Cut costs with manufacturing IT standards, best practices

As every manufacturing company looks for ways to cut costs and save money, there is one place that too many engineers and executives are ignoring. If you had the opportunity to reduce automation project costs or times by over 30%, reduce costs for plant-to-enterprise integration by over 70%, or reduce maintenance support costs by over 10%, you would think that most engineers or executives would...


As every manufacturing company looks for ways to cut costs and save money, there is one place that too many engineers and executives are ignoring. If you had the opportunity to reduce automation project costs or times by over 30%, reduce costs for plant-to-enterprise integration by over 70%, or reduce maintenance support costs by over 10%, you would think that most engineers or executives would jump at the opportunity. Yet many professionals ignore these savings because they either don't know how to achieve them or they don't believe in the value of manufacturing IT standards.

There are a set of well-accepted manufacturing IT standards that have a proven track record of reducing costs and time on manufacturing projects. The standards have been developed by multiple organizations, including Mimosa, OMAC, ISA, WBF, OPC, and OAGIS (see links below). Papers and presentations from these organizations document the savings. These organizations are also working together through the OpenO&M initiative.

OpenO&M's goal is to provide a harmonized set of standards for the exchange of operations and maintenance information. It provides a forum for the committee chairmen to talk, coordinate their work, and remove duplications in the standards. Secondary goals are to develop a consistent implementation framework for the standards and a set of certification programs for the standards.

The well-known ISA 88 and associated WBF Batch ML standards have a track record for reducing automation project costs by over 30% through code reuse and standard implementations. Yet, an estimated 50% of companies don't use these standards in new control projects. Implementations of the reuse models defined in the ISA 88 Part 3 General and Site Recipe standard have reduced recipe development times by over 50%. The WBF B2MML and ISA 95 standards have been used to reduce plant-to-enterprise integration project time and cost by over 70%. The ISA 95 standards for MOM (manufacturing operations management) and MES (manufacturing execution systems) have reduced analysis, design, and implementation of MES projects by over 30%, allowing more companies to obtain the well-documented productivity gains from MOM and MES systems.

The OPC and new OPC-UA standards for industrial device interfaces have reduced implementation and startup costs through simplified diagnostics and management services. The OPC-UA standard defines standard interfaces to complex devices, such as analyzers, as well as providing an interface to legacy OPC devices. In addition, the OPC-UA standard addresses security for industrial networks, eliminating the concerns that have kept OPC out of some facilities.

Companies implementing the Mimosa standards for maintenance information exchange have reported savings in maintenance operations costs. Just implementing the equipment-identity section of the Mimosa standard reduces the confusion and lost productivity associated with multiple names for the same equipment in different systems. The OAGIS models for a common integration backbone have been shown to reduce integration costs and IT maintenance costs by over 30%.

The final part of cutting costs and saving money is to let someone else do the testing of systems. For the manufacturing IT standards, this will be accomplished by IICI (Industrial Interoperability Compliance Institute), a non-profit compliance testing organization that is under development at ISA. The IICI will test vendor packages against the industrial standards, reducing your company's need to test compliance and reducing your project integration costs.

When looking to save money and reduce costs, it is important to reuse the work done by others. Manufacturing IT standards, which define the best practices for using IT concepts in manufacturing operations, provide an excellent framework to help you do more with less.

Author Information

Dennis Brandl is president of BR&L Consulting in Cary, NC, .

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