The personnel challenges facing virtually every industry over the last few years have been nothing short of astonishing. Proper candidates have become increasingly difficult to court and bring onboard. New staff in key roles are tasked to accomplish more with fewer floor operators and technology is increasingly leveraged to close the resulting gaps.
This is not unique in history, although it may seem that way due to the current media deluge surrounding business intelligence and general-purpose visualization software that makes life easier, smarter and generally more efficient.
Industrial software is playing a leading role in the current intelligence revolution. For example, Inductive Automation didn’t invent floor supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) software, nor did they invent the first responsive, general purpose web software. However, their current offerings marry these concepts in a way that hasn’t existed in industry before. Since 2010 their Vision modules have enhanced the experiences of factory floor users everywhere, easily connecting complex factory controllers to databases, alarm and reporting systems, and intuitive visualization tools.
Top tier systems integrators are evolving along with these changes in technology, delivering more comprehensive usage and intelligence solutions to entire organizations. At ECS Solutions, we’ve been a proponent of Inductive Automation’s floor-side solutions for many years. Products like Perspective are ushering in a new era of connectivity and usability within our clients’ organizations. These changes are welcomed by our developers who have traditionally been confined to the factory floor or who have connected applications to a database so that someone else can integrate ERP or other packages beyond our traditional demarcation points. Now, our team can examine the entire enterprise more holistically and consider not only personnel working with plant floor equipment but also address the needs of those working at across plant floor and front office operations and even work on issues for those who rarely visit the production floor.
Certainly, we encounter applications which exhibit traits that make them better for either Vision or Perspective, respectively. When users need the familiarity of intuitive industrial graphics on a single operator interface or group of monitors inside an industrial control room, then Vision connected to the Ignition gateway is a powerful solution. This type of application is typically secured inside of dedicated machines purpose built for plant floor operations.
When organizations want to expand access to critical data which may appear outside of the plant floor environment, then Perspective connects to the same gateway and delivers lean, responsive action on mobile and other operating systems. The machines on which Perspective modules run are typically connected to many other things inside and outside of the plant, require a leaner operating viewpoint, and obtain security from other means.
The true cross-application power of these technologies is realized when the products are leveraged together. Companies who want to inspire users to accept the entire factory as a single entity will benefit from the connectivity that Vision and Perspective can deliver across the entire enterprise. We’ve adapted both our hiring and training methods to not only best identify these options but then to deliver tactical solutions that provide maximum value. The evolution of products like this will continue and true partner-level integrators will advance along with these technologies to bring their power to users everywhere.
Jordan Stoltz is engineering director – Automation Ecosystem at ECS Solutions, a certified member of the Control System Integrators Association (CSIA). For more information about ECS Solutions, visit its profile on the CSIA Industrial Automation Exchange.