Smart Manufacturing Blog

Welcome to your source for all things smart manufacturing. Whether you’re looking for expert insights, hard data, or actionable tips for your plant floor, we’ve got you covered every week of the year.

7th Annual State of Smart Manufacturing

Now Available!

Get your copy of the 7th Annual State of Smart Manufacturing and hear from 300+ manufacturers in this new survey report!

Digital Connectivity: The “Key” to Empowering Manufacturing Teams

Smart Manufacturing, Production Management, Supply Chain Management
May 24, 2022

Have you ever been to the Florida Keys? The area is home to some of the world’s best beaches, snorkeling, and fishing, but getting there hasn’t always been easy. To move from island to island, visitors and locals had to island-hop by boat or ferry.

But that all changed with the Overseas Highway. Stretching from the southern tip of Florida to the end of Key West, this highway extends over 100 miles using 40+ bridges, effectively connecting and extending the island communities to the mainland. It changed the region’s commerce and tourism forever, and that’s a lesson that manufacturers can learn from.

Island Manufacturing

Like the Florida Keys, manufacturing plants and even departments within plants have traditionally been islands. Employees would rely on paper-based methods, using multiple layers of forms, check sheets, and spreadsheet-based analysis. Even trying to implement Lean or Six Sigma methodologies in these siloed environments could only go so far in improving efficiency for that “island” alone.

These old-school methods supported by legacy solutions may have provided some levels of success for specific areas, but collaborating with the next island - or department - required transferring paper reports, reentering data, rationalizing different reporting formats and spreadsheets, and more cumbersome activities.

It’s comparable to taking the ferry to Key West in the old days. It got you there slowly, you had limited options along the way, and the chance of the boat sinking was much higher.

Digital Connectivity as an Overseas Highway

Today, there’s no reason for manufacturing to remain islanded and isolated in its own data and processes. Smart manufacturing platforms are designed to deliver connectivity and enable equipment connection within a facility. Data is structured and unsiloed, and processes, systems, tasks, and other critical functions are automated.

In a smart manufacturing operation, employees are empowered like drivers using the Overseas Highway. Operators have access to real-time production data to see critical KPIs that change dynamically as production progresses; they can make decisions faster and more accurately.

Managers who want to take a deeper dive with data have customized real-time information at their fingertips to help them identify trends they may not have noticed on the surface. They may find something scary that needs to be addressed, or they may find new opportunities. The deep dive improves decision-making, and connected automation helps them maintain a controlled dive with immediate dashboard readouts of danger.

Planners and supply chain professionals enjoy long and clear views of their transparent, connected supply chain like a seaside entrepreneur. They instantly move from island to island to keep beaches maintained, chairs in line, and bars well stocked.

Your Key to Digital Connectivity

We’re not here to sell you a trip to Key West, although we’re seriously considering taking one ourselves at this point. We’re here to help you connect the people, machines, and processes in your manufacturing environment because that’s the only way to find true transformation and long-term success in the industry.

The Plex Smart Manufacturing Platform is the key to connecting your islanded manufacturing assets. Whether it’s through our MES, ERP, QMS, SCP, Production Monitoring, Automation & Orchestration, or Asset Performance Management solution, you can streamline any functions that are slowing you down.

You’ll eliminate the errors of hand-keyed data while accurately tracking processes in real time. That data empowers all employees, regardless of role, with a transparent snapshot of the insights that affect them most, allowing them to make stronger decisions, identify areas for improvement, and spend time on value-added activities.

As you look at where silos exist on your plant floor, in your supply chains, or across your multiple facilities, know that you don’t have to settle for the status quo. You can build a digital highway to connect your environment and reinvent your future, just like the Florida Keys did all those years ago.

Click here to learn more about how Plex can help you break down silos and empower your teams.

About the Author

Plex Team

Plex Systems, Inc., a Rockwell Automation company, is the leader in cloud-delivered smart manufacturing solutions, empowering the world’s manufacturers to make awesome products. Our platform gives manufacturers the ability to connect, automate, track and analyze every aspect of their business to drive transformation. The Plex Smart Manufacturing Platform includes solutions for manufacturing execution (MES), ERP, quality, supply chain planning and management, Industrial IoT and analytics to connect people, systems, machines, and supply chains, enabling them to lead with precision, efficiency and agility.