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The Various Levels of IT Infrastructure in Manufacturing Industries and Its Goals
IT infrastructure is must for both the discrete and the process manufacturing companies.
Role of IT Infrastructure in Discrete and Process Manufacturing
As we know, discrete manufacturing means the production of distinct items like automobiles, smartphones, furniture, aeroplanes etc.
The manufacturing costs of discrete products can only be controlled and minimised when there is a perfect correlation between the material and information flow. In case the manufacturing is demand-based, the vendors supply accessories to OEMs based on in-line sequencing or JIT (just-in-time) methodologies. In such cases, good information technology infrastructure is absolutely imperative.
In the case of process manufacturing where the goods are produced in bulk like food and beverage, chemicals, pharmaceuticals etc. IT infrastructure is required for varied reasons. These include not violating the safety or the regulatory norms, for real-time process monitoring leading to improvement in performance and quality and improve reliability.
For any manufacturing industry, the money is made on the shop floor and the manufacturing industry software solutions help in optimising that to the maximum.
Levels of IT Information Infrastructure
Any good IT information infrastructure that is applied in manufacturing has five levels.
- Control Systems Layer: This is the bottommost layer that controls the equipment that is used for production.
- Supervisory Control Layer: Here, SCADAs (Supervisory Controllers and Data Acquisition systems) are installed, which helps in the acquisition of process data and exercises supervisory control.
- Production Management Functional Layer: This is the third layer that encompasses the product lifecycle management. So, all operations related to the production management like scheduling of production, production orders, dispatch of orders, tracking materials, production reports and analysis etc. are taken care here.
- Plant to Enterprise Connection Layer: The business processes of the manufacturing plant have to be connected to those of the enterprise. This is where the fourth layer comes into picture where the link is established between the two for sharing of information, analysis and reporting.
- Enterprise Application Layer: The last but not the least is this layer, which takes care of enterprise level applications. These include supply chain management, ERP, customer relations management, enterprise asset management etc.
A good infrastructure is one that seamlessly ties one layer with the other so that the entire ecosystem is interconnected in real time.
The Goal of IT Infrastructure
To enable zero latency between and within the various business processes is the foremost goal of this infrastructure. For example, if we consider the maintenance function of an industry then it is not just limited to the maintenance alone. Its impact can be directly seen on production, inventory purchasing, finance, logistics etc.
Thus, this IT Infrastructure helps in achieving a unified synthesis of the various business processes that exist within the company, but buried in disparate divisions, applications, and departments by enabling a real-time enterprise.