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3 Ways to Improve Change Management in Manufacturing

07/23/2014 by: The SunView Team

Manufacturers face unique challenges when supporting day-to-day operations because operations technology and information technology interact so closely with one another. The end result is an environment in which some integration is necessary, at least on a process level, to ensure that various day-to-day tasks are properly aligned to ensure smooth functionality. This is especially true when it comes to making changes to the factor configuration, be it the IT setup or facilities-related systems.

Optimizing your change management capabilities in light of operational requirements can make it much easier to meet day-to-day needs everywhere from the back office to the factory floor.

A few ways to accomplish this include:

1. Get Facilities Involved
Integrating the change management platform with the facilities team can enable employees working on the factory itself to schedule their tasks more efficiently and improve oversight. This can replace legacy methods of scheduling repairs and maintenance while also accelerating emergency response. Furthermore, building facilities functionality into the change management platform makes it easier for IT and facilities teams to collaborate, something that can be incredibly important as IT and OT solutions intersect.

2. Establish Approvals and Authorizations
Manufacturers face a rare IT situation in which an incorrect configuration adjustment can lead to serious safety challenges. The risks here aren't just that some data may be lost. Instead, risks include having safety parameters on highly dangerous industrial equipment altered, leading to a major safety risk. For example, a change to the network configuration to support an application release may look good on paper, but it could also impact the way another application interacts with the automation and control network and end up getting in the way of safety parameters or create enough latency to lead to a malfunction.

These types of issues can be avoided by having experienced eyes look over key changes made before they are put into actions. A change management platform enables supervisors to quickly view prospective changes and efficiently authorize them, creating governance without getting in the way of operations.

3. Improve Regulatory Compliance
ISO standards and other regulatory compliance play a huge role in guiding manufacturing operations. Change management platforms create audit trails, improve governance and ensure operational collaboration, making it much easier to ensure regulatory guidelines are followed throughout every phase of a change task. Regulatory laws can be a major burden, but a good change management platform makes them much easier to deal with.

Manufacturers are becoming more dependent on IT systems that interact with industrial machinery all the time, and a good change management platform eases operations in this complex environment.