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 product quality.
- Expand their product.
When the production system is storing data at each manufacturing operation, product routing and timing can be optimised.
The timing and product processing data that is stored can help identify under-performing machines, areas and operators.
A Production Data Analytics Report with Operation Times
On each production machine, data can be acquired from its sensors. However, this needs to be processed in a way that is relevant to machine expected life and service intervals.
Typical routine maintenance schedules will identify a fixed timescale for replacing machine components. As a result, this may be costly if the time schedule is either underestimated or overestimated.
During a recent project, we implemented a component life tracker. It uses system pressure transducers and calculates the expected life of system components, based on the time spent at different pressure levels. When the machine sits idle or is performing low impact manufacturing processes, the deterioration of system components is lower than when the machine is performing near its maximum operating conditions.
By taking information from sensors, processing it and then using it to predict machine component life, decisions about when to replace machine components can be optimised to get the maximum life from components and to prevent unexpected machine failure.
New Digital Products
Imagine a company that creates complex control systems for automotive vehicles. Each highly complex component that is produced must then be assembled into a larger, even more, complex vehicle. The interface between the two is critical for the correct operation of the vehicle. So, when the customer drives the vehicle away, every aspect of the control of the vehicle feels right.
A client of ours does exactly this. They have now started to offer an additional product to each of their customers – a digital file with every product shipped. This file contains the control configuration settings, formatted in a way that the customers’ IT system can import the file directly to the vehicle that the component has been fitted to.
As the vehicle passes along the production line, it moves through an RFID scanning gate. This detects all the information stored in components fitted to the vehicle. The IT system then looks up the configuration and production data for those components.
This replaces an extremely manual system, whereby each vehicle would be manually tuned at the end of the production line to obtain the optimum control configuration, by a method of trial and error.
There are two main benefits to this new automated system. It is much more efficient as it removes lengthy manual tuning operations. It is also much more effective and repeatable, as the subjectivity associated with manual tuning operations is removed.
To our customers, the benefits are:
- Increased revenue from add-on products.
- Differentiation from competitors who are not offering this service.
Implementing Industry 4.0 In Your Business
In this guide, we have outlined the key areas to be implemented to create a Connected Factory as envisaged with Industry 4.0. We have compiled our experience from automating processes and creating connected factories.
If you need help getting started, Metis Automation can guide you to a successful Connected Factory.