The Role of Time and Data: Online Conformance Checking in the Manufacturing Domain

05/04/2021
by   Florian Stertz, et al.
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Process mining has matured as analysis instrument for process-oriented data in recent years. Manufacturing is a challenging domain that craves for process-oriented technologies to address digitalization challenges. We found that process mining creates high expectations, but its implementation and usage by manufacturing experts such as process supervisors and shopfloor workers remain unclear to a certain extent. Reason (1) is that even though manufacturing allows for well-structured processes, the actual workflow is rarely captured in a process model. Even if a model is available, a software for orchestrating and logging the execution is often missing. Reason (2) refers to the work reality in manufacturing: a process instance is started by a shopfloor worker who then turns to work on other things. Hence continuous monitoring of the process instances does not happen, i.e., process monitoring is merely a secondary task, and the shopfloor worker can only react to problems/errors that have already occurred. (1) and (2) motivate the goals of this study that is driven by Technical Action Research (TAR). Based on the experimental artifact TIDATE – a lightweight process execution and mining framework – it is studied how the correct execution of process instances can be ensured and how a data set suitable for process mining can be generated at run time in a real-world setting. Secondly, it is investigated whether and how process mining supports domain experts during process monitoring as a secondary task. The findings emphasize the importance of online conformance checking in manufacturing and show how appropriate data sets can be identified and generated.

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