Manufacturing’s future: Chasing the 'Perfect Plant’

The perfect plant is your vision of a fully integrated, seamlessly operational factory in its purest state. Every key process has been identified and optimized, while the systems supporting it have been simplified, streamlined and stabilized.


The perfect plant is your vision of a fully integrated, seamlessly operational factory in its purest state. Every key process has been identified and optimized, while the systems supporting it have been simplified, streamlined and stabilized. It’s an ideal meant to serve as a blueprint for your own transformation, helping you prioritize when and where you should devote resources to produce steady, incremental improvement. In the perfect plant, you have visibility into all aspects of your manufacturing operations to drive the transformation.

The perfect plant optimizes use of your manufacturing assets and drives increased production performance in concert with the enterprise plan and objectives. A perfect plant does the following:

  • Leverages the investment in your enterprise applications

  • Delivers simplified business processes to the front-line operator

  • Exploits the existing manufacturing infrastructure and data sources.

    • In a perfect plant, plant personnel no longer waste effort in constantly reacting to line failures, supply network disruptions and operations emergencies. They are empowered to anticipate change and devise innovative solutions that improve production efficiency, optimally use assets and reduce waste. Information and processes running across your production network are fused together to deliver timely, context-sensitive, actionable intelligence.

      Certain metrics matter more to plant managers and their direct reports, and to the vice president of operations orchestrating multiple plants. These individual metrics concern every manufacturing-based business:

      • Minimizing operating costs: How do you measure overall production performance and create processes that can be continually improved?

      • Optimizing return on assets: How do you measure overall equipment effectiveness and ensure you are generating a sufficient rate of return?

      • Meeting customer delivery targets: How do you increase your visibility into scheduling and capacity requirements? How do you improve cycle times and guarantee supplier performance? And how do you compensate if suppliers fail to perform?

      • Meeting quality and compliance standards: How do you minimize waste, measure and hit quality targets and have processes in place to ensure that operations comply with regulatory standards?

        • Mixing global, local

          For the first time, a productive meshing of global and local planning is possible: Real-time updates from enterprise systems keep the plant abreast of strategic changes, while local events and disruptions are relayed automatically to decision makers, allowing the entire company to react more responsively.

          Intelligence is vital for both planning and execution systems. They depend on embedded intelligence that can parse, aggregate and analyze raw data arriving from the shop floor, and present it in context-appropriate forms for plant managers, the vice president of operations and so on up to the CEO.

          A manufacturing execution system not only drives plant operations; it is also the source of real-time status data that is filtered all the way up through the organization. Greater integration with planning systems means the shop floor can adapt quickly to changes forced by disruptions elsewhere in the business.

          To win in today’s flat world, manufacturers must adapt quickly, profitably and efficiently to new product, customer and market opportunities. To better meet these requirements, supply networks have become not only more complex, but also leaner.


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After two years of economic concerns, manufacturing leaders once again have homed in on the single biggest issue facing their operations:

It's the workers—or more specifically, the lack of workers.

The 2017 Plant Engineering Salary Survey looks at not just what plant managers make, but what they think. As they look across their plants today, plant managers say they don’t have the operational depth to take on the new technologies and new challenges of global manufacturing.

Read more: 2017 Salary Survey

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