The impact of the convergence of information technology and industrial automation on operational excellence in the manufacturing environment.
MetadataShow full item record
The need to increase productivity, improve quality and increase flexibility whist continuously reducing costs is driving manufacturers to search for alternative means of converting the product idea into a manufactured product. Plant automation systems which are the nervous system and increasingly the intelligence of the plant have an integral role to play in this regard. This study investigates the convergence between traditional IT and Industrial Automation with a view to understanding how this phenomenon will affect operational excellence within the manufacturing environment. The study further investigates the key determinants of success for automation systems within the broader business context and how this can lead to an advantage over competitors. The study is limited to manufacturing operations within the greater Durban area. The results revealed that there is a clear relationship between industrial automation and information technology in manufacturing organisations. However, of interest is the fact that in the majority of the organisations surveyed the two functions operate as separate entities within the organisation resulting in overlaps of responsibility and accountability for key equipment and processes. Factory efficiency was found to be the key determinant of success in the majority of the organisations surveyed whilst the provisioning of production data when used strategically was found to have a positive effect in allowing the organisation to gain an advantage over its competitors. Due to the limitation of the short time frame allocated to this research, the study could not go in detail into the drivers of these findings consequently recommendations for further research is made.