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Jul 13, 2012

Software enables integration of plant and people

Africa|Efficiency|Invensys Operations Management Southern Africa|System|Africa|Automation Software|Enterprisewide Network|Maintenance|Product|Real Time|Deon Van Aardt|Ernst Van Wyk|Operations
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The different experts required to operate a plant efficiently can be integrated into a single auditable system that collates all information and generates reports in real time, says automation software giant Invensys Operations Management Southern Africa divisional director Deon van Aardt.

This single system, which is designed to enable companies and plants to create process-specific, system-specific or user-specific performance indicators, also automatically generates schedules for events logged by staff, such as maintenance or auditing schedules. It also provides long-term reports for analytical and managerial oversight in the company, adds Van Aardt.

“Time is the greatest determining factor in operations. This is why we focus on letting each plant or company set up its own workflows that automatically notify operators, maintenance staff and managers when triggered, either by a schedule or a user. “It also enables companies to manage delays by triggering secondary workflows or notifications if a workpiece takes longer than specified.”

Experts and employees can effectively collaborate using this workflow system, which enables each user to know exactly what functions must be performed, reducing the impact of the movement of skills in the company, he says.

Effective collaboration can increase plants’ quality of production and operational efficiencies, and can enable them to be in lockstep with corporate strategy and productivity initiatives, notes Van Aardt.

Each plant can also function and continue to process analytic functions independently if disconnected from the enterprisewide network. It can then synchronise with the network once it reconnects, says Invensys Wonderware product portfolio manager Ernst van Wyk.

“The key is to provide relevant information for users to enable effective decision-making. The resolution of the information, which refers to its relation over time to other key indicators of a business, must be correct for the user. This entails process- and plant-control users usually focusing on shorter timeframe indicators, such as processes or production, and administrative managers usually analysing indicators within a daily or weekly timeframe.

“However, often a plant manager may want to see how his production has impacted on the efficiency of the company and can then use the functionality of the Archestra System Platform to create reports, graphs and flowcharts of production with regard to profitability, cost effectiveness, or any other metric. The plant manager may also want to inter- rogate the processes in his plant and can draw on real-time process data to support his decisions.

“Similarly, a business manager may want to see what the production of one plant is, compared with another, and he can create graphs that remove cost variances to determine plant efficiency, independent of different costs, for example,” explains Van Wyk.

“To achieve operational excellence, one needs a platform that can improve operational effectiveness by synchronising operations with business goals in real time,” concludes Van Aardt.

Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor
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