‘Production efficiency’ sounds good. It sounds like something all manufacturing and industrial businesses should be aiming for. But what does it actually mean? And how can remote monitoring help enable it?
At InVMA, we think there are two key aspects that manufacturing companies should bear in mind when attempting to maximise production efficiency. First, there’s the question of ensuring that day-to-day, existing operations are carried out as quickly but also as smoothly as possible – that is, without generating process bottlenecks or mechanical failures that cause later production slowdowns. This is about maximising the capabilities of manufacturing equipment but without taking a purely short-term view of their activity.
Second, there’s the question of strategic enhancements and continual improvement. Efficient production isn’t just about doing the same thing over and over again – it’s also about identifying where something different can be done to drive improvements.
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) – that is, the convergence of physical and cyber systems by adding internet capabilities to industrial hardware – has a central role to play in both aspects. By enabling individual devices within the production process to capture data relating to their performance and then send this data to a centralised analysis point, the IIoT is the engine of proactive, remote monitoring. And such monitoring is the key to driving production efficiency.
Maximising the day-to-day
Day-to-day production efficiency requires manufacturing equipment that is working at a high (but not overflowing) capacity, with no niggling maintenance issues that are threatening to get bigger, and no bottlenecks caused by one piece of equipment able to handle far greater demand than one it feeds into.
All these issues can be looked after through remote monitoring. Using IIoT technology, each individual piece of equipment in the production chain can automatically, without cumbersome and costly human intervention, report back on the key data underpinning its day-to-day performance. This might be energy used, oil level, wear of individual parts, or number of components produced – it will vary from machine to machine. The point is, remote monitoring enables that key data to be extracted, consolidated centrally, and presented to management teams in the form of clear dashboards and headline statistics. This makes it far, far easier for management to understand how each individual component in the production process is operating, where potential slowdowns might occur in the near future and, indeed, where efficiencies can be created immediately. Day-to-day efficiency is maximised.
Enhancements for the future
Future production efficiency requires manufacturing processes that can be amended, adjusted and enhanced in response to proactive intelligence. Sometimes that intelligence comes from the customer side – analysing how products are being bought and used. It can also come from inside the organisation, from manufacturing businesses monitoring their existing processes and identifying points for potential improvement.
However, in complex and growing manufacturing operations, identifying these points manually is highly complex and potentially cost-prohibitive. Collecting performance information from every step in the production chain means entering the realm of big data – and this demands a big data analytics engine to make sense of it all, to deliver intelligent insights and feed into continuous improvement programmes. We’re back to the IIoT and remote monitoring.
InVMA’s Thingworx platform is designed to maximise production efficiency by helping organisations both optimise their day-to-day performance and maintenance, and to make intelligent, strategic decisions as to future product development. Why not get in touch with us today to find out how it could help you?