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The first step toward understanding and optimizing a manufacturing process is to collect and archive data about the process. Hopefully the system used to accomplish this is a “plant-wide” information system, or PIMS, which collects not just process data, but also quality information and laboratory results, and operations information such as upcoming orders and inventory. Collecting data and putting it in a historian is relatively easy, and most control system suppliers and some third party software vendors offer this capability. The real value of a PIMS is determined by how that collected data is organized, how it is retrieved, and what options are available to help you garner meaningful conclusions and results from the data.