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Automating Automation

“Hey, I bet we could automate that!”  Have controls people ever gathered ‘round the kegerator on a Friday afternoon without these words being spoken? Whether it be Christmas lights, banking, or lawn irrigation, there’s nothing we love more than automating things. Heck, we even automate automation.
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Your Ticket off ‘Automation Island’

The Sirens are mythical creatures that used beautiful songs to lure unsuspecting sailors too close to the rocks, only to have them realize too late that they were marooned with little hope of escape.
ROI challenges and quick projects are the Sirens of the automation world. Many manufacturers are tempted by low hanging fruit performance improvement opportunities and then, applying corporate ROI rules, request capital to execute a project. This approach leads down a path of one-off projects, eventually leaving you adrift among many point solutions or ‘islands’ of automation. The real disadvantage? You’re left stranded without automated equipment/solution coordination and real time decision making data, and the cost to change can’t be justified with corporate ROI rules.
Could it be that you listened to the Sirens and are now stuck with point automation solutions and no ability to coordinate with other islands nor share real time data? You may be marooned on ‘automation island.’
Do not fret; all is not lost. A successful approach that gets you free automation after several projects includes a holistic automation plan, a set of standards to build each one-off solution against so that it will become a leveragable holistic solution by the time you’re done. Manufacturers that do not heed the call of the Sirens develop projects that include coordinated control, built-in diagnostics and data collection as part of your standards. After a few projects and a little dedicated budget, you will have a free platform to build lower cost, high value solutions and applications on top of such as diagnostics, coordinated and advanced control, real time data-based decision-making and execution efficiency applications. You’ll have effectively built a life raft and can paddle away from ‘automation island’ for good. Never to be lured by the Sirens again!
Standard applications can be leveraged on multiple projects and can be justified within traditional ROI rules. Then you can use this free holistic platform and add high value low cost solutions/applications for manufacturing excellence.
That’s how we do it at Avanceon. Have you been similarly successful or have you taken a different path? We would love to hear your perspective!

Auto, Data, Help: Manufacturing’s “Puppy, Monkey, Baby?”

At this point most people have seen the notorious “Puppy, Monkey, Baby” Mountain Dew Kickstart commercial from the Super Bowl. It promotes a new beverage called Kickstart, which combines Mountain Dew, juice, and caffeine—a hybrid of three “awesome” things that are better together. The dancing, beverage-dispensing creature, with a puppy’s head, a monkey’s tail, and a baby’s chubby legs, has polarized audiences; some claim the surreal ad is “freaking out, scaring, and terrorizing” viewers, while others praise the impact of the marketing and the connection to the brand.
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