How to optimize the manufacturing process with increased transparency?

Transparency to optimize manufacturing processes

 

Transparency is one of the most important prerequisites for the optimization of manufacturing operations. In addition to increased visibility, transparency forms the basis for all decisions. In other words, the more information available about production processes, the safer the decisions can be made and the easier it becomes to optimize the manufacturing process.

 

Here, real-time information and a formalized reporting scheme is the key to success, for instance:

  • Shop floor management can respond to events and issues on short notice and can initiate corrective actions immediately.
  • The formal definition of Key-Performance-Indicators (KPIs) offers the opportunity to evaluate and compare the effectiveness of measures.

Status quo: transparency is missing

Despite the importance of process visibility, real-time reporting schemes with standardized KPIs are missing in many factories. The status quo is usually based on paper and manual reporting tasks:

  • The shop floor worker typically makes one report per shift or at the end of an order, using paper-based confirmation forms.
  • Operators manually fill out the reports for the foreman, who then manually transfers them to the ERP system.
  • Reported data is often based on quantities, e.g. produced units per shift. Iportant data points for process optimization such as setup times, change over times, processing times or downtimes are missing and therefore cannot be reported

Real-time data is the basis for the definition of meaningful KPIs

In essence, real-time data points are very important as they form the basis for KPI such as OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness). In addition to the reporting of machine and process times, the feedback of qualitative indicators is important. This includes, e.g. downtime reasons for a machine or rejection reasons for products. This data is important to optimize manufacturing processes. As it allows the definition and implementation of suitable corrective actions to improve the overall equipment effectiveness.

Efficient reporting processes are necessary to optimize manufacturing processes. What’s needed to overcome slow reporting processes and tedious manual tasks? You should shifting paper-based reporting procedures towards digital tools.

Only digital tools make real-time reports possible. With smartphones, tablets and wearable devices such as an Industrial smartwatch, the collection of data can be vastly improved.

Reporting apps allow the efficient collection of data and timely reporting. Web-based manufacturing intelligence tools allow the definition of KPIs and visualize the status of production processes on dashboards in real-time. By equipping machines with IoT sensors, important data such as downtimes or changeover times can be automatically logged. Industrial IoT platforms allow the integration and aggregation of such sensor data and brings transparency about operation times and downtimes.

Example for increased transparency for manufacturing operation

An exemplary setup for increased operational manufacturing transparency looks like the following:

Iot connected machines

Once you connect your machines to a cloud based data base, you can start collecting important data points, e.g. about machine availability. Attached sensors would collect the data and automatically transmit them. By using modern technology solutions you can even set this up without touching your existing machines.

Alerts

In case of machine downtimes, the machine automatically reports the event to the cloud-based tool. The tool would then trigger an alarm and send a notification to the service technician’s smartwatch.

Get machine data

The service technician gets real-time information about the machine failure and the error code of the machine.

Instant reporting

The service technician arrives at the machine and is well-prepared to perform maintenance tasks. He checks the machine and gets maintenance instructions on his smartwatch. He then approves the tasks on his smartwatch and confirms the proposed error codes. After the collection of all relevant data, the service technician sends it directly to the cloud based backend.

Rich information with audio and video

In addition, the service technician documents the root causes with pictures or video snippets with the camera of his smart device.

KPI dashboard

Again, all data is directly sent to the cloud based backend. The respective service case is updated and reviewed later on. All data points are taken into account for real-time KPI dashboards. Management can check the dashboard at anytime, from their desktop or mobile devices, and initiate corrective actions.

How to start the optimization of manufacturing processes

Efficient and scalable manufacturing processes require transparency and visibility. Digital tools make information about production processes more available and visible. As change does not come overnight, start small with defined processes and use systems which allow the efficient setup and creation of reporting workflows. The WORKERBASE Industrial IoT platform was built to do exactly this.

 

For instance, the app builder functionality allows the creation of reporting workflows without programming. The open system architecture enables the integration of IoT enabled machine data, and the Analytics functions provide visualisation of defined KPIs. The solutions can be implemented in an iterative way. This means, it’s not necessary to tackle every challenge at once – but to start small with the optimization of manufacturing processes and to achieve direct, repeatable results.