Old, or legacy automation systems could be costing manufacturers money, rather than helping reduce costs, according to Cimteq.
Cable manufacturers often automate strategic processes, such as cable design, production planning, or even shopfloor data management, using either Microsoft Excel, a home developed system or an old commercial system.
Ali Shehab, President at Cimteq, says, “People replace their cars every few years, either because their personal circumstances change, a new model appears on the market with new and better features, or the old car becomes more expensive to run. In the same way, a review of assets should occur for manufacturing and business automation.
“A company should evaluate its automation system regularly to ensure that the systems are continuing to provide significant savings. If automation is not maximising efficiency, or saving money, then a manufacturer should be thinking of alternatives.“
Alternatives can come in the form of a replacement, or simply a modification to an existing system.
Mr Shehab continues, “Modification may seem an attractive option, but could be expensive, unless the automation systems supplier has built a framework for modification in their software, as we have done with all of our products.”
“Relevance” has recently been a framework whereby manufacturers examine their current business realities against their existing automation. Often, an automation system was put in place for a number of reasons. But business realities change and the initial reasons for implementing a system have either changed too, or disappeared completely. The legacy system becomes costly to maintain, wastes valuable users’ time maintaining irrelevant data, and can be a source of very costly errors.
Relevance goes beyond just the general relevance of the system to the business processes. A business consists of people and assets, such as machines. The relevance of the system has to be granular to individual roles and assets. For example, an ERP system and a MES system traditionally collected massive amounts of valuable data. But little was done with it, as it was either too old to use or required a great deal of effort to examine and regularly re-examine. In a modern system, the data can automatically be analysed through analytical tools and notification is sent to the relevant people when an action is necessary. When an action is required, that person will have the relevant current and historic information to take quick decisions.
It is often difficult for a company to examine its own processes and look at alternatives. Cimteq has experts with long experience in business automation, who can help cable manufacturing companies by giving them a different perspective on their own existing system and the possibilities of maximising the potential of their staff and assets through modern automation platforms.
Should a manufacturer decide to modernise an automation system, they should pick a system supplier which has flexibility at the heart of its products, that ensures automation is relevant today but continues to change and evolve with the customer’s business requirements so as to maximise the return on investment in the future.
Image source: Courtesy of Cimteq
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