June 3, 2019

What is the Live Factory and how does it fit with Industry 4.0?

BY Marty Groover
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When Steve Jobs introduced the Apple iPhone in 2007, he predicted we wouldn’t be able to live without it in the future. He was right. Every day, we have instant access to the data we need to run our lives: calendars, notifications, up-to-the-minute news, weather and sports scores, texting, shopping (including order status and delivery details), financial transactions, even the location of our children and how fast they’re driving their cars.

Even 10 years ago, consumers would never have dreamed they’d have fingertip access to so much live information; today, we get antsy when we experience even a momentary digital delay. The smartphone has transformed our lives.

Around that same time, I retired as a Naval Officer, then spent the next 12 years in manufacturing, eventually becoming manager of a factory equipped with the gold standard SAP ERP. Even so, I was constantly frustrated to find that I couldn’t access even a fraction of the live data at work that I could in my personal life.

That realization inspired a vision of a “Live Factorysm,” a platform that would transform our professional lives the way Steve Job’s iPhone transformed our personal lives – by providing the same level of live, instantaneous, in-the-moment data about manufacturing results that we get readily on a smartphone.

But what’s unreal to me is that real-time manufacturing data is still more difficult to get than real-life personal data is!

I am continually amazed to see manufacturers who run “live” transactional ERP systems using paper and markers to create daily “Actual vs. Plan” production reports. Why anyone put up with that? When you use Apply Pay to buy groceries, don’t you expect your bank account to update immediately and detail the transaction? Would you accept anything less?

Yet in most factories, you can’t access transactional/financial data until the end of the month. The best you can do with 30-day-old results is say, “It won’t happen again,” and hope like hell you’ve figured out the root cause. Good luck.

If the manufacturing sector could access even half the amount of “live” transactional data we take for granted personally, the opportunities to improve business outcomes would be enormous.

With Live Factorysm that’s a done deal.


Our Live Factorysm platform is a collection of solutions designed to merge people, processes and technology into a single, universal view of the truth, called the Common Operational Picture (COP). Based on Industry 4.0 standards and driven by live data from SAP digital manufacturing applications, this trustworthy COP allows condition-based monitoring across your entire supply chain and operations.  From the shop floor to the top floor, Live Factorysm connects physical assets with transactional processes to deliver on the promise of Industry 4.0.

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