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Global Traceability Part 3: Now is the Time to Act

Blog: Apriso Blog

Blog_10-27-15I’ve been writing recently about global traceability: why it is the perfect complement to enterprise MOM systems, and how manufacturers are starting to exploit the big data of global traceability to create significant new business value by moving beyond traditional applications.

To close this three-part series, I will now discuss why it’s important for manufacturers to act now on global traceability, before market leaders get too far ahead of the pack. The fact is that the key enablers to leverage global traceability across the enterprise are now in place, or soon will be.

How well prepared are you to take advantage of this important, possibly game-changing trend?  Here are five enablers that are now driving implementations of global traceability solutions today:

1. Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM) has moved beyond the Plant
The days of isolated plant floor systems have now become a thing of the past. In its place, global manufacturers are deploying enterprise Manufacturing Execution Systems, which I refer to as Manufacturing Operations Management or MOM solutions, to coordinate and synchronize people, processing, equipment, tooling and materials across the enterprise. As I wrote in my first article in this series, this MOM foundation is a key element of global traceability, providing event data on a vast new scale. Manufacturers with MOM systems are not wasting any time in leveraging that data.

2. The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is near
One of the main bottlenecks in the past has been the data collection mechanism—gathering accurate information at the right time in the most cost-effective way. This would include information from not only within the four walls, but also beyond to partners, suppliers and even end users. The IIoT is revolutionizing how and what data are collected, and how it is being shared. The boundaries between the digital and physical worlds have now blurred. Intelligent, interconnected systems now need to seamlessly support multiple activities, as industrial devices become more intelligent and connected. Global traceability provides the means to track and utilize this brave new world of interconnected everything.

3. Big Data and the Cloud are maturing technologies
As more industrial devices are connected to the digital world, they will be producing huge amounts of data in terms of volume, variety and velocity. Technologies to handle big data—such as MapReduce, schema-less and NoSQL databases, and in-memory processing—are maturing and are ready to support real-time enterprise-level applications. On top of that, the maturity of cloud-based technology offers the ability to scale and roll out to different partners with the robust architecture that is needed to make global traceability the enterprise’s single repository of all critical operational events.

4. Analytics can make all that data actionable
Advances in analytics have moved beyond traditional descriptive analytics, to more predictive and prescriptive applications in order to support decision-making processes in real-time fashion. Rather than trying to understand what and why things happened, the focus on today’s paradigm is leveraging insights in order to address what will happen and how things would change based upon a given decision. It is this actionable intelligence aspect of global traceability information that manufacturers can use to achieve business advantage that goes far beyond traceability itself.

5. Growing number of knowledge workers across the globe
While the technology advances above are critical enablers, ultimately these advances are important because they empower knowledge workers to take better actions and make better decisions. As the number of knowledge workers grows from advanced countries to developing countries, the information and insights generated from global traceability will be increasingly important—and transformational. Even though automation may increase, there will always be human interactions within key decision processes, and those interactions will depend on better, deeper, and timelier information. Global traceability provides exactly the kind of actionable information that knowledge workers will need.


In this series, we have seen that MOM systems provide important capabilities that can be significantly leveraged by adding global traceability. We’ve also seen that manufacturers are starting to use global traceability to go beyond traditional uses to create important new business value. And finally, we’ve seen how the enablers to make it happen are rapidly coming together, if they haven’t already.

Global traceability is one of the keys to competing as a global enterprise, and its importance will only grow. Manufacturers who plan on being successful in the future would be well advised to take action on this critical capability today, or they will surely be left behind.


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