For many process plants, there are three distinct tasks with respect to their control, instrumentation and information systems—otherwise known as the automation system.
When I’m asked the question, “Where should I get started with improvements on the shop floor?” there is not necessarily an easy answer. There are lots of places to start and it can be very complicated.
Within the field of manufacturing automation, we face hurdles unique to the ways industrial control systems communicate. This often leads to piecemeal approaches to communication architecture development and installation. With a careful approach, legacy communication systems can be converted to higher performing systems, capable of providing connectivity without sacrificing security.
Everybody makes a wrong turn now and then on a project. Most of the time you can correct the wrong turn and get the project back on track pretty easily. Sometimes it’s a lot harder to get the project back on track and sometimes the project can’t be recovered at all.
The customer is the individual who pays the bills. The customer is the group that will use the product. The customer is the executive who judges how well the project meets the business needs of the company. We could add more examples to the list, but each of these customers looks at a project slightly differently and judges it in unique ways. As engineers, we must always try to understand these different viewpoints and be responsive to the needs of the various voices that speak for a collective customer. If we do not understand how different stakeholders offering input on a project might be in conflict with each other, we open ourselves up for some nasty surprises.