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Digital Twin

Traditionally, competitive advantage was measured on how automated the plant is, but this has now become the norm with the advent of new technologies and modern applications. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM) are essential but not sufficient to make manufacturing organizations competitive; they are basically ‘must-have’ solutions to automate and digitize the relevant so that the business and its factories are run more effectively and efficiently.

A typical challenge for manufacturers is to get ‘the right materials to the right plant at the right time’ and only when absolutely necessary.

Prior to reaching the shop floor, products are designed and engineered in the product development and engineering departments. The product creation lifecycle is managed from the advanced product concept to start of production, using Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) applications to design, engineer, simulate, virtually build and assemble them digitally before they even reach the shop floor.

Enterprise data flows within and across the PLM-ERP-MOM ‘trinity’ with different levels of integration, at different phases of the product lifecycle, against multiple data models and structures. The core principles of this ‘integration’ involves Master Data Management (MDM), the data alignment of product and enterprise data across the product lifecycle and collaboration across the extended enterprise.

PLM knows “what” (technical decisions), ERP knows “why” (strategic decisions), MOM knows “how to” (operational decisions).

It is not easy to define or assess the ‘right level’ of integration as on one hand not enough of it can create business gaps and redundancies, while on the other hand too much integration can compromise the native purpose and capabilities of these three platforms or ecosystems. For example who owns the Manufacturing Bills of Material (MBoM), which is a common MDM question asked.

Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) is about “WHAT”

PLM provides the upstream platform for product creation and engineering data management. At the concept phase, product creation processes allow for flexibility and creativity with limited or no change management, with the ability to reuse data from past or other products. As products mature, the data management process becomes tighter, change management kicks-in as more and more organizational functions are required to collaborate to make things happen.

PLM typically addresses the following questions:

  • What attributes will define the new product introduction?
  • What technologies will be identified and selected to define the product design?
  • What engineering metrics will define and validate the product and / or platform?
  • What PLM data will be fed to ERP and how will it be used downstream?
  • What technical decisions are made at the PLM level and what are the implications upstream?

Data traceability in PLM relates to the ability to reuse data, to manage historical information and new ideas. Some of it is released into new products while the majority of data will not be passed to manufacturing and the wider enterprise.

As PLM feeds data downstream to the ‘ERP engine’, product and business information combine while data is restructured to allow for the extended enterprise to operate and collaborate above and beyond the engineering teams. At this stage, various departments and functions interact across the enterprise, controlling and managing supply chain data, customer data, financial data, procurement data, HR data, planning data, multiple metrics and KPIs.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is about “WHY”

ERP regroups the core business data backbone where strategy and operations converge. The ERP data model cannot follow the PLM data structure because it is not meant to manage such levels of creativity and product prototypes. The ERP data must be structured so that it can feed downstream functions such as manufacturing, supply chain, sales and marketing in a transactional manner.

Data traceability in ERP relates to planning, strategic alignment, operations, compliance, upstream and downstream coordination. Due to its transactional nature, ERP data has a clear status and alignment within the relevant business processes.

ERP typically addresses the following questions:

  • Why does the organization exist and what is its product strategy?
  • How does the business plan to achieve long term sustainable growth?
  • Why (and what) engineering data cascade from PLM into ERP to feed the ‘business engine’ and what is relevant to top floor decision making?
  • How does the strategy translate into operations across all business functions?
  • What strategic (and business related operational) decisions are made at the ERP level and what are the implications upstream and downstream?
  • How can the business prevent incidents, protect its workforce and ensure products meet standards?

ERP data is fed upstream to PLM to allow for integrated change management processes, including supplier and cost data, material and compliance data, as well as product and platform configuration data.

ERP data is fed downstream to MOM to provide reference product information, production demand, master schedules, master data, BOMs, SOPs, change orders, inventories, planned resources, target performance metrics, etc.

Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM) is about “HOW TO”

MOM is the shop floor performance and operations management engine behind most mass-production control activities. It regroups all plant-wide manufacturing decisions, focusing on rapid actions, detailed planning, forecasting, continuous improvement, planned and actual metric analysis and ongoing adjustments.

Data traceability in MOM relates to ‘live’ operations, performance, upstream feedback on results and required input (materials, resources, labour, etc.). By default, MOM is the most ‘transactional’ system of the manufacturing organization, with the highest level of reactiveness needed to anticipate, align and adjust production and business parameters.

MOM typically addresses the following questions:

  • How to optimize technology for the organization to become more efficient?
  • How can the organization manage effectively risks and safeguard performance issues?
  • How to implement and achieve operational excellence objectives on the shop floor?
  • How to combine planning, execution and control information into a continuous feedback loop to align and optimize production and business operations?

MOM feeds data upstream to ERP with order status, resource usage (labour, equipment, materials), as-built genealogy yields, time events, etc.

MOM consolidates the management of several production processes, such as quality management, sequencing, non conformance management, asset management within one platform.

MOM is the core element to link PLM, ERP & Automation and provides a real-time Industry Software layer.