JAN-FEB 2018

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INTECH JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 7 S hould Internet of Things (IoT) in- vestments focus on narrow busi- ness outcomes? Keeping IoT de- ployments simple by focusing on a single narrow application is being sold as a way to apply new technologies. These can be worthwhile investments, but only focus- ing on narrow applications may put you in the position of "not seeing the forest for the trees." Basically, if you look at spe- cific narrow applications one at a time, you might not realize that a group of separate "trees" go together to make a "forest." If everyone strictly followed this logic, no- body would have invested in a distributed control system or a factory automation system. A major value that automation professionals bring an organization is sys- tem-level thinking, analysis, and applica- tion. Rather than focusing too closely on one item, taking an overall systems view provides a broader perspective. Generally, this will reveal a whole forest you could not see before because you were too close, and focusing on the trees. The influx of innovative and lower-cost technology provides a range of new tools for taking a systems-level approach to manu - facturing and process operations to increase productivity and efficiency. The ISA95, Enterprise-Control System Integration, and ISA88, Batch Control, series of standards are two strong examples of models for apply - ing system-level thinking that have yielded increased quality, productivity, and efficiency for manufacturers worldwide. It is worth noting that these standards are being ap - plied using IoT and other new technology in new architectures, including Industry 4.0. The system-focused thinking of automa- tion professionals is critical for the future success and existence of many manufac - turing organizations. Manufacturers world- wide have realized low labor cost is not a winning strategy, and this is leading to greater adoption of automation, with IoT accelerating applications. There is a revolu - tion going on with a much wider and grow- ing range of automation options today driv- en by technology advances and lower-cost solutions. It is analogous to what happened in the computer industry with the shift from mainframe and minicomputers to PCs that enabled small- to medium-size companies to leverage computing to be more competi - tive. Manufacturers throughout the world are automating to stay competitive and profitable. The alternative is to be overtaken. Lack of knowledge, more than actual budget constraints, is a major barrier when these types of changes occur. It is easy to do things the way they have al- ways been done as competitive producers with lower prices take away business. It is easy to say they are "giving away the busi- ness" rather than seeking to understand the changing competitive landscape. The automation professional's challenge is to first evaluate production operations to understand the greatest points of in- efficiency, including existing overall pro- duction processes. Lean manufacturing concepts, value engineering analysis, and logistics analysis are great tools to uncover opportunities for improvement. It is advis- able to use these foundational methods on an ongoing basis for continuous improve- ment. Automation professionals armed with the results of these types of analy- sis then need to educate themselves on new solutions available through Internet searches, webinars, and industry events. As illustrated by the changing land- scape in the computer industry over the years, the established automation suppli- ers may not offer the best solutions to be competitive. Too often manufacturers rely on the suppliers they have used for years. This is a very narrow lens for viewing what is possible to be more competitive. Members of ISA have great opportuni- ties to participate in forums and standards groups to share ideas, concepts, and experi - ences with other automation professionals. n IoT requires 'systems thinking' By Bill Lydon, InTech, Chief Editor ISA INTECH STAFF CHIEF EDITOR Bill Lydon PUBLISHER Rick Zabel PRODUCTION EDITOR Lynne Franke ART DIRECTOR Colleen Casper SENIOR GRAPHIC DESIGNER Pam King GRAPHIC DESIGNER Lisa Starck CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Charley Robinson ISA PRESIDENT Brian J. Curtis PUBLICATIONS VICE PRESIDENT James F. Tatera EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD CHAIRMAN Steve Valdez GE Sensing Joseph S. Alford PhD, PE, CAP Eli Lilly (retired) Joao Miguel Bassa Independent Consultant Eoin Ó Riain Read-out, Ireland Vitor S. Finkel, CAP Finkel Engineers & Consultants Guilherme Rocha Lovisi Bayer Technology Services David W. Spitzer, PE Spitzer and Boyes, LLC Dean Ford, CAP Westin Engineering David Hobart Hobart Automation Engineering Smitha Gogineni Midstream & Terminal Services Perspectives from the Editor | talk to me

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