Whether it’s peeling potatoes or managing a city’s water supply, optimizing production is an important component of any manufacturing business.

In the past, automation systems were difficult to fine-tune without a significant disruption, but with things becoming increasingly digital and more and more products being designed with things like Rockwell Automation’s PlantPAx distrusted control system, integration is now easier than ever.

That is only speeding up with devices moving to ethernet/IP or Highway Addressable Remote Transducer solutions.

“A migration of digital technologies of any type has been helpful, but in the ethernet area, our strategy has been to enable standard ethernet that you would use in an office-type environment to have a similar type of approach in the manufacturing area,” said Kevin Wright, the Strategic Alliance Manager for Rockwell Automation, who worked with Concept Systems on a potato project. “This way, if there is any kind of IT support requirements, new IT hardware, switching and other ethernet-related capabilities, those can be extended right into the plant floor without having to have a second platform or separate type of maintenance staff to address the networking issues.”

Knowing what the issue is or having access to a device that may be hard to physically reach makes things much easier for people like Ryan Beesley, Regional Engineering Manager with Concept Systems, and the people he works with to figure out the next steps to take.

“Now we’ve already got a very focused maintenance approach, and we already have a very focused operational understanding of what the problem is,” Beesley said. “It really brings operations to a more efficient place where operators are empowered to make decisions and do operational tasks that are most efficient for their job.”

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