Unifying information a key to plant floor connectivity

Visual information a key driver of improved productivity
By Bob Vavra, Editor April 23, 2007

Plant-floor information systems connect data collected at the machine level with enterprise and corner-office software. The exact terminology used to describe such systems range from manufacturing execution systems (MES) to manufacturing intelligence.

The latter term is preferred by Foxborough, MA software provider ICONICS , which is taking its message on the road this year in a series of sessions called Solutions for Operational Excellence. Whatever the system is call, said ICONICS director marketing Tim Donaldson at a recent event, the goal is much the same in a changing manufacturing landscape.

“There is an information overload,” Donaldson told the audience of plant engineers and managers at the ICONICS event. “You need to visualize that information to make decisions. The goal is to get the data, use it and run your business effectively.”

To bridge that gap toward effective use of data from multiple sources, ICONICS supports the OPC-UA (unified architecture) effort, which will be released shortly. “What OPC is trying to do is act as the connectivity piece,” Donaldson said. “ ARC (Advisory Group ) sees a huge growth market in HMI/SCADA.”

“Best in class manufacturers are 52% more likely to utilize MES, three times more likely to utilize manufacturing intelligence, and 61% more likely to integrate MES with ERP,” said Matthew Littlefield, a manufacturing research analyst with the Aberdeen Group .“Additionally, 77% of best in class manufacturers utilize automated data collection for production, inventory, and quality data and are 67% more likely to provide this data to the necessary job roles for effective decision making.”

“The goal behind manufacturing intelligence is to share information with all your tools,” said Donaldson. “The data may be the same, but what changes is your role, your location, your department.

“Open standards are the key tie-in to achieve operational excellence,” Donaldson added. “Once you’re open, you’re not tied to any individual vendor.”

ICONICS will continue its Strategies for Operational Excellence series through June. For a complete list of sites, go to http://www.iconics.com/events/seminars07.asp.

For more on specific white papers on manufacturing intelligence, go to http://www.iconics.com/support/whitepapers.asp .