What’s new in 8.5 for the ThingWorx manufacturing and service apps?
With the release of ThingWorx 8.5, we’ve incorporated a lot of new functionality into our manufacturing and service apps. To cover a few, I’ve included the list below.
We created a manufacturing common layer extension to bundle all the PTC-offered IoT apps (Operator Advisor, Asset Advisor, Production KPIs and Controls Advisor) into one extension to enable you to use them even more quickly.
We added a UI to Operator Advisor to strengthen your development of work instructions.
We introduced new shift and crew data models and user interfaces to standardize how to track workers’ shifts and crew availability.
We also introduced Flexible KPIs to help you more rapidly develop apps to calculate common metrics.
We enhanced the Operator Advisor MPMLink connector to allow users to access navigation criteria for filtering parameters based on required criteria with support for standard processes.
We incorporated multiple context supports for assets—like different business units, separating maintenance views from production views or segmenting sites by location—to allow segmentation based on role and responsibility, showing the power of ThingWorx networks and permissions.
Today, I’d like to highlight one of these areas in particular: flexible KPI calculations.
I spoke with one of product managers, Ward (who you may recognize from this post) to learn more about what this new feature does and the value it brings the business.
Here’s what he said:
Kaya: Why did we create flexible KPIs? What was the challenge users were facing that led us to create them?
Ward: While there is an industry standard for KPIs such as OEE, availability, productivity and quality, many customers choose to customize the calculations slightly and use their own specific versions in their decision-making process or production monitoring.
Kaya: What do the flexible KPIs do? Can you provide an example? Ward: KPIs can now be customized by ThingTemplate; this allows users to calculate KPIs differently for different “classes” of things. Imagine you have a group of CNC machines and a group of pumps. You want to calculate the availability of each group, but the availability calculation for the CNC machines may differ slightly from the same availability calculations for pumps. With our new flexible KPIs, you’re able to customize the availability calculation to make slight tweaks or changes based on differences in machines or devices. So, you can calculate the availability for both your CNC machines and for your pumps using your customized availability calculations. You can also create your own KPIs to calculate metrics like safety incidents or waste.
Kaya: Let’s dive a little deeper there. If I want to create a quality station for my robot with custom KPIs, how exactly would I do that?
Ward: Let’s consider OEE. We have an OEE ThingShape applied to our ISA95 physical ThingTemplate. This shape has services to perform the OEE calculation. You’re able to customize the service on this template, so you have the flexibility to change the way you perform OEE calculations. Now, let’s say you want to add a new KPI like mean time between repair (MTBR). To do so, you would create a MTBR ThingShape and add it to the ThingTemplates where you want OEE calculated. Then, you would update the KPI manager service GetKPINames to add your ThingShape to the list of KPIs to be executed each iteration. The SCO apps will then execute your MTBR service along with the other KPIs.
Kaya: What are their use cases? How does they improve the business?
Ward: Customers can have their cells roll up OEE based on the worse performing asset and have their operations roll up on a different criterion. If the customer wants to use a modified OEE on a machine that includes the size of the crew operating it, they can now do so on that one machine, on classes of machines or on all machines.
Kaya: Wow. You were certainly busy with 8.5 with all these new features. Can you tell me what you’re most excited about for 9.0?
Ward: I’m most looking forward to High Availability. The ability to have multiple servers in an active-active mode allows me to do more processing in ThingWorx and provide a level of reliability to my customers. (Look out for info on this exciting new functionality in the future!)
Ready to get started using the flexible KPIs yourself? Check out the ThingWorx Apps Customization Guide! While you’re at it, be sure to also check out the other new features in 8.5 listed above!