U.S. Factories Manufacturing a Comeback?

Once a pillar of the American economy, the manufacturing industry suffered some major setbacks over the last couple of decades. Whether due to free trade agreements, international outsourcing, the general economic recession, or a combination of all three, fewer and fewer products are manufactured in the US. There are signs, however, that things may be changing for the better. 

Factories that have sat dormant for years are being purchased and reopened. Some are being opened by foreign companies, but those factories will be staffed by American workers. And the resurgence of U.S. manufacturing is not entirely dependant on foreign investment. Many American companies are also increasing their local manufacturing base – again, putting Americans to work. 

This resurgence is particularly important as manufacturing – even at its least productive – is responsible for a significant portion of the US economy. For example, in 2012 manufacturing contributed 12.5 percent of GDP. Right now, it is estimated that every $1.00 spent on manufacturing adds $1.32 to the economy, which is the highest multiplier effect of any economic sector. It is not an exaggeration to suggest that as manufacturing goes, so goes the U.S. economy. 


Manufacturing Production has increased during 9 of the last 12 months
 

The truth is that manufacturing output is increasing worldwide, due in large part to technological advances and the proliferation of factory automation. As SCADA technology advances, moving us ever closer to the next Industrial revolution – or Industry 4.0 – not only are manufacturing processes becoming more efficient, but manufacturing employees are becoming more skilled and higher paid than in previous generations, meaning there is more disposable income for purchasing manufactured goods. Greater demand encourages greater supply, and the cycle continues.

Automation is also likely to level the international playing field somewhat, as technology is eliminating the need for cheap, unskilled labor. Manufacturing employees in the new industrial environment will be technically savvy and skilled.  As we move toward a more automated future, there will be little advantage to an American company opening factories in other nations or outsourcing manufacturing projects. Americans are still among the world’s most veracious consumers, and the ability to eliminate the cost and complication of international shipping will provide incentive for local companies to keep their manufacturing base right here in the U.S.

U.S. factories continue to re-open, and new ones are being built. And the most important product issuing from these new assembly lines? Prosperity.



Data Modeling in the Oil & Gas Industry

The Oil and Gas Industry faces a number of new challenges in the coming years. From the obvious challenge of managing a finite resource to ever-changing environmental regulations and the consequent competitive pressures, it’s easy to understand why industry leaders are continually striving to find ways to optimize and improve operational efficiency.

The new digital landscape of the industry has led to a proliferation of data, with greater frequency, at every stage of the business lifecycle. This abundance of data has led to new ideas about how this data can best be managed to maximize its value. The standards introduced by PPDM 3.8 include 53 subject areas intended to give executives a model for a Master Data Management solution.

A data management model is necessary largely because of the separate data sets that must be monitored - such as location data, well data and production data – which have traditionally been grouped and viewed separately. Now, research is showing that the proliferation of these information “silos” and the lack of a unified view can lead to a number of undesirable consequences, including:

  • Project delays
  • Escalating costs
  • Lack of regulatory compliance
  • Inability to utilize full production capacity (missed revenue opportunities)
If an integrated data management system can increase efficiency and productivity, improve safety, ensure regulatory compliance, and reduce costs, it becomes obvious that data integration is well worth the investment.
 

Data Modeling Tools

The OPC Foundation first introduced the Unified Architecture specification in 2006, taking a major step toward a cross-platform service-oriented architecture for process control. The OPC UA information model provides a logical framework for an integrated data management system. Additionally, other software tools have been engineered to facilitate the transition toward a more integrated model.

Recently, SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) and HMI (Human Machine Interface) software has made progress toward allowing a fully integrated data visualization system that aligns with the needs and expectations of the modern oil and gas industry. Some of the ways that SCADA has embraced the notion of integration include:

  • OPC UA Compatibility
    Many HMI/SCADA developers have embraced OPC Unified Architecture, giving their software the ability to communicate with hundreds of different devices. The enhanced security and multi-platform support of the latest OPC specification helps facilitate an integrated information management system.

  • Data Modeling
    Although data modeling in an HMI/SCADA system is still quite rare, some innovative developers have developed software with integration in mind. Finding a powerful HMI/SCADA system that incorporates the concept of data modeling is an essential step toward creating a fully integrated data management system.

  • Mobile Device Support
    Not quite as rare as data modeling, but still not fully embraced, several software developers or ISVs have added mobile device support to their product offerings. As the oil and gas industries begin transitioning toward a unified system of data visualization, the benefits of mobility become more apparent.

Using the right SCADA system can significantly reduce unplanned downtime or unexpected delays, while simultaneously improving efficiency and safety.

** B-Scada's Status Enterprise HMI/SCADA software provides a perfect example of how a modern SCADA system can truly embrace the modern, data-driven industrial landscape. Learn more at http://scada.com.