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A machine buyer's request

Visibility into all aspects of its manufacturing process is a key goal at Lance Foods, a salty snack manufacturer with headquarters in Charlotte, NC.

"We moved this year to an Oracle ERP," says Allen Moore, title. "We're doing a lot of interfacing with our systems back to the ERP, but to do so we've had to find components and equipment that permit such an interface and that enable us to put data in a usable format so that it can be collected and processed."

When asked what packaging machinery OEMs might do differently to enhance the kind of plant floor to ERP connectivity that Lance has been striving for, Moore had this to say.

"It would help if, as they develop their software packages, they would build run-time information screens and other communications capabilities into their equipment on the front end. It's easy enough to buy packaging equipment, but to get meaningful information out of it, too often we have to go in and modify the software. I wouldn't mind seeing that handled better by the builders of the packaging machinery."

Moore says he'd also like to see machinery builders agree upon standards to a greater extent than they do today. "Here at Lance, we've standardized on Rockwell for the most part. We give machine builders a detailed instrumentation and controls document that we ask them to follow. That's not to say we don't review this document on a regular basis. If something surfaces that's outside of our document, we'll shift if need be. We don't want to hem ourselves in to where we limit opportunities to take advantage of new developments."

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