A turning point for the plant floor

Hyperbole is often unnecessary and more often wrong. The media makes claims that time proves were premature or unwarranted. We also overuse the word 'superstar' so much that its meaning is diminished. Today's 'superstar' becomes yesterday's “where-are-they-now” feature seemingly overnight.


Hyperbole is often unnecessary and more often wrong. The media makes claims that time proves were premature or unwarranted. We also overuse the word 'superstar' so much that its meaning is diminished. Today's 'superstar' becomes yesterday's “where-are-they-now” feature seemingly overnight. With that background, I tread lightly but confidently in making the next statement:

Manufacturing Execution Systems will fundamentally change manufacturing in America %%MDASSML%% if they haven't done so already. In the process, they will make plant floor managers and workers the new superstars of manufacturing.

For too long, the plant floor has been told to do “better” without ever being told what “better” meant. The enterprise system was not connected to the needs on the plant floor. That led to a disconnection between the expectations of the business office and the plant floor. These disconnections are where we begin to lose productivity and profit.

If you can't deliver information effectively between the enterprise system and the plant floor, you can't give today's skilled manufacturing professionals all the tools they needed to effectively build products, on demand.

And make no mistake %%MDASSML%% manufacturing has become an on-demand world. Just-in-time manufacturing has arrived. To jump on, plant floors need accurate data, dynamic supply chains and workers who are capable of changing and growing with the rush of information.

In addition, our plant floors need to be treated as intrinsic parts of the entire business model and not simply a function. MES systems will, for maybe the first time in some enterprises, demonstrate just how effective and efficient our plant floors already are while pointing clearly toward how they can improve. This may come as a revelation to some in manufacturing. PLANT ENGINEERING 's readers already know this.

We've been writing about productivity in all of its forms for 60 years now. Yet until recently, manufacturing wasn't viewed in a holistic sense. We make things, and then we sell things, and those two processes weren't related. Today, we sell first, then make, and those two steps are part of one whole process, interdependent and interactive.

There may be no more important technology in the coming months and years in manufacturing than MES. There may be no more important time for manufacturers to embrace the technology and what it can do.

This month, in what I consider a defining story for this magazine, we took an in-depth look at how MES works, why key suppliers have raced into this space, and above all, what it means to the plant floor. The plant floor is where the impetus for change can begin.

This is a turning point for the plant floor, and for the plant manager and plant engineer. They can lead the charge into this exciting new world and drive the success that is possible in American manufacturing.

Manufacturing has been looking for a superstar the last few years. If they look hard enough, they're going to find the plant engineer has been the superstar-in-waiting all along.

No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Safer human-robot collaboration; 2017 Maintenance Survey; Digital Training; Converting your lighting system
IIoT grows up; Six ways to lower IIoT costs; Six mobile safety strategies; 2017 Salary Survey
2016 Top Plant; 2016 Best Practices on manufacturing progress, efficiency, safety
Mobility as the means to offshore innovation; Preventing another Deepwater Horizon; ROVs as subsea robots; SCADA and the radio spectrum
Future of oil and gas projects; Reservoir models; The importance of SCADA to oil and gas
Big Data and bigger solutions; Tablet technologies; SCADA developments
Automation modernization; Predictive analytics enable open connectivity; System integration success; Automation turns home brewer into brew house
Commissioning electrical systems; Designing emergency and standby generator systems; Paralleling switchgear generator systems
Natural gas for tomorrow's fleets; Colleges and universities moving to CHP; Power and steam and frozen foods

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

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.
Motion control advances and solutions can help with machine control, automated control on assembly lines, integration of robotics and automation, and machine safety.
Compressed air plays a vital role in most manufacturing plants, and availability of compressed air is crucial to a wide variety of operations.
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
click me