In this very first post I’ll try to explain and talk about the work of being a consultant, how the things happen and some points that I always watch out as I start a new job.
What a consultant does after all?
In my case, I’m a consultant specialized in Manufacturing processes specifically using Oracle’s systems from its EBS solution called Discrete Manufacturing and Process Manufacturing (phew…). So basically what I do is attend to customers, usually big industrial facilities and sites which are already in process to implement the Oracle’s ERP or already have a system and need improvements.
So, in these scenarios, I have the work to assess and analyse our customers’ processes, design (sometimes literally) new process or suggest improvements in those existing. After this phase comes the most complicated part that is “to marry” what our customer is currently doing with the new proposed processes and solutions.
On future articles I’ll deep dive in this topic, but basically this is what a consultant (at least what I do) does.
What do we need to know before start the implementation?
Before to start getting my hand dirty, I go through an immersion phase about my customer. In this time a good web research is our best friend ever (I’m talking about Google, Duck Duck Go, etc).
Quick example: if I’m to start a job in the next couple of weeks in an oil and gas industry, the first thing I do is simply get into their institutional web-site in order to know their history, culture, your customers and their working area and market. After that I got to a more deep research to understand their manufacturing process. How are their steps, dependencies. It’s amazing what we can find on the internet! This step is very important because besides of advance the mental work right at the beginning it can bring several questions and speculations on how and what will need to be done during the project.
But there’s one question, a main question, that needs to be firstly answered:
Discrete Manufacturing or Process?
Academically there no, in fact, types of manufacturing. From the Engineering perspective, manufacturing processes are made of inputs, resources involved and their outputs, that is, your yielded products. But from the computational perspective there is a big difference on how different processes can be designed and implemented. These differences we can call methods and they can be characterized as Discrete Manufacturing and Process Manufacturing.
Briefly, Discrete Manufacturing are the procedures to assembly a finish good, where this resulting good is always the same, at least as expected and within a narrow quality tolerance. Even there’s a chance to disassembly the finished good, returning back its components into the inventory for other future utilization. Cars factories and home appliances are good examples of this kind of manufacturing procedure.
Now the Process Manufacturing is about transformation procedures, where the process basically happens through physical-chemical transformation or mixing or blending and etc, and not always the productive process happens as planned or even the they can be 100% controlled. That is the components and resources to make the same product might vary depending on several factors. The resulting finish good can no longer be exactly what was expected and even more than one product can be yielded throughout the process (by-product, co-product). Good examples are food industries, pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals, painting and coating.
In a near future I intend to approach and dive even more in these topics and open good discussions about each one of them.
For that I’ll always try to bring technical point and concepts about each theme, to conciliate knowledge and practice.
See you all soon!