2014 Information Integration Study
In August 2014, Control Engineering surveyed members of its audience who were involved in information integration projects—both current and future. The 2014 Information Integration study asked key questions on integration between manufacturing floor levels, facility data access, and benefits and challenges to information integration.
Weighing the benefits and challenges
When asked about the amount of integration between the levels of manufacturing in their facilities (see Table), respondents indicated the top reason for a lack of integration is that benefits aren't recognized or considered important enough to management, along with a possible unwillingness to assign resources for the integration project. Interestingly enough, respondents who have successfully integrated levels named the following benefits:
- Better support for decision making (46%)
- Better control of resources (43%)
- More automated/less manual processes (41%)
- Faster decision making (41%)
- Improved quality and accuracy (39%)
- Higher manufacturing productivity (33%).
With that said, how is it that management is not recognizing the possible advantages of integrating levels? Perhaps a lack of time, lack of budget, and/or lack of resources are at fault. In fact, among the top challenges to integrating operations reported by respondents were not having an adequate budget for such a project, difficulty finding the time it takes to train workers, and a shortage of personnel assigned to these projects. Other challenges included confusion over scope and benefits, possible ongoing maintenance costs, and a lack of general cooperation.
Regarding information access, mobility, security, wireless, and remote data access, respondents indicated a varying degree of security throughout their facilities, and in most cases limited access to any manufacturing data:
- 44% said concern for security within their facilities has caused them to limit the availability of wireless communications
- 38% reported their manufacturing data is kept isolated for security reasons, so it cannot be accessed from any mobile device
- 37% of companies place a high value on ensuring relevant business information and data are easily available for anyone who might need it at any level
- 33% claimed only individuals responsible for running manufacturing can easily access data from the enterprise level as necessary
- 32% said their internal wireless networks allow access to internal networks and the Internet from anywhere in any of their facilities
- Only 21% of respondents reported their management staff routinely using mobile devices within their plants to upload manufacturing information.
And despite all of the hesitation to allow access to manufacturing data via mobile devices and wireless connections, 89% of respondents reported no known intrusions or security threats to their networks. Of those 89%, more than half had minimal to no defensive measures in place to detect and protect their systems.