Bringing productivity information to the plant floor

By Plant Engineering Staff February 24, 2006

The promise of driving information to plant engineers and plant workers was the recurring theme at the 2006 ARC Next Generation Manufacturing Forum in Orlando on February 20-22.

With strategists from the major automation providers on hand, the discussion at the three day event focused on new tools that will migrate maintenance and productivity information from the control level to workers on the floor that will give them real-time information on performance standards.

Sid Snitkin, vice-president of the ARC Advisory Group, said the need to link design, operations and maintenance has been around for a long time, but it is just now gaining traction among manufacturers looking for new ways to increase plant productivity.

The interdependence of design, operations and maintenance can result in consistent processes, relieve inventory issues and increase productivity. It can also help better measure exactly what is being produced, and how well.

Snitkin said manufacturers need to understand the importance of the design, operate and maintain interoperability and to learn more about emerging standards and systems that can help measure those areas of the plant. His call to product suppliers to do the same had already been heeded. During the ARC event, there were several systems providers in both hardware and software who discussed the move toward plant floor-level information that would quantify work flow and provide real-time productivity feedback.

For example, John Berra president of Emerson Process Management, told the forum’s 600 attendees that among its business goal was to help customer effectively use process automation systems to better analyze manufacturing processes.

Ralf-Michael Franke, president of Siemens Industrial Automations Systems, told the forum that the seamless integration of business and production systems allowed the same data to flow throughout the plant, giving managers the ability to create plant production objectives and for plant workers to measure and react to changes in meeting those objectives.

PLANT ENGINEERING was a media sponsor of the ARC Next Generation Manufacturing Forum. For more on the forum, go to www.arcweb.com .