Real-Time Machine Monitoring Drives Manufacturing Efficiency

Apr 20, 2023 4:30:00 PM / by PlantStar Team

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In today's fast-paced manufacturing industry, machine monitoring has become a critical tool to enhance real-time monitoring of the production process and reduce downtime. By analyzing data collected from machines, manufacturers can quickly identify problems, make informed decisions, take immediate action, and optimize their manufacturing processes.

Manufacturers have a large and growing range of machines that produce different components as well as applications that track the flow of materials through the supply chain and monitor product shipments. Back-office systems create financial interactions and support customers. In many cases, each piece of the process operates in a vacuum. Consequently, suppliers have limited or no visibility into how the business functions end to end.

Real-time machine monitoring provides visibility into manufacturing operations. Recently, factory machines have been adding cloud and IoT technology. These modern solutions collect a cornucopia of data about different pieces of the manufacturing puzzle. For instance, deploying a couple of sensors enables companies to monitor more than 100 potentially actionable metrics. These capabilities come from machines that perform a wide range of functions, like stamping, bottling, labeling, packaging, molding, assembly, forming, and printing.  

Once a company has real-time manufacturing information, the next step is to figure out how to leverage this data. Follow the steps below to optimize your manufacturing operation using a manufacturing execution system (MES).

Consolidate Dispersed Information

The first step in the process is consolidating information from different data sources. An MES breaks down application barriers by capturing, cleaning, and organizing information. It then becomes the organization’s single source of truth. MES dashboards and MES reports illustrate device performance and condition, giving shop floor personnel and managers a better understanding about how different elements perform individually and collectively.

By correlating data points, employees gain insight into production flows, allowing them to recognize ways to improve performance. For instance, an overall equipment efficiency (OEE) dashboard measures items like actual vs. planned downtime, actual vs. standard production rates, and defects. End-of-shift reporting provides employees’ reporting and exit times, completed tasks, and ongoing projects. The reports come with customization features, allowing plant managers to adjust them to meet specific needs. In essence, the OEE dashboard reveals what is happening in real time in the supply chain, on the manufacturing floor, and in the back office.

Gain Real-Time Visibility

These new tools streamline business processes. Machine monitoring solutions have tremendous processing power and correlate information faster and more accurately than humans. Humans make mistakes and introduce personal bias into data gathering; real-time data collection transforms the production process. Rather than reacting after a problem arises, employees can see trends, respond proactively, and make changes before operations suffer.

Build New Data Flows

As noted above, manufacturing processes have traditionally been siloed actions. An MES can improve visibility into not only the supply chain and the manufacturing floor but also the back office. Linking real-time machine monitoring system data to enterprise resource planning systems connects supply chain and manufacturing actions to the bottom line, while tying machine monitoring information to a customer relationship management system provides customer service agents with the context they need to address customer concerns quickly and effectively.

Ensure Consistency

Another effect of machine monitoring is enhanced consistency across operations. Manufacturing plants that have operated in isolation can now adhere to a common set of metrics and workflows. Organizations can identify top performers, understand their best practices, and then implement these in the other locations. Likewise, they can identify laggards, take a closer look at what is hindering the operation, and make necessary adjustments.

Change from Reactive to Proactive Maintenance

Equipment breakdowns can be catastrophic for suppliers. Traditionally, companies serviced their gear on set schedules. Sometimes, they were caught off guard because a component broke down faster than expected. In other cases, they were servicing the system earlier than needed, resulting in higher expenses. By capturing real time data, they deploy predictive maintenance solutions, gain an accurate view into what is occurring in the machine, and eliminate the problems that come with service done too late or too early.

Streamline Systems

Every complex system, including manufacturing processes, consists of multiple linked activities. Often, one action becomes bogged down, constraining other events in the workflow. Traditionally, managers took steps to remediate such problems on an ad hoc basis and relied mainly on their instincts and experience to prioritize adjustments. Now, they have empirical data that lets them zero in on and fix any bottleneck.

Machine monitoring helps companies gain a deep understanding of their business. MES dashboards and reports provide valuable insight into how work is flowing in real time, letting employees respond more quickly to problems. Adding an MES to the company toolkit improves troubleshooting, enhances consistency, reduces downtime, and creates more efficiency in the operation.

Syscon’s PlantStar 4.0 MES software provides complete production and process monitoring capabilities, allowing you to view job-specific details on every machine to keep track of upcoming projects, minimize downtime, reduce scrap, and create customized reports in real time. To learn more, view our frequently asked questions page or browse our blog for fresh articles.