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. Transparency forms the basis for all decisions. The more information about production processes is available, the safer 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:

  • Only through timely information, shop floor management is enabled to respond to events and issues on short notice and can initiative corrective actions immediately.
  • The formal definition of Key-Performance-Indicators offers the opportunity to evaluate and compare the effectiveness of measures.

Status quo: transparency is missing

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

  • Status reports from the shop floor are often made only once per shift or at the end of an order on paper-based confirmation forms.
  • These are filled out manually by operators and then get manually transferred by the foreman to the ERP system.
  • Reported data most often only is based on quantities. Important data points for process optimization such as e.g. setup times, change over times, processing times or downtimes are not known and thus can not be reported.

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

Real-time data points are very important as they form the basis for KPI such as the OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness). In addition to the reporting of machine and process times, the feedback of qualitative indictors is important. This includes, e.g. downtime reasons of a machine or rejects reasons for products. Such data is important for to optimize manufacturing processes. It allows to define and implement suitable corrective actions and to improve the overall equipment effectiveness.

Digital tools to optimize manufacturing operations

Efficient reporting processes are needed to optimize manufacturing processes. To overcome slow reporting processes and tedious manual tasks, a shift from paper-based reporting procedures towards digital tools is needed. Only with digital tools information can be reported in real-time. With smartphones, tablets and wearable devices such as an Industrial smartwatch, the collection of data can be improved. Reporting apps allow the efficient collection of data and a 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

IoT enabled drilling machine is connected to a cloud based manufacturing intelligence tool.

Alerts

In case of machine downtimes, the event is reported to the cloud-based tool. At the same time, an alarm is triggered and sent to the smartwatch of the service technician.

Get machine data

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

Instant reporting

Upon arrival at the machine he is already well-prepared to perform maintenance tasks, he checks the machine and gets maintenance instructions on his smartwatch. By approving the tasks on his smartwatch and by confirming the proposed error codes, all relevant data is collected and directly sent to the cloud based backend.

Rich information with audio and video

In addition, the service technician can document the root causes with pictures or video snippets with the camera integrated in his smartwatch.

KPI dashboard

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

How to start the optimization of manufacturing processes

Efficient and scalable manufacturing processes require transparency. Digital tools can be used to make information about production processes available. As change does not come overnight, it is recommended to 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 exactly do this: the app builder functionality allows to create reporting workflows without programming, the open system architecture allows integration of IoT enabled machine data and the Analytics functions provide visualisation of defined KPIs. Solutions can be implemented in an iterative way. Hence, it is not needed to tackle all challenges at once but to start small with the optimization of manufacturing processes and to achieve direct, repeatable results.