Discussing the Power of Configurable Process Control

Discussing the Power of Configurable Process Control

By Anthony Borges, Marketing Manager, Pinpoint Information Systems

Most traditional manufacturing assembly lines are programmable logic controller (PLC) driven, using traditional microcomputers to control all work station and assembly line devices and tools. Although effective, PLCs are no longer an efficient process controls solution alone due to the time and cost of programming and maintaining them, and due to their limited capabilities compared to modern software based solutions. This fact presents the opportunity for any manufacturer, large or small to improve; to cost-effectively ‘upgrade’ and bring modern software and error-proofing techniques forefront.

Leading manufacturing execution systems (MES Systems) available today with full-process control capabilities are readymade to address these PLC problems and other issues by combining all elements of ‘process control’ and error-proofing into one (1) easy to use, configurable plant floor management system that can be accessed and manipulated in real-time from any computer, tablet or Smartphone. Further, a complete MES System solution is foolproof since it also manages the human or line operator by monitoring the process steps they perform, and the status of tools and devices to ensure all human and machine assembly thresholds are met in the cycle time allocated.

The power of an MES System or configurable process control system is now well beyond that of what can be accomplished with PLCs alone. The issues with traditional PLC control are not limited to the new features a software based manufacturing operations management system adds. Traditional PLCs alone can never be as flexible as an MES System given the PLCs key flaws:

  • Typical PLC solutions are too inflexible and costly because they can only be manipulated during off hours by controls engineers or contractors.
  • The scope of the PLC solution is essentially limited to machine control so other critical elements of the process (like the human being) are not addressed or require a separate stand-alone system.
  • PLCs are not dynamic enough to keep pace with the modern manufacturing environment; which includes product variation, flexible scheduling, or frequent changes to the assembly line.
  • Traditional architectures drive unnecessary costs like the requirement of an Ethernet IP card in every single tool controller.

For these reasons manufacturers who continue their operations maintaining the status quo will inevitably delay their own progress and growth in the market versus their competitors. This way of thinking, i.e. doing things the way it has always been done, is closed-minded and not progressive. Manufacturing innovators, on the other hand, prove the MES System instantly as an interactive tool critical for maintaining quality and efficiency of their production processes.

MES System software represents the opportunity to have an integrated approach to process control. Upgrading and combining a MES System with an existing PLC infrastructure to monitor and control all tools and devices is a cost-effective and long-term solution which solves all the problems associated with traditional PLC process control. The MES System allows manufacturers to make changes to and configure their assembly line in real-time, from a website browser on any computer. Additionally, the adoption of an MES System provides the foundation for small and large manufacturing facilities alike to formulate a future plan for manufacturing execution, step by step. As is, the out-of-the-box MES System already comes equipped with every tool needed for the monitoring and control of manufacturing operations, including product tracking, work order management, and production analytics reports (manufacturing intelligence) essential for maximizing product assembly efficiency.

MES SYSTEM SOFTWARE

PINpoint Information System’s manufacturing execution system (MES) software is designed and tested to ‘Information Technology Infrastructure Library’ (ITIL) standards before any official version release. PINpoint’s andon and MES System software have been developed since 1997 and continue to be evolved and pushed-forward by leading manufacturers.

The software is in use daily around the World in multiple languages by leading automotive, aerospace, heavy machinery, agricultural, power sports vehicle manufacturers and more. Headquartered in Burlington, Ontario, PINpoint services industry internationally from their offices in Canada, the United States, and China. For more information visit: http://pinpointinfo.com/

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