Performance Benchmarking

Do you really know how well your plant or business is performing?  Are you achieving operational excellence and world-class performance?  Benchmarking your performance against others provides confirmation that your investments and strategies in continuous improvement are delivering the required ROI and it also pinpoints opportunities for future business improvement initiatives. ARC's benchmarking and best practices analysis provides an external viewpoint to give you a clear understanding of how your company compares with others.

Why Benchmark Performance?

Evaluating the performance of applications, business processes, and/or organizational structure is one the major roles of business managers.  This is required to optimally allocate resources, set priorities, and achieve core competitive advantage.  But, what "standard" do you use for measuring your performance?  A benchmark provides the needed information to assess current conditions and set reasonable objectives.

Benchmarking your operational performance against others yields specific data on the success of your automation strategy, determines whether you are achieving the needed ROI, and identifies where and how to improve your strategies and investments in the future.

Cost vs. Value Benchmarking

Choosing the right approach to benchmarking is of critical importance to getting results.  For the last several decades, companies have been fixated on cost reduction, headcount reduction, and business re-engineering to increase output per employee.  No wonder that performance metrics, if available at all, are typically focused on the cost side, rather than the value that investments in automation bring to the business.

It is often overlooked that a control system or a software application is part of the VALUE equation of the larger business system.  A control system or a software application generally brings a certain amount of value to a company when it is installed.  In most cases, more value can be created by improving the installed system by adding new skills to the human resources, using advanced control techniques, asset management, abnormal situation management, and a host of other things.  These and other performance metrics, along with best practices, are the true value creators for most businesses today.


Getting Started with Manufacturing Operations Performance Benchmarking

Manufacturing Plant Performance Benchmarking ConsortiumARC has recently made it easy for owner-operators and end users of automation and operations software and systems to get started with performance benchmarking.  We now offer access to many of the over 50 metrics developed for and by the Benchmarking Consortium members at No Cost to Operating companies that wish to participate. Please note that this Benchmarking offer is only for owner-operators.

You can submit these metrics to ARC’s Benchmarking Consortium database by simply filling out one simple worksheet.  ARC will process your metrics, load them into the Benchmark Consortium database, and provide you the tool so that you can compare your metrics to others.  If you are interested in getting started with this free offer, please Contact Us so that we can send you the Metric Collection workbook.

High Value Manufacturing Operations Performance Benchmark Metrics

We selected metrics that are of high usage as well as easy for owner-operators to gather the basic data required.  These include:

Operator Loading

The control operator is critical to the successful operation of a plant or facility.  These metrics contribute to your control operator work load and having these allow you to compare to other operating companies on a standardized basis.

  • Control Loops per Operator
  • I/O per Operator

Critical Alarms

Another load on the control operator is alarms.  There are many alarm metrics available with the full Benchmarking Consortium membership, however provided here is one alarm-based metric that allows you to compare to other operating companies on a standardized basis.

  • Critical Alarms Configured

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Support Personnel Loading

Have you understaffed your engineers, technicians, and maintenance personnel?  With these metrics, you can compare your operation staffing with other companies in your industry or across the spectrum of operating companies.

  • Automation Maintenance Personnel
  • Automation Project Engineering Personnel
  • Control Loop Support
  • Field Instrumentation Personnel
  • Hardware and Software Personnel
  • Process Control Personnel
  • Total Support Personnel
  • Total System Personnel

Energy Management

Managing the amount of energy you use in your plant or facility is an important metric.  This is one performance-related metric that can be compared in light of other metrics provided.  Note, there are additional performance metrics such as OEE available with the full license to the ARC Benchmarking Consortium.

  • % Energy Measurement online

Safety Systems

A measure of your facilities safety preparedness is the percentage of the I/O that is devoted to safety.  Note, there are additional safety system metrics available with the full license to the ARC Benchmarking Consortium.

  •  Safety IO

Plant Age

There are many factors that help or hinder your plant’s ability to perform.  One of the basic measures that can be used to compare with other owner-operators is the age of your plant or facility.

  • Age of Plant

Please refer to the complete list of metric groups below that are available with a full license to the ARC Benchmarking Consortium.

We are very pleased with the benchmarking results that we received from ARC's Benchmarking Consortium.  The information was extremely interesting and valued.  It is going to really help our efforts in communicating a number of key opportunities in our facility to our management.

Suncor Energy

Metrics Available for Manufacturing Plant Performance Benchmarking

ARC has worked with several end user work groups to define over 50 metrics over the past two decades. These metrics definitions include collection and calculation methods to be employed to ensure comparability of the metrics when displayed together for benchmarking purposes.  Here is a description of currently available groups of metrics:

Advanced Process Control

For the process industries, advanced process control is a proven technology to improve a plant, section, or unit operation's performance.  These are a series of metrics designed to answer questions as to the effectiveness of advanced process control.  By standardizing on these metrics, as defined by the Benchmarking Consortium, member companies are able to compare their experience with APC to other companies. 

  • APC Personnel
  • APC Projects
  • APC Saturation
  • APC Service Factor
  • APC Utilization per Process Unit Controller
Analyzers in Control

Many process companies use on-line analyzers to directly measure quality or other important control parameters.  The question is how many companies are really successful in doing this?  Another question often asked is how many analyzers are being used by the companies for other purposes.  These metrics are designed to help companies calibrate their use of analyzer technology by comparing themselves to others in the same or related industries.

Automation System Reliability

The focus of these metrics is on the overall reliability of automation technology being used.  Mean time between failure and mean time to repair are standard terms used for reliability comparisons. These metrics are designed by the Benchmarking Consortium members to allow comparison across companies and across plants of varying size and complexity.

  • Instrumentation and Automation MTBF
  • Instrumentation and Automation MTTR
  • Number of Bad Instrument Measurements
Control Performance

At the heart of the benchmarking metrics is the effectiveness of control that is implemented at one's plant or unit operation.  There are many ways to view this.  Are the controls loops running correctly or performing well?  Are the controls in the optimal or normal state?  These are among the metrics designed by the Benchmarking Consortium members to allow comparisons from one company to another, and one process to another, regardless of size of the plant.

  • Key Control Loop Performance
  • Percent of Control Loops at Limit
  • Time Loop is in Correct Mode
Equipment Status

Plants or facilities rely on equipment to perform to design specifications, and in some cases the equipment is pushed beyond original design.  The status of the equipment is important in being able to judge whether your performance metrics are comparable to other's performance metrics.  For example, if the plant is old, or the automation running the plant is not up to date, then this can influence performance.  These family of metrics are designed by the Benchmarking Consortium members to enhance comparisons across the family of metrics.

  • Facility or Equipment Age
  • Automation System Age
Operator Loading

The control operator, sometimes referred to the console operator, is critical to the successful operation of a plant or facility.  Operators that are heavily loaded may miss important changes in the process operations and miss opportunities to improve the facility.  This family of metrics provide measures of loading in terms of how much is expected of the operator to manage.   The Benchmarking Consortium members when designing these metrics took note of the fact that these metrics are only one dimension, but when combined with other loading factors such as alarm loading, comparisons across companies can be realized.

  • Control Loops Per Operator
  • IO per Operator
Patch Management

The day of open systems is here.  With it comes the need to manage more frequent changes to operating systems due to potential security risks as well as other problems discovered.  Of course, the ultimate decision as to whether to implement a patch is placed on the company policy.  How are the most successful companies doing this?  This metric is designed to provide some guidance to industrial companies.

Plant Performance Management

Many products are available to operating companies to help improve performance.  Some are directly engaged in the process, as are distributed control systems (DCS), programmable logic controllers (PLCs), or advanced process control (APC).  Some are designed more as guidance to the humans that ultimately have to make decisions with little time to think.  These systems are called performance management systems or software that is designed to be monitoring and analyzing the operating parameters of the process and then to provide guidance when the humans need to take some action.  These metrics are designed to provide feedback to businesses as to whether other companies are taking advantage of these systems and tools.

Optimal Operational Personnel

In addition to the operating personnel, there is a staff in the operating facility to ensure that the systems are installed correctly, have the latest upgrades, and overall running properly.  In recent years, the trend has been to reduce the number of these people based on cutting cost.  Many have found that they have gone too far and that the overall performance of the facility has suffered.  These metrics are designed to provide the answer to the question, "Do we have the optimal number of persons in our plant?"  The answer to this question is not a simple yes or no, so the Benchmarking Consortium members designed these metrics as a family of views of the personnel to include persons performing specific functions, skill levels, and personnel turnover.

  • Automation Maintenance Personnel
  • Automation Project Engineering Personnel
  • Control Loop Support
  • Field Instrumentation Personnel
  • Hardware and Software Personnel
  • Operator Training Simulators
  • Personnel Skills
  • Process Control Personnel
  • Ratio of In House Support versus Contract Personnel
  • Total Support Personnel
  • Total System Personnel
Operational Performance

Overall plant or facility performance depends on many factors.  A facility may be operating well as far as product cost is concerned, but if the facility is not performing well in regard to equipment availability, product quality, or throughput, then the low cost becomes less important. In addition, energy is extremely important to all companies.  These metrics are designed to provide measures of comparison to other facilities and companies around the world.

  • Energy Management
  • OEE - Overall Equipment Effectiveness
  • TEE - Total Energy Effectiveness
Project Management

While operations management is of critical concern for most companies, the effectiveness of projects to deliver the optimal control and automation technologies is also important.  The question that these metrics provide answers to are, "Are my costs to do projects similar to my peers?  Did my project take longer than others doing projects in similar processes?"  These metrics help provide focus on areas that might need improvement.

  • Project Automation Cost
  • Project Automation Scope
Safety Systems

These metrics are for owner/operators that have process safety systems deployed in their plants or facilities.  These systems are sometimes referred to Safety Instrumented Systems (SIS).  These are "facility" level metrics.  The purpose of these metrics is to capture, for benchmarking purposes, the policies, practices and results of a company's safety system utilization.

  • Safety IO
  • Safety System Metrics

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