Information is power

How today’s enterprise manufacturing intelligence (EMI) software and analytics are driving performance results.


Courtesy: Association for Manufacturing Excellence (AME)Manufacturing and information technology (IT) professionals are always searching for faster and easier ways to support challenging business initiatives to improve products, services, processes and the company bottom line. At the same time, it is important that the different roles across organizations are empowered with the best possible information and tools to enable all contributors to collaborate and consistently perform their jobs to achieve improved business results.

Research shows that enterprise manufacturing intelligence (EMI) software has been gaining acceptance across a wide range of manufacturing industries, driven in large part for real-time visibility of cohesive manufacturing and business performance-related information. Advanced, yet simpler, analytics technologies are increasingly becoming part of EMI and other manufacturing business solutions at large.

Let's explore the scope, definition and use of modern EMI software solutions, as well as the operational benefits being realized today.


The information and analysis presented in this report are derived from the LNS Research Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM) survey, completed by more than 600 survey respondents to date. Responses were collected across a broad range of manufacturing/production industries, company sizes and geographies.

Today's EMI software solutions

EMI software allows manufacturers to connect, organize, aggregate and contextualize information from various sources across their plants and the entire IT enterprise. It is a crucial tool today that leading organizations are using to gain immediate and actionable intelligence from both shop-floor automation and enterprise business systems.

Effective EMI solutions provide the necessary alerts, notifications, dashboards and displays to support a wide range of roles and responsibilities across a manufacturing organization. They have the capability to bring together business, energy and production data, along with pertinent logistics data from across the enterprise.

The dashboards and displays support drill-down navigation to uncover additional levels of detail and to perform root-cause analysis. The interrelationships across the bigger picture of data sets provide new insights for decision-making around process/product improvements or taking corrective actions by individuals and teams.

Courtesy: Association for Manufacturing Excellence (AME)

Currently deployed EMI scope and functionality

Taking into consideration the richness of today's available functionality, it is interesting to note where companies currently are in their journey of implementing the various aspects of EMI dashboard and alerting functionality, along with the scope of manufacturing- or business-performance management that is being covered by EMI solutions.

Today, most operational dashboards only cover a single plant (69 percent of responses). However, 43 percent of respondents also indicated that their dashboards are covering multiple plants. Multiple selections were allowed in the survey.

More than half (57 percent) of respondents have purely electronic/visual displays. It is also relatively common for respondents (40 percent) to be able to drill down on dashboard displays to get to root causes and more detailed information, while 35 percent have the more sophisticated capability to proactively alert users based on conditions and rules.

A recorded 40 percent have operations-performance information rolling up to an enterprise-level dashboard/scorecard. This is consistent with other research trends today, whereby operations managers are more engaged in daily operations and seeing performance-management information on a same-day basis.

Use of analytics with EMI

Because one of the key functionalities of EMI software is to contextualize information from multiple data sources, embedded analytics technologies are often used to accomplish this. Sometimes, these analytics are simple and enable basic calculations for a mashup of different data points into a single information visualization on a dashboard. In other cases, more sophisticated analytics techniques and technologies are becoming more commonplace as part of both EMI and business intelligence software solutions. When looking across the landscape of different analytics technologies being applied across manufacturing businesses, there have been a number of different classifications of core systems and software application solutions employed. These include:

  • Physical process design analysis (e.g., plant/process design and simulation)
  • Product design analysis (e.g., Product Lifecycle Management)
  • Work process/business process analysis (e.g., Business Process Management)
  • Product attributes analysis and traceability (e.g., Manufacturing Execution System, track/trace)
  • Quality management (e.g., Reliability)
  • Performance metrics analysis and generation (e.g., data historians, EMI, business intelligence (BI) software)
  • General-purpose analysis (e.g., Microsoft Excel)

Some companies are looking at using BI software in conjunction with EMI software. BI typically looks at transactional business data to generate new business insights and can serve as a good companion to the detailed real-time information that is generated from EMI software.

When LNS looked at the currently implemented functionality of both BI and EMI software, 36 percent of companies were found to currently have manufacturing dashboards in place. Sixty-one percent either currently have them or are planning to install them in the next year.

The same chart shows that companies will be deploying more sophisticated analytics/intelligence and Big Data analytics to mine data and uncover new manufacturing and business insights over the next year. Manufacturing-performance improvements The average overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) for those who have EMI solutions in place was 74, versus 69 for those that do not. This relationship also stands to reason, since we have seen many real-world examples whereby the consistent calculation and visibility of OEE metrics are enabling engineering, manufacturing and maintenance teams to continuously monitor and incrementally improve OEE, and a 5 percent increase in this metric can translate to significant bottom-line improvements.

Today's modern EMI software solutions and associated analytics are gaining ground in the marketplace and playing a crucial role in bringing together real-time performance information to assist in significant operational and financial improvements. In addition to other business intelligence software, companies should evaluate the role EMI can play in boosting operational metrics, like OEE and others, that translate to bottom-line results.

- Written by Matthew Littlefield. This article was originally published in the AME Fall 2015 Magazine. Association for Manufacturing Excellence (AME) is a CFE Media content partner. Edited by Erin Dunne, production coordinator, CFE Media, 

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