Shop Floor Data Capture has never been cheaper, or easier to implement. That’s the good news. The not-so-good news? Getting value out of an investment in Shop Floor Data Capture remains as tantalisingly far away as ever.
That said—and back to good news for a moment—the secrets of Shop Floor Data Capture success aren’t particularly difficult. In fact, they’re strikingly simple. The problem? Many manufacturers either aren’t aware of them, or choose to ignore them. The result: an investment in Shop Floor Data Capture that doesn’t yield the targeted ROI. Or, indeed, any real ROI at all.
So what to do? As we’ve said, getting Shop Floor Data Capture right needn’t be difficult. Here, we sketch out the three classic mistakes that prevent manufacturers from seeing their investment in Shop Floor Data Capture deliver on the promise it holds.
Classic mistake #1: Failing to understand what Shop Floor Data Capture delivers
What does Shop Floor Data Capture deliver? Ask a random group of manufacturing managers, and a depressingly high proportion will answer the question in terms of statistics, charts, and factory-floor problems that Shop Floor Data Capture can be used to address.
Which is correct in a sense, of course, but not really the point. For the real point in investing in Shop Floor Data Capture is to gain better control.
Better control of people, and people utilisation. Better control of equipment, and equipment utilisation and sources of downtime. Better control of material, in order to get a handle on yields, losses, scrap and rework. And better control of work in progress, in order to improve due-date performance and improve inventory turns.
So starting a Shop Floor Data Capture project without a firm eye on how this better control is to be achieved—and exploited—is a lot like buying a car without being able to drive.
From a functional point of view, the car will work fine. But it won’t take you any closer to your destination.
Classic mistake #2: Failing to integrate and use the data that Shop Floor Data Capture delivers
Fairly obviously, Shop Floor Data Capture delivers data. Lots of it. Less obviously, manufacturers have to figure out how to get value from that data.
For a start, it’s rarely productive to try and improve efficiencies by attacking on all fronts at once, so some crude targeting will help to pinpoint priority areas for your Shop Floor Data Capture investment to address—labour productivity, machine utilisation, work in progress tracking, and so on.
At which point, integration with data held on other systems helps to throw up areas for investigation.
Any attempt to compare actual hours worked with standard hours, for instance, needs access to the records of standard hours, usually in terms of the operation being performed.
Likewise, if a machine suffers repeated breakdowns while working on certain jobs, it’s useful to know what those jobs are, in order to look for common links—are they all jobs for the same end customer, for example, with problems caused by out-of-standard tolerances or materials?
In short, for Shop Floor Data Capture to deliver meaningful insights into improvement areas, then meaningful data and meaningful analysis are important prerequisites.
Classic mistake #3: Failing to follow through on what Shop Floor Data Capture tells you
We’ve all been there. Factories where the noticeboards and display centres are laden with charts recording every conceivable metric, many taken directly from the resident Shop Floor Data Capture system.
But the story that these charts tell is dire. Significant opportunities, faithfully recorded and reported—but left untapped.
We can’t put it strongly enough: a Shop Floor Data Capture system is not just a recording and reporting system. Or a system for updating ERP with works order progress. Instead, regard it as an improvement system, providing manufacturing managers with the insights and data that they need in order to pinpoint problems and identify solutions.
So money spent on buying and implementing a Shop Floor Data Capture system will be wasted if a matching investment isn’t made in improvement initiatives to capitalise on the data harvested.
In short, target some improvements—and then set to work delivering on those targets.
Putting it all together
So where does that leave us? Hopefully, with a better idea of what to look for in a Shop Floor Data Capture system, and a better idea of how to leverage the wealth of information and insight that it can generate.
To be sure, an investment in Shop Floor Data Capture is rarely wasted: at worst, the system can capture works order information and job tickets, updating the ERP system on work in progress.
But to go back to that car analogy, that’s rather like using a Maserati just for driving to the shops.