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Our jobs are to make your many jobs easier. In a July 3 Control Engineering Online daily news item an end-user, system integrator, original equipment manufacturer, and automation manufacturer explain survival tactics in tough global markets. They seek to streamline and simplify automation platforms and controls, and they recognize that plant processes need to improve, along with the technolog...

08/01/2002


Our jobs are to make your many jobs easier.

In a July 3 Control Engineering Online daily news item an end-user, system integrator, original equipment manufacturer, and automation manufacturer explain survival tactics in tough global markets. They seek to streamline and simplify automation platforms and controls, and they recognize that plant processes need to improve, along with the technologies applied to them. Key points follow.

Roger Cope, vp of Lamb Technicon (Warren, Mich.), says because information flow increases with manufacturing flexibility, people and infrastructure need to respond appropriately. Lamb Technicon designs and integrates metal-cutting and production assembly solutions for automotive powertrain and diesel engine manufacturing. "We're still trying to realize what it means to an American company when everyone wants to do business here." Increased globalization means competing with companies that may not consider return on investment when bidding on a job, often quoting below cost. He also suggests rereading macroeconomics textbooks to help understand risks inherent in global business today.

Doug Bartow, strategic sourcing manager for FMC Technologies (Chicago, Ill.) aims to harmonize controls in food processing equipment, achieving that with about 80% of lines, to cost-effectively facilitate food freshness, safety, and ease of training. In food processing, "We like to be able to walk into a plant and deliver a 3% increase in net income." Cross-functional teams help integrate automation on equipment, such as chicken processing freezers, fryers, and ovens. At one site, a vision system scans a chicken breast prior to processing to reduce waste a valuable fraction of a percent. (See vision cover story.)

Jerry Yen, common controls technology manager, Manufacturing Engineering Group, GM Powertrain (Detroit, Mich.) and co-chair of Open, Modular Architecture Control (OMAC) Users Group, says GM standardization has moved beyond a bill of materials to a bill of process. Mr. Yen admits that GM, like other organizations with many sites globally, could avoid repeating many mistakes by better recording and sharing lessons learned. GM aims to:

  • Improve asset utilization. Missed forecasts can leave equipment in warehouses;

  • Better connect product engineering and manufacturing engineering teams;

  • Decrease debugging during start-up;

  • Better integrate the voice of the plant into overall decision-making;

  • Help information technology and manufacturing engineering people work together more effectively;

  • Try to drive manufacturing based on business decisions; and

  • Enable learning on a global scale.

David Quebbemann, marketing manager of Omron's Industrial Automation division, concurs that end-users are pushing manufacturing to suppliers, creating a virtual manufacturing environment. Omron adapts by producing multi-language documentation and building translation utilities into some products; global certification of products for wiring and standards; support for major industrial networks/protocols; sales support consistency; application engineering support; 24/7 customer support; global training centers; and web-based training and documentation.

The no-nonsense panel, called "Management of Global Manufacturing," was sponsored by Omron Electronics LLC's (Schaumburg, Ill.) as part of a "Technology Connection" symposium for editors on June 27. Read the full story at www.controleng.com . Go to the "News archive" button on the left, then click back to July 3.


Author Information

Mark T. Hoske, Editor-in-Chief mhoske@cahners.com




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