Manufacturing Intelligence – The Plant's Central Nervous System

You touch something hot and you immediately drop it or snap your hand from the heat source. It’s automatic — you do this so instantly that you don't even think about it. Ladies and gentlemen, this is our wonderful nervous system at work.

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Consider this. You touch something hot and you immediately drop it or snap your hand from the heat source. It’s automatic — you do this so instantly that you don't even think about it. Ladies and gentlemen, this is our wonderful nervous system at work — which consists of your brain, spinal cord and nerves — which work together so well that it feels instant or real-time. It sensed the hot object in your hand and signaled your muscles to let it go subconsciously. Basic studies have tracked this process of “feeling pain” to see that some nerves transmit at more than 200 MPH.

Quite amazing when you think about it. 

One day after a dentist visit my mother (bless her) bought home some fish and chips for lunch while my mouth was still numb from the anesthetic. Two hours later I was in horrible pain because I had burned the top of mouth bad and chewed a hole in my tongue because I couldn’t feel the pain. My nervous system was blocked by the pain killers and I ended up doing some serious damage to my mouth. It occurred to me that this is what happens with manufacturing intelligence with it capturing events (both good and bad), transferring them via integration to a central place for viewing and actions. So, as a machine starts producing bad parts, the quicker these events are captured, moved and analyzed the less impact of rework or scrap occurs. This is called the “feedback loop.”

Nerves let us know when something is wrong. The more important something is the more nerves we have there such as our hands and mouth. This is the same for manufacturing. If it is important, you must be tracking these critical events and “listening” to problems. Automation solutions like historians and SCADA systems have traditionally done this — however, MES systems are becoming advanced and encroaching on this space. Either way, if it is critical to your operations such as a bottleneck machine, then it needs to be measured (it needs nerves).

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