Todays factories generate vast quantities of raw data, capturing information about everything from output to downtime to worker productivity. That data, when put in the proper format and the appropriate hands, can become useful information to improve business processes both within manufacturing and in other departments, such as accounting and human resources. But to truly leverage the data needed to improve performance, engineers on the plant floor and experts in the IT department need to work in tandem, breaking down the barriers that have traditionally divided the two groups.
The benefits of convergence can be enormous and exist at enterprise, plant, department and individual levels. Companies that have moved toward converging IT and controls engineering report lower costs and higher efficiency of these departments. They enjoy better business continuity, reliability and disaster recovery. Project timelines are shorter and response to issues is better. In general, these companies have a competitive advantage that will work for them shift after shift and year after year. Convergence - or at the very least collaboration - between plant controls and IT also can be a logical means to succeed with goals such as globalization, product proliferation, outsourcing and broadening value to customers.
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