Best Practices for Integrating Plant Floor Automation

Staying competitive in today’s fast-paced market requires businesses to do more with less. Integrating business systems with plant floor automation is an effective way to achieve these goals. We’ve provided some best practices to help you make better business decisions with integration. 

Common Challenges

  • Supply Chains. Not knowing your inventory or how long it takes to secure materials can negatively impact your production. Integrating your plant automation with your business systems gives you a big-picture look at your entire business, helping you make smarter ordering and production decisions. It also makes it easier for plant managers to keep just the right materials on hand.  
  • Consistency and Traceability. You can trace a path from production orders from sales/corporate offices with live production information recorded to business systems by linking business and plant floor components. This process allows for quality control and maximum traceability. 
  • Worker Shortage. To fill employee gaps, companies can pursue more automation. Increased automation opens the door to connecting business technology with plant manufacturing. 

Best Practices That Can Help

The following tips can be used to get the most out of integration at your plants. 

  • Find the experts. Companies that have succeeded either have internal experts who understand the technology or they find an external expert, such as a system integrator, who can help navigate integration. 
  • Know what you have. Integration starts with mapping out what you already have in place. Performing an internal needs assessment beforehand can make integrating much easier. This can be facilitated by a consultant or automation partner.  
  • Have a tangible goal. Pick something you can scope well, complete it, and then move on to the next goal. Keeping a tight rein on the scope will make your integration goals more achievable.  
  • Be ready to adjust. Often, you uncover hidden problems and inefficiencies through the process of integration. Being flexible will help keep you on track and moving forward.  

Larger companies with multiple production sites or facilities can leverage efficiencies at one plant to improve processes at all of them. That is why they probably find the most benefit from integration. 

If you’re ready to start, you need to find integration experts versed in your technology platforms. You should also connect with the people already working on your plant floor automation. Often, they have experience with larger companies and know the business and software. Finding a systems integrator you trust is a great first step. 

-Michael De Boer, Director of Automation 


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