Process optimization is the discipline of adjusting a process so as to optimize some specified set of parameters without violating some constraint.
The two most common goals hoped to be achieved through process optimization are minimizing cost and maximizing efficiency. Through maximizing efficiency, via computerization, you will gain the added benefits of reduced risk, reduction of manual errors, and decreased time to completion.
Fundamentally, there are three parameters that can be adjusted to affect optimal performance. They are:
- Equipment Optimization
- The first step is to verify that the existing equipment is being used to its fullest advantage by examining operating data to identify equipment bottlenecks.
- Operating Procedures
- Operating procedures may vary widely from person-to-person or from shift-to-shift. Automation of the plant can help significantly. But automation will be of no help if the operators take control and run the plant in manual.
- Control Optimization
- In a typical processing or manufacturing plant there are hundreds or even thousands of control loops. Each control loop is responsible for controlling one part of the process. If the control loop is not properly designed and tuned, the process runs below its optimum. The process will be more expensive to operate, and equipment will wear out prematurely. For each control loop to run optimally, identification of problems is important. It has been well documented that over 35% of control loops typically have problems.
If you have processes or procedures that involve too many people, or too much paper, or too much time it is likely starting to affect your ability to keep up in certain areas of your business. It has started, or soon will start, to affect your bottom line.