Conquering the data mountain
Collecting and preparing data for analysis consumes 50 percent of the time and effort. That slow process is a barrier to reducing the severity and duration of process upsets. Being able to successfully manage mountains of data is being able to reach the summit of production efficiency. The amount of data pouring out of plant operations on a daily basis is a familiar challenge for process manufacturers today. It can be an exhaustive and painstaking environment for engineers and operators having to wade through vast amounts of information generated from various sources and collected across disparate systems.
To conquer data complexity, progressive organisations are standardising on integrated manufacturing execution systems (MES) to reach the pinnacle of best practices in data management. The ability to unearth relevant information, capture, contextualise, visualise and analyse content is crucial to understanding plant behaviour and to make critical operational decisions.
Planning the journey
The explorer, Freya Stark, once said, “There can be no happiness if the things we believe in are different from the things we do.” It is also true that when production operators execute in ways that differ from the vision and goals set by company leaders there will be big disappointments in business performance.
A belief in business alignment is vital to efficiency. Sophisticated MES analytics tools help drive greater collaboration across the enterprise by enabling benchmarking and sharing of best practices for faster decision-making. Millions of dollars are lost every year due to production disruptions and unplanned shutdowns. Delivering real-time data intelligence from the plant floor to the boardroom helps to achieve continuous improvement in manufacturing operational excellence. The use of MES leverages innovations that help key stakeholders to make timely decisions that affect plant operational performance and close the gap between plant execution and business plans.
The pinnacle of success for operators is their ability to reliably meet production targets. This requires them to transition capital projects into efficient producing assets and to be able to improve day-to-day asset uptime whilst minimising unplanned downtime. MES tracks and documents the transformation of raw materials to finished goods and provides information that helps decision-makers understand how current plant conditions can be optimised to improve production output of quality products. Integrated MES offer powerful capabilities that operate across multiple functional areas, including the management of product definitions across the product life-cycle, resource scheduling, order execution and dispatch, production analysis and downtime management for improvement of overall equipment effectiveness (OEE).
MES provides access to real-time plant production data and includes scalable, flexible solutions enabling operators to respond quickly to challenges that may negatively influence efficiency, quality and regulatory compliance. Many leading companies have adopted AspenTech’s aspenONE MES software solutions to increase profitability, reduce variability and improve overall asset utilisation. The data management capabilities within aspenONE MES puts information at your fingertips, anytime and anywhere, by collecting and organising data across disparate systems and distribute it across the enterprise to make it easy to optimise the value of that data. The aspenONE MES data foundation provides a solution to managing the large volumes of real-time and historical data from process control, manufacturing operations, laboratory systems and business systems, which form the foundation for an enterprise-level platform. Rich calculations, analysis and visualisation tools unlock the data’s value, allowing operators to compare performance across a range of assets and disseminate best practices to processes and sites that require improvement. As a scalable and flexible solution, the data historian software delivers enterprise-wide global deployments across hundreds of locations.
aspenONE Process Explorer is the intelligent solution to access, visualise, analyse and monitor plant operations data. It provides secure access from any device connected to the network without the need for client-side add-ins or software installation. Using HTML-5 technology, aspenONE Process Explorer is thin-client and device-agnostic. Users have the ability to choose between desktop, laptop, tablets and smartphones, so they are always in touch with their production data, anytime and anywhere. In the latest release, aspenONE Process Explorer intelligently helps to provide context that drives effective analysis, builds asset hierarchies that simplify monitoring and diagnostics, as well as expands batch and event visualisation.
Chemical companies around the globe use these MES tools to make better and faster decisions, driven by a comprehensive view of production operations to maximise asset effectiveness. Adding context to analyses helps identify root causes, such as batch variability, for faster problem resolution and enables operators to take corrective actions to preserve product quality.
AspenTech’s aspenONE MES software helps deliver real-time feedback of plant condition changes and provides a range of benefits to manufacturers, including:
- Searching across a wide set of data sources and content types, including production records, alarms, graphics, trends, ad hoc tag lists and comments to locate all pertinent information
- Looking at data by production segment, event or batch within a single tool
- Giving mobile workers, managers and executives access to current production information on their laptops, desktop, tablet or smartphone with a true thin-client solution
- Producing dashboards tailored for different users’ needs within minutes
- Understanding batch variability; over time, within batch and batch-to-batch more easily
- Reducing product waste and production downtime
- Increasing uptime, production throughput and product quality
- Analysing production performance and gaining a better understanding of actual production capacity for predictable order fulfilment
- Eliminating exhaustive hours of labour intensive, manual processing of data
- Increasing overall productivity and profitability
Reaching the summit of success
Conquering data management is a crucial task for chemical, petrochemical companies and refineries today. Industry leaders must not see mastering data management as an unreachable goal, but as an opportunity to improve processes and adopt cutting-edge technology to overcome complexity.
With the right equipment, operators can capture real-time data, monitor plant conditions and respond swiftly to increase productivity, address improvements in product quality and minimise unnecessary downtime costs. With effective MES solutions, plant floor staff and management teams can scrutinise operational behaviour more effectively in line with business plans and reach the peak of operational excellence.
Robert Golightly is MES, Products, at AspenTech
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Check Point: Securing the future of enterprise IT
Cybersecurity solutions provider Check Point was founded in 1993 with a mission to secure ‘everything,’ and that includes the cloud. Conscious that nothing remains static in the digital world, the company prides itself on an ability to integrate new technology with its solutions. Across almost three decades in operation, Check Point, with its team of over 3,500 experts, has become adept at protecting networks, endpoints, mobile, IoT, and cloud.
“The pandemic has been somewhat of an accelerator in the evolution of cyber risk,” explains Erez Yarkoni, Global VP for Cloud Business. “We had remote workers and cloud adoption a long time beforehand, but now the volume and surface area is far greater.” Formerly a CIO for several big-name telcos before joining Check Point in 2019, Yarkoni considers the cloud to be “part of [his] heritage” and one of modern IT’s most valuable tools.
Check Point has three important ‘product families’, Quantum, CloudGuard, and Harmony, with each one providing another layer of holistic IT protection:
- Quantum: secures enterprise networks from sophisticated cyber attacks
- CloudGuard: acts as a scalable and unified cloud-native security platform for the protection of any cloud
- Harmony: protects remote users and devices from cyber threats that might compromise organisational data
However, more than just providing security, Yarkoni emphasises the need for software to be proactive and minimise the possibility of threats in the first instance. This is something Check Point assuredly delivers, “the industry recognises that preventing, not just detecting, is crucial. Check Point has one platform that gives customers the end-to-end cover they need; they don't have to go anywhere else. That level of threat prevention capability is core to our DNA and across all three product lines.”
In many ways, Check Point’s solutions’ capabilities have actually converged to meet the exact working requirements of contemporary enterprise IT. As more companies embark on their own digital transformation journeys in the wake of COVID-19, the inevitability of unforeseen threats increases, which also makes forming security-based partnerships essential. Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP) sought out Check Point for this very reason when it was in the process of selecting Microsoft Azure as its cloud provider. “Let's be clear: Azure is a secure cloud, but when you operate in a cloud you need several layers of security and governance to prevent mistakes from becoming risks,” Yarkoni clarifies.
The partnership is a distinctly three-way split, with each bringing its own core expertise and competencies. More than that, Check Point, HOOPP and Microsoft are all invested in deepening their understanding of each other at an engineering and developmental level. “Both of our organisations (Check Point and Microsoft) are customer-obsessed: we look at the problem from the eyes of the customer and ask, ‘Are we creating value?’” That kind of focus is proving to be invaluable in the digital era, when the challenges and threats of tomorrow remain unpredictable. In this climate, only the best protected will survive and Check Point is standing by, ready to help.
“HOOPP is an amazing organisation,” concludes Yarkoni. “For us to be successful with a customer and be selected as a partner is actually a badge of honor. It says, ‘We passed a very intense and in-depth inspection by very smart people,’ and for me that’s the best thing about working with organisations like HOOPP.”