Manufacturing Workforce and Mobility Trends

Oct. 15, 2015
How trends around the cloud, mobile technologies and a changing workforce are impacting access to production data for decision making and planning.

Having access to information in your production systems means you can influence outcomes, said Saadi Kermani, product manager, Wonderware Information Management, in his session on mobility technology at the 2015 Wonderware Conference. “Everyone needs access to information—that’s always been the business issue. What’s changing is the context in which that information is needed because the pace of business is getting faster and we’re expected to do more with less,” he added.

“Another factor that’s changing across industry is people,” said Kermani, and by that he meant the Millennials in particular. The key differences in the Millennial workforce, according to Kermani, is that the Millennials will typically only spend a year or two in their current job before moving on and they will bring with them their key job tool—a smartphone and/or tablet. “They only want to know what their job is and where's their app to do it with,” he said. “SmartGlance fits this model.”

SmartGlance is Wonderware’s mobile downloadable app that provides access to plant data—such as process or operational data, metrics, key performance indicators (KPIs) and reports—on mobile devices regardless of the device’s platform, i.e., Android, iOS, Windows, etc. Kermani noted that SmartGlance is not about “generating new data, but about getting the right data to the right people when they need it. With this information in hand, users can do analysis of the data and take action by contacting people who have responsibility for it in the plant,” Kermani said.

“SmartGlance helps you monitor your equipment against production goals, such as OEE (overall equipment effectiveness),” Kermani added. “It alerts you to potential process or equipment issues and reduces the time and effort to address them with remote visibility across teams.”

Asked about the security of SmartGlance, Kermani explained that SmartGlance accesses plant data via the Mobile Reporting Connector, which accesses the data via a single outbound encrypted port. “No data goes into your system via SmartGlance,” he said. The Mobile Reporting Connector (MRC) for SmartGlance is used to create users and groups of users (such as quality, production, field engineers, etc.) who can receive specified, relevant system data via SmartGlance at established frequencies.

The MRC enables the “connection of multiple historians, creation of reports, and tag insertions with no SQL server knowledge required,” Kermani said. “You can also use MRC to give nicknames to tags, since tag names can be long.”

In reference to timing, Kermani noted that sending updates every 30 seconds is as fast as data can be pushed with SmartGlance. “If you need data more frequently, InTouch Access Anywhere is the preferred solution,” he said.

Highlighting the stand-alone applicability of SmartGlance, Kermani noted a use case in the oil and gas industry where a company is applying SmartGlance to pull OSISoft PI System historian data to make it available to workers around the company’s sites and in the field. “They’re able to do this with SmartGlance on its own. They have no other Wonderware software currently installed,” he added.

About the Author

David Greenfield, editor in chief | Editor in Chief

David Greenfield joined Automation World in June 2011. Bringing a wealth of industry knowledge and media experience to his position, David’s contributions can be found in AW’s print and online editions and custom projects. Earlier in his career, David was Editorial Director of Design News at UBM Electronics, and prior to joining UBM, he was Editorial Director of Control Engineering at Reed Business Information, where he also worked on Manufacturing Business Technology as Publisher. 

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