Workflow Automation in Manufacturing: Filling the gaps

Manufacturing is one of the mature industry mankind has nurtured over hundreds of years now. Just about 120 years ago, manufacturing transformed itself from cottage industry to large scale mass production factories thus spurring many economies into advanced industrial economies. This transformation called “mass manufacturing”, resulted in rapid enhancement in lifestyle, plentiful product availability. It also gave rise to allied industries like transportation, logistics and so on.

Underlying the concept of “mass manufacturing” is process and process automation adopted by Manufacturing industry. Over time this industry has focused on scaling production leveraging fine art of industrial engineering, process engineering and eventually monitoring product quality using automation. One must just imagine Coke bottling plant in Atlanta or Ford car assembly line to visualize the effects of robotics and process automation.

Pegasystems has been focusing on automating business process and over years has reached a stage where any large organization seriously looking at automating, tracking, and decision making in business process cannot ignore Pegasystems solutions.

However the big customers for Pegasystems BPM solutions are still in the space of healthcare, insurance, life sciences (HIL), banking and financial services (BFS) and very few in large manufacturing companies. Why is this so? Can this be changed? Where in manufacturing process Pega can fit? We will try and answer some of these questions in this paper.

Process Automation and Workflow Integration in Manufacturing is in high demand:

Core manufacturing organization consists of following important departments.

  1. Production shopfloor (multiple sections as per the product)
  2. Quality control
  3. Industrial Engineering
  4. Design Department
  5. Purchase Department
  6. Sales and Marketing
  7. Service Department
  8. Finance Department
  9. MIS or IT Department

Depending on the complexity of the product being manufactured, each of the above departments manage reasonably complex set of process and operations. In addition, integration of all departments across the process is very critical for having a composite view of manufacturing.

Traditionally, Oracle and SAP have been pioneers in digitizing the manufacturing industry, like the mainframes did it in the banking and financial services industry. There are strong modules in both SAP / Oracle to cater to basic automation as well as process automation.

Mainframes did not evolve beyond a point in process automation and user experience which resulted in massive opportunity for companies like Pegasystems to fill the gap in terms of providing niche solutions in Banking, Insurance and Financial world.

Workflow automation in Manufacturing is still in its infancy:

Just as in HIL and BFS sectors, Oracle and SAP have left large gaping holes in process automation, workflow visibility, end user productivity and experience in Manufacturing industry as well.

One example of the “gap”: say Design department comes with design of new product part with related sub-components called bill of materials. Currently there is no workflow communication from 3D software where the design and bill of materials is being finalized, to commercial SAP / Oracle module in Materials / Purchase / Industrial Engineering departments. Even if there exists some form of integration, no “intelligence” or “workflow” is built to create case for financial and purchase approvals post design approvals. These must be manually triggered and in many cases across multiple siloed modules. A big gap for manufacturing agility.

Pega can bridge the above gap seamlessly by starting a workflow case integrating various departments in the value chain from Design engineering to Procurement to Production shop floor and Service.

Because of Pega approach of solving a process problem is vastly different from traditional ERP like SAP/Oracle, it can provide a complete new end user experience and help increase the manufacturing organizations “Agility”.

Conclusion:

As Pega expands into IoT and Decision Management, implementing workflow based solution will help manufacturing industries overcome current hurdles in design engineering, procurement, shop floor management, quality control and many more functions, which will help them save billions of dollars across the industry.

Sripathi Bhat Neelavar

Sripathi Bhat , Sr Director VirtusaPolaris has 25 years of industry experience across manufacturing, HIL, BFS. He has over 6+ years of solutioning and implementing BPM for various institutions. One of the large transformation BPM project implemented include New Business and Claims process for Golden Rule Insurance (UHG group company). Sripathi is currently contributing in all functions of IT service industry from Lead to Cash, optimizing the various delivery elements, bringing more operational efficiency, increased cost optimization and thus ensuring solution effectiveness. He is also directly contributing in creating new solutions using Pega platform leveraging multiple technologies and integration techniques. He holds bachelor degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from premier National Institute of Technology – (Calicut – India). Sripathi loves to go on long drives and explore new locations, simply take breaks, along with his wife and two daughters. He also keenly studies socio-economic growth parameters and development patterns across several countries.

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