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64 SMT007 MAGAZINE I SEPTEMBER 2019 not blocking out the familiar. They raise ques- tions about everything, including practices, processes, and flows, and challenge every assumption. However, consultants can eventu- ally suffer the same issues as the factory mem- bers when they start to believe that they have seen everything. The same is true for software systems. When evaluating different solutions, each will pro- vide a different set of functions and features that need to be mapped into the process flows and practices of the factory. Any change to the status quo will be met with resistance, even if the change suggested is potentially very valu- able. People will immediately try to mold the software to support existing operations that they are comfortable with rather than mov- ing forward. The best software will bring inno- vative opportunity to break established para- digms and evolve new best practices. One simple example is the replacement of the push-driven material kitting system with a Lean material management pull-system. Look- ing honestly and openly at both practices, the difference is enough to clearly differentiate it as a step-change improvement to any factory operation. Yet to date, Lean material manage- ment remains a niche technology. As with con- sultants who have seen everything, most of the old MES software solutions have also become less effective and compelling as time goes on. Most have not been keeping up with the ever- evolving market trends, software architecture, and machine connection technologies, such as IIoT. Thus, their messages become jaded and limited. The "nose effect" is everywhere. However, there are other surprises in store when humans in the manufacturing operation begin to utilize a modern IIoT-based MES solu- tion and see real data coming from the oper- ation as a whole. The IPC Connected Factory Exchange (CFX) has now become established as the favored method to extract high-qual- ity, detailed, and timely data, natively from machines, all adhering to a single common standard content definition—a true plug-and- play environment. But the limitation of any form of communication from single-machine entities is the need for the derivation of con- text from all of the many sources of informa- tion. Approximately 80% of the data from each individual machine only has significant mean- ing when set into the context of, for exam- ple, the line configuration, the product profile, material logistics, and most of all, the history of what has already happened. Only the latest IIoT-driven MES solution specifically intended to work in this environment with CFX IIoT technology is able to take, format, and pres- ent genuine information of value, and then uti- lize such information for critical decision-mak- ing support. Shock to the System The challenge within production operations is how to deal with the truth that the solution exposes. For many years, the nose has been invisible, but in terms of the digital world, it is there, front and center. IIoT data and man- aging IIoT-driven MES software are poised to bring a wealth of benefits, and yet the most common question raised right now relates to how the data should be used. Sometimes, it is better just to let the data do the talking and allow the system to do its job. Take the oppor- tunities that appear as a result of implementa- tion—win after win—for the streamlining and reinvention of legacy production practices as the digital factory evolves. Lean material management, though just one of a great many, is an excellent example for those who need to understand that the bene- fits are tangible. For those who are still using legacy push systems, consider these questions: • Why does each kit contain a great deal more materials than will be needed? The best software will bring innovative opportunity to break established paradigms and evolve new best practices.

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