Smart Machines and Savvy Supply Chains

Industry Forum Addresses Needs of Global Machine Builders

By Joe Feeley

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Another big need is for machines to generate information that will provide these good outcomes for productivity, sustainability and flexibility needs.

Valter Marcolini of Tissue Machinery Co. (TMC) in Italy, also a participant during this session, said leveraging information is an important element of TMC's business. "Diagnostics and preventive maintenance are very important to achieve OEE," he said. "We're proud to have developed systems that can do both through specialized software, so we can see what is going to happen and analyze the data compared to the compiled data."

Gathering process information to enhance product traceability is a key factor for Ana Paula Herrstrom of TetraPak. She said that, "The information we need is to ensure that if product quality didn't reach the levels demanded by customers, we're able to stop it inside [the company]."

Equipment builder M.W. Waldrop uses data in both directions. "Almost every piece of equipment we build has data-gathering capabilities from the plant floor to the engineering desk, but we're gathering information for our own use to improve our designs," said Chris Waldrop. "How long did it take to get up and running after an upset; did the infeed not flow as well as it should have for a particular product?" Waldrop says his company also uses the data to present efficiencies back to its customers, including recipe performance and even operator or group performance.

And the emerging way to access and analyze that information is an Ethernet-enabled network, which Zei said provides the best ease of access. "So a lot of the IT tools we're used to on the business side are moving to the production areas," Zei said.

But with access comes the need to secure that information. "Just as has been shown with safety--that you can't just put a wrapper around it, you have to build it in as part of your architecture--the same applies for network security," Zei remarked. "That means building security in a layered model with best practices that include defense-in-depth that accounts for both inside and outside threats; an openness that includes strict, but appropriate access control, but which has the flexibility to deal with specific end-customer needs, while maintaining an overall consistency of approach that users will understand."

Machine OEMs are involved with line integration either directly as the responsible party or as part of an overall scheme. "In the CPG [consumer packaged goods] space, we found that in many cases, the highest or second-highest cost of a project was line integration," Zei noted. "And we heard that in some cases, the integration cost exceeded the total cost of the machines being installed."

Having determined that there has to be a better way, Zei said Rockwell Automation developed the Rapid System, which provides standard templates in a drag-and-drop environment to visualize the connected environment and can see delays, stops and other encumbrances in the operation.

More Than Just the Machine

Mike Irwin, vice president of global logistics and material planning, operations and engineering services for Rockwell Automation, followed with a discussion of how OEMs fit in the scheme of Rockwell Automation's "Design for the Supply Chain" initiative. "My job is to make supply chain a competitive advantage for Rockwell Automation," he began.

The key premise of the Design for the Supply Chain program is to have a "preferred availability" of products that get to machine and equipment builders quickly and dependably, regardless of global location. Irwin said Rockwell Automation reviewed its 377,000 parts and found there are 35,000 that represent the vast, vast majority of the purchases—parts that the company will deliver in one to three days with 97% on-time reliability. The list is segmented to account for regional differences as well.

On top of that, there are product-selection tools. "Our Proposal Works tool can suggest alternative bill of material (BOM) parts choices that are in the preferred availability family," Irwin explained. "There's a configuration tool that will lead you to a preferred product alternative to consider for your design." Irwin said that they did about 300 BOM analyses in North America last year via Design for the Supply Chain. "The results increased the use of preferred availability parts from around 80% to about 93% and created BOMs with parts delivery times that were reduced by 50%," he reported. "So now you have market-leading parts-delivery times to help you build your machine faster, a much reduced inventory—because you know we have them—and a resultant improved cash flow."

Time to market is a competitive advantage from Panhandle Meter's perspective. "SCADA usually brings the oil-field data back to management, but that can involve a lot of time and expense," Hutto stated. "Our product is one box, and, if we have everything we need, we can be at a location in the morning and be delivering data that evening."

Parts availability and other factors are essential to TetraPak's responsibility to its customer. "We have to be partners and very close with our customers and with our suppliers as well," said Herrstrom. "We have to be fast to fix any problems so our customers don't lose uptime."

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