IT in Manufacturing


Measure or bust?

April 2009 IT in Manufacturing

When plenty of money is circulating during a boom cycle, running an established business can look relatively straightforward. Process inefficiency is easy to miss when profits are growing and more cash is coming in than going out. The real test comes during a market downturn when sentiment becomes negative and consumers with less money to spend consider their purchasing decisions more carefully.

“This is when managers need to re-evaluate how efficiently the business is operating, and what measures they are going to take to trim out the waste. Before they can achieve this of course they need a measurement system, and more importantly, a measurement system that transforms data into information,” says Neil Upfold of eTX Data Services.

He continues by stating that this is often easier said than done: “If the wrong parameters are measured, or the right parameters are measured with the wrong degree of accuracy, the system can often do more harm than good.”

He adds that in manufacturing the technology required for data capturing is mostly available ready for connection to the plant along with an industrial software package to process this data and generate reports. However, the system can only really be optimal if at least the following questions have been considered by the end user:

* Have we chosen the best hardware to perform our measurements and execute our control requirements adequately?

* Does our software give us the information we need to make informed decisions about our processes?

* In the future will our system be easily expandable?

“If it is not your core business, why not partner with a solution provider?” Neil asks.

“At eTX we specialise in configuring off-the-shelf hardware and software tools into systems that are tailored to a set of specific user requirements. In the right hands data integration software such as Kepware’s OPC server along with small scada packages, PLCs, remote I/O devices and radio modems can be combined to create extremely powerful management tools.

“Couple that with our ‘on time on budget’ approach, and you get a system that saves company money, streamlines processes and adds value to the bottom line for years.”

For more information contact Neil Upfold, eTX Data Services, +27 (0)31 764 2099, neilu@etx.co.za, www.etx.co.za


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