Change: Something that Sports and Manufacturing have in Common

With the onset of Fall comes the start of another sports season. Regardless of how teams performed last year, today represents a new beginning. The standings are reset and fans everywhere recommit to the promise of a successful campaign. Consideration of resource changes is part of this annual routine as new players take the field and as a restructured staff paces the sidelines. Just as in manufacturing these adjustments – whether modest or significant – are to be expected. They’re implemented in response to degradation in performance, injuries, and retirements. What’s more, those same adjustments are made with a singular objective in mind: Enable success. So, with equipment replaced and new systems implemented at your production facility, don’t forget to recalibrate those pesky PID controllers.

Tuning a production facility’s numerous PID control loops should be standard operating procedure at the start of a new season. It’s well known that PID performance can have a significant impact on production output and efficiency. If you’re both a sports fan and work in manufacturing, then consider the following:


Change is constant. That’s equally true in manufacturing as it is in sports. Players like process equipment get swapped out whether because they failed to meet expectations, due to injury or because a better option became available. Even though change is to be expected, it needs to be managed whether on the field of play or on the plant floor.

PID controllers regulate a process’ performance within a range of operation and in coordination with a known physical environment. Whenever a resource change occurs it’s necessary to retune those PIDs.


Even the best players require time in order to gel as a team. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each player and learning their tendencies is rarely accomplished overnight. If optimal performance is the objective, then continuous assessment and commitment to a process is necessary.

It’s rare that a production process performs flawlessly when it’s first turned on. Tweaks here and there are commonplace as simple things like the characteristics of a valve’s movement are better understood. Retuning a facility’s PIDs is necessary to achieve the desired control.


Coaches frequently make substitutions during a game in response to injuries, as players get winded, or to improve a key matchup. So too production staff must regularly adjust as resources and/or production goals change.

What was considered effective control during start-up may not be good enough during normal run-time operations. Monitoring performance and substituting new tuning parameters at key stages of production can help a facility meet higher levels of throughput and efficiency.Many parallels can be drawn between sports and manufacturing. With a new season kicking off be sure to plan for a successful season. Don’t forget to tune those PID control loops and monitor their performance as part of a winning control strategy.

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