The OEM’s Role in the Factory of the Future
The OEM’s Role in the Factory of the Future

He also understands, however, that the addition of diagnostics means that the machine builder will want remote access into Rich’s facilities, requiring more security technology. Diagnostics will also need more sophisticated interfaces. And, on top of that, Benjamin is looking for better training and comprehensive performance agreements from his OEM partners.

“A lot of times an OEM builds the machine, but they don’t actually run it,” Benjamin notes, explaining that he’s had a service technician come into his facility to fix something, only to realize that the way the machine was built doesn’t match up to how the operators run the machine. “It was almost enlightening for him. We made several modifications to the equipment because he was able to sit there and see it in action.”Visit here; shop.oem-automation.com

To that end, Benjamin suggests that OEMs and manufacturers collaborate on machine documentation for training purposes. He is also asking OEMs to integrate training materials—videos specifically—into the equipment’s HMI. In the past, OEMs have provided Rich’s operators with iPads that include training videos, but those mobile devices get lost.

“Why not just walk up to the machine and have the HMI provide the video,” he says. “It’s important to have a robust program when it comes to training, and that means having materials that are relevant and help drive success.”

Smart choices for the smart factory

Beyond the HMI, Benjamin is looking to drive success for its overall smart factory strategy. The addition of smart devices, as in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), is an important aspect of the factory of the future, as IIoT can feed into predictive diagnostics. But it’s a balancing act between what the operations team needs and what the IT department allows from a site security standpoint. 

To that end, Benjamin wants two things from his OEM partners: honest solutions and success stories.

Specifically, OEMs must be honest about the capabilities of the equipment, and more importantly, understand how new functionality will affect the organization as a whole. “It took me three and half months to install one predictive maintenance system because an OEM sold the idea to someone in the organization, saying they have the capability, but they didn’t understand the impact from a security standpoint,” Benjamin recalls. 

If an OEM has an understanding of the big picture based on prior experience with other customers, they should share that information upfront. Be proactive and transparent, Benjamin says, by providing whitepapers and case studies that explain how other manufacturers have used the machine’s new tools. 

As part of that, OEMs should also be upfront about potential problem areas, like security, and provide a summary of how it was solved for someone else. That does not mean sharing proprietary information but offering a general overview that demonstrates a knowledge and understanding of what needs to be done. “We are not asking you to give the farm away, but to plant good seeds,” Benjamin says. “That’s something OEMs are not doing today.”

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