Smart Manufacturing Blog

Welcome to your source for all things smart manufacturing. Whether you’re looking for expert insights, hard data, or actionable tips for your plant floor, we’ve got you covered every week of the year.

7th Annual State of Smart Manufacturing

Now Available!

Get your copy of the 7th Annual State of Smart Manufacturing and hear from 300+ manufacturers in this new survey report!

October 4, 2023

Taking place on November 6-9 in Boston, MA, Automation Fair 2023, presented by Rockwell Automation, will showcase today's cutting-edge industrial automation technology.

Automation Fair 2023 is the premier event for industrial automation and a must-see for those undergoing digital transformation. This year, Plex, by Rockwell Automation, will present several speakers to discuss their advancements in smart factory automation.

One of these speakers is Brian Martenson, Product Manager for Plex, who has been an integral part of advances within the Plex Systems QMS software solution.

We spoke with Brian to learn more about how the Plex QMS can drive digital quality across manufacturing.

How Does Plex QMS Fit Within the Vision of Automation Fair 2023?

In our discussion, Brian touched on how the Plex QMS is a logical and organic part of Automation Fair 2023. With a mix of equipment, components, hardware, and technology, Brian feels that the QMS software, alongside other solutions like ERP and MES, allows those pursuing advanced automation to have a full set of options.

With quality as the starting point, technology can functionally and foundationally deliver significant benefits. It is a way to ensure that ROI on automation investment is realized without waste because the foundation of quality is already there.

QMS and Smart Manufacturing

Brian also discussed how Plex QMS fits within smart manufacturing. In his view, digitizing quality systems and processes is a core functionality of smart manufacturing because a smart manufacturing platform is already collecting product and process data.

Brian continued by saying that manually tracking and maintaining quality systems no longer makes sense if you have an advanced smart manufacturing platform. By removing the manual component, users can fully realize digital quality that leverages the same data and insights as other platform components.

Those real-time insights are instantaneous, removing the time lag common in traditional quality systems and allowing companies to immediately pursue corrective action at the source instead of pursuing the paper trail after the fact.

Real-Time Digital Quality for Critical Industries

Industries like automotive and food and beverage have stringent restrictions, regulations, and compliance requirements. Brian continued by pointing out that traditional document control and change procedure for these industries is no longer practical given these challenges.

Brian says that with Plex QMS, much of the required functionality to manage document control and change management digitally is out of the box. Because the system is cloud-based and real-time, changes made within the operation are instantly available across the enterprise, ensuring compliance and regulatory issues are addressed quickly.

Put Plex QMS at the Beginning of Your Journey

In discussing how the Plex QMS integrates with other Plex solutions, Brian feels that having the QMS at the start is a valuable component of the digital journey. He points out that as all companies have quality issues if they begin with a digital QMS, many opportunities for change and process improvement will inherently apply to operational areas.

For example, inventory issues, production processes, SOPs, maintenance, and many other problems can be identified because quality insights and analytics point the way. Further, Brian feels that if you begin by addressing other challenges without starting with quality, those costs are lost forever as the quality issues remain.

Defining Digital Quality

There are misconceptions among many companies beginning their digital journey.

According to Brian, "Excel is not QMS. It is not a digital solution."

Instead, Brian points out that genuinely digital QMS solutions can seamlessly integrate with other enterprise software like ERP. Because these other Plex software solutions can communicate in real time, users can take quality to a level where QMS helps solve problems rather than display KPIs without the context of prescriptive options.

He feels this functionality and ability to communicate with other Plex software under a single subscription is the true path to digital transformation.

As other solutions are added, they seamlessly integrate without requiring additional programming and allow customization across the entire software suite to meet specific company requirements.

Digital Quality – Community and Leadership

During the discussion, Brian emphasized the power of having a community of experts and those using and designing technology. With the Rockwell Automation brand's strong backing, Plex leverages that community's collective knowledge, communication, and collaboration to continue to grow and expand its functionality across its QMS and other solutions.

Brian feels that leadership at the top to drive digital quality is critical in addition to community. Starting with clear goals for quality can keep companies from becoming overwhelmed without taking on too many options at once. Once the Plex QMS solution is underway, they will discover the advantages of higher-quality outputs. They can move into other solutions within the family to scale and grow their digital transition.

Looking Ahead

To learn more about driving digital quality with the Plex QMS, check out “QM for Dummies” by Anthony Murphy and Brian Martenson. You can also catch Brian's presentation at Rockwell Automation's Automation Fair on November 6-9 in Boston or contact us.

About the Author

Plex DemandCaster Supply Chain Planning

Since joining forces with Plex, by Rockwell Automation, in 2016, we’ve harnessed the power of its Smart Manufacturing Platform and industry knowledge to offer a digitized supply chain planning product. It seamlessly unites your business from the plant floor to the executive suite. To learn more about how we are bringing the Connected Enterprise to life across industrial enterprises, visit

Plex DemandCaster