IIoT worker participation offers advantages for producers

A recent white paper by leading automation provider Schneider Electric considers the advantages of IIoT worker participation in industrial automation. An empowered workforce can help turn existing automation control systems into industrial profit engines to drive measurable operational profitability.


Over the years, many new control strategies and initiatives have been based on the idea that automatic control without human involvement was the best method to eliminate costs and maximize revenue. However, most of these initiatives failed because they overlooked the positive attributes humans possess and technology does not, from judgment and adaptability to the ability to deal with the unknown.


The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is revolutionizing process automation and manufacturing. Companies have a real opportunity to move from managing their business to controlling it.


IIoT will bring an abundance of new data from wired and wireless devices, and connected at the edge to the systems that control the process. The real-time data from these connecter sensors will enable the control of important business variables. IIoT worker participation will enable make smarter, faster, more efficient real-time business decisions to be made. This will enhance safety/environmental safety, reliability and, operational profitability.


To achieve this, the empowerment of the workforce to make real-time decisions needs to be a critical component of any control strategy. Making the best real-time decisions does not necessarily require more data. What is important is that the right data provided in a format the operator is quickly able to interpret.


New HMIs with situational awareness

One major operating challenge is the ability to more quickly identify and address abnormal situations before they impact operations. Many industrial human machine interface (HMI) designs are now obsolete because of recent trends in the industry. These include more complex control systems, greater volumes of data, staffing proficiency, and the expanded use of remote operations.


New generations of HMIs will need to highlight “situational awareness”. This is a methodology allows the overwhelmed and sometimes undertrained industrial workforce to perform their jobs with fewer errors. Thus, when an abnormal situation occurs, the improved navigation techniques can cut the time it takes to respond resolve it by more than 40 percent. In addition to reducing economic losses due to unscheduled downtime, situational awareness concepts improve safety and overall plant performance.


In the plant of the future, the industrial workforce will have more and new opportunities to become more critically involved in the business, leveraging the IIoT to begin to control more than the efficiency of the process, which was the historical goal. To maximize performance, they must change from simply presenting data to displaying operations information in the correct context. The resulting situational awareness can lead to a fivefold improvement in detecting abnormal situations before they occur.

The white paper “Empowering the workforce to control the Future of Automation is available here, from Schneider Electric



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