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The battle about nothing. Or not …

Just returned from my well (or not) earned holidays I want to bring up the subject that I name: "The battle about nothing…" I notice a current battle between companies that all want to take the lead in automation in the feedmill (also other industries).

Just returned from my well (or not) earned holidays I want to bring up the subject that I name: "The battle about nothing…" I notice a current battle between companies that all want to take the lead in automation in the feedmill (also other industries). I see a clash between:

1. The office, where Enterprise Resource Program software is managed. This is a responsibility of the ICT-manager or the finance manager and,

2. The factory/mill, with its factory automation (PLC/SCADA/MES/DCS). This is traditionally the responsibility of the production manager.

But subject such as interaction in the chain, food safety etc. makes it necessary that these two systems (read disciplines) collaborate well with each other. In the old concept the factory receives its order, produces and the office sends the bill to the client. Nowadays, however, at the moment of selling we want to know when we are delivering. This means a total integration of all processes and information flow in the company.

Suppliers combat
On the other hand we see that suppliers become more competitive. The big solution providers in ERP are telling us that there is no need for the MES/DCS level. There ERP-software can do it. A trend in between is the emerging business process management (BPM) and software tools for this work. Basic in this concept is that you describe your process in one tool so you can execute it in different ones. Of course is there a huge need for a transparent description of processes, responsibilities and data etc. But the question is if this is a solution or a toolbox.

Let me be clear that interaction or the so called verticalisation in the company should be present. For me there is no doubt about that. But what experience on the floor is that many times this becomes the battle between the factory and the office. For me, a useless battle. If you are not able to arrange this properly within your own company how do you face the battle in the chain?

Let me give you a Dutch example. A group of companies in food, clothing and finance are working together in a project called "4-C: the Cross Chain Control Centre" . In this project, the companies share the data with each other. In this way they can collaborate instead of being competitors. Based on this information each company is going to the market. This is a challenge beyond the one we are looking at in verticalisation.

But before going into this battle, please first solve the useless battle witin your own company. Let me be clear, there is no standard answer for how to solve this. When you are building a factory and company in a green field may be there is. But mostly history counts in this.

When a collegue of mine read this weblog, he said: "Harrij you make me think but you don’t give the answer." That’s correct there is no the answer.

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