Connected Smart Factory Starts With People
A connected smart factory was part of a transformational vision for NBC Bearings. The digitalization initiative would connect more than 300 machines and PLCs to a single Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) network.
On one IoT platform, NBC Bearings could render real-time data, reports, and dashboards for use by a multitude of people spread across the plant and through the enterprise.
In addition to improving OEE 2-3%, the team’s goals included a paperless factory that empowers decision-making at all levels.
“With real-time information from the shop floor and factory, I wanted my front-line people to be empowered with data-driven decision-making,” said Rohit Saboo, president and CEO of NEI. “The production quality, machine held data are now available with the head of the plant or the workmen in the plant. And the benefits are evident.”
As a comprehensive execution plan was formulated, the team was challenged with helping all stakeholders see the complete picture and end-to-end activities involved.
Each stakeholder had a different priority. Through change management, all stakeholders aligned to select use cases based on business impact, ease of implementation, organization-wide coverage (number of users impacted), cost of implementation, benefits and ROI.
Rockwell Automation®, through its 2019 acquisition of MESTECH provided the application development services for PTC’s Thingworx platform, part of FactoryTalk® InnovationSuite. The MESTECH acquisition expands Rockwell Automation’s consulting and systems integration scale in this fast-growing industrial transformation market.
The transformation team was comprised of domain experts from in-house manufacturing functions and digital team members who acted as translators and facilitators from business to technology. IT managed the hardware, networking and connectivity, and IoT Platform experts rolled up the data from machines into a visualization layer to give frontline supervisors, plant leaders and personnel decision-making empowerment.
As a result of implementing smart manufacturing initiatives at scale, NBC Bearings now has advanced analytics, the use of augmented and mixed reality for shop floor training, collaborative workflows for streamlining information flow, the use of QR Codes and workflows for process integration, machine vision for inspection, and real-time workforce planning.