To improve performance, usually a good first step is to understand performance. Manufacturing execution systems (MES) and plant dashboards were the top two applications in research Cambashi conducted in late 2009 for MESA International, titled “Correlating Plant Performance to Business Performance.” Though the downturn dampened some investments, these hot products continue to draw attract both buyers and sellers.
This column will focus on just one of those types of application: dashboards, alternately called manufacturing or operations intelligence (MI/OI), enterprise manufacturing intelligence (EMI), or operations performance management (OPM). These tools gauge performance as it is happening, and they serve to focus attention and support better decision making.
The concept of a dashboard is fairly straightforward. It has a visual display of critical performance measures. Like a dashboard in an automobile, the data shows what is happening in real time, not after the fact. In some cases, these systems can also provide predictive views of what is likely to happen next, showing trends and predictive indicators.
Unlike an automobile, a plant has many operators and employees at different levels who can benefit from different sets of information on a dashboard to help them make good decisions. Therefore, defining the roles that will use the data and their information needs is critical. Ideally, each individual has only a few top-level key performance indicators (KPIs) that match his or her scope of control and where the user’s actions can change outcomes.