Smartphone Apps Enabling Smarter Decision-Making

Invensys new SmartGlance pushes real-time plant data using a cloud server.

Even by the rapid-fire standards of the technology industry, the evolution of smartphones has occurred at a dizzying pace. Their adoption within manufacturing facilities has created a groundswell of applications from more than a dozen vendors that cater to plant managers and executives.

These apps have attempted to provide real-time data to leverage smarter decision-making. But in most of these cases, the key data accessed has been limited to enterprise data or else required the launching of a browser to reach full accessibility.

Last week, Invensys launched a new wrinkle in the mobile apps universe with its SmartGlance technology, available as a subscription-based service, which pushes plant data reports from its Wonderware Historian system to smart devices such as iPhones, iPads, Androids, Blackberries and other smartphones.

SmartGlance is offered much like a mobile phone plan: users pay an annual subscription, then use the app to display detailed reports that come from a cloud server. Because it is a native smartphone application and not browser-based, it runs smoothly and noticeable ease.

The viewing perspective is easily accessible as well. Instead of viewing production through an unwieldy spreadsheet, SmartGlance takes raw numbers and can convert them to bar graphs that show relative growth or decline or offers the user the option to click to see in graph form the trends for one or several production lines.

Invensys is far the first vendor to reach into the manufacturing space offering dashboards. Transpara Visual KPI, for instance, offers similar operations and business data. The difference, however, is in the IT footprint. SmartGlance requires minimal capital investment or purchasing of hardware.

The way I like to describe it, SmartGlance transforms the decision-making at the plant level, explained Bimal Mehta, director of industry application management at Invensys, during the companys OpsManage 2010 show in Orlando. Its specific data that gives you a plant-level perspective so you can make smarter decisions in real time.

Mobility applications like SmartGlance are geared toward plant managers, shift supervisors, maintenance supervisors and engineers. They could also be applied for executive-level management, if coupled with enterprise data, providing a richer context for sales and measuring supply and demand.

It also potentially opens the door for the next stage in mobile action.

Were not there yet, but this becomes an important tool for actionable reporting, says Mehta. Were quickly moving in the direction where, lets say you get an alert that something needs your attention. It could have some context in terms of who to contact or who to email or it can launch you a URL, for example, to trigger a workflow.

Computers and devices might be getting smaller, but the leap in sophisticated mobile intelligence software is growing ever wider.

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