Winning the Smart Manufacturing game – Technology topped up with Domain Expertise
- By /
Dr. Arvind Tilak CEO, Ascent Intellimation Pvt. Ltd
06 Sep 2019
Smart manufacturing and digital transformation in manufacturing is going to be a game-changer, and many companies are already taking solid steps for the realization of the value of these platforms.
At Ascent Intellimation, we have delivered many successful implementations. These are helping our clients in building a dependable data platform for real-time decision-making and bringing in overall improvements in every KPIs that is important for manufacturing entities. Apart from delivering a very robust and flexible platform, we have topped this up with very specific domain-driven deliverable that make our solutions click instantly.
What are the industry needs?
When we started on our journey of building and implementing PlantConnect, we were not actively looking at domain-specific details. In fact, as a technology company, we were proud to say that for us, data is data whether it comes from a heart monitor or an ATM or a CNC machine. But, we very quickly learned that this is only partially true. This realization was based on the following feedback from our users.
1. Most of the manufacturing entities, and I am sure this true for other domains also, wanted a solution and not necessarily software. And our journey to building a solution on top of the software began.
2. Vertical-driven analytics, reports, productivity, and visualization are the most essential deliverable that clients hold in their hands. That started the development of verbalized solution complete with all these details.
3. Finally, manufacturers want a solution that can be deployed quickly and seamlessly and that can start delivering value almost immediately. These could be low hanging fruits but are very important for internal sales. One can always add more specific company flavors later, but basic solution must be almost “out of the box”. (which is not completely possible though!)
In simpler words, manufacturers want solution providers to speak their language and want them to see the world from the manufacturing perspective and not from the software perspective.
For example, speaking of our experience, when we said, give us an SRS document for your requirement, we were not welcomed. But if we said we know your industry to some extent but please share your expectations, it worked! They liked that we were making efforts to understand their issues and we have teams which understand their world.
How we Blended Technology and Domain Expertise in our IIoT Solution
These localisations and learning helped us redraw our product strategy. Apart from the technology part of the solution, which will never finish in a true sense, we started bringing on board domain experts and people with hands-on experience. Their inputs on what are common pain points and where easy solutions can be built proved to be very valuable.
This was very actively reciprocated by our users and clients who very enthusiastically shared industry and vertical insights. Many senior users walked us through their processes and educated us in the solution that will deliver the highest value to them and other internal stakeholders.
We drove and continue to drive this vertical driven approach, and we focus on following components of our solution. We strive to make these specific to industries and verticals and tailored to their requirements.
1. Use cases: Each industry and company have unique practices, people, and culture. Also, each industry has unique use cases and problem statements for which a digital platform can provide solutions. Our domain experts understand these issues and design solutions for these. With this, our solutioning team goes with a very strong understanding and clear message of not only clarity on problems and but also solutions for the same.
2. Analytics: Real-time analytics drive value and these are leveraged by stakeholders. As one can appreciate, analytics for each vertical and company are very specific, and what is not useful becomes an overhead. With the help of domain experts, we have invested substantially in building these analytics and outputs. Our sales teams start the process sales not with the technology, but what will users get from the solution and targeted and specific analytics are a great argument here.
3. Reports and Visualization: The argument for analytics is applicable to reports and visualization as is. These are other sets of components which are leveraged every minute by the stakeholders.
4. Data: In the industrial environment, acquiring the right data is a huge challenge. Apart from the complexities due to equipment of different generations and different makes (aka legacy systems), inter-operability becomes a big issue. We have built specific drivers to enable this data acquisition and have tried to make these almost seamless. We have not reached their yet but will be there soon!
5. Data Quantity: Apart from the challenges of inter-operability, in an industrial asset, there are a large number of data parameters that are available. We take help of domain experts to trim the data sets and ensure that KPIs drive as to what data should be acquired, analysed and stored. This is very important for large systems in terms of performance and scalability.
Our most successful IIoT implementations have the right combination of domain experts and technology experts working together closely to achieve common business goals. Is your experience similar to this?