Canadian Manufacturing

Breaking down Manufacturing Operations Management

Leading manufacturers are beginning to understand that manufacturing systems that are adapted to the special needs of operational environments can indeed yield serious benefits. 

June 9, 2021  by Glenn Graney, Director, Industrial & High Tech, QAD

Breaking down Manufacturing Operations Management (Adobe Stock)

MOM is an acronym for Manufacturing Operations Management which is the layer of processes, systems and approaches for the execution of production.  Everyone in manufacturing has a MOM.  Your MOM covers everything between the business systems at the enterprise level, like ERP and PLM, and the equipment operations in the HMI’s and shop floor automation. In reality, your MOM might not be as advanced as you might like.  It may be a composition of loosely coupled systems, paperwork and spreadsheets.  You might not even call it a MOM, but there is something in that functional space that every manufacturer uses to manage their processes and get the job done.  I am less sure that every manufacturer loves their MOM.

I think the current state of manufacturing provides hope for us as the lost children who need to get back to loving our MOMs. Operations are getting a renewed set of focus in the current environment.  Operations have not always been front of mind for manufacturing leadership. Unless you regularly spend the bulk of your time engaged around what is happening within the four walls of the production facilities, you can sometimes forget about your MOM.  It feels like the right time to recognize MOM as a vital part of who we are in the manufacturing world.

Are All MOM’s Created Equal?

Historically manufacturing corporate IT groups focused on corporate initiatives and rollouts like ERP and HR systems.  There is plenty of talk about worthwhile pursuits like technology infrastructure, enabling technologies and security.  Personnel at the plants often have a name for all of that, “back office overhead.”  It isn’t MOM.  MOM is the stuff that is there every day at the plant and you need MOM to get the manufacturing job done.  And maybe most importantly, you want your MOM to be special and not like every other MOM.

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I have been in meetings with CIO’s at manufacturing companies that support multiple plants and a diverse offering. I have heard these very capable professionals boldly declare that, “This is the year that we focus on getting all of our plants using the same manufacturing operations software!”  My response is to smile and nod as if it makes sense for everyone to have the same MOM.  Manufacturing operations evolve from the products and services applied on the floor.  Each manufacturing division, each plant and even the distinct areas in the same plant have a different view of the perfect MOM.  I have seen more than one corporate initiative for dictating a MOM standard to diverse plants crumble and fail.  

Increasingly, however, leading manufacturers understand that manufacturing systems that are adapted to the special needs of operational environments can indeed yield serious benefits.  The trick is delineating what aspects of the MOM approach should be easily tailored while maintaining some core capability that supports the common business aspects of the manufacturing enterprise.

The good news is that the technology necessary for this blend of tailoring and core capability has never been better.  Supporting technologies for IoT, data storage and advanced “smart” analytics are maturing beyond selective academic approaches.  Who thought our MOM’s would all become so tech-savvy? The best of the current generation of ERP and other manufacturing systems have both off-the-shelf manufacturing processes and a platform that is geared for tailoring and not a set of static API calls.  This allows for true operational extensions that satisfy the need for variety and standardization.

All of this comes at a time in history when the manufacturing community has learned that the labor force is vulnerable and may actually be shrinking.  I have recently seen the market for systems in support of MOM receiving renewed interest and ROI considerations being reevaluated. The support of complex manufacturing is going to lean more than ever on the next generation of MOM’s.


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