Manufacturing is littered with buzzwords at the moment, the promise seemingly outweighed by the hype.
It’s easy to succumb to technology fatigue and to close your ears to the constant buzz. Yet while it is true that there are some technologies which aren’t quite living up to their potential (yet), there are others that are entering a maturity – and businesses are starting to reap the rewards.
One such example is real-time data. The technology has developed to a point where manufacturing operations are getting valuable insights that allow them greater control and to be proactive, rather than reactive when it comes to risk.
Manufacturers are in an advantageous position compared to other vertical markets because they are already collecting huge amounts of data. Historical data is so valuable for mitigating risk because it unearths patterns about processes, products and parts.
When you combine the two the effect is like a 3D movie of your operations, rather than just a snap-shot. Here are 4 ways real-time data will have a positive impact on your bottom line.
1. Real-time data will drive action, not just debate.
Real-time data will demonstrate where the biggest opportunities for improvement are. For example SPC moved to a paperless system, which promoted better quality reports and a higher level of productivity. Real-time data allowed SPC to move into a paperless environment which increased operational flexibility and created a more agile work environment.
Migrating 1800 paper checks to 240 paperless checks, delivered greater efficiency and productivity, eliminating the need to physically search through stacks of paperwork on a day-to-day basis.
PwC report that data-led decision making sets the stage for company structures and workflows that are optimised for agility, providing the capacity to capitalise on opportunities as they unfold. In contrast, too many current data management styles result in businesses needing to mull over data for days, weeks or months at a time before taking action.
The latter results in a brittle workflow where trends and obstacles are identified slowly, crucial decisions are delayed and any necessary changes are difficult to get approved.
2. Improve insights and understanding
Using real-time data allows for a better picture of ROI in everyday situations. CIO report that, “solutions to measure efficiency give visibility into the manufacturing process. They can detect deviations in small volumes of time that you would normally not be able to identify".
SPC found real-time connectivity between their production and other business systems led to better quality and efficiency in their product yield providing an estimated $500,000 ROI in the first year.
Machine Metrics wrote how software has added further value, helping manufacturing processes become more optimised. Once interconnectivity hits it’s stride, processes will become more streamlined with web browsers, able to be used as dashboards to monitor equipment and alert companies to potential problems that can be addressed immediately - before they have a chance to escalate.
Machine monitoring involves the automatic collection of data from machines so that companies can use the data to provide real-time visualisations and notifications, as well as refer to historical analytics to help factory workers make faster and more informed decisions.
3. Step back and see the bigger picture
One of the key advantages of using real-time data in manufacturing is, it forces the silos to come down. All areas of the business are working together and the information is displayed with clarity, uncovering a single source of truth.
Being able to see the business operations as one big picture also allows for a better overall understanding of the workflow.
CIO report “the true value is tying all the machines together to see what they are producing, the cost structure, performance, and the quality of the output. You can’t look at the data off the machines in silos".
Another benefit for manufacturing plants that are spread out across different sites or locations is they will be able to share data quickly and efficiently.
The result? Reduced costs, greater quality control, and an increased production speed.
4. Isolate problems in the supply chain
Being able to review data on a daily basis will provide insight into even the slightest deviations in processes. For example, if a machine is producing at a slower rate than it was the day before, even if the fluctuation is miniscule, it can be intercepted much faster and the cause can be isolated.
This speed, is in part attributed to the interconnectivity of the devices, working with wired and wireless technology.
For example, Nukon have already introduced Activeplant VPFlex systems that communicate machine status and line performance information to connected iPhones. Sensors on machines can monitor and record different aspects of the performance.
Daily reports are generated and sent to your email account and live status of manufacturing lines can be viewed from your phone, which can give instant notifications if the machine is faulty.
Ignorance is not bliss
As the saying goes, the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry, but that shouldn’t stop us from trying. Real-time data gives you useful information when you need it and allows your team to make informed and quick decisions.
Improved insights and understanding of your manufacturing line helps you find inefficiencies that would normally go unnoticed. Breaking down the barriers between your team is an important part of utilising real-time data.
To find out more about what real-time data can do download our free guide to driving operational efficiencies with real-time data.