Top-of-mind issues for manufacturing executives

I recently attended an executive roundtable at a user group's conference for controls and automation vendor Invensys. In addition to the executives from Invensys, there were executives from companies across a wide range of industries, including: The goal of the roundtable was to discuss issues that are top of mind for these executives.


I recently attended an executive roundtable at a user group's conference for controls and automation vendor Invensys. In addition to the executives from Invensys, there were executives from companies across a wide range of industries, including:

  • An executive from a global CPG company who has responsibility for all process control systems for 40 plants;

  • The division CIO of a global aluminum manufacturer;

  • The head of process architecture for a multi-billion dollar healthcare giant; and

  • The chief architect for business applications for one of the world's leading software companies.

    • The goal of the roundtable was to discuss issues that are top of mind for these executives. Although their issues varied to a certain degree, they all revolved around an overarching theme tied to process and operations shifting from local to global, from site to system. Their thoughts can be captured in four broad buckets:

      • Heightened need for business variables to shift from highly transactional to real-time . This trend has been underway for some time now, as executives with large monolithic ERP implementations realize that quarterly, monthly, or even daily reports aren't sufficient when driving operational excellence. Both management and operations personnel need real-time, or near real-time, data that can be converted into actionable intelligence in order to optimize performance.

      • Shift from process management to profit management . Achieving the highest level of productivity or OEE has been and generally still is the goal of most manufacturing plants. However, savvy manufacturing executives have realized that developing the capability to have margin-driven manufacturing is often the best path toward profitability. Enabling business and operations teams to make near real-time, margin-based production decisions is a challenge that must be met.

      • Movement away from managing operations in individual silos . Manufacturing companies and their vendors have done an excellent job over the past 20 years at automating manufacturing processes. The problem is that this automation has been deployed in pockets. Firms have created islands of automation. These islands equate to complexity and additional cost as companies attempt to integrate and rationalize disparate processes. The reality is that there is no “SAP for MES” (yet). Both manufacturers and their vendors are working hard to see if they can turn the vision of a packaged manufacturing operations application into a reality.

      • The need to drive greater value from plant operations in a safe and environmentally sound manner . Industrial manufacturers consume a third of all energy in the U.S., and with energy costs fluctuating and cap and trade policies on the horizon, companies are working furiously to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions. While software and automation/intelligence strategy today focuses primarily on collecting, contextualizing, and reporting on disparate points of energy consumption in a plant, the likely future evolution will involve more product and process improvement systems as the cornerstone of sustainable business systems.

        • Are your control and automation vendors addressing these issues?


          <table ID = 'id350321-0-table' CELLSPACING = '0' CELLPADDING = '2' WIDTH = '100%' BORDER = '0'><tbody ID = 'id346727-0-tbody'><tr ID = 'id346478-0-tr'><td ID = 'id346480-0-td' CLASS = 'table' STYLE = 'background-color: #EEEEEE'> Author Information </td></tr><tr ID = 'id346489-3-tr'><td ID = 'id346447-3-td' CLASS = 'table'> Bill Polk is a director with Boston-based AMR Research. He has more than 15 years of management experience in the manufacturing, supply chain software, and IT operations industries. He can be reached at . </td></tr></tbody></table>

No comments
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners.
Control Engineering Leaders Under 40 identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Learn more about methods used to ensure that the integration between the safety system and the process control...
Adding industrial toughness and reliability to Ethernet eGuide
Technological advances like multiple-in-multiple-out (MIMO) transmitting and receiving
Virtualization advice: 4 ways splitting servers can help manufacturing; Efficient motion controls; Fill the brain drain; Learn from the HART Plant of the Year
Two sides to process safety: Combining human and technical factors in your program; Preparing HMI graphics for migrations; Mechatronics and safety; Engineers' Choice Awards
Detecting security breaches: Forensic invenstigations depend on knowing your networks inside and out; Wireless workers; Opening robotic control; Product exclusive: Robust encoders
The Ask Control Engineering blog covers all aspects of automation, including motors, drives, sensors, motion control, machine control, and embedded systems.
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
News and comments from Control Engineering process industries editor, Peter Welander.
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
This is a blog from the trenches – written by engineers who are implementing and upgrading control systems every day across every industry.
Anthony Baker is a fictitious aggregation of experts from Callisto Integration, providing manufacturing consulting and systems integration.
Integrator Guide

Integrator Guide

Search the online Automation Integrator Guide

Create New Listing

Visit the System Integrators page to view past winners of Control Engineering's System Integrator of the Year Award and learn how to enter the competition. You will also find more information on system integrators and Control System Integrators Association.

Case Study Database

Case Study Database

Get more exposure for your case study by uploading it to the Control Engineering case study database, where end-users can identify relevant solutions and explore what the experts are doing to effectively implement a variety of technology and productivity related projects.

These case studies provide examples of how knowledgeable solution providers have used technology, processes and people to create effective and successful implementations in real-world situations. Case studies can be completed by filling out a simple online form where you can outline the project title, abstract, and full story in 1500 words or less; upload photos, videos and a logo.

Click here to visit the Case Study Database and upload your case study.