Driving Performance with Real-time Data

Manufacturing enterprises are under the gun like at no time before to continually drive operating performance. This month, Automation World looks at ways that successful companies have achieved gains through the appropriate application of automated information systems.

To improve performance, manufacturers must first identify the right combination of measurements, then couple those to business financial metrics, and finally put that information in front of every employee—in real time. Editorial Director Jane Gerold reports ways that companies have implemented real-time systems designed to assure that the right information gets to the right person at the right time in an article beginning on page 28.

The last few years have not been exactly the best of times for manufacturers. In fact, they have been the worst of times for many. Success means deploying flexible automation and information technology. It means getting a good return on one’s investment in automation. Contributing Editor James Koelsch compares the ways that three different types of companies account for the return on their automation investment dollars. This article begins on page 32.

Richard C. Peters, current president of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), recently sat down with Automation World Editor Gary Mintchell to discuss issues surrounding outsourcing and the critical skills that manufacturing professionals must nurture to be competitive in today’s environment. In this interview, beginning on page 36, Peters advises manufacturing professionals to polish their interpersonal skills.

In the past decade, manufacturers have invested heavily in enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, but an information gap remains between ERP and the plant floor. Users need urgently to fill that gap, and both ERP and automation suppliers would like to increase their markets with products in this space. Now, the race is on, and Contributing Editor Rob Spiegel provides details in his article beginning on page 42.

Wes Iversen, managing editor, reports on a company with so many potential product numbers that it could bind up the best manufacturing system. But Corrugated Supplies Corp. keeps production on track with a custom system that provides online ordering and tracking for its customers, and real-time process information for all of its employees. Read about it beginning on page 46.

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