Right now, Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things are very topical. And that, in turn, is focusing many manufacturers’ attention towards Shop Floor Data Capture. Why? Because connectivity within the four walls of your business has never been so straightforward, and the benefits so apparent.
That said, a lot of the hype around Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things is to with external connectivity—connectivity along the supply chain, in other words. Upstream to suppliers, and downstream to customers.
It’s sexy, to be sure. But a more certain set of benefits comes from internal connectivity, in the form of Shop Floor Data Capture. Once seen as—well, boring, Shop Floor Data Capture used to be focused on the collection of data on labour utilisation, originally in factory environments characterised by piecework and measured work-based incentive schemes.
No longer. Shop Floor Data Capture is now central to many manufacturers’ future plans, being seen as a way to deliver solid returns—returns with a strategic dimension, as well as an operational one.
Let’s take a look.
Shop Floor Data Capture and analytics
With the right data—whether of Big Data proportions or not—manufacturers can get to the root causes of any number of factors impacting operational performance.
Quality, for instance. Productivity losses. Yield losses. Downtime. And so on.
The size of the prize is obvious—but first, you have to have the data.
Which, of course, is where Shop Floor Data Capture comes in.
Shop Floor Data Capture and Work-in-Progress
Shop Floor Data Capture also plays an important role in maintaining high levels of due-date performance. Exactly what stage in the production process have individual works orders and customer orders reached?
Take a look at many factories, and it’s still the case that stage-by-stage reporting is set at too coarse a level—reporting progress through whole departments, for instance, or broad production stages.
And in this day and age, that’s not necessarily good enough—particularly if the business has aspirations towards meeting high levels of due-date performance.
Shop Floor Data Capture plugs the gap, providing manufacturers with a means of gaining highly granular visibility into exactly which orders are where. Machine, by machine, by machine.
And doing so, what’s more, without slowing things down, or taking up operatives’ time. Barcodes, touchscreens, RFID tags and production terminals linked to Manufacturing Execution Systems—the possibilities are extensive.
Shop Floor Data Capture and rich data
Finally, it’s important to realise that the data that is captured via Shop Floor Data Capture can these days embrace a much richer set of formats.
And it’s here that Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things come in. Quite simply, machine-to-machine communication enables manufacturers to collect much more information—video footage, temperature, weather conditions, machine speeds and so on.
Why? Because these can, and do, have a bearing on production performance.
Are yield losses correlated with humidity levels, for example? Is output affected by temperature? What precise events precede a breakdown?
With truly rich Shop Floor Data Capture, these questions can finally be answered!