The goal for a Connected Enterprise is a secure, productive, and profitable organization guided by data-driven intelligence.
But what if a manufacturer has to make basic improvements before reaping digitally enabled benefits: predictable processes and equipment, a safer workplace, environmentally sound practices?
Here's the good news: The effort to stabilize operations also can be the first step toward a Connected Enterprise — and generate immediate return on investment.
Stability is elusive for many industrial firms: There were more than 483,000 recordable injuries and illnesses among U.S. manufacturers in 2014, of which 126,000 required time away from work and 341 were fatal.
In 2014, EPA enforcement actions forced companies to invest more than $9.7 billion to control pollution. Nearly one-quarter of U.S. manufacturing plants report machine availability at a pathetic 70 percent or worse, wasting nearly a third of their production capacity. Even worse, many plants suffer from all three issues.
Smart Manufacturing technologies won't magically fix safety, environmental, and reliability problems; there's no digital elixir that can cure a toxic culture.
But data drawn from automated equipment can connect to dashboards, can illuminate key performance indicators, and can lay the foundation for intelligent improvement. Integrated sensor technologies and the data they offer (e.g., vibration, temperature, energy draw, exhausts) are key to:
Manufacturers can systematically address safety problems by designing solutions that integrate safety and machine functionality.
This process begins with heightened awareness of problems, identification of new requirements; system redesign (i.e., designing hazards out mechanically, removing hazards, or building in automated alerts); and implementation of safer production systems.
All these require 24/7 monitoring and periodic reviews and upgrades as technologies and standards evolve.
Connecting smarter machine assets improves control of complex production processes and helps to reduce equipment downtime by replacing obsolete or hard-to-connect automation systems.
Intelligent sensors and controls deliver data — such as equipment status for analytics, visualization, and exception-based reporting — that surface downtime issues.
Pushing this information to mobile devices on the plant floor offers access to real-time production information — e.g., machine availability, overall equipment effectiveness — and delivers diagnostics data to maintenance personnel.
Management will know the location of a downtime problem, the specifics of the machine failure, and what will be required to fix it.
Are you ready for safer, compliant, smarter, and more profitable manufacturing?