In the November 9th reports from Invensys OpsManage’11 event in Nashville, it was interesting to read about attending executives making statements about control loop to business loop integration like …
“Maintaining the links between the process control and the enterprise level is what leads us to profitability.” – Travis Capps, Valero Energy
“These days, you have to understand the overall business you’re in, follow the value chain and the dollars, and get up to speed on making better decisions.” – Bob Baird, Husky Oil Ltd.
“One word, collaboration. Plant systems have to connect with the business. One person can’t do it all, so they need to understand the business, but then move to involve everyone else at the plant, IT and business levels.” – Rich Van Dyke, Frito-Lay division of PepsiCo
On at least one item that most of us would agree as being important in business today, these guys really get it. And I will venture that top executives across most of the world’s leading companies do too. So given this important role that automation is playing, why is plant automation still typically specified and bought on technical details, in a totally disjointed manner, and frequently at the cheapest price when the business executives want best in class results from their enterprises?
What these executives seem to be expecting is integration that goes well beyond getting data values out of historians and into enterprise accounting systems. They want solutions that …
- Deliver on real operator effectiveness so that the people sitting at the controls to quality and production on a 24/7 basis are making decisions driving profitability through collaboration, not simply responding to abnormal conditions.
- Manage direct production costs that include electricity and other energy that requires real time integration of the electrical systems and an eye to identifying wasted energy like traditional control valve flow control designs.
- Actively focus on HS&E demanding that process safety be integrated directly into the automation design.
- Provide facility asset health information that goes well beyond the field instrumentation and can provide real time knowledge that can impact maintenance practices and directly affect OEE performance on large scale assets.
- Deliver on real integration of the islands of automation that exist in most facilities so that not only do operators have consolidated, complete control, but there is a single source of data for related operations.
- Deliver on bi-directional integration of data between the plant floor and enterprise systems designed in a manner to evolve with changing demands and technologies while controlling life cycle costs associated with maintaining those interfaces.
To accomplish this goes well beyond the traditional automation scope where only the control system is a consideration and other critical areas like electrification, drives, safety systems, instrumentation, and IT integration are traditionally dealt with separately and as unrelated topics, if at all. Companies that want to have best in class control loop to business loop integration need to take an integrated approach to acquiring the best automation solutions and that will start from within by building system requirements integrated across disciplines and to business needs. The power of integration can work to your advantage in many ways.