I was thinking the other day about how industrial control, building management and power components have changed over the years. Literally, I was amazed (pushes jaw back up with finger) to find that microprocessors can be found in some motor starters and even residential circuit breakers. Today, there are tens of thousands of smart devices buried in modern university campuses and industrial facilities across the developed world. Each device has information which can tell you about process in its realm, and you can even access this information across networks if you choose. Data in modern Industrial Manufacturing can be a productivity gold mine, but finding and utilizing it can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. So, as we begin the journey towards efficient enterprises in factories and other large campuses across the world, we must look at the challenges and how to address them. The good news is there is plenty of data to steer by!
The two main challenges are:
i) The data needed to make intelligent decisions is often located in disparate and disconnected systems.
ii) There’s so much data, in some cases literally millions of points and values.
It is literally like looking for that proverbial needle in a haystack. If you can get that single view of your enterprise and the analysis tools to help you make sense of all the data,you have access to a productivity gold mine. In practice this means:
- Accessing data located in industrial automation equipment and building management systems from different manufacturers via one enterprise-wide portal.
- Analyzing and visualizing data in dashboards to clearly display facility performance against efficiency targets.
- Ensuring every kilowatt of energy, ton of raw materials and second of manufacturing time is optimally used.
We know that in some cases, 90% of Industrial energy is used by process lines (10% used by the building, lighting, HVAC, etc.) and there are products and services available to help make sense of it all. Engineers with the knowledge of how to connect to different manufacturers’ devices and processes are able to better identify how to save energy and maintain factory output.
As the saying goes, ‘You can’t control that which you don’t measure’. This has never been more true. Enterprise efficiency is an optimal balance between high return on manufacturing capital investment and the lowest possible operating costs.
As you seek to balance this equation, do you have the quality data you need to guide you? Can you find the needles buried in your haystack?