Data: The Answer to Downtime on the Factory Floor?
Downtime is the single largest source of lost production time for manufacturers today. Even factories that are built with efficiency in mind and deploy the latest equipment suffer from reduced efficiency due to factors such as poor installation, misuse, or inefficient coordination and planning.
While many factories are aware they have an issue with downtime, few can accurately identify its causes or know its impact on their bottom line. Research carried out by Aberdeen Research revealed that 80% of companies cannot quantify the losses created by downtime in their factories. Their research further demonstrates that unplanned downtime over the past three years has resulted in factories losing of up to $260,000 an hour and that 82 percent of all companies reviewed have been affected by these loses. Aside from the financial toll, unplanned downtime also results in loss of customer trust and overall reduced productivity.
Bottom line, most manufacturers simply don’t know enough about what the machines in their factories are actually doing on a day-to-day basis. The huge cost of unplanned downtime is fuelling a consequent interest in digital transformation. The proper collection of data is one of the most promising areas offering hope to companies wishing to achieve greater levels of productivity or better tackle unwanted downtime. By using technology to gather data from across the factory floor, manufacturers can gain a clear picture of how each machine is employed and whether it is being used to its maximum capacity. This, in turn, would lead to more efficient production planning and less time wastage.
Many manufacturers know they are not properly using technology to address these concerns and yet are unsure what is out there and how technology can help them. The reality is that there are many technologies emerging that could totally transform the way they manage production. New types of manufacturing and enterprise software impacts on the level of insight and control manufacturers can exercise over production. Large numbers of manufacturers still use manual methods of data collection or older types of software that are not really up to the task. Cutting-edge data collection systems however, can pinpoint the macro causes of downtime. Rather than seeing a note in a spreadsheet reporting that a certain machine caused two hours of production loss, new kinds of data systems can give manufacturers access to their entire operational data in real-time.
Such systems can be integrated to give a plant-wide view. This type of technology can help manufacturers pinpoint the exact moment a machine goes down, and allow them to cross-check this against other activities in the plant to find a correlation. Quickly finding the cause of downtime enables faster, more accurate responses.
Rather than confusing manufacturers, by offering them more information to process, data collection systems will in fact simplify life for manufacturers by giving them a much clearer – often visual – picture of what is actually happening on the ground with their machines and people, and helping them better anticipate and solve problems to reach higher levels of overall efficiency.