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What’s Affecting Your Performance with Real-Time Data and KPI Tracking

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By Emilie A Lachance - December 30, 2020

Manufacturing systems tend to be complex, and they can have a wide range of inputs and outputs at various stages of production. It can seem impossible at times to discern what’s affecting your production performance. 

Top-level KPIs, such as the number of finished goods produced, may appear to be in a steady state during a given period of time—for instance, when measured day to day—but the same KPIs might vary dramatically over an hour or a shift. A lack of granularity in understanding your key KPIs may be masking large discrepancies in individual performance across the system. Many manufacturers are unaware that what seems on the surface to be a well-oiled machine actually has significant room for improvement. 

The Power of Real-Time Data in Manufacturing

When you can get visibility into the discrete manufacturing metrics and/or KPIs that are contributing to top-line performance numbers, you can begin to improve them one by one. By following this process, you can unleash hidden capacity at your factory. 

As we’ve noted in earlier articles, measuring manufacturing KPIs over long periods of time often doesn’t reveal opportunities for improvement. The ebb and flow of a manufacturing facility may depend on a wide range of factors that can vary over short periods of time. Some inefficiencies in production are masked over time by increases in efficiency elsewhere or by employees’ hard work.

For example, workers may be making up for bottlenecks by working around inventory constraints and creating buffers before or after problematic machines in order to keep things rolling. This extra effort from employees may seem admirable at first glance, but their efforts will hide the impact of the bottleneck from supervisors, allowing the undiagnosed bottleneck to continue to negatively impact performance. 

Similarly, many types of machines are subject to “micro-outages” that may not seem consequential to an operator but that can add up to significant losses over time. If the operator quickly remedies these micro-outages and doesn’t report them to a supervisor, they could continue to harm productivity by increasing downtime—and people higher up in the organization won’t even know there's a problem. 

This is why real-time data is essential to troubleshooting and optimizing manufacturing systems. Only with real-time data can a team gain the insights necessary to “see” what’s happening and connect the data to a localized event. 

How to Collect Real-Time Data in a Manufacturing Environment

Companies can integrate real-time data collection into their facilities fairly easily. Solutions like Worximity TileBoard can be applied to each machine or line to collect metrics and KPIs including (but not limited to) throughput, downtime, cycle time, and quality. From these KPIs, it becomes easy to calculate and display more complex metrics such as OEE

By saving real-time data and analyzing it over long periods of time, you can compare past and current data, identify trends, and, most importantly, share all of this data live to anyone in the company. Even employees or managers working remotely or at a separate facility can view live production data, allowing everyone in the company to stay up to date and aware of production conditions.

Tracking and displaying this real-time data is the best way to keep an eye on manufacturing performance because it cuts through the noise to display performance down to the individual machine. Productive periods can no longer hide unproductive periods over time, and increased efficiency in one part of the facility will no longer mask inefficiencies elsewhere. 

Metrics from every machine can be viewed live by any employee, and the software monitors these metrics at all times during production. This means that any stoppage, problem, or drop in KPIs—including all relevant data—is immediately reported to supervisors, who can quickly identify what may have caused the problem. These alerts can identify downtime events, machine malfunctions, or breakdowns, and can even suggest the need for preventative maintenance when a machine’s KPIs drop.

Gain Insights Through Real-Time Data

Real-time tracking doesn’t only give companies greater awareness of inefficiencies and problems in production; it also highlights the most efficient periods in production. With all of the details attached to this data, production monitoring software can identify the conditions under which production is at its most and least efficient. 

When production efficiency is high, companies can look at all of the conditions and factors associated with this high efficiency and try to replicate them elsewhere. Below are some factors that can become visible with real-time data.

Which Machine or Line Is Outperforming Others

Is this machine newer than others? Is this machine a different model than others? Are machines on different maintenance cycles?

What Product Is Being Produced

Is this product easier to produce than others? Are better materials being used for this product that lead to fewer defects?

Where in the Facility Is the Problem

Are certain floor layouts more efficient than others?

What Time of Day Is Most Productive

Is production more efficient at certain times?

What Shift or Employee Is Most Impacting Productivity

Are certain employees or shifts of employees harder workers? Are they better trained than others? Are they using better practices?

When patterns are detected by answering questions like these during efficient production periods, new company policies and practices can be put into place to try to encourage higher production efficiency across the company. 

The opposite is true of low production efficiency. Companies will view the factors similarly:

Which Machine or Line Is Outperforming Others

Is this machine a bottleneck? Is it outdated? Does it require maintenance?

What Product Is Being Produced

Are there too many defects? Are the materials being used causing defects? Is retraining necessary for products that are more difficult to produce?

Where in the Facility Is the Problem

Can the layout be more efficient?

What Time of Day Is Most Productive

Is the facility or line less efficient at certain times of day?

What Shift or Employee Is Most Impacting Productivity

Are certain employees or shifts not meeting expectations?

With the wealth of information collected via production tracking hardware and software, companies can identify problems quickly and precisely using real-time data while identifying the most efficient areas to try to replicate them. Most importantly, real-time data tracking keeps companies up to date on performance with live metrics, giving them a direct look into every moment of production in every area of a facility. 

Importance of Real-Time Data in Improving Manufacturing Performance

Real-time data tracking is necessary even under normal circumstances at manufacturing facilities. It allows managers and employees to detect problems, downtime, machine malfunctions, and other issues in production; quickly address them; and get things back to normal. More importantly, monitoring KPIs in real time makes it possible to discern the root causes of problems.

Providing access to real-time data and KPI tracking keeps everyone in the company informed, and the data can be used as a tool to determine where and why problems in production are occurring. It may seem like a significant challenge to set up a system to collect real-time data, but it actually is relatively easy! 

The Worximity TileBoard is an affordable solution that can be quickly implemented, and because it provides the real-time data that you need to improve operations, it provides fast ROI. The best way to get started is to apply for a 7-day free trial so you can see for yourself what’s possible with your operation.

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Worximity provides simple realtime technologies to solve food processor pains such as downtime, rejects, waste, overtime; helping them gain profit velocity by improving throughput, yield and OEE.

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