by   |    |   3 minutes  |  in Asset Intensive, Automotive, Manufacturing, Oil & Gas, Process Manufacturing

Data collected from production and better collaboration between the various parts of an organization can lead to fewer disruptions, increased utilization of manufacturing resources and more efficient planning.

So says one of the founders of IFS, Ulf Stern, in an article published in Sweden’s Dagens Industri journal in November.

What he was saying was that there is still unrealized potential for asset intensive industries in ensuring their systems for production, automation and maintenance, work more closely and in a more integrated manner – the goal being to achieve better data on which to base decisions so as to increase asset reliability and optimize production.

You could compare this to the way in which you fine-tune an F1 car during testing, qualification and even the main event itself. Continuously striving for improvements, even a tenth of a second advantage, will mean a significant amount over the course of the race.

Basically, it’s simply a question of increasing a company’s competitiveness.

For capital-intensive companies, efficient, disruption-free production is business-critical. Historically, a lot of work has been done to optimize different parts of the supply chain. However, the continued requirement to produce the right quantity at lower cost with sufficiently high quality and delivery precision means looking for such potential closer to the production process.

The Market has Matured

The key has to be to get production and maintenance to work together by bridging the gap between production systems and business solutions. Utilizing the data that’s generated in the plant to make better decisions and in the long term create a more efficient organization that better utilizes its resources.

Many of the standards for data exchange between systems in use today have been around for ten years or more. Over time the prerequisites for doing this have improved as greater understanding is gained of the potential, systems have begun to communicate in a more standardized fashion. Technically, the cost of achieving this is no longer very high.

Also, what’s new is that the industry has become more aware of how profitable this can be. Tough competition, as well as changes in markets and structures, is major driving forces.

Huge Amounts of Real-time Data Analyzed

This creates excellent conditions for improving business processes and getting various parts of an organization to collaborate better. One practical example, is where we are refreshing the story that we had many years ago with ABB.

We are now updating that machine control integration story in collaboration with ABB such that the operators on the production line will be given better access to the business applications.

This means that they can easily transform alerts and events in production to fault reports that move up through the business applications in a seamless flow. This has been possible for some time; however, making this work with the latest user interfaces really increases the capabilities today.

In collaboration with ABB, we’re creating a flow right into the business applications for events captured by the operators. In capital-intensive industries in particular, every percent or fraction of a percent in the form of a key performance metric like OEE can potentially result in large increases in revenue. In the article which Ulf contributed to he mentioned that ‘it’s in the capital-intensive industries that we find the greatest potential for this method of analyzing data,”.

In other words, it’s when you analyze data collected from different sources in the production/manufacturing world and combine it with information in the business applications that the major possibilities emerge.

Generates Greater Competitiveness and Increased Profitability

Refining the effectiveness of an existing complex flow can be an interesting alternative or complement to investing in new equipment. Even though it’s mostly a matter of applying technology, organization and collaboration, “efficient analysis of production data is ultimately a question of honing your competitive edge and increasing profitability,” says Stern.

Adapted from the original Swedish-language text. Republished with the permission of the copyright owner, Smart Media Publishing, Stockholm.

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