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What is an Operational Guidance System and why do they matter?


An Operational Guidance System (OGS) is a dynamic digital monitoring system that helps organizations manage standards for operating procedures to improve efficiency, minimize risk and enable better decision making. OGS’s are powered by manufacturing analytics to identify problems and resolve them long before process disruptions, downtime, or safety issues.  

Walk into any manufacturing facility’s control room, and you will be presented with visual representations of alarms. Not all visualizations are created equal. In many cases, alarms sound when preset limits are exceeded. These displays have been commonplace in the manufacturing environment for several decades. Every manufacturing professional has encountered these types of systems.  

An OGS, however, differs from these conventional displays in four primary ways: 

  1. OGS alarms are driven by manufacturing analytics rather than set limits, enabling users to receive an early-warning signal to potential process disruptions, allowing them the time to prevent potential issues before they occur; and 

  1.  When an alarm presents itself, it is a sign of actionable variation with statistical significance increasing the confidence in the alarm. 

  1. Alarms can be paired with the appropriate subject matter expertise using an underlying SOP, decision tree or other decision guidance that in turn delivers more consistent decision making with documented guidance on solving the problem. 

  1. A searchable database of vetted analytics-based knowledge related to the resolution of process signals/events to leveraging historical knowledge.  

Another way to look at the value of an OGS comes from looking at the fact that manufacturers typically operate several plants producing remarkably similar if not identical products. An OGS creates the possibility where one plant could share already vetted, analytics-based knowledge across shifts, faculties and even the enterprise. As an OGS is effectively capturing ‘best practices’ from subject matter experts across an entire organization, it multiplies the breadth of knowledge available to operators and engineers while delivering a systematic process for leveraging the historical process information and solutions to previously seen problems, maximizing on an organization’s knowledge pool, and accelerating the time between an early warning signal and the best decision.  

This is an effective and efficient way of ensuring that best practices are consistent across an organization while ensuring that new learnings are incorporated back into the process. An OGS drives the value of manufacturing analytics by providing an ever growing, centralized knowledge base that is searchable and shareable. It should be possible to update the decision tree to include new knowledge and process improvements across an organization – this enables the rapid uptake of any new learnings and best practices. 

An OGS represents the intersection between analytical alarms and access to on demand SME knowledge, enabling decisions that impact processes. Implementation of an OGS changes the game and levels up organization's ability to achieve operational excellence by leveraging one of your most valuable resources, subject matter expertise and making that knowledge accessible and useful to the operators and engineers managing your manufacturing plants, today, tomorrow and in the future while delivering at a consistent, optimum and competitive standards.