Manufacturers know they have the raw equipment data; they just need a way to capture it and convert it into useful equipment health monitoring information. A manufacturing execution system (MES) provides that vehicle. Rather than rely on a vendor-provided maintenance schedule or a manual log, an MES creates a PM program based on historical cycle counts. Data is collected through plant floor controls and incorporated into a database. Rules are then created based on actual tool and equipment wear patterns, and maintenance work orders are generated.

An MES can be self-contained or customized around a plant's existing software. For example, a global automaker uses real-time production counts and time in the cycling state to feed its off-the-shelf maintenance scheduling software. In the past, the company had to perform its most labor-intensive maintenance operations during shutdown periods. Equipment failed between shutdowns and downtime resulted. Today, the PM schedule for even its most complex machines is based on actual use and wear patterns, allowing production and maintenance schedules to work together to minimize downtime.

In another example, a large engine manufacturer has a self-contained equipment health monitoring MES. Its rate of tool failure was creating unacceptable levels of downtime and scrap. A system was developed to collect usage data from each individual tool and define maximum tool life. A line-side human-machine interface (HMI) was provided to allow the tool's anticipated life to be viewed by operators. Today, when a tool approaches 90 percent of its maximum expected life, the system alarms, notifying the operator and the maintenance staff. As a result, not only have downtime and scrap decreased, but the overall cost of tools is lower because purchasing can identify and buy the tools that last the longest.

Figure 1: Example of line-side MES HMI

Once equipment health monitoring systems are in place, an expanded MES can identify and prevent bottlenecks, guide overall process design and facilitate line changes. For example, a plant wanted to increase its line speed from 17 jobs per hour (JPH) to 23 JPH. The plant used its MES to understand operator cycle times by shift. One of its shifts had limited over cycles, while another shift had a much larger occurrence of over cycles. Was there a variation in training, or a lack of parts? Or, if both shifts were identical in those aspects, was there a process issue at fault? The MES allowed the industrial engineering team to determine whether an operator or process issue was the root cause, correct it and bring line speed up to the target of 23 JPH.

Figure 2: Equipment health can be broadcasted plant-wide

Plants running multiple assembly lines can use data from one line to prevent problems in another. When an equipment issue is creating problems on Line A, maintenance staff can take action to prevent the issue from occurring on Line B. When a new process or machine is added to multiple lines, the MES can compare and contrast equipment health on each line to quickly head off problems across all lines.

An effective MES equipment health monitoring system should increase uptime, reduce scrap and tool costs, and provide the foundation for a complete process management system.

What Is a Control System Integrator?

A control system integrator is a person who designs and implements sophisticated control systems for manufacturing, process and other industrial facilities. Applying engineering, information technology and business knowledge, system integrators integrate plant equipment to automate manufacturing and processes from the plant floor to the enterprise level. Automation helps manufacturers and processors reduce cost, increase production, use less energy and lower environmental impact.

What Does a Control System Integrator Do?

Control system integrators design, program, test, commission and service electrical and electronic systems in industrial applications. They integrate hardware, software and equipment from multiple suppliers into fully functional systems for optimum plant control, automation and information. Their scope of supply includes all requirements from the plant floor to the enterprise level.

What Is the Control System Integrators Association (CSIA)?

The Control System Integrators Association (CSIA) seeks to enable industries everywhere to have access to low risk, safe and successful applications of automation technology by advancing the business practices of the system integration industry. CSIA helps its members improve their business skills, provides a forum to share industry expertise and promotes best practices for business management. Founded in 1994, CSIA is a not-for-profit, global trade association for system integration companies. CSIA has more than 400 member firms in 27 countries.

What Does It Mean to Be CSIA Certified?

CSIA certification is the gold seal mark of a professionally managed system integration business. Certification reassures clients that the control system integrator is an established and successful professional services firm that wants to develop a successful, long-term partnership with clients. CSIA certification is similar to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) certification, but there are important differences. ISO certification offers quality management to make sure operations are consistent for your business. CSIA delivers that same consistency, but expands the concept to include business management, financial management, human resources, project management capabilities and more. Audit criteria for achieving CSIA certification derive from the CSIA Best Practices and Benchmarks Manual.

How Do I Find a Certified Control System Integrator?

CSIA's Industrial Automation Exchange is the world's best resource for finding an integrator and answers to your industrial automation and information needs, as well as finding products. Tailor a search to your industry, application and product needs. 

For more information, visit

Lisa Sobkow is MES Director for RedViking, a U.S.-based engineering and
manufacturing company that designs, builds and implements highly engineered
solutions for difficult manufacturing problems. A graduate of the University of
Michigan, Ms. Sobkow has been working in factory information systems for over
20 years. RedViking is a member of the Control System Integrators Association.

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