Factories and supply chains are designed to flow perfectly. We expect an uninterrupted flow of goods from raw materials to end consumer. We expect cash flow to meet quarterly targets. We expect each team member to work up to their potential. We expect perfect flow… but we don’t even come close. When there are disruptions to flow, factory and supply chain professionals shoulder the burden and struggle to mitigate these surprises.

Company leaders recognize the importance of these professionals and their role in keeping operations running. Companies have invested billions of dollars in technology and consultants to help them. MRP, ERP, MES, CRM, APS. Lean, six sigma, theory of constraints. Every year, these technologies add new features and upgrades, and consultants publish new frameworks, costing billions more.

Yet, despite these ongoing investments, operating metrics are stubbornly stuck or worsening and the pressure on planners and operators intensifies. One key villain should be blamed for disrupting flow:

Operations entropy.

Entropy is the seeming randomness, unpredictability, uncertainty, and general fog that happens every day in complex factories and distribution networks. Complicating things further, entropy increases as complexity increases.

Legacy technologies try to combat entropy, but they lack the computing power, mathematical sophistication, and data needed to make a dent. As legacy systems battle entropy, they start to give up and generate thousands of alerts. Often 70% of warnings from MES, ERP, and Advanced Planning Systems are noise. These alert storms drive planners and operators crazy. The result is unplanned factory downtime, defects, excess inventory, empty delivery trucks, and unfilled orders.

There is good news. Computers are over a million times faster than when ERP and MES systems were architected. And Machine Intelligence has advanced through many generations. With systems architected from the ground up using advanced technology, we now can find patterns in the randomness and predict what before seemed unpredictable. Instead of entropy, we now can manage flow.

Flow is the systematic elimination of entropy in factories and supply chains. It is seeing through the fog. Seeing the asset that is going to fail in the factory so it gets repaired ahead of time. Seeing the product defect so the set points can be changed. Seeing the unfilled order so it gets filled. Seeing the excess inventory so it won’t be produced.

The emerging technology category of finding, predicting, and eliminating entropy is…

Flow Operations (FlowOps).

FlowOps is the tango between seasoned professionals and the most advanced machine intelligence tools available. Human intelligence plus machine intelligence – each doing what they do best.

FlowOps is the future. The combination of human intelligence and machine intelligence is creating unforeseen Product Flow, Cash Flow, and Team Flow. Manufacturing and supply chain professionals are mastering FlowOps, and FlowOps will shape machine intelligence to support those critical workers.

At Noodle.ai we have been developing FlowOps products for five years and have invested over $100M in R&D to become the leading provider of FlowOps software. The new discipline of FlowOps will bend the arc of history in enterprise technology towards a bright future – and a world without waste. We look forward to exploring this future with you. Let’s connect!

> More details in our Pi Day press release.