Achieving strategic balance
Automation alone does not make a plant successful, productive or profitable. A strategic balance of planning, communication, maintenance, discipline and automation makes World Class enterprises World Class enterprises. But, automation is a big part of the operation behind successful enterprises because it provides tools to help achieve this necessary balance.
There is more to automation than controlling equipment, collecting data and pushing those data %%MDASSML%% and information %%MDASSML%% up and down the enterprise through networks at ever-increasing speed. Although speed and connectivity are important, so is context. Most users on the business network have very little use or interest in machine states, control modes or control unit memory maps. Their informational needs are, or should be, quite different.
The information that business users need include capacity, availability, how much is this downtime costing us and how much money are we making at any given moment. Operators need to know if the machine, line or process is running, if it is optimized and if there are unresolved alarms. Maintenance personnel need to know about the condition or health of the assets for which they are responsible.
Automation has long been an enabler for manufacturing productivity and efficiency. But 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. Depending on automation alone for business success is also short-sighted.
Focus instead on the necessary strategic balance that automation enables. By focusing on a strategic balance among all of its tools, skills and assets, manufacturers can achieve the rhythm, equilibrium and stability to control their top and bottom lines more effectively.