IT in Manufacturing

Manufacturing integration, execution and intelligence - Part 1: Shop floor to top floor integration

May 2010 IT in Manufacturing

Who should read this series of articles and why?

CEOs, CFOs COOs, CIOs, IT managers, production managers and engineers, will learn about the ‘grand design’ behind today’s manufacturing information solutions, how they interrelate and how they map to today’s forward-thinking organisations.

The answers to questions such as: ‘How do scada, MES, EMI, BI and ERP work together for my benefit?’ or ‘How am I running a successful business without the middle three?’ can be found here.

If you are one of the above, learn to understand what current manufacturing information technologies have to offer so that you can make informed decisions about their adoption and role in your company.


Manufacturing integration, execution and intelligence is a large topic addressing some complex issues but that is no excuse for not approaching it in a logical manner that is easy to understand. So, we have broken it down into six parts that address WHAT solutions exist, WHY they are necessary and HOW to implement them:

* Part 1: Shop floor to top floor integration – what does it involve and why is this necessary?

* Part 2: The role of manufacturing execution systems (MES) and enterprise manufacturing intelligence (EMI) – what does each contribute?

* Part 3: The role of business intelligence (BI) – What is BI, where does it fit in and how does it work with EMI? Do you need both? Applying these enabling information technologies through dynamic performance management (DPM).

* Part 4: Why implement MES? What can happen if you do not?

* Part 5: Why implement EMI? What are the alternatives?

* Part 6: How can these solutions best be implemented at minimum cost and maximum effectiveness in the shortest possible time and with the least maintenance effort?

Part 1 – Shop floor to top floor integration

Why integrate?

Shop floor to top floor integration is necessary because mining and manufacturing companies are (should be) unified entities whose component parts work in harmony to achieve a common business goal. Fragmentation causes discontinuities and ‘departmentalisation’ with resulting inefficiencies, increased operating costs and, more importantly, the loss of the company vision, its objective and the ability of each employee to measure his/her contribution towards achieving that goal.

The way to glue things together is through the transformation of seamless information into actionable knowledge at all levels of the organisation and for that to happen, it is necessary to understand what information is useful to the various business and operational levels of the company.

What information is involved?

Shop floor – This is the real-time world of process control and industrial automation and is also the reason for the company’s existence. Time frames are in the order of seconds to milliseconds and real-time historians coupled to scada (supervisory control and data acquisition) systems are responsible for storing all the data and all significant events as well as product genealogy and statistical information (among others).

Top floor – This is where strategies are conceived and business processes are set in motion to support them. It is the world of accounting, resource planning, production scheduling, customer relationship management and much more. Time frames are in the order of days to months and traditional IT relies on ERP (enterprise resource planning) solutions to address the information needs of top and senior management. Information needs such as budget performance, production figures, cost overruns, maintenance statistics and all aspects of financial planning and reporting.

To find out how the ‘top floor’ and the ‘shop floor’ can begin to reconcile their different information needs read the full first article in this series at

For more information contact Ugan Maistry, EOH Mining and Manufacturing, +27 (0)11 607 8142,,

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