3 questions you should ask to increase the impact of your decisions

There is a significant difference between making a business decision and implementing it in real-time industrial environment. Your decisions can have a much bigger impact on the profitability if you let all your enterprise subsystems collaborate and provide all people involved with actionable intelligence in the right context

3 questions to ask to broaden the impact of your decisions

1. How far has your plant moved from “islands of information”?

Since the early 1990s, manufacturers and vendors of automation or manufacturing software have been talking about the value of moving from “islands of information” to a collaborative model in which the right information is available to the right person, at the right time. Latterly, it was recognized that data, out of context, was just data, so an additional axiom was added: with the right context. What is needed is actionable intelligence – data with the proper context applied to it and data that includes operational experience.

While progress has been made to help manufacturers move in this direction, the reality is that many are still in a position similar to that of three decades ago. What is the situation in the industrial sector today? How will things develop? And what products are available that can be used by various industries as building blocks in a true collaborative environment?

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2. Which system are your business decisions based on?

Today, the typical manufacturer has between 20 and 40 information systems in any given facility. Despite good intentions, these largely exist as “data islands” and, because of historical difficulty in integrating these islands, decisions are often based on only the most immediately relevant system, with scant regard for the overall business picture.

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems have long held out the promise of improving this situation, but the reality is that there is a significant difference between making a business decision and implementing it in real-time manufacturing operations. Also, while ERP systems are very good at ensuring business rules are followed, they typically work on data that is periodically consolidated, which, by definition, is not current.

3. What is the impact of your process improvements?

Another favorite focus area is process improvement. But improvements are often too narrowly targeted and fail to take account of impact on the entire supply chain. Broadening scrutiny to cover topics like product consistency improvement can reduce both raw material and finished goods inventories, lower transportation costs and improve cash flow. This can have a tremendous impact on the net profitability of a company, but this impact can only be properly assessed if all the relevant subsystems collaborate.

Let all systems at your plant collaborate

What is needed, to properly address the above three questions, is a true collaborative model for industrial environment. The good news is that technology has now caught up with the requirements. Collaboration between systems is no longer prohibitively expensive, or limited in functionality. And such collaboration is already having a big impact on major companies today.

Having a bigger impact with ABB collaborative model

Industry solutions and case studies

Collaboration capabilities of ABB control system

System 800xA

Further reading

Explore the various levels integration
Business benefits of collaboration that maybe you didn't expect
The future of service: blurring the service roles
Technology is just an enabler: how to get there?
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