Automation: It's a good start
Judicious use of automation can help successful organizations achieve the growth associated with productivity and profitability.
Automation alone does not make a plant successful, productive, or profitable. However, judicious use of automation can help successful organizations achieve the growth associated with productivity and profitability.
As I have written many times in this commentary, implementing automation solutions for the sake of automation is short-sighted. Automation should be implemented and/or improved upon for the right business and technical reasons.
Managing the operation of your plant requires that you fully understand its infrastructure. Measuring key performance indicators and collecting data are important steps, but they are just the beginning of understanding what’s going on in your plant. Translating collected data into useful information requires analysis; proper analysis requires context. Managing data, information, and knowledge enables plants to understand where they are, where they are going, and how to get there.
Automation has long been an enabler for manufacturing productivity and efficiency. Process automation keeps continuous operations flowing. However, for many years, plant operators have been plagued with how the alarms that are supposed to keep their processes safe are managed. In this issue’s cover story, the authors provide tips for starting a successful alarm management program. Their advice is based on ISA-18.2: Management of Alarm Systems for the Process Industries. This standard “helps to clear the confusion by providing clear definitions of the common terminology and helping to create a universal alarm management language.”
Automation also helps organizations manage and optimize how electrical power and other energy sources are distributed throughout their facilities. It also helps them control and optimize building environment and security. The other features in this issue focus on both power management and building environment control from an automation perspective.
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Annual Salary Survey
Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.
There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.
But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.
Read more: 2015 Salary Survey