How SIs can help manufacturers beat inflation in 2022

System integrators lead the charge to productivity and return on investment in the future.

By Michael McEnery December 26, 2021
Courtesy: Chris Vavra, CFE Media and Technology

Several key economic factors point to 2022 being an excellent year for system integrators to provide a competitive edge to manufacturers by boosting productivity and fighting inflationary production costs. Increased energy costs, labor shortages and cost increases, along with record levels of capital spending, provide a unique scenario as we head into 2022. System integrators possess the knowledge and expertise to implement capital investments in process, control, and information systems to beat inflationary pressures of energy and labor costs, and it appears this expertise will be in high demand in the coming year.

Increased capital spending

After a downturn during the COVID-19 recession, capital investment saw a sharp increase in 2021. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that manufacturer’s new orders, excluding aircraft and military spending, reached its highest level on record in August. This high level of capital spending will include investments in automation at record levels through new automated equipment, upgrades to existing processes and control systems and implementation of information systems.

Labor shortages

Labor has become an unexpected challenge to businesses at all levels. Labor shortages, unprecedented levels of employee turnover and significant increases in cost provide reasons to look to boost productivity, and automation is one of the primary methods for this.

Eliminating repetitive manual tasks is key to increasing productivity and transforming the work force. Because operators will no longer have to spend their day on the plant floor starting and stopping pumps, opening and closing valves and lifting bags and buckets of ingredients, they can oversee larger process areas and dedicate more time and effort to improving the process instead. A secondary benefit of reducing manual tasks is eliminating safety risks, such as heavy lifting, climbing stairs and working in hazardous process areas.

Increased energy costs

Energy costs in 2022 are projected to be very high. In October, the Wall Street Journal reported natural gas prices in the U.S. were at their highest in a decade and prices in Europe and Asia were at an all-time high. Crude oil prices have risen 64% this year to a seven-year high.

Corporate initiatives for sustainability and net-zero environmental impact have become standard practice, and it is likely that the upcoming year’s capital spending will include information systems that support these efforts. Control system integrators can implement these systems that collect, organize and analyze plant operational data. Energy losses can more readily be identified, and operations can be optimized for energy efficiency through these systems.

Experienced CSIA-certified system integrators

Many manufacturers will have an opportunity to use capital investment to update and transform their control and information systems in 2022. Partnering with an experienced CSIA-certified system integrator will ensure the SI has the knowledge and expertise to deliver results. McEnery Automation’s experienced control system engineers can take the lead in identifying how to successfully apply automation and information systems. For more than 25 years, production leaders have trusted McEnery Automation as a strategic partner for process control and digital transformation solutions.

Original content can be found at Control Engineering.

Author Bio: Michael McEnery is president of McEnery Automation, a certified member of the Control System Integrators Association (CSIA). He has 35 years of experience in design and implementation of automation, process control and manufacturing execution systems, with expertise in the food and beverage, chemical and water industries.