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PepsiCo: Forming an IT/Automation Partnership Is Like Merging Two Companies

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Keynote session number one this morning at The Automation Conference provided a unique glimpse into how challenging but potentially rewarding it can be when the IT folks and the Automation folks find ways to work cooperatively.

Both from PepsiCo, the keynote speakers were Jeff Russell, operations manager factory floor automation, and Bryan Cleal, infrastructure engineer. The Automation Conference, running May 14-15 at the Chicago Marriott O’Hare, is produced by Summit Media Group magazines Automation World and Packaging World.

“We don’t want parallel universes,” said Russell. “Why should people in Automation or Manufacturing reinvent a wheel already invented by people in Enterprise IT? It makes more sense to leverage synergies that Automation has with IT.”

Cleal agreed wholeheartedly, though he emphasized that getting to this level of shared vision is no slam dunk. He put it this way: “Forming a partnership between Enterprise IT and Manufacturing Systems is like merging two companies.”

Highlights from their engaging presentation:

• Operators on the plant floor should have the information they need in real time, from second to second. That will guarantee that the people at the Enterprise level will have all the data they need—without having to ask for it and without having to foist a top-down approach on the organization.

• PepsiCo will be expecting OMAC PackML standards (ISA-S88 Part 5) on packaging machines they purchase. Standardized data tags that are PackML-compliant can flow readily across a line control system right from the get-go, without having to ask a line integrator to spend time making this happen. The tags make it possible to integrate horizontally from machine to machine and vertically to MES.

• Remote access that lets OEMs perform remote diagnostics is increasingly desireable. But it needs to be GOOD remote access.

• Sometimes the most important thing to remember as a company seeks to build an Automation/IT partnership is that the fundamental thought process in the two camps is profoundly different. IT doesn’t understand manufacturing, the only important application in the whole enterprise is email, and the work day is a 9 to 5 thing that unfolds in an office. Automation, on the other hand, exists to make product and get it out the door, their systems and processes are built toward that end, and many of those processes are designed with a work day that is  24/7 rather than 9 to 5. It all comes down to “the comfort of carpet” vs “the comfort of concrete.”

• Common ground can be found, proof of which is the progress that has been made at PepsiCo. Successful results include:
- Reduction in warehousing
- Increased efficiency of existing facilities
- Improved product quality
- Improved OEE through data-driven focused improvement efforts

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