All posts in Education & Resources

The Growing Pains of Manufacturing Travellers

When I visit manufacturing companies around the UK, I see lots of traditional manufacturing travellers and work instructions causing problems in otherwise innovative and successful businesses. So, in this article, I want to dig a bit deeper into travellers. Why are they used and what alternatives do manufacturing companies have? What Are Manufacturing Travellers? A traveller is a paper document pack that follows a product throughout the factory. It is used to record every manufacturing operation that has been completed. It is also used to record batch numbers, serial numbers and key numeric data from the manufacturing process. Recording this […] Read more

Improving Profits Through Accurate Labour Costs

To make a healthy profit, manufacturers need to keep tight control of material and labour costs.  When jobs are estimated and quoted to customers, they are based on standard labour times for each manufacturing process.  But when products are moving through your factory, how do you know how accurate the time estimates are? And, if they were not accurate, how do you go about identifying the cause of the problem? It could be that certain operators are slower than others. There could also be process design problems, shortage of components or 101 other possible problems. In this article, I’ll explore […] Read more

5 Ways to Increase Manufacturing Productivity with an MES

In order to remain competitive, manufacturers need to maintain high manufacturing productivity – or high revenue generated per employee. Most methods of improving manufacturing productivity begin with a thorough analysis of a company’s systems and manufacturing processes, to eliminate waste and optimise the value-adding processes. Eliminate wasteful processes. Systemise what’s left. Automate wherever possible. When it comes to automating processes, a Manufacturing Execution System (MES) can help. A good MES can automate the manual decision making, data collection and process instructions, that have previously been paper-driven or controlled using a variety of separate IT systems. View Our Paperless MES Software […] Read more

Digitalising Manufacturing

I visited the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry for a Digitalising Manufacturing Conference, where I had the chance to discuss the benefits that digital manufacturing can bring to manufacturing businesses, and also some of the roadblocks to its full adoption in the UK. Impact of Digital Manufacturing Carlos Lopez Gomez discussed the results of an Innovate UK funded study into the impacts of Digital Manufacturing globally. The study is aiming to collect and analyse evidence on the potential improvements from digital manufacturing. Most predictions of improved manufacturing productivity have focussed on expected, rather than observed impacts. So this Study is […] Read more

Industry 4.0 Guide – An Overview

We are currently experiencing the 4th Industrial revolution, where machines and manual operations are being connected together to bring the benefits of automation to entire production processes and factories. The term Industry 4.0 was coined in Germany, as a proposed way for SME manufacturing companies to remain competitive and relevant in the future. Business leaders recognised that German manufacturers could not compete with low-cost manufacturing, so they must develop new and innovative manufacturing techniques. “Industry 4.0 is not just about the technologies. It is also about new ways of solving problems, creating unique experiences and accelerating business performance.” Bjorn Johansson […] Read more

Industry 4.0 Guide Part 1 – Creating a Secured Network Factory

The benefits of Industry 4.0 are achieved when computers can collate production data and make production decisions that are currently made manually. The first step to implementing this is connecting each production operation and machine with a secure network connection. Secure Local Networks The majority of installations we have been involved in, have had secure local networks for production lines. These were connected to the internet or corporate network through a gateway computer with TLS/SSL Encryption. The connections between production devices, gateways and the processing & analytics services in the cloud or on corporate networks, must, therefore, have Confidentiality, Integrity […] Read more

Industry 4.0 Guide Part 2 – Connecting Devices Throughout Your Factory

Device Communications Once a secure network that enables a connection between production devices is in place, a system must be created for connecting devices that will allow production machines to communicate with each other. There are two main reasons for enabling production devices to communicate:- 1. Monitor Machinery Status Firstly, acquiring and storing machinery status. Health and production data will enable you to perform machine data analysis to predict its performance. Doing this can also help you decide when and how the machine should be used and ultimately improve its production efficiency and machine utilization. 2. Control The Production Processes Secondly, sending […] Read more

Industry 4.0 Guide Part 3 – Connecting Production Operations

Connecting production operations is the first step in creating a paperless factory. This can deliver large increases in production efficiency and reduce the lead time of manufacturing products. Many production systems control product routings manually. A bill of materials and job routing will be developed for a product. It will be printed out and carried along with a product batch, through a factory and various manufacturing operations. This requires planners, supervisors and production operators to review each product routing and also to decide what should happen next to the product batch. By connecting manufacturing processes together, a software system can […] Read more

Industry 4.0 Guide Part 4 – Improving Your Business With Production Data Analytics

Once manufacturing operations are connected to IT systems, large amounts of production data can be gathered. However, it then needs to be converted from large volumes of unsorted production data, into data that is relevant to business processes. By performing automated analysis on the raw production data, the data can consequently be used to make business decisions about which manufacturing processes need further optimisation. Companies can continually improve their manufacturing operations by using production data analytics as an additional tool, in helping them make the right business decisions. Businesses are taking advantage of this information to: Increase manufacturing efficiency. Improve […] Read more

Paperless Manufacturing

Paperless Manufacturing is when work orders and work instructions needed to control the production process, are replaced by an IT System that connects to manufacturing processes. The IT System then controls and guides the production process, resulting in increased efficiency and enhanced product quality. Key Features of Paperless Manufacturing: Digitally connected production systems. Work orders and work instructions delivered to each workstation. Error Proofing from manual decision making at each production station. Reduced training for new products with guided manufacturing processes. Key Results: 30% boost in productivity, as a result of increased machine uptime and usage. Improved reporting and data sharing, […] Read more