Recently, I came across a
best-selling book on the history of physics and was intrigued by the many stories
of discovery over the centuries, but equally interested in the challenges of
what we have yet to understand. In the 4th century B.C., ancient
Greek philosopher Democritus postulated that the world is made up of atoms, particles
too small to be seen, which are the building blocks of all matter. The next 2,300 years were filled with
competing ideas about the nature of the universe, but it wasn’t until the 20th
century that this “Atomic Theory” was finally confirmed.
The beginning of the last century
was the dawn of a new revolution, unlike others before. Industries were
developing methods of mass producing goods and delivering to market more
efficiently to drive down the cost per unit. Governments were finding new
ideologies, nations were preparing for war, and technology was developed to
gain strategic and tactical advantages. It is clear that science was moving
beyond millennia of observation and intuition into an age of experimentation
and measurement. It was in 1905 that a young Swiss patent clerk’s ideas would fundamentally
change the way we understand the universe.
This young man was Albert Einstein
and, he did what no one over the millennia has been able to do: confirm that
atoms in fact existed. Until this time, scientists could not figure out how to
measure an atom, much less view one. Einstein’s solution was simple. He would measure
the amount of wiggle that particles like pollen or dust exhibit while in a
fluid. Basically, these molecules vibrate and drift while in suspension, and - by
measuring this amount of movement or drift, you could calculate the size of an
atom based on their collisions, thus confirming 2,300 years of intuition.
As a result of Einstein’s
confirmation of the atom, photoelectric effect, and the theories of general and
special relativity, quantum physics emerged as a new field with a focus on
understanding sub-atomic particles. At this smaller-than-the-atom perspective,
things do not occur intuitively. In fact, much of classical physics principals
no longer apply, as observation and logic alone could not be used to understand
this quantum level. Measurement and
mathematics emerged as the best way to unlock further understanding.
Likewise, in the second half of the
20th century, Japanese engineers were developing methods to improve
efficiency in their manufacturing plants in order to rebuild their war-torn
nation’s economy. Lean manufacturing, as we know it today, is the combination
of those techniques and the use of quantitative objective measurements by American
engineers focused on understanding and refining manufacturing processes. Years
later, Six Sigma methodology was born as an extension of these objectives to
control variation in processes. In more recent years, advances in technology
have provided teams of operational leaders with the tools needed to understand
what is happening on their shop floors. Gone are the days of using intuition to
determine whether or not you had a good day.
Today, tools like Factory MES provide you with real-time metrics
captured directly from your operation.
In order to remain competitive and
continue to improve your complex manufacturing processes, it is essential that
you have the data readily available to make informed decisions and drive
actions. Now, when you want to know whether you had a good day, you simply pull
up a report and, based on your predefined criteria, you no longer have to guess….you
know. Intelligent, real-time action can be taken, problem solving activity can
be launched, and countermeasures deployed, all with the use of data captured
from your shop floor.
Let Aptean partner with you to ensure
that your Factory MES application is optimized and providing you with the
critical information you need. Over the more than ten years of working with Factory
MES at customer sites across the globe, we have developed a gold standard of
what system and user configuration looks like. We have examined what strong
users are doing, developed modules and functionality where a need exists, and given
attention to new and creative ways the application is being used. We want to
hear your voice and engage with you and your team to make Factory work even
better for you.