Like Six Sigma, Control Loop Performance Monitoring Solutions Foster Continuous Process Improvement
What have you done for me lately? That question directly influences the behavior of most everyone within a production facility. Face it, we operate in a meritocracy that has little to no memory of past contributions and as professionals we’re constantly striving to demonstrate value. Unfortunately the need to deliver day in and day out can feel like Groundhog Day without Bill Murray’s sense of humor.
The question itself isn’t all bad. Consider how much more efficient the average manufacturing facility has become over the years. Production throughput is up while the cost per unit is down virtually everywhere. Those gains may be the result of better trained or more experienced staff. They may stem from new equipment or improved processes. Regardless, each improvement is expected to become the new standard and not just a fluke.
So what is Control Loop Performance Monitoring (CLPM) technology contributing? What has CLPM done lately?
- What Gets Measured?
What gets measured gets managed, is a core mantra of most every business. Although supervisory control systems like DCSs track production and control field- and plant-level instrumentation, they do not monitor control loop performance. CLPM solutions were developed to take on that challenge. CLPM solutions monitor control loop effectiveness relative to established benchmarks, and they identify changes in control that could potentially undermine production. Such measurement enables timely identification of performance issues and simplifies the isolation of root-causes. Some CLPM solutions provide a single value for plant-wide performance, allowing staff (and their management) to know precisely where things stand.
- Continuous Improvement
Companies like GE consistently thrive in highly competitive markets in part due to their commitment to continuous process improvement. At GE and other best-in-class companies the bar for acceptable performance is raised regularly. In a manufacturing setting that drives them to reduce defects and waste and to increase quality and output. Some CLPM solutions apply this same principle. As the performance of one or more control loops improves for a sustained period of time, the corresponding benchmarks are automatically tightened. Alerts operate relative to the new performance standards. Similarly, reports reflect the newly raised expectations. These adjustments help manufacturers to avoid complacency and simply slipping back to previously accepted performance levels.
If the goal is to reach new heights, then CLPM solutions like PlantESP can be counted on to meet the same standard. Like Six Sigma they provide both meaningful measurement of plant-wide control loop performance and they equip production and engineering staff with the tools for achieving continuous process improvement.
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