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What is Plant Life Cycle Management?

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Manufacturers in today’s connected industrial environment have a wealth of available data and high-speed communication technology. The vast amount of data available, and the ease with which managers and technicians can access and analyze it, puts manufacturers in the most advantageous position that they have ever been in to gain actionable insights and improve productivity, efficiency and overall production profit margins.

Plant life cycle management is one of the primary tactics that manufacturers can implement to achieve these benefits. In this post, we will explore what this concept entails and what to consider when implementing a plan in your facility.

What is plant life cycle management?

Plant life cycle management is a data- and information-focused concept that draws on metrics and analytics to maximize productivity and efficiency throughout every stage and aspect of a facility’s operations. In order to be fully effective, a life cycle management strategy should include a wide breadth of process and logistical considerations, for example:

  • Underlying physical infrastructure planning and layout
  • Production floor layout
  • Design, production and fulfillment process integration
  • Technical infrastructure strategy, including hardware and software and covering implementation and integration with production processes

Supplementing this breadth of process and logistics considerations, the plant life cycle management strategy should also take a holistic, big-picture view of projects, processes and overall plant operations, tracking productivity, throughput, equipment health and more.

One of the key benefits of this big-picture strategy — backed by actionable data — is the ability to take a more proactive and predictive approach to areas like maintenance and inventory, yielding previously unavailable benefits in resource and cost efficiency. With tactics such as machine health monitoring systems, organizations can take control of maintenance and uptime, drawing on data and technology — much of it driven by the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)

Increased control, proactivity and accuracy in these areas adds up to lower costs, increased productivity and improved customer satisfaction.

Phases of plant life cycle management

The plant life cycle management process typically includes the following phases:

  • Development and design
  • Commercial production/manufacturing
  • Maintenance
  • Decommissioning

PLM considerations

Every PLM strategy must take the specific considerations of the business into account. The most important considerations include:

What drives your business?

Determine the key business drivers of your organization: the factors and metrics that make the biggest difference in value, efficiency, productivity and the bottom line. Business drivers do not have to be massive, sea change-type factors — in fact, they are often some of the most commonplace processes in the facility, but those which are the most difficult to predict and maintain control over.

Business drivers might include:

  • Equipment uptime
  • Equipment reliability
  • Throughput
  • Maintenance resource allocation
  • Overall equipment effectiveness
  • Equipment health
  • Inventory accuracy and efficiency
  • Time between repairs
  • Regulatory compliance

Examine each of these areas and determine where a plant life cycle management strategy can make the biggest difference through technology, data, and real-time communication.

What is the end goal?

Whenever possible, plant processes should take this question into consideration. The question of intended outcome can apply nearly anywhere, including:

  • Plant upgrades
  • Equipment repair
  • Maintenance strategy
  • Technology implementation, including industrial sensors
  • Hiring, including newer positions such as data analysts
  • Data management and analytics strategy

The purpose of asking this question — what is the end goal? — is to ensure that any new undertaking in the facility is well-planned with an eye toward outcomes and anything that may stand in between implementation and intended goals. All too often, manufacturers implement new strategies, technologies and processes, without a concrete idea of what comes next — let alone what is intended to happen at the end. More often than not, unfortunately, these scenarios lead to lost time and money.

Focus on planning and engineering

When considering end goals and outcomes, planning and engineering become more important than ever. Planning and engineering are certainly useful for getting new processes and technologies up and running, but they are even more critical for ensuring that any new initiative or strategy delivers value throughout its entire life cycle. The amount of data available to manufacturers today makes this process easier than ever with the right personnel and expertise on hand.

Ongoing maintenance

Maintenance is one of the most important areas in the facility for maintaining productivity, uptime and throughput levels. Without a cohesive, forward-looking industrial maintenance strategy, manufacturers are likely to fall behind, missing deadlines and risking customer relationships, especially when competitors are implementing the same such strategies. Data delivered by industrial sensors offers real-time insight into equipment health and performance, enabling more effective decision-making and predictive maintenance.

ATS is a leader in the field of maintenance partnership, working with manufacturers to develop maintenance and technology strategies drawing on the latest technology, including industrial sensors and machine health monitoring systems. We work with you at every step of the way to develop the right plan for your facility and provide all the support you need, from hardware and software to training and skilled personnel. To learn more, contact us today.

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