At first glance, the difference between a one-man engineering shop and a multinational manufacturing enterprise seems obvious. But guess who’s better informed?
As a company grows, it is categorised by two attributes; an increasing lack of knowledge as to what’s really going on at the business and operational levels and an increasing lack of control over reconciling business needs with production realities. So says Ugan Maistry, head of EOH’s Mining & Manufacturing (EOHMM) business unit.
“Our one-man show knows exactly what’s happening all the time. He knows precisely how long it will take him to finish the current (and probably only) order because he knows his production rate and the quality of his work. He knows his customers intimately and has no need for customer relationship management (CRM) software. He also knows how much money he has in the bank at any moment in time and is also aware of any debts he may have for raw materials. Our one-man engineering enterprise is a fully-integrated, real-time business in every sense of the word,” he continues.
But years later, things may have changed. The one-man show now employs hundreds of people, manufactures a large variety of products using some really expensive machinery and complex manufacturing processes.
“Yet, he’s in the dark most of the time as to his true financial position and what’s happening on the shop floor. Worst of all, he is at a complete loss as to what to do when things go wrong because he simply doesn’t have the decision-support information he needs. Our one-man show has migrated from complete knowledge and complete control to a world of limited knowledge and shaky control – not exactly the reward he was expecting for being successful. There’s obviously too much going on and he needs help,” says Maistry.
All businesses today want applications that provide near real-time visibility into their operations and that support improved decision making and ultimately “actionable intelligence”. And companies in the mining, process and general manufacturing industries are no different, he continues.
Today, the suite of available solutions for mining and manufacturing enterprises are categorised under four main headings: Enterprise Resource Planning (business applications), MES, EMI and SCADA (process control and industrial automation).
While MES provides the necessary control over all aspects of synchronising production with business requirements, EMI collates information from a variety of sources to provide the contextualised knowledge or actionable intelligence about the enterprise that is vital to decision-making at all levels.
Some industries don’t require the full range of MES functionality, while all companies will benefit from the visibility that EMI provides into their real-time performance and the ability to analyse cause-and-effect scenarios. The contextualised information dashboards provided by EMI lets everyone know how their contributions are helping the company achieve its business objectives at all levels.
Companies with unanswered questions as to what MES and EMI actually do, what’s the difference between them and what they have to offer their specific industries, will not only get the answers they need, but also the expertise of EOHMM’s consulting, engineering, project management, training and managed services offerings should they go the route of implementation.