Production optimization – Savings worth of millions are cooking in process control

Blog published 1.10.2019 in Finnish at T&T 

Tuotannon optimointi on jatkuva prosessi – Prosessinhallinnassa muhii miljoonasäästöt | Tekniikka&Talous

Imagine that your production process worked in the optimal way. As I see repeatedly in our customer projects that results improve even dozens of percentages, the unused potential in process efficiency seems crystal clear to me. Process industry, including forest and chemical industry, is a major exporter and employer in Finland. Efficient operation of these production facilities protects our competitiveness and environment.

Changes in production, such as breaks, grade changes and starts, cause the need to optimize efficiency. Also normal operations management tends to have a lot of improvement potential. Fulfilling this potential leads to continuous savings that sum up significantly over time. Combining a well functioning automation to an experienced production team is currently the best recipe to prevail in industry competition. Even when artificial intelligence is utilized, someone needs to monitor and understand what is being done and why.

Optimizing production is the sensible way to work

Every formula car participating in the race is also tuned to the race condition. Numerous times more expensive plant, however, might be forgotten to tune accordingly. Process control has many levels. They range from basic automation settings to the professionals operating the whole system. In production facilities, investments often take a long consideration time and might require painful decisions to increase efficiency. For this reason, it is important that saving opportunities using already existing capacity are clearly identified and budgeted.

You may be surprised about the significant improvement potential in many production processes. One issue here is the challenge of measuring the benefits of optimization. They must be clearly measurable as a qualitative improvement or as realized cost savings. The return on investment is often months, not years.

The author has been working with improving the efficiency of industrial processes on three decades. Heikki Peltonen works as the CEO of Vipetec Oy,