Tapnet Business Plan Essay Research Paper TAPNETCOMBusiness — страница 4

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the cost-cutting justification used when purchasing departments adopted electronic procurement. “Plants have an equally strong cost-saving story to tell, particularly in terms of predictive maintenance, remote diagnostics, and utility cost savings.” He explains that many devices with an embedded Web server are able to communicate proactively. That means that if it breaks-or reaches certain preset parameters that indicate it is about to break-it can ask for help.” His examples: LVDO circuit breakers from Schneider Electric’s Square D brand include a contact-wear indicator that alerts operators before the breaker fails; and the company’s motor starters keep track of bearing wear, temperature fluctuations, and vibration levels. Valuable Capabilities What’s

possible today, says Metcalf, goes beyond sounding an alarm or an indicator light. The possibilities include initiating e-mail or signaling a pager at the OEM, the maintenance department, or contractor to describe the specific problem and request service and parts. Still, manufacturers either are not aware of these capabilities or they haven’t been sold on their value. For example, consider the experience of Cincinnati Machine, Cincinnati, a unit of UNOVA Inc. The company, a manufacturer of CNC machine tools, has had a remote access feature on its Cincron cell controller since 1998, yet only four or five customers have specified the option, says Ken Wichman, product manager for cell and small horizontal machining centers. The beta site for the feature was Winterville Machine

Works, Winterville, N.C., a subcontractor for Caterpillar and similar companies. Aerospace companies also are using the feature. Called JACK, an acronym for Java Access to Cincron Knowledge, the remote access feature is used by Winterville to eliminate the need for running down to the plant floor every time information is needed from the cell controller. “Without leaving their respective offices, the plant manager can generate a utilization report, a foreman can check the status of a hot job, and a maintenance technician can check a machine fault,” says Wichman. Users can have access to a wide range of process information and report functions. These include graphical, dynamic cell-status display; graphical in-cycle time display; and Cincron reports on fixtures, NC programs,

source routes, stations, tools, and workloads. JACK also allows users to import/export NC programs, tool data, workloads, and routes. Operator-to-operator messaging also is possible. Up to five PCs can be “talking” to a Cincron cell simultaneously with the JACK feature. Although the option can be used for Internet/intranet access to a machine tool from outside the plant, Wichman knows of no implementations. JACK operates off Microsoft Internet Explorer. The browser is the gateway to the Cincron cell controller, adds Wichman. The machine tool company also has a telephone-based maintenance service called Interactive Techsupport. At the request of the machine tool user, it allows the Cincinnati technical support specialist to connect with the CNC unit via a standard modem.

Video, voice, and data are transferred bidirectionally to allow a fully interactive session between the machine-tool user and the technical-support specialist, says Wichman. How much is e-enabled maintenance worth? Consider chip making and the cost implications of downtime. By one estimate these facilities, which cost in the billions of dollars, are down 30% of the time. For all manufacturers, the average is said to be 10%, says Metcalf. When breakdowns do occur, Web-enabled equipment also allows OEMs to remotely monitor and repair their machines, reducing response time and travel expenses. Management tools While electronic management of manufacturing functions such as maintenance offers big cost and time savings, the greater strategic value may lie in the new options

electronic information provides to executives. For example, collecting plant data centrally also facilitates the ability of managers to assign work based on which plant can deliver the quickest response time or the lowest cost of production at a particular point in time. Consider how you could improve the handling of the increasing turbulence in electrical utility rate structures, says Metcalf. By pushing data from circuit monitors and PLCs scattered across multiple plant sites to a central location, companies now can do a better job of assigning energy expenses to individual cost centers, analyzing energy usage trend data, and assigning orders to plants to take advantage of hourly fluctuations in utility rates. Metcalf cites the example of a major consumer products manufacturer