The Benefits of Smart Manufacturing
As a custom machine builder operating primarily in the Life Sciences industry, we are responsible for designing equipment that not only offers mechanical precision but that also provides a well thought out method for collecting quality data and then maintaining the integrity and security of that data. Quality data and a controls structure whose backbone is communication give us the tools needed to lay the foundation for a network that can increase efficiency, provide diagnostics, and reduce error.
A common mistake that I see being made in the industry regarding data analysis is when the design starts with organizing data instead of filtering for high quality data first. Filtering first and then organizing information about the machine, process, commodities, and how personnel interfaces with the equipment allows for predictive maintenance, trends in commodity quality, and even effectiveness of individuals responsible for machine output.
Once we’ve collected quality information, we can create a history, sort the data, produce reports, and begin to take action on the knowledge we’ve gained from the equipment. At this point in the process of developing a smart manufacturing environment we need to enter the IT space. We need data storage and access to the data not only from the plant floor, but from the office as well. Whether it’s a small fixture or a high-output assembly machine, we only invest in best-in-class hardware. In doing so, we’re just a step away from connecting to the network and paying dividends. The investment in high quality hardware gives us the capability to analyze performance, monitor quality of materials coming in and going out, get in front of events that can lead to downtime, and provide support remotely.
A well thought out system design that has been validated and is ready for production generally needs to remain unchanged. Conversely, to mitigate risks regarding security threats requires IT to perform regular updates. Herein lies one of the main issues of IT and OT convergence. A pre-engineered Rockwell Industrial Data Center is a great solution to this issue. Rockwell has partnered with industry leaders such as Cisco and Microsoft to allow for full integration with best-in-class security and data management, as well as full support in one location.
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