Why Are Some Manufacturers Not Getting Interoperability?

As some of you may know, I am one of the consultants and standards leaders who is forming the Industrial Interoperability Compliance Institute. I have talked to over 100 companies of all kinds: end users, vendors and system integrators. Many of these companies are among the top 100 global manufacturers. Yet many simply do not understand that they are paying large amount of excess cost for custom interfaces and reports. These management teams tell me that they view the IICI as a vendor-driven organization. Their belief that the IICI is a vendor task is frankly wrong and very dangerous for their own business interests. Without a standards-based information model containing standard transactions to represent their standard business processes, their businesses have to create and maintain custom, monolithic transaction models to interface with their suppliers, customers and plants across their ever-expanding supply chains. The management is simply not allowing their manufacturing and supply chain systems to strategically enable their business to be adaptive and configurable to market change. Consequently, their competiveness and profit are directly effected by utilizing disparate systems with custom interfaces, analytics and reports. This approach to integrated systems seriously constrains business and does not enable Lean practices. This business model will not flex to change rapidly enough to provide the market advantage required or desired. The IICI is not a vendor task, quite the opposite. The vendors actually want manufacturers to continue have their disparate systems so they can limit their customers' decisions and own architecture choices. This is what happened on the PLC/DCS side in the 90s. Vendors are resistant to open standards. In doing over $25 million in MOM systems worldwide and working with over 10 different vendors channels, I have witnessed that the highest life-cycle cost for integrated manufacturing systems is the custom interfaces, reports and analytics. For manufacturers' IT costs to go down and their competitive market response to increase, companies need to be leader in this IICI effort.