Challenges to suppliers on items, from Year 2000 compliance, to strategic issues like service levels and technology compliance, set the scene at ARC’s Automation Strategies Forum in Boston, USA last month.
On the Year 2000, at least 30% of the 300-strong audience had tried simulating 2000 compliance and the majority had problems.
One central point at the forum was the lack of real time capability for NT which is slowing the use of this platform for control for several users despite it being the most favoured operating system among users and suppliers.
There was agreement that users need to adapt to a continuous evolution of their control systems to take advantage of the new technologies at the lowest risk. The days of doing a major upgrade and then leaving the system alone for another 10 years are gone’, said Andy Chatha, organiser of the event from ARC.
Integration of control and business systems, such as SAP’s R3 was another issue. Monsanto developed its own interface layer between SAP R3 and plant controls, and by standardising data exchange we can now bring new facilities into the system much more quickly’, said Robert Barrett from Monsanto.
Suppliers were challenged to develop global capability, programming standards and a single network for all control functions.