Naturally, nearly all the senior industry executives I meet are seeking to make their existing enterprises more efficient and productive.
It can be hugely challenging to chart a course through the constant cycle of upgrades and improvements that keeps modern industry viable.
Integrating more efficient control, safety, security and MES solutions as well as replacing end of life equipment in a plant calls for a very particular mix of pragmatism and vision.
I’m very proud of the way Rockwell Automation engineers consistently rise to these challenges and help our customers to make more productive, efficient and sustainable plants, no matter what the industry.
Improving an existing plant isn’t the whole story though; there are also times when customers are creating a whole new plant. In any such greenfield project, it’s vital to keep productivity in sharp focus.
That may sound obvious, but productivity in the age of The Connected Enterprise is about being flexible and future-proof – not just in the equipment and systems that you install – but also in the way the plant uses data to make the most of its workforce and supply chain.
Unquestionably, when it comes to greenfield projects, the age of IIoT is very much here. I know that I speak for the Rockwell Automation team working with Jaguar Land Rover, when I say that we’re very proud to play a part in delivering new, flexible and productive plant solutions for such a marquee brand.
We were also delighted to have had an exquisite Jaguar F-Pace car at Hannover Messe to help us explain our vision of The Connected Enterprise.
As I say, it might sound a bit obvious to want a plant to be as productive as possible, but what’s changed in recent years is how many ways productivity can be designed-in and how flexible technologies can deliver improved productivity and future-proofing.
For example, iTRAK and MagneMotion technologies help move parts and products around the plant more efficiently and with less maintenance than traditional methods.
What’s more, they can be programmed and reprogrammed to perform different functions at different times or for different throughput. Those functions can be altered at the flick of a switch (or rather the touch of a screen), and new functions can be added with new product lines or capabilities. This means change-over times are hugely reduced and the plant is immediately more productive and better able to adapt to future change too.
When flexible new motion technologies such as these are operating in a fully connected enterprise, plant managers can further benefit from unlocking the potential of their data.
With unprecedented visibility into the performance of equipment on the plant floor, data can be analyzed and transformed into actionable business intelligence. This real-time knowledge can help improve maintenance efficiency, reduce downtime, and measure productivity in new ways.
Bringing new levels of business intelligence from the machine level into the MES and ERP levels of the enterprise means that manufacture can become a seamless part of the whole supply chain.
Has there ever been a better time to build a new facility? It’s hard to think of one! The good news for those unable to start with a blank sheet of paper, is that existing plant productivity and flexibility can be enhanced by integrating newer technologies as part of “normal” end-of-life upgrades.
The principles of The Connected Enterprise can deliver huge benefits to any plant taking a strategic approach towards an environment that joins Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT) to leverage the data already available to them.