Spring forward, or fall back

We want to take full advantage of this bright time in our industry. We want to maximize our time and seize the opportunity.


The history of Daylight Savings Time is a pretty fascinating one. The idea of Daylight Savings Time first took hold in Europe before ultimately migrating to other countries, mostly in the Northern Hemisphere.

U.S. law says that, unless your state can opt out for some reason, clocks are set ahead by one hour at 2 a.m. on the second Sunday in March. On the first Sunday in November at 2 a.m., clocks are set back one hour. It’s not the same rules everywhere, of course: in the European Union, for example, Daylight Savings Time starts on the last Sunday in March at 1 a.m. and ends at 1 a.m. on the last Sunday in October. 

If the logistics are confusing, the concept is a simple one: allocate more daylight in the evenings during the summer, when days are longer. While some see Daylight Savings Time as an energy solution, and others decry it as an unnecessary inconvenience, one truism is that it allows us to enjoy more daylight on a summer evening, when the weather is nicer. We even have a memorable phrase to help know how and when to adjust our clocks: “Spring Forward; Fall Back.” 

It’s now springtime in manufacturing, and that phrase should take on more urgency as we prepare for accelerated growth in the overall economy and in our sector. We want to take full advantage of this bright time in our industry. We want to maximize our time and seize the opportunity. 

To spring ahead at this time means to look at how to improve operational processes and upgrade equipment. In this month’s issue, we take a look at how and why to retrofit a press; it’s a great article and worth spending some time with, but it also should spark a discussion within your plant about which equipment to repair, which to retrofit, and which needs to be replaced. You probably already have a good idea into which category your equipment falls; now would be the time to turn that knowledge into action.

Training is another discipline that should come into the light. As you examine your operations, you can find the places where a little tighter adherence to best practices might improve efficiency with little or no capital costs. A major overhaul in operations often isn’t the answer; a few tweaks here and there can make a big difference.

No matter the strategy you employ, manufacturing needs to seize on the advantages and opportunities today, as well as lay the groundwork for the manufacturing challenges to come. As lot sizes get smaller, logistics becomes more of an imperative to meet consumer demands and data management becomes pervasive on the plant floor, the pressures to run a tight operation also become more acute. It’s easier to run a tight ship before the storms show up; the phrase “batten down the hatches” literally means securing the hatches so the ship doesn’t take on water. 

To make Plant Engineering continually useful, we need to provide information not just about the best practices for our readers, but also talk as much as possible about the return on investment of those efforts. Getting the chance to upgrade a plant with capital improvements requires capital expenditures, and those decisions are made using a different set of metrics.

This is something the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is designed to help achieve: a defined and understandable set of data that shows how equipment is running today and how it is likely to run in the future. IIoT will help plant personnel in all departments shed some daylight on how the plant operates so as to forestall plant shutdowns or disruptions. That’s the kind of daylight saving that everyone from the C-Suite to the plant floor can relate to.

It is time to spring forward in manufacturing, but at this critical juncture in our economic rebirth, my concern is that some will choose to do nothing. In the end, they will fall back, and that will simply waste this great chance we have. 

Bob Vavra, content manager, CFE Media, bvavra@cfemedia.com.


Top Plant
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America.
Product of the Year
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
System Integrator of the Year
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
September 2018
2018 Engineering Leaders under 40, Women in Engineering, Six ways to reduce waste in manufacturing, and Four robot implementation challenges.
GAMS preview, 2018 Mid-Year Report, EAM and Safety
June 2018
2018 Lubrication Guide, Motor and maintenance management, Control system migration
August 2018
SCADA standardization, capital expenditures, data-driven drilling and execution
June 2018
Machine learning, produced water benefits, programming cavity pumps
April 2018
ROVs, rigs, and the real time; wellsite valve manifolds; AI on a chip; analytics use for pipelines
Spring 2018
Burners for heat-treating furnaces, CHP, dryers, gas humidification, and more
August 2018
Choosing an automation controller, Lean manufacturing
September 2018
Effective process analytics; Four reasons why LTE networks are not IIoT ready

Annual Salary Survey

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

The Maintenance and Reliability Coach's blog
Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
One Voice for Manufacturing
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Maintenance and Reliability Professionals Blog
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Machine Safety
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
Research Analyst Blog
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Marshall on Maintenance
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
Lachance on CMMS
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
Material Handling
This digital report explains how everything from conveyors and robots to automatic picking systems and digital orders have evolved to keep pace with the speed of change in the supply chain.
Electrical Safety Update
This digital report explains how plant engineers need to take greater care when it comes to electrical safety incidents on the plant floor.
IIoT: Machines, Equipment, & Asset Management
Articles in this digital report highlight technologies that enable Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies.
Randy Steele
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Matthew J. Woo, PE, RCDD, LEED AP BD+C
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Randy Oliver
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
Data Centers: Impacts of Climate and Cooling Technology
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
Safety First: Arc Flash 101
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
Critical Power: Hospital Electrical Systems
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
Design of Safe and Reliable Hydraulic Systems for Subsea Applications
This eGuide explains how the operation of hydraulic systems for subsea applications requires the user to consider additional aspects because of the unique conditions that apply to the setting
click me