Can American Manufacturing Companies Compete in a Global Market?

According to an Industry Week article, Collaborative Production Management (CPM): Process vs. Discrete they quote ARC Advisory Group predictions of between 12% to 14.5% spending growth for CPM systems for U.S. manufacturing companies through 2011. CPM is about connecting the plant floor production system to business systems and knitting together internal manufacturing and business processes creating an environment for manufacturers to compete as a highly flexible and responsive operation that can meet their customers expectations.

What does CPM spending by manufacturing companies have to do with global market competition? According to ARC, CPM is the final frontier for interfacing manufacturing, supply chain and business systems together to improve and track productivity, reduce waste and increase revenues to stay competitive. In today’s competitive environment CPM is the next step in achieving a competitive edge in the world market.

In a collaborative production environment you need to collect and display real-time and historical data from a variety of machines varying in age and function and network that information to plant and enterprise systems. That information could include data on machine performance, productivity, maintenance, operation, labor, downtime, scrap, etc. that is not available from their proprietary or closed control systems. In today’s world that could also include interfacing to a mix of technologies from machine control platforms to data collection systems involving bar codes and RFID technology.

With today’s automation technology the solution is affordable and proven. Flexibility is the main theme by using a compact PLC with networking capabilities and HMI for operator viewing packaged for the environment. Called a Machine Monitoring and Control (MM&C) unit it can collect critical machine data using non-intrusive sensors (Without disturbing the current control scheme/control wiring) to display, trend and report vital maintenance and production information to plant, maintenance, and operation managers. It has the ability to connect machines over a network to an information server for important data collection, analysis and reporting. Data can be transferred over a company wide or independent network through secured wireless transmission, copper or fiber cabling media. Data Collection devices such as bar code and RFID scanners are easily integrated into the unit for capturing operator and work order information to increase manufacturing productivity and eliminate costly recording errors.

Applications include machine & equipment monitoring to reduce scrap, monitor downtime, production counts, web breakage alarming, work order tracing and reducing maintenance costs for the Printing, Pharmaceutical, Parts Manufacturing, Automotive or any industry that wants to get a better handle on machine operation and maintenance data.

Ken Lawrence is an automation and logistics specialist for Control Solutions with 28 years experience in controls automation and logistics supply chain managment solutions. Control Solutions, Inc., founded in 1976 and headquartered in Branchburg, New Jersey, is a leader in the design of factory automation, process control, supply chain management and mobile data collection solutions. The company provides turn-key solutions for warehouse management (OpenWMS), work-in-process (OpenWIP), asset management (OpenAsset), transportation solutions (OpenLogistics), Production line and machine monitoring & Control Systems, facilities maintenance (OpenFMS), Mobile time & attendance and Labor Tracking Solution (Power Track) and inspection applications (OpenInspect), as well as custom engineering development for clients. Control Solutions provides supporting equipment and supplies from the leading Auto ID manufacturers.

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