Automation & IT

Upstairs, Downstairs

Data Going Up, Data Going Down? Engineers and IT Shake Hands in the Middle as OPC Gives Way to XML, Web Services

By Bob Sperber

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About a decade ago, Kris Zywicki began studying ways to make Dow Corning’s information technology (IT) infrastructure as high-performance as the silicones it produces. Starting at the company’s hometown plant in Midland, Mich., he zeroed in on calculating the costs and risks of manual data entry on both sides of the production process, from enterprise resource planning (ERP) to the plant’s distributed control system (DCS).

By 2002, integrated data between the two platforms was saving the plant $650,000 a year. “Today,” Zywicki says, “just by doing automated data transfer, we’re looking at $4 million in cost avoidance.” And Zywicki, Dow Corning’s enterprise integration architect, continues standardizing and streamlining systems across more than 15 plants in the Americas, Europe and Asia.

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