It may seem like an obvious statement, but technology can have a major impact on the profitability of a business. When the right technologies are applied in the right areas, they can make a huge difference to efficiency and, ultimately, profitability. This is true both for the technologies that run the business and for those that drive operations. Enter Smart Control, which is about controlling all your critical business variables in real time. It is the technology that can turn your industrial automation systems and investments into a valuable and powerful Profit Engine.
Don’t get left behind
Even if a company is able to control the efficiency of their operations and processes well in real time, managing the business in a transactional manner, i.e., according to artificial and human time schedules, no longer works in today’s fast-moving environment. Trying to manage operational profitability month to month is impractical and unsustainable because by the time you receive updates from your enterprise resource planning system, the information is no longer relevant to the business decisions you need to make, or should have made. So you find yourself always behind the curve, chasing an ever elusive equilibrium.
Real real-time control
To break this cycle, you need to begin controlling more than just the real-time efficiency of your operations. You need to begin to control other critical business variables in real time, too, like your safety (including environmental safety), reliability, and, especially, your operational profitability. If you truly want to control your business performance in real time, all these business variables – which have traditionally been managed daily, weekly, or monthly – must now also be controlled in real time.
But there’s no need to despair. The Industrial Internet of Things and all the connectivity it enables, when applied correctly, can free companies trapped in an outdated paradigm and help them to realize unprecedented value and profit.
When this extended control – what we call Smart Control – is applied to optimize every asset of a plant, industrial automation becomes the Profit Engine of an enterprise. This is when companies can measurably improve operational profitability – safely.
The Profit Engine Principle
From more control to more profits
Unlike traditional process control, which focused almost exclusively on improving the efficiency of the operation, today’s technology can help companies take it so much further. Thanks to more connectivity and computing power, smarter, connected products, e.g., pumps, can now control, monitor, and secure themselves to become autonomous assets. This better, automatic real-time control can then be extended upward, from equipment assets to unit asset sets to plant asset sets and so on, all the way up to value chain asset sets.
In the age of the IIoT, business managers and plant personnel, alike, have never had more or better opportunities to measure and improve the profitability of their operations in real time. Driving operational profitability starts with optimizing the performance of each industrial asset so that it does its job in the safest, most environmentally sustainable, reliable, and efficient manner possible.
Increased connectivity, computing power, and technology means it is possible to put real-time control, interoperability, and communication at every level, from the simplest plant asset all the way up to the supply chain. So now, armed with the ability to control every asset in real time (even intangible assets like energy, raw materials, and production), companies can conduct business, especially those functions that have been historically transactional, not according to any set schedule, but whenever it’s most profitable for them.
That’s what Smart Control is all about and how it drives plant profitability. It means the enterprise can manage and control all its business variables under a unified strategy. Operations and management are now in synch: Management understands the real-time variable constraints of the operation, including safety, reliability, and efficiency risks, and plant personnel understand the impact their decisions have on operational profitability in real time.
In my next blog, I’ll discuss how, in the plant of the future, the industrial workforce will be empowered to take a more active role in controlling and improving the business performance of the company in real time.