The Internet of Things (IoT) and smart manufacturing are reinventing business at an unprecedented pace by:
- Increasing production performance (quality, safety, productivity)
- Improving asset management (reliability, energy consumption, lifecycle), and
- Boosting the bottom line (lower operations costs, higher productivity, increased production capacity).
The IoT is an amazing competitive advantage — but also a major challenge for manufacturing leaders. These executives have to ready their plants and equipment to communicate, share, and leverage information.
The day a new facility comes online, it starts down the path toward obsolescence. Today's rapidly changing technological environment — IoT smart devices and embedded machine intelligence — makes that day of reckoning closer than ever before.
Manufacturing executives must balance their hunger for smarter manufacturing vs. capital-investment resources, regulatory machine requirements, and cyber-security concerns.
Yet they know they have to upgrade if they want to tap the power of production data, or risk being stuck in the 20th century and watching as repair parts and maintenance talent become scarce; product quality and plant safety erode; security is jeopardized; and machines fail and put their companies at risk.
Fortunately, it's not an either/or decision. Savvy executives prioritize their upgrade investments via a three-step process of identify, mitigate, and eliminate to embed intelligence and improve productivity while production keeps humming.
Identify Potential Equipment Risks
Every facility, production line, machine, panel, and control has a unique life expectancy, and poses different risks as it races toward that date. The only way to capture this is on the plant-floor — with lifecycle analysis of assets, identifying critical factors such as:
- Reliability (How long will this equipment continue to operate?)
- Maintenance inventory optimization (How long can it be maintained?)
- Safety compliance (How long will it function safely?)
- Network performance and security (How long can it securely communicate with operations and information technology networks?)
In performing this assessment, classify assets as active (new), active mature (fully supported, but newer versions exist), end-of-life (a discontinuation date has been announced), and discontinued (it's no longer manufactured, but repair services or parts may be available).
This overall evaluation helps you establish a modernization roadmap and prioritizes decisions — do it all at once, or incrementally upgrade.
Once the state of legacy assets is identified, a list of “must dos” — failing equipment and/or safety and regulatory issues — is targeted with newer technologies. Less-than-critical issues can be addressed with a “service bridge.” These services can prolong equipment lifecycles within capex budgets while avoiding unplanned downtime and maintenance costs.
As important as it is to prevent imminent problems, long-term corporate profitability relies on the complete modernization roadmap: new technologies to replace legacy assets and drive improvements:
- Reduce maintenance costs (mean time to repair, time to service, labor)
- Reduce maintenance resources (more reliable equipment, remote monitoring)
- Increase production capacity
- Improve product quality
- Deliver optimum return on investment
This three-step process establishes a modernization roadmap that clarifies the risks that your facility faces, identifies the weak links in your automation system, and helps to implement intelligent, flexible assets for the future.
Isn't it time to find out where your assets — and your profits — are headed? Learn more about The Connected Enterprise®.
Published April 4, 2016