Interoperability Barrier No. 1: The CIO

According to AMR, 60% of Most IT Budgets Are Spent Attempting to Deliver to 2002 Expectations

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I am part of the effort to form the Industrial Interoperability Compliance Institute (IIC) within the Automation Federation. I will not go into detail about the IICI here, except to speak to my direct experience with the lack of recognition by corporate IT departments for the solutions required for adaptive manufacturing.

The Open O&M standards set is the adaptive manufacturing solution and application framework for providing the information models for interface and application data models and transaction models. All of the Open O&M standards (OPC-UA, ISA-95, ISA-88, OMAC, MIMOSA and OAGIS) have individually proven use cases for their part of the adaptive manufacturing application framework, but their successes have largely been due to a small group of innovative people inside of a small group of innovative manufacturers, consultants and vendors.

I get disagreement about this because each standard has widespread traction at the plant level in one or two industries, but not at the executive levels. This is proven by the fact that all of the standards committees have very little end-user participation now due to downsizing of engineering groups (except for the occasional visionary). Corporate IT simply does not realize the need to participate actively or to acquire production process competency at all.

CIOs simply are looking to their ERP, automation and supply chain vendors to tell them how to run their companies’ plants and integrate their vertical business models. This is utter stupidity that is increasing the “sophistication gap” between North America, Asia and Europe.

A new information technology has developed that actually provides CIOs with one of the primary tools for adaptive manufacturing. North American CIOs still look to their vendor for the semantic and transaction models for SOA; the software vendor provides one, but the information model is not openly interoperable with any other vendors’ models.

Custom SOA is actually very expensive to own due to the high cost of change and the barrier to adapting business processes to new and changing global markets. There is no open interoperability between applications.

Now, as these CIOs push for “Global Lean Supply Chains,” the problem magnifies by 1,000 times, since all of their suppliers and customers now have custom B2B information models and transactions, even if they standardized. Some CIOs were forced to see this light when WalMart and Department of Defense required EPC RFID compliance of their suppliers. But the CIOs did not bring this interoperability lesson back to their companies.

What is really sad is that these same IT departments from manufacturing companies are not even participating in developing the ISA100 industrial wireless standard and are letting the vendors write the standard for them. So while the IT departments and their leaders have been drinking their vendors’ KoolAid, the group of dedicated visionaries of end users, consultants and open-system vendors has been building the interoperability parts for the adaptive manufacturing framework for applying an SOA globally.

There is not a better solution available for maintaining competitive advantage in the 21st century for a manufacturer than the combination of applying OPEN O&M interoperability standards within an enterprise SOA. They bring common definition to data, interfaces, workflow definitions, resource specification, KPI metrics and financial metrics. Adaptive manufacturing is enforcing a common information model across all enterprise and plant systems, business process mapping tools, data warehousing and B2M transactions with suppliers and customers, providing clear communication to empower change events.

We need the industry analysts and end users finally to get involved in open interoperability to make the strong business case to CIO to support these revolutionary organizations and not their vendors’ legacy systems and custom SOA approaches.

Otherwise, learn to speak Chinese.

Read Charlie Gifford's blog... Hitchhiking Through Manufacturing

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