Increasingly, global manufacturers speak of collaboration as key to the successful functioning of their supply and production networks. In fact, the word has become a buzzword among analysts. Even before the end of the millennium’s first decade, the move towards manufacturing collaboration was becoming clear. Panetto and Molina’sacademic paper makes the point:
Recent advances in information and communication technologies have allowed manufacturing enterprise to move from highly data-driven environments to a more cooperative information/knowledge-driven environment. Enterprise knowledge sharing (know-how), common best practices use, and open source/web based applications are enabling to achieve the concept of integrated enterprise and hence the implementation and interoperability of networked enterprises. Enterprise integration and interoperability in manufacturing systems is a key concept to face the challenges of these new environments.
Interoperability in practice
In today’s rapidly moving and constantly changing manufacturing environment, interoperability is essential for integrating the manifold applications working across global networks, at both the enterprise and shop floor levels. Flexible manufacturing platforms feature architectures that integrate ERP, PLM, SCM, CRM, QMS, MES, and shop floor assets into one complete information network. They do so precisely because of the need to share knowledge, at granular levels, across the extended enterprise. This interoperability enables manufacturers to:
- Fully leverage the value of their existing IT investments.
- Gain enterprise-level visibility across diverse sites and functions.
- Have real-time visibility of processes and equipment.
- Drive down IT expense and maintenance.
- Better collaborate through seamless business process support.
Embracing standards such as WS*, OAG, ISA-95, and B2MML, and combining technologies such as OPC-UA and Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) levels the playing field. It also provides integrated functionality quickly, with fewer resources and lower risk than otherwise possible.
In complex, nuanced, collaborative-networked environments, which are increasingly characteristic of today’s manufacturing, integration and interoperability enhance the competitive advantages of networks and their member organizations. As such, they become critical aspects of achieving business objectives in a timely and cost-effective manner.
What about you?
Are you experiencing the competitive advantage that comes with interoperability? Let us know, comment below.