Benefits of Standard Code Modules in Automating Manufacturing Systems
The growing use of PLCs (programmable logic controllers), PACs (programmable automation controllers), and SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) systems in manufacturing has facilitated the practice of standardized software to help plants get up and running with new processes faster and to maximize operational performance. Standardized software is a unit of code that has been developed, tested, documented, logged and controlled. If the code does not meet that criterion, it is not considered a standard.
Using customized standard code for automating manufacturing systems provides a significant advantage over using out-of-the-box solutions or custom programming. With manufacturers struggling today with supply chain disruptions, labor shortages and worker safety, investing in a factory automation solution that lowers costs for all factors of production can have a significant competitive impact.
Benefit #1 Quicker Time to Market
Commission and validation processes ensure equipment, systems and facilities function as intended and confirm that final products are correct. And in an environment where time is money, utilizing standardized code modules can help manufacturers get up and running with new processes faster. Because the code has already been tested and documented, there is less risk associate with implementing new processes when compared to custom coding.
Benefit #2 Decluttered Code and Storage
While it’s common for manufacturers to use standard code modules, many of the out-of-the-box solutions they adopt are bloated with unnecessary code. These out-of-the-box solutions often contain the software provider’s custom modules and add on language, meaning that there may be hundreds of variables included that the manufacturer may not need or even know what they are.
As an alternative, customized standard code modules utilize clear naming conventions and only include the requirements that the manufacturer needs. The result is a more streamlined solution with no unnecessary fluff. Not only is this easier to support, but it also consumes less space on the controllers.
Benefit #3 Reduced Support Complexity
Unplanned downtime in manufacturing can cost a company as much as $260,000 an hour (according to Analyst firm Aberdeen Research). Complications such as excessive tool changeover, excessive job changeover, lack of operator, and unplanned machine maintenance all impact the bottom line, so the faster the time to resolution, the less of a loss to the manufacturer.
By utilizing standardized code modules, as opposed to lines and lines of custom code, engineering resources, whether internal or on the vendor side, can troubleshoot the issue more efficiently. The standard code modules make it significantly easier and quicker to find, read, and adjust code as needed.
For example, at the PLC / controller layer, if an engineer needs to troubleshoot an issue with I/O (inputs/outputs), they can quickly locate all the I/O configurations in one block. From there they can easily view and figure out a solution instead of chasing down lines of code looking for it. This ease of use decreases the long-term expense and potential operational downtime to service and/or make changes.
Benefit #4 Enhanced Operational Performance
Along with standard code modules, standard screens and functionality provide a consistent look and feel throughout all the factory equipment. For the operator, this cohesiveness means less human error and a faster learning curve, as they don’t have to learn and interpret different screens. Once up to speed on a piece of equipment, the standard look and feel helps to reduce accidents, to improve safety and ultimately, to output a better product.
A Smarter Way of Automating Manufacturing Systems
NeoMatrix has wide-ranging experience in process, equipment, and control system design and we pride ourselves on establishing a partnership throughout the entire process of specifying, building and delivery of a new piece of equipment on your production floor. With NeoMatrix involved from the beginning, you’ll have confidence that your equipment is designed “Right First Time” and will have the instrumentation, process capabilities, and control hardware necessary to satisfy your plant automation needs.
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