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Rockwell Automation gives advice on selecting a measurement system and technology for food and beverage manufacturing operations.

A metrics program can help managers make informed decisions.

The effectiveness of a metrics program often depends on where an organisation is on the Manufacturing Systems Maturity Curve.

Most operational-type metrics are sources from three main stages in the evolution of manufacturing systems.

In the first, process control and repeatability efforts are directed toward the technical details of the production process with a primary focus on achieving consistency and process repeatability.

Most metrics implemented in this phase measure ‘what happened’ and are used for ‘after-the-fact analysis’ of quality and product variability.

In the second, productivity and asset utilisation focuses on metrics that monitor and analyse ‘what is happening’ at the current time and allowing increases in production efficiency, capacity utilisation, yield and labour reductions.

In this stage, it is also typical to find a heavy focus on automating all possible manual tasks – engineering humans out of the process supported with metrics and information that engage the remaining workers to intercede only on an exception basis.

In the third, horizontal and vertical integration addresses enterprise manufacturing effectiveness that spans the supply chain.

Metrics and systems are focused on ‘what do I want to happen and how do I make it happen?’ In this phase, it is typical to employ manufacturing-orientated score cards or indexes compiled from multiple metrics that lead to better use of resources and enhanced performance across the supply chain.

Engineering the remaining workers back into the process to drive process improvements is critical to sustaining gains.

Selecting a metrics system and underlying technology solution requires careful planning, execution and organisational change management.

Planning for the technical solution should focus on these criteria: a metrics program should be sized up and driven with a comprehensive vision and plan for sustainable change.

Best practices confirm that successful systems are people-driven.

Leadership must regulate and pace the speed at which the organisation can assimilate and effectively integrate metrics into daily management activities.

Industry systems that are built on integrated architectures should be used, versus reliance on complex custom interfaces and application programming.

This will reduce long-term total life cycle costs and the in-house skills required to support the system.

In addition, only data that counts and can be turned into useful information should be collected.

A supplier should be chosen with relevant industry experience and a comprehensive/integrated suite of products that range from control systems technology to information management applications.

Make certain you have an adequate voice inside the supplier organisation with an executive sponsor and a senior technical architect.

When things go wrong, this will allow you to get through to the decision-makers and escalate the situation in a timely fashion.

To realise the full benefits of integrated metrics and manufacturing intelligence systems, companies must often go through some amount of cultural change and improved boundary/responsibility definition.

To drive the process improvements and business gains targeted by these systems, ownership of the data accuracy, the system performance, and the method for integrating these tools into the strategic and daily management practices of the organisation must be formalised.

Rockwell Automation

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