Digital manufacturing has revolutionized how factories operate on a daily basis. As more plants strive towards increased productivity and profitability, they are facing the need of making their processes more data driven and interconnected. High quality data allows manufacturers to closely monitor their equipment, identify and assess useful KPIs, and estimate production costs.
Collecting data in real time also offers an instantaneous overview of how the company is operating at any given point in time. Management can make better decisions and quickly respond to emergent concerns around the plant.
Although data collection presents numerous opportunities for factories, it is estimated that fewer than 5% of machines in the industry are being digitally monitored. In fact, some companies even end up disposing off as much as 99% of their data before it can be used by decision makers within the organization. This often leads to lost opportunities, inefficiencies, and higher production costs.
There are several ways that your factory can minimize on data collection costs by simplifying the way it is collecting data. Automating data collection and developing a reliable framework for analysis can drastically reduce costs and enable your plant to end up with high quality and real-time data.
So how can your plant simplify the way it is collecting data? Here are 5 tips.
1.Automate your data collection
With digital manufacturing taking center stage, automating the way you’re collecting data is a very simple way for the plant to benefit from increased efficiency. Digital technologies such as IIoT equipment now make it possible for you to track machine performance in real time and to reduce the time you would otherwise spend collecting data from these machines.
You can use sensors to connect all your machines and collect production data in real time. This data is collected and integrated under a centralized location, where it can be analyzed by the IIoT equipment.
Automating data collection in this way throughout the plant enables you to maintain real-time visibility of your operations. The sensors on equipment can alert you to upcoming equipment complications and the overall effectiveness of your machines. You also end up with high quality and relevant data in the long run.
2.Strategically position data collection devices
In order to maximize the efficiency of how you’re collecting data, make sure to position data collection technologies at the heart of the manufacturing floor. Keeping devices visible and easily accessible allows your employees to fully utilize the technology for optimizing data collection throughout the plant.
You can also use mobile devices and digital forms to give your employees the flexibility of collecting data in a more efficient manner. Employees will not only be able to record high quality data, they will also be able to view this information in real time and make more strategic decisions on the manufacturing floor.
Strategically positioning data collection devices also allows everyone within the plant to be aware of how the technologies operates and how they can use it to achieve better data recording methods. The success of IIoT technologies depends in a large part on how everyone within the plant can use them to improve their individual functions.
3.Use data to track relevant KPIs
Another way you can simplify your methods of collecting data is by focusing your data collection around relevant KPIs within the plant. Following this targeted approach will focus your data collection efforts around relevant areas of the plant and result in higher quality information. Begin by identifying what your KPIs are and how you can monitor them. You can then focus your data collection methods around your KPIs in order to keep better track of your overall performance.
For example, you can establish one of your KPIs around the consumption of raw materials at each step of the production process. By collecting data regarding the use of raw materials, you can evaluate how effective the process is by determining production waste and the overall output.
You can also use percentage as a KPI for monitoring availability within the plant. Keeping close track of how much time a machine or a line is in a functioning condition enables the factory to determine operational efficiency. Therefore, data collection that is centered on accurately determining the percentage can lead to a more simple and effective data collection/analysis process.
Another KPI you can use to focus your data collection is production downtime and stoppages. Collecting data relevant to downtime can enable you to identify the causes of slowdowns and how to avoid them moving forward.
4.Target data collection around relevant costs within the plant
Another way you can simplify how you’re collecting data is by targeting your data collection efforts towards relevant costs within the plant. What does this involve? There are several important costs within the plant that often need to be estimated. These include production costs, unit costs, and cost curves. As these costs are estimated during daily plant processes, you can collect data to closely monitor these costs and what their actual values are on the production floor.
Use real-time data collection techniques (offered by IIoT technologies) to monitor in real time what these actual costs are and how they are fluctuating. This will drastically simplify your data collection process and result in useful and high quality information.
You can also add average salary to your real-time dashboard to visualize changing costs per unit in real time. This will enable you to instantaneously obtain an overall picture of your direct labor cost and your whole production.
5.Add human monitoring to ensure data quality
As effective as digital manufacturing technologies are, they can only be fully useful with the right human monitoring. Make sure you’re using skilled and qualified employees to closely monitor data collection equipment. They can periodically assess the effectiveness of the machines and make sure that the data being collected is accurate and relevant to the plant.
For example, you can prompt shop-floor operators to enter a value or specification at a precise time to ensure data quality within specified periods. Operators can also be instructed to prompt the machines to send data at specific intervals and to alert the management team if a reading is missed.
Human monitoring is important because it allows the plant to respond in real time.