The Future of Manufacturing Achieving Operational Excellence with DevOps Implementation

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DevOps is becoming an increasingly sought-after IT practice across industries of all types and sizes, from start-ups to core technology firms and manufacturing facilities. Due to the nature of manufacturing production chains that remain busy all the time, DevOps strategies may prove particularly well suited for this sector.

Market demands of rapid expansion, rapid delivery, and innovation-fueled advancement necessitate an entirely different manufacturing chain approach - thus driving the need for DevOps within manufacturing.

DevOps is an approach to software development that emphasizes automation, collaboration, and communication. While originally associated with software companies, DevOps has become increasingly adopted by manufacturing firms as they look to achieve operational excellence.

This article provides a broad overview of DevOps implementation in manufacturing. We explore its demand, top components, and role in operational excellence, as well as best practices for its deployment in this sector. In addition, this piece discusses its significance.

Importance of DevOps in Manufacturing

DevOps' significance in manufacturing lies in streamlined communication and increased collaboration, while success is measured through DevOps by reaching robustness in three key areas:

  • Collaborate

  • Automate

  • Innovate

These three areas result in improved communication and seamless team collaboration, ultimately speeding delivery times while decreasing time-to-market. Now, let's explore these core areas further!

Collaboration

One of the main hurdles many firms encounter is an absence of collaboration among internal teams. More than just a process, collaboration is something many strive for yet often fail at. DevOps plays an essential role here by uniting Development and Operations teams.

DevOps was introduced as a means to break down barriers between Dev and Ops teams and raise their awareness of each other's tasks, ultimately leading to quality checks at each step of development, necessary testing, and an all-ready product at the end of the story. DevOps thus creates strong collaboration.

Automation

In the broad sense of the term, automation has long been misinterpreted by many to mean replacing human workers with machines. But that's far from accurate: automation refers to applying automated solutions to time-consuming tasks - something modern manufacturing already relies heavily on. Achieving robustness here will be an asset to any manufacturer's operations--something DevOps can assist with!

Innovation

Assured quality and production results reduce much of the pressure from the product development lifecycle, creating space for innovation. Innovation plays a vital role in maintaining a competitive advantage in the market. DevOps gives businesses all possible strategies to drive innovation. By reducing the time taken for process execution in its own way, DevOps allows business decision-makers to think creatively by outsourcing existing processes to internal teams for execution.

DevOps Key Components

DevOps automates the development process through collaboration between development and operation teams while automating certain steps within DevOps. Among its key components are:

Continuous Development

Continuous Development is a core part of DevOps that involves the continuous improvement and delivery of software. It is a software development practice focused on making code updates in small increments at regular intervals; this allows developers to quickly test and validate code changes before sending them off for user testing at greater speeds and frequencies.

DevOps organizations depend on Continuous Development as an essential way of responding rapidly to changing market demands and customer requirements. Development teams use Continuous Development techniques to build, test, and deploy new features more efficiently, decreasing time to market while simultaneously improving overall software quality.

Continuous Development relies on several key components, including automated testing, version control, continuous integration, and continuous delivery. Together, these ensure code changes are thoroughly tested before being delivered quickly and reliably to users.

Version control systems allow developers to easily and efficiently manage changes to code, document them efficiently, integrate new code changes quickly into the main codebase, and deliver updates automatically into production environments.

Some tools used for Continuous Development include Jenkins, GoCD, and Bamboo.

Continuous Integration

Continuous Integration (CI) is an integral practice of DevOps software development that involves merging changes to code into one central repository at regular intervals, with the goal of helping developers discover and address potential issues before they become more costly or time-consuming. CI allows teams to detect problems early so they can handle any deficiencies before they become expensive and time-consuming to resolve.

DevOps relies heavily on Continuous Integration to enhance team collaboration, reduce errors and conflicts, speed delivery of software updates faster, and ensure smooth development processes. By continuously incorporating code changes, CI ensures the entire development process runs more efficiently.

Continuous integration involves several key steps. First, developers submit their code changes to a shared code repository; next, an automated build process compiles and runs tests against it to ensure it satisfies quality standards; any issues are immediately reported back to developers so they may take corrective measures as soon as possible.

Continuous integration relies on several tools and technologies, including version control systems, build servers, and automated testing frameworks. Together, these ensure code changes are successfully integrated, tested, and validated as quickly as possible - so that any issues can be identified and addressed immediately.

Continuous Integration (CI) helps ensure software meets users' and stakeholders' requirements by automating integration and testing of code changes with constant testing tools like Jenkins, CircleCI, GitLab CI, Travis CI, etc, among others.

Continuous Testing

Continuous testing is an integral component of DevOps that involves ongoing and automated software testing during development. This practice seeks to ensure code changes are rigorously tested, validated, and verified as early as possible in the cycle and that any issues are identified and addressed promptly during that phase.

Continuous testing is a crucial element of DevOps, as it ensures software updates are delivered with the highest levels of quality and reliability quickly and efficiently. By automating its testing process, Continuous Testing helps teams promptly catch and fix issues as soon as they arise, decreasing risks such as downtime or disruptions.

Continuous testing relies on automated testing tools and frameworks such as unit, integration, and performance testing tools that are integrated into the development process and used to automatically test code changes as they are made, providing quick feedback to developers.

Continuous testing's automated testing process helps ensure software updates meet the needs of both users and stakeholders and are delivered with the highest levels of quality and reliability.

Continuous Testing tools may include Jenkins, JIRA, Selenium, Kabiton Mabl and Puppet.

Automated Delivery Pipeline

An integral element of DevOps, automated Delivery Pipelines enables teams to streamline the release process, minimize errors and downtime, deliver updates more rapidly, and deliver updates more reliably.

Automated Delivery Pipelines include several stages, such as building, testing, packaging, and deploying software updates. Each step is integrated seamlessly into the development process to quickly and efficiently deploy software updates to production environments.

Automated Delivery Pipelines play a pivotal role in DevOps by helping ensure software updates are thoroughly tested, validated, and delivered more rapidly and efficiently to users. By automating their delivery process, teams can reduce errors and downtime risk while improving the quality and speed of delivery to users more reliably.

Configuration Management

Configuration Management, an integral element of DevOps, helps automate the management of infrastructure and applications as well as their associated processes to ensure they stay consistent with the desired state. It provides systems to remain in sync with desired state requirements.

Configuration Management simplifies tracking changes, identifying issues, and auditing systems. It helps reduce the complexity associated with managing complex systems while upholding their integrity. Configuration Management also serves to keep all stakeholders aware of the current state of their environment - leading to reduced downtime and improved service levels.

Configuration Management automates the management of infrastructure and applications to ensure they comply with their desired state in an environment. Examples of such tools include Vault, Etcd, and Consul.

Regular Integration

Regular Integration (RI) is a key aspect of DevOps, as it allows a continuous flow of changes through the software development cycle. By making small, frequent updates before it goes out to customers, RI helps reduce risks that could otherwise cause major software issues.

RI also facilitates software testing and deployment in an automated manner, decreasing the manual effort required to take it from development to production. Furthermore, RI allows easier tracking of changes and identification of potential issues.

Regression testing (RI) is an integral component of DevOps, as it helps ensure software updates are delivered timely and consistently.

Automated Monitoring & Health Checks

DevOps relies heavily on automated monitoring and health checks for their application to operate at peak performance and health. By collecting data on system behavior with computerized tools, DevOps teams can identify potential issues before they become critical and cause downtime or performance issues.

Automated monitoring also enables teams to analyze and optimize system performance, making sure their application runs as efficiently as possible. With this data in hand, proactive resource allocation planning and optimization strategies can be undertaken, potentially preventing issues before they arise.

Automated health checks provide more than just monitoring application performance; they can also identify system component issues like servers, databases, and networking equipment that might otherwise go undetected. DevOps teams can take advantage of automated health check processes to quickly identify and resolve issues quickly, reducing downtime while upholding positive user experiences.

Automated monitoring and health checks are critical components of application performance and reliability, including Kibana, Splunk, Sensu, Nagios, Prometheus & Alert Manager, to name just some of the available tools.

Infrastructure as Code

Infrastructure as Code (IaC) is a DevOps practice where infrastructure is defined and managed with code rather than manual configuration, making replication and scaling of environments easy for teams while managing infrastructure at scale. IaC also makes scaling easier, so they can rapidly deploy new environments while managing existing ones effectively.

DevOps Consulting Services teams rely on Infrastructure as Code (IaC) as an important means of automating infrastructure deployment in an effective, scalable manner across different environments. By codifying infrastructure as code, teams can version control deployment procedures while keeping consistency across domains easier than ever before.

Role of DevOps Culture in Achieving Operational Excellence

A strong DevOps culture is integral to achieving operational excellence. A healthy DevOps environment sets the foundation for successfully implementing processes and tools, encourages an iterative mindset where teams experiment freely with failures while learning from mistakes, and iterates on work performed over time - ultimately increasing time to market, quality software deliveries, and customer satisfaction rates.

DevOps culture also fosters a more engaged and motivated workforce, encouraging employees to take ownership of their work and contribute to company success. Through collaborative trust-based activities, DevOps culture promotes better team morale, knowledge sharing, and increases productivity within an organization.

DevOps culture plays an essential role in achieving operational excellence in manufacturing. It establishes the necessary mindset and values for effective collaboration and continuous improvement, which, when combined with efficient processes and tools, enables manufacturers to optimize software development and deployment.

Best Practices for DevOps Implementation

Here are our seven top practices for DevOps implementation:

Practice 1: Agile Project Management

Agile is an iterative project management and software development approach that helps teams deliver value more quickly to customers without unnecessary hassles. Agile teams focus on producing work incrementally rather than waiting until a large release date. Requirements, plans, and results are evaluated continuously so crews can respond to feedback quickly and pivot accordingly.

Here are key concepts of agile project management:

  • Create a workflow consisting of four phases - to-do, in-progress, code review, and done - before beginning an agile project. Learn more about workflows here.

  • Teams need to divide large-scale projects into manageable tasks and respond quickly and appropriately to changes in needs or scope as they come. Read more about using epics, stories, and themes as tools for scoping and structuring work.

  • How will you plan, track, and measure incremental work? Scrum and Kanban are key frameworks for teams practicing agile methodology.

Practice 2: Shifting Left with CI/CD

Teams "shift left" when they incorporate early testing into their code development processes, rather than sending individual changes out for external review to an independent testing or quality assurance team. Continuous integration and delivery (CI/CD) underpin this ability; read up more here about it!

Practice 3: Use Appropriate Tools

A DevOps toolchain needs the appropriate tools for every stage of its lifecycle, with key capabilities that improve software quality and speed of delivery. Learn how to select proper DevOps tools as well as review features across each step in its journey.

Practice 4: Implement Automation

The Continuous Integration/Delivery (CI/CD) process allows developers to merge code regularly into the main repository without manually checking code; instead, this is automated using batching in specified windows or frequent commits. Automated testing is essential to DevOps practices; automated tests might include end-to-end testing, unit tests, integration tests, and performance tests - find out more about incorporating automation into software development processes here.

Practice 5: Monitor DevOps Pipelines and Applications

It is vital to monitor DevOps pipelines so broken builds or failed tests don't lead to unnecessary delays in development. Automation helps speed up development immensely, but if an automated process breaks without being detected by anyone, then manual labor might be a better choice. Monitoring production applications regularly also allows teams to see failures or performance deficiencies before their customers do.

Practice 6: ​​​​​​​Observability

As the industry shifts from monolithic, on-premise systems and applications to cloud-native microservice-based apps, monitoring has become much more complicated. Due to this development, an increased focus on observability has emerged, with three pillars being logs, traces, and metrics.

Most systems components and applications produce logs and consist of time series data about how they operate, such as CPU/RAM reservations or usage, disk space utilization rates, network connectivity metrics, etc. They provide insights into how an application or system operates over time. Metrics typically include CPU/RAM usage, disk capacity usage rates, and network connectivity information - among others.

Observability refers to using all three sources of information together to make discoveries and predictions about complex systems that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to achieve.

Practice 7: Continuous Feedback

Continuous feedback ensures team members have all of the information necessary to perform their jobs on an on-time basis. From a development standpoint, this means being immediately aware of any pipeline failures as soon as they occur and quickly receiving code test results for review by developers.

From a product management perspective, teams are informed about any production failures, performance deficiencies, or reported bugs. It used to be thought that developers could only optimize for either speed or quality; DevOps makes both possible by offering continuous feedback loops between development and operations teams.

Benefits of DevOps for the Manufacturing Industry

DevOps was initially adopted only by IT companies that focused on application development and cloud services. DevOps strives to be more rapid, robust, and efficient when launching various software development processes. Still, recently, manufacturers are increasingly taking notice and using DevOps practices with machines equipped with control dashboards, mobile apps, and predictive maintenance algorithms to monitor the devices themselves.

Manufacturing industry product development teams need to integrate DevOps methodologies in order to keep pace with market demands. Let's examine how DevOps implementation in industrial software development benefits companies:

Benefit 1: Greater Agility

With DevOps, software development companies can quickly update software to meet changing client demands quickly and more flexibly than before. Automated code testing, continuous integration, and delivery are just some of the many advantages DevOps brings. They get new software/products up and running at these facilities quickly and with precision.

Benefit 2: Improved Efficiency

DevOps provides manufacturing industries with great efficiencies, improved response times, and implementation times. By employing DevOps in their organization, admins can leave development teams to handle servers and tech requirements. At the same time, they focus on other key IT functions - thereby speeding up task completion times while decreasing deployment times.

Benefit 3: Automated Processes

An automated DevOps pipeline entails automating processes associated with continuous integration, testing, deployment, and live monitoring of application results. Businesses gain the capability of scaling solutions while reducing complexity and costs through this automated method. IoT software management by DevOps integration is managed while taking into consideration operational concerns for maximum device efficiency and maximum scalability.

Benefit 4: Faster Time to Market

Manufacturing industries need to get products and services out quickly before customers become disinterested in them. DevOps allows manufacturing organizations to compete effectively against rivals by quickly developing innovative solutions with accuracy and precision, offering cutting-edge solutions without risk to customers.

Benefit 5: Innovate

Employing DevOps in manufacturing allows companies to focus on production speed and quality control while at the same time troubleshooting issues that may hinder runtime performance and providing support throughout all stages of software development processes.

Conclusion

DevOps implementation in manufacturing is an essential element of operational excellence. By employing DevOps practices, manufacturers can increase software quality while shortening the time to market and more rapidly adapting to changing market demands.

To be successful with DevOps, manufacturers must embrace a culture of collaboration and continuous improvement, purchase the necessary tools, and select appropriate DevOps implementation services. With these best practices in place, manufacturers can achieve operational excellence while outstripping their competition.

We can assist with formulating an appropriate DevOps strategy centered on business outcomes. We will enable you to start small without large upfront investments, adopting DevOps practices gradually over time. Reach out today and begin your DevOps journey!

Author

Assim Gupta

Swetha GP linkedin-icon-squre

VP of Delivery

She is a VP of Delivery at Closeloop. A communicator, business analyst, and engineering aficionado. Besides handling client relations, and engineering duties, she loves to pour her thoughts on paper. She writes about engineering, technologies, frameworks, and everything related to the software domain. She reads, spends time with family, and enjoys a good walk in nature in her free time. Her dream destination is Greece.

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