Manufacturers Can't Wait For Future, Must Become More Efficient Today

May 4, 2007
Advances in technology can turn companies into process knowledge systems.

Waiting until market demands push your company to operate more efficiently isn't the best business strategy says Jack Bolick, president of Honeywell Process Solutions. "We have the technology to view all of the manufacturing processes and determine where improvements can be made, but companies must act on that information today not tomorrow," explains Bolick.

Old ways of analysis have been transformed. "What's changed is how we look at a manufacturing enterprise. We used to do everything in-house and upgraded our systems on a plant level basis. Now we can use technology, such as SOA, to bring an entire enterprise up to speed so that it can quickly react to market demands, " explains Bolick, whose business is a $2 billion unit of Honeywell International.

One solution that HPS uses to provide the broadest range of relevant information is to outfit companies with MES systems that are right under the ERP systems. These systems are able to tie directly into information from sensors and controls. This technology turns a company into a process knowledge system says Bolick.

"HPS has four modules that help improve People, Processes, Business Practices, and Assets. We choose certain industries, such as chemicals, life sciences, mining, oil and gas and paper because our knowledge base lies there," explains Bolick.

Understanding the components of the manufacturing process, down to the raw materials is how HPS is able to reduce costs for its customers. For example, one of its customers produces a material that is currently selling very high, but rather than rest easy the company is already vigorously looking into ways to cut out every available cost. It knows the market is cyclical and wants to be prepared.

Another arena where manufacturers cannot afford to drag their feet is environmental compliance. "The reality is that companies must now also take into account the 'green' aspect of production which can include issues of cleaner production, reduced energy use and recycling," says Bolick.

Information and knowledge are the keys to success for any manufacturer says Bolick. And today this is much easier due to the availability of wireless technology. Information can more easily flow from any part of the organization or its suppliers. Controlling processes from across the globe is now possible with multiple control rooms.

In addition to controlling processes, companies are finding they have to automate the knowledge that their engineers possess as many are retiring. That knowledge must be captured within the operational systems.

On the other side of the spectrum some markets are just beginning to automate. In emerging countries HPS will set up automation colleges or allow employees to train at HPS' sites. In fact the emerging markets of the Asian Pacific is the fastest growing market for HPS. "Both China and India have a longer view of their businesses and are investing now for future needs. The U.S. is still mainly focused on quarter-to-quarter financial results," Bolick says.

India and China are also gaining an edge when it comes to the makeup of its workforce. They no longer export their students to the U.S. but instead retains their engineers no matter where they were educated explains Bolick

Innovation is another necessity to keep the U.S. competitive, says Bolick. One way to strike the innovation chord among American engineers is to have a clear compelling vision. Bolick likens that vision to one John F. Kennedy had in the 60's when he announced that the U.S. would have a man on the moon. "At the time we didn't know how we would do it but we were determined to get there. New technologies, industries and processes were developed with this goal in mind and our economy is still reaping the benefit from those innovations. We now need a similar goal to which we can aspire," states Bolick.

Jack Bolick is president of Honeywell Process Solutions which is part of Honeywells Automation and Control Solutions group, a global leader in providing product and service solutions that improve efficiency and profitability, support regulatory compliance, and maintain safe, comfortable environments in homes, buildings and industry. For more information about Process Solutions, visit

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