Food safety. Quality standards. Yield management. Waste control. Cost containment. The list goes on. With so many competing requirements, manufacturers' need for more timely and accurate process data is accelerating both the interest and demand for Manufacturing Information Systems — or MIS solutions.

The process of recording manufacturing production data has been a manual one before today’s technology advances. Today, manufacturers are able to efficiently capture, aggregate, analyze, and report real-time and historical data on a variety of process KPIs including process temperatures, flow rates, pressures, tank levels, production yield, equipment downtime, and lot traceability. Reports can be designed by plant personnel and published to a web portal where they are accessible by anyone in the organization in real time, 24x7. Management has access to immediate, decision-making data at the touch of a key, whether they are located across the plant or across the globe.

With high levels of production to manage and the sensitive nature of their product lines, leading food manufacturers are implementing data repositories and web-based reporting tools as part of their process-improvement, quality control, and bottom line growth strategies. Such is the case for a leading national manufacturer and marketer of branded and custom made shortenings, oils, dressings, mayonnaises, sauces, margarines, culinary bases and pan coatings for the foodservice, retail and ingredient manufacturing industries.

For the largest maker of vegetable oil-based products in the U.S., producing over three billion pounds of finished goods each year, the process of tracking production and refrigeration was a manual one before implementing an MIS solution. Previously, key system parameters were periodically recorded by hand, at times resulting in a delay between a process upset and corrective action.

In a two-step process, this manufacturer implemented a data repository which allowed the massive amount of data being generated by the system to be stored efficiently. Powerful data compression algorithms allow for efficient storage of system performance parameters, such as refrigeration system temperatures and pressures, which are available at high speed and full resolution to reporting software or SCADA terminals. These solutions provide high-speed, reliable, data capture for a virtually unlimited amount of time.

Next, this manufacturer deployed a comprehensive web-based reporting tool that provides powerful trending tools and generates reports using multiple data sources simultaneously. For example, data for portions of a single batch report may be stored in an MES system, an SPC system, a LIMS system, and a historian server. The reporting tool transparently connects to all of these data sources to retrieve content for a single report, saving the user the need to access reports from each of these systems separately. With these web-based reports, e-mail alerts, KPI dashboards, and real-time trends, data is available immediately in one place. At this plant, they now have reports and e-mail events specific to their key performance indicators — allowing for the immediate notification of process issues as they are happening so they can be reacted to immediately. For this leading national manufacturer, the implementation of an MIS solution has positioned them to improve quality, control costs, reduce rework, gain efficiency, and improve safety.

Benefits are already being realized as they were able to compare their in-process product temperature data with their refrigeration compressor load and realized that making a simple change to their refrigeration system could save them an estimated $100,000 in electricity costs annually.

Forward-thinking manufacturers are abandoning once manual processes and finding that relevant, timely, accurate process data is no longer difficult for decision-makers to access. It is now available with leading MIS solutions — making data management less daunting and the production goals more likely to be met. Investments in MIS solutions are steadily rising because of the definable return on investment.

Now more than ever, it’s time to think about your own processes. Could you benefit from modernizing manual, paper-intense reporting processes? Could you take advantage of real-time data accessible 24x7? Might you defend an ROI with improvements to quality, controls on costs, reduction of rework, gained efficiencies, and improved safety? Wouldn’t you like to reduce the headaches involved with compliance reporting and other mandates?

If you believe the world of process automation is evolving to encompass more data-based decision making, you would be right. You would also be right to think you should investigate the benefits to your own MIS solution — sooner rather than later. An ROI is waiting for you.

John Tertin is Director of Manufacturing Information Solutions at ESE, Inc. Tertin is credited with developing ESE’s MIS solution suite and for expanding the adoption of MIS solutions within ESE’s customer base. Tertin is a former Process Controls Engineer with more than 10 years of experience in the automation discipline within the food industry and power generation.

ESE, Inc., ( is an industry-leading, employee-owned plant automation firm offering design and innovative solutions for food and beverage applications since 1981. Based in Marshfield, Wisconsin, ESE integrates leading-edge analytical instruments with best-in-class control systems and sophisticated software resulting in improved plant utilization, increased yields, better product quality, and faster delivery.ESE is a certified member of the Control System Integrators Association (CSIA), a global non-profit professional association that seeks to advance the industry of control system integration for the success of members and their clients. For more information, visit