) stage.

If you’d like to go open, please select “Public” – this would then probably be this or a similar site

If you’d like to initially present internally (please remember, the final discussion and voting / selection of winner will be in public anyway) please select “Internally” – this would then be within a company site also made available to other participants (like e.g. and restricted to registered users.

Let me know – and please share your vote using #SpeedIdeation tag


Speed Ideation Event – Do you want to join in?

In yesterday’s CSC TechTalk Soundbites we’ve discussed setting up a speed ideation event. Here some initial thoughts on getting this started – please comment with your suggestions.

a) Preparation

I still debate with myself (and probably have to take this also with colleagues and seniors) if the collection of issues & ideas to solve those should be done internally or publicly – at the moment I lean towards full external exposure, but this would require everybody to stick to a set of rules…let me have your thoughts on this.

b) Entering an idea

– Every idea should solve an issue – technical, business, social or whatever you deem appropriate
– Issue and idea how to solve will be explained by person or group entering the idea
– To be included in the documentation:
— Negative impact of issues
— Positive impact of suggested solution
— Probability of suggested solution solving the issue
— Efforts to shape, implement & manage solution

c) Timeline – all in one week

To keep this at the intended speed, there will be a window of 2 days to enter ideas (Monday & Tuesday), 2 days (Wednesday & Thursday) where all ideas are frozen but made available for public review, one or two hours on Friday where we will use #CrowdChat to defend and vote

d) What will happen afterwards?

This is the main topic we need to solve – although there’s already a great point in raising & justifying ideas, it would of course be way better if the chosen ones would be implemented; I’ll take this to the appropriate guys to check how we can inject into e.g. IRB or similar.


Again – please let me have your thoughts on this – and also (this is for @CSC colleagues) please let me know if you’d like to join in – there are quite a couple of tasks to be done to make this happen.




Update 2014-07-13: I activated portfolio on this site and created a new project. All future posts related to this project will be here (see also menu above)

CSC TechTalk Soundbites – Update

It’s been great as expected.

Jerry & Yogesh were walking us through the how, why and status followed by a pretty active CrowdChat. Some statistics:

Views: 786
Reach: 45.9K
Posts: 132

…all in about 30 minutes

Full transcript here

Lots of new ideas popped up during the chat – am looking forward to get some of those started



P.S. Proud to be today’s CrowdCaptain 🙂

CSC TechTalk Soundbites

In 30 minutes the 2nd CSC TechTalk Soundbites G+ and CrowdChat event will start.

Paul, Jerry & Yogesh will run us through the Ingenuity Worx program.

For those interested to listen in (first 25-30 minutes) – this is the link to G+ event:

2nd half of the event – as all of our TechTalk sessions will be hosted on CrowdChat:

Join in if interested – there’ll also be a YouTube (live & later)