Saturday, August 3, 2013

Managing the Bad Times Better with Workflow

by Jim Frider, product marketing manager, Invensys

Every industrial facility experiences unexpected downtime and damage to productive assets.  How your organization manages these “bad times” will help determine the performance of your facility and consequently its profitability for the year.  Many industrial companies compile detailed lists of possible failure modes and develop contingency procedures to effectively deal with each of them.  
Since many potential problems rarely happen, the experience of the operator comes into play.  More experienced operators have seen a broader range of problems and know what to do, while less experienced operators do not.  How do you make sure your contingency plans are followed by everyone, every time? 

Written procedures, supported by regular training, help but a workflow management solution is a more foolproof way to ensure procedural compliance, particularly during the “bad times” when personnel are under the most pressure.  A workflow management system is a software system that interfaces with a broad range of plant software systems, allowing workflows and their associated work tasks to be modeled, executed and tracked.  Workers, regardless of their experience level, are provided the right work tasks in the correct sequence and with the proper supporting information to complete the required contingency procedure – minimizing any potential loss.  Companies that implement workflow management systems are less vulnerable to unexpected events that can stop the production process.  Product loss and collateral damage is also reduced with operators less likely to make the wrong operating decision.
Let’s cite an example.  A coffee company has a critical roasting process monitored by their automation system.  The system detects a high temperature level during the roasting process and triggers an alarm. If the alarm is not acted on within a specific time period, ArchestrA Workflow notifies the Quality department and requires a manual quality inspection be performed.   If the inspection is delayed, the issue is escalated to the production manager.  In this case, the product fails the quality inspection and needs to be scrapped.  The system first notifies the operator to stop processing the bad product.  Next, the Production Manager is informed so he can schedule additional production to make up for the lost product.  Lastly, ArchestrA Workflow monitors all inventory activities via the facilities’ manufacturing execution system (MES) to ensure that bad product is not placed into inventory, reducing customer complaints.  This example shows how a workflow management system can help protect a company during “bad times.” 
Workflow Management systems, like Wonderware’s ArchestrA Workflow solution, help industrial companies manage the bad times better, minimizing loss and preserving profitable operations.  Learn more about ArchestrA Workflow at our web site or contact your local Wonderware distributor. 

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