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‘10/12 Industry Report’: Baton Rouge company a leader in smart manufacturing

The new era of “smart manufacturing” has arrived along Louisiana’s industrial corridor, 10/12 Industry Report details in a feature from its current quarterly issue.

In increasingly greater numbers, the state’s industrial community is turning to digital processes, in concert with the Industrial Internet of Things, to harness data and thereby facilitate machine learning and automation.

The idea is that these smart techniques can more effectively capture, analyze and communicate data, enabling manufacturers to identify inefficiencies sooner and get answers faster. Full implementation of these techniques has the potential to reduce production costs, energy consumption and supply chain energy stream usage.

But while the data is already out there, the big stumbling block for many companies is finding ways to effectively capture and analyze it for practical applications as they simultaneously deal with aging facilities and fragile ROIs.

In Louisiana, some companies are light years ahead of others. Already considered a technological leader in its field, Baton Rouge-based pipe manufacturer Stupp Corp. is nearing full implementation of a new software-based system that will manipulate production data to make direct, quantifiable improvements to its production processes.

The Rockwell Automation-based tool will enable Stupp to gain better granularity and visibility into its shop floor operations and tie performance outcomes back to operational parameters. As a result, the data will allow it to better understand how various operational conditions can impact the final product.

From specification to implementation, the development of the $5 million system has been a two-year endeavor, but the wait will soon be over, says Chip McAlpin, Stupp’s vice president of corporate strategy and development. He expects the new system to go live before year’s end. While some players in his industry haven’t advanced as far technologically, McAlpin feels that they’ll eventually be left with little choice.

“Use of data-driven decision-making has been something we’ve increasingly turned to as our industry has progressed,” he says. “In recent years, the U.S. domestic pipeline industry has become more globally sourced. One of the ways we will remain competitive is through the use of data-driven techniques and tools.”

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