What business can learn from manufacturing

These columns usually describe how Business IT can be applied to Manufacturing IT problems. However, there are many lessons that well-run manufacturing IT organizations can teach business IT organizations. Manufacturing has had many requirements that are only now becoming general-purpose business IT requirements.

05/01/2008


These columns usually describe how Business IT can be applied to Manufacturing IT problems. However, there are many lessons that well-run manufacturing IT organizations can teach business IT organizations. Manufacturing has had many requirements that are only now becoming general-purpose business IT requirements. If you have developed such solutions, you should not hesitate to demonstrate these to your business IT partners.

Manufacturing has dealt with real-time data and system responsiveness for many years. Business processes are now asking for more real-time data, which typically means data that is available no more than a few minutes after an event occurs. Additionally, business systems need to have subsecond responsiveness in displaying the data. Manufacturing IT has systems and architectures to meet these requirements.

Manufacturing systems have to be extremely robust and reliable. They are often mission-critical and cannot be down for any significant period of time, and some systems cannot be down for even milliseconds. As more business systems become mission-critical and their availability requirements increase, the architectures and procedures that manufacturing has can be effectively used. These include the use of hot standby systems, automatic failover systems, cold standby systems, disaster recovery procedures, procedures to identify mission-critical systems, and manual backup procedures when all else fails.

Patch management

Security in well run manufacturing systems is managed and implemented at the end devices and servers. As business IT connects a wider variety of devices to the corporate networks, they are recognizing the requirement for additional end device security and security policies. The systems that a well-run manufacturing IT organization has put in place can be used as a starting point for non-PC device security, such as network printers, handheld devices, time and attendance devices, and physical security control devices.

The lessons include how to protect systems that cannot be patched, and how to define levels of security and access control so that compromised devices will not compromise the entire network.

With the flood of patches coming from operating system and application vendors, the problems of patch management are becoming increasingly important to business IT. Manufacturing systems have had to handle patch problems for mission-critical systems for a long time. Well-run manufacturing IT groups have developed procedures, policies, security levels, and security groups to handle testing and distribution of the patches at well controlled and coordinated times. Manufacturing IT users do not allow uncontrolled patching or uncontrolled reboots of systems, and business IT users are starting to have the same requirements.

Many manufacturing systems include automated workflow engines for production, such as an MES (manufacturing execution system), and historical data collection systems. Manufacturing IT organizations have used the workflow engines to automate IT processes, such as setting up new machines, starting and shutting down servers and services, and handling failure and switchover.

The workflow engines enforce the procedures and generate a log of compliance that can be used to both verify and improve operations. Manufacturing systems are also connected to historical data collection systems, for collection of trends for system utilization, free memory, disk latency, and network activity. When incorporated with alarm systems, this data provides real-time monitoring of mission-critical hardware and services.

Finally, well-run manufacturing IT groups have learned how to implement systems on a limited budget. Manufacturing often has to work under severe ROI constraints that a service organization such as business IT has not had to deal with. The methods and models that you use in manufacturing to calculate ROI and determine the best solution for the least money may be the best lesson that Manufacturing can teach Business IT.

Dennis Brandl is president of BR&L Consulting, Cary, NC, which is focused on manufacturing IT solutions. He is also chairman of the ISA88 committee. Reach him at dbrandl@brlconsulting.com .





No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2013 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Leaders Under 40 program features outstanding young people who are making a difference in manufacturing. View the 2013 Leaders here.
The new control room: It's got all the bells and whistles - and alarms, too; Remote maintenance; Specifying VFDs
2014 forecast issue: To serve and to manufacture - Veterans will bring skill and discipline to the plant floor if we can find a way to get them there.
2013 Top Plant: Lincoln Electric Company, Cleveland, Ohio
Case Study Database

Case Study Database

Get more exposure for your case study by uploading it to the Plant Engineering case study database, where end-users can identify relevant solutions and explore what the experts are doing to effectively implement a variety of technology and productivity related projects.

These case studies provide examples of how knowledgeable solution providers have used technology, processes and people to create effective and successful implementations in real-world situations. Case studies can be completed by filling out a simple online form where you can outline the project title, abstract, and full story in 1500 words or less; upload photos, videos and a logo.

Click here to visit the Case Study Database and upload your case study.

Bring focus to PLC programming: 5 things to avoid in putting your system together; Managing the DCS upgrade; PLM upgrade: a step-by-step approach
Balancing the bagging triangle; PID tuning improves process efficiency; Standardizing control room HMIs
Commissioning electrical systems in mission critical facilities; Anticipating the Smart Grid; Mitigating arc flash hazards in medium-voltage switchgear; Comparing generator sizing software

Annual Salary Survey

Participate in the 2013 Salary Survey

In a year when manufacturing continued to lead the economic rebound, it makes sense that plant manager bonuses rebounded. Plant Engineering’s annual Salary Survey shows both wages and bonuses rose in 2012 after a retreat the year before.

Average salary across all job titles for plant floor management rose 3.5% to $95,446, and bonus compensation jumped to $15,162, a 4.2% increase from the 2010 level and double the 2011 total, which showed a sharp drop in bonus.

2012 Salary Survey Analysis

2012 Salary Survey Results

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.